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How To Start Your Business

Cat LeBlanc

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Episode 37 – How To Start Your Business

If you’re thinking of starting a business this year – great! You have probably already spent a lot of time thinking, researching, talking to people and preparing (although, hopefully not too much).

If you’re sure of your business idea – that’s wonderful! If not check out this article.

So assuming you’ve got your business idea, the one that is going to get you excited to get up in the morning and you know exactly what niche you are targeting, what’s next?

Steps to actually start your business

The main steps for starting your business are:

  1. Understand your ideal customer
  2. Understand how you are different
  3. Create a simple, clear offer
  4. Test your offer
  5. Decide how to communicate the value of your offer
  6. Find people who might want to buy it

Step 1. Understand your ideal customer

While this can feel like a super boring step, the success of your business is riding on you doing this, and the step following (that one seems not only borin but potentially uncomfortable).

If you don’t understand your customer you can’t speak to their pain points, you don’t know what keeps them up at night and you don’t know what they really want.

You might love your idea but if it’s not ticking the boxes for your ideal customer then it’s never going anywhere.

So Step 1: Understand your ideal customer!

Step 2. Understand how you are different

This is the part most people skip because it’s the introspective work.

It’s not sexy, it isn’t anything anyone can see (yet) and it can feel uncomfortable, like when you are asked in an interview ‘Tell us about your strengths!’.

The truth is if you can’t tell anyone why they should buy from you, they actually won’t.

Here you want 4 to 6 bullet points that explain why you are different.

These bullet points work like an anchor that you’ll use later in the process. You’ll come back to this when you write your website, when you are figuring out how to talk about your offer. You’ll want everything to align with these bullet points.

These points, your unique value proposition, explain why I should hire you and not the next person. It’s not about boasting, it’s about explaining how you got here and why you have a unique perspective and solution.

These points can come from your qualifications, your expertise, your unique perspective, your work style, customer experience, your reason for doing this, and anything else that makes you different.

Everybody has this in them, even people that feel like they don’t.

Personally doing this work is my favourite part of working with clients because often it takes someone else to draw all the threads together and then clients have a real aha moment of – OH! That’s why I want to do this.

Step 3. Create a simple, clear offer

The next step is to create a simple offer with a clear outcome.

Simple is important so that you don’t end up stuck overthinking every detail, which is a trap many people find themselves in.

The clear outcome is important so that people know what they will be buying. People don’t buy hours of your time, they buy outcomes.

You may not be able to guarantee that outcome, but the intention is that if they show up, do the work and ask if they have questions they have a very good chance of getting the outcome.

My recommendation is to start with a small offering so people don’t have to part with too much money to try you out. Once they see the results they are much more open to continuing.

It’s easier to sell something small than something that requires a larger investment upfront.

Can you create some kind of “no-brainer” offer to get people in the door and get to know you?

Step 4. Test your offer

I recommend if you are offering services to do some limited free work to get testimonials.

This will also help you check you are getting the results you hoped for and get feedback on the process.

You will also get a feel for if you want to bring in any refinements and if this work is for you.

Step 5. Decide how to communicate the value of your offer

This is the part is actually sales. You need to know how to talk about what you have so people can see the value and want to buy it.

It’s common to feel uncomfortable with the word ‘sales’ but all it is is communicating the value of what you have and seeing if it’s a fit with someone.

Step 6. Find people who might want to buy it

Now you need to find someone to sell it to!

At this point, it is extremely easy to over-complicate absolutely everything!

You might be racing ahead thinking – ok, I need a professional website, branding, a graphic designer, business cards…

This is all the sexy stuff that people love about starting a business.

What you really need and what you don’t need does depend on the type of business you are starting but you should be aiming to have the minimum amount of stuff.

At least right now.

What you should be looking for is the easiest possible way of getting in contact with people who need what you have.

Selling is more about offering real benefit than having the best website or amazing business stationary. I’m not saying those things aren’t important but you likely don’t need them right now.

You don’t need a complex marketing strategy upfront.

Think about how you can find your very first paying customer. Even if it’s your friend it doesn’t matter at first.

If you keep getting in front of the right people and you’ve done the previous steps you will get customers.

So those are the 6 steps. It looks simple and in many ways, it is, although there is a lot of finesse in really nailing it.

You can learn more about this process in my Zero To Paying Clients Masterclass.

More than anything don’t get distracted and don’t overcomplicate it!.

Now I’d like to hear from you…

Have you decided this year is the year you want to start your business?

What steps are you taking to start your business?

Let me know in the comments below…

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4 Responses to How To Start Your Business

    • Thanks for commenting Kate :-) Glad you enjoyed it! I think it is so easy to get wrapped up and overwhelmed in all the details of starting a business and not have a clear picture what needs to be done to get some traction vs all the other stuff. So that was my answer to that one :-)

  1. Hi Cat, I really enjoy reading your posts, i find them very inspiring and admire your journey, thank you for sharing.

    I have been a freelance illustrator for 2 years and my service as an illustrator has grown organically so that 2014 is about me starting a new business venture specialising in illustrated presentation and marketing videos and whiteboard style explainer videos.

    Ive got examples of what i can do and a healthy portfolio of previous clients. Its the generating new customers where i seem to have a block. I know i should literally pick up the phone to businesses and offer my services and advertise in some way but i feel its such a mine field (especially advertising) i dont know where to start.

    Any snippets of advise or links to info would be really appreciated.

    Many Thanks

    Jacqui x

    • Hi Jacqui,

      Thank you so much for commenting! I had a quick look at your website and saw you are in Brighton. I grew up in Shoreham just near you and Brighton was my hang out town! I got all sentimental when I saw your illustrations with Brighton Pavilion in the background.

      First of all congratulations on building your business organically to the point of taking on new business ventures. Go you!

      You say that you have a block generating new clients yet you have grown your business to this point so you have definitely been doing a lot right so far, even if you may feel that you have a block. Here is what I would advise:

      1. Have you gone through the process of working out the ideal client that you like to work with? If not, and to be honest it always makes sense to revisit this, I would spend some time figuring out the commonalities between the clients that you have enjoyed working with and where you were happy with the financial result.

      2. Once you know who they are I would suggest contacting those who fit that criteria from your past client base and saying something along the lines of …( add brief intro) I really enjoyed working with you (add some specific detail) and I’m always looking for exciting new projects with (insert characteristics of what made these clients/projects so great). I am creating some new services (add a basic overview) If you these could benefit you I’d love to have a brief meeting and if they could benefit anyone you know I do offer (some kind of referral incentive) for referrals.

      Just change the words so they fit your own style. It’s always much easier to get referrals than it is to book new clients and if you haven’t been advertising you are likely already pretty good at this already. If you ask for the sale or referral it will likely jolt people into action.

      3. I would only go for advertising once you have contacted your previous clients. In terms of advertising think about where your ideal clients hang out (the ones you don’t know yet) and their preferred method of communication. Would they respond to cold calls? If you were to advertise where could you bump into them. Is it possible you could write an article somewhere or do something else that would create more trust than just paying for adverts? This all depends on who you are trying to connect with. If you do advertise try and be as highly targetted as you can and try a small amount of money first so you can check if it is working.

      I hope this all helps. It ended up a bit longer than intended! Please feel free to email me if you have more questions. Thanks again for posting your thoughts. It is always wonderful to hear people are reading my material and getting something from it.

      Cat x

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