You have a fabulous idea!
You've shared it with some friends or family who've been very encouraging...
There can be so many mixed emotions associated with this phase of your entrepreneurial life & often excitement is outweighed with fear and overwhelm. To assist you in starting the journey in the right direction and avoid unwanted mistakes that could cost you time and money, this is a comprehensive list of important things to consider when setting up a new business. They aren't listed in order and each point is as important as the next.
There is a lot of information here and the MOST important thing to remember is that it doesn't all have to be done at once.
- Decide on the best business structure for you (sole trader, partnership, company or trust - read through the information online & if you are still unsure seek the advice of a trusted accountant. If you don't have one, find one.
- Get an ABN. Find useful info here: http://www.business.gov.au/registration-and-licences/Pages/register-for-an-australian-business-number-abn.aspx
- Cross check the availability of your Business Name & the matching Domain Name. They don't have to be identical, but you may have your heart set on www.mynewbusiness.com.au & it's not available, which may mean rethinking or tweaking your official business name too
- Register your business name with ASIC (Australian Investments & Securities Commission)
- Decide if you will register for GST (Tip - start with the end in mind)
- Open a dedicated business bank account - if choosing to open an official business account you will need to show proof of your Business registration. Read the terms & conditions carefully as some banks won't actually let you do day to day trading with the business account. Also decide if you would like to use a cloud based
- Choose how you will keep your financial records - MYOB, Quikbooks, excel spreadsheet, Xero (cloud based accounting package). Some questions to help you decide - Will you need to invoice people & how often? Will you need to complete a monthly or quarterly BAS? Do you have the funds to invest in a software package or pay a bookkeeper to help you collate your records? Or do you have time & the system in place to do this yourself? Would you prefer to pay a monthly fee for the online version, which costs less up front but more over a few years?
- What payment methods will you offer your customers? Obviously this will depend on the type of business. Many people will want to pay by credit card & if that's not directly available then paypal is a great way to offer your customer flexibility because they can choose credit card from their end. Electronically by bank transfer should be available as options too & is simply a matter of providing your bank account on a statement. If your business is a physical office, clinic or store then your bank will help you with eftpos & credit card payment facilities
If you are an intermediately tech savvy person (with lots of spare time and never say no to a challenge), you can do much of this yourself and get a website person to add the finishing touches. OR you can get a web developer to do the set up and make sure it's on a user-friendly platform like WordPress & you'll be able to do frequent edits and updates yourself. It's important that you have the ability to maintain the website yourself because you don’t want to rely on someone else every time you want to make a small change or add new content
If you decide to DIY use google & the web building platform of choice to answer as many questions as possible - you’d be surprised how much information is out there.
Amy Lynn Andrews has a fantastic blog about how to start a blog if you're interested in a step by step guide to wordpress.
Here’s the basic DIY version
- Choose your platform (wordpress / wix / joomla! / so many others - wordpress is most popular, attractive and easy to use)
- Choose somewhere like netregistry.com.au or crazydomains.com.au &
- Purchase your business domain name
- Choose a hosting package (preferably) through the same company
TIP! have a look at which website building platforms the host company are associated with and check out how easy they are to install and use. Ask other people what they use and how easy it is to create/maintain and what level support is offered
- The host you choose will be able to assist you with getting the website connected to your account & get you to the point that you can begin building it, so make sure whoever you choose have excellent support via phone & email
Important website features
- Have a newsletter sign up form on the top right hand corner of your website
- Make it easy to share your content by having social media Like/share buttons at the bottom of each article - your website platform will have several plugins to choose from
- Put all your Social Media icons onto your website so people can like you & connect with you in other places
- Create your personalised email address but avoid a ‘position’ or ‘common’ name because some programs think it’s less likely to be a person and automatically field it as spam so email@example.com is not a good idea but firstname.lastname@example.org or something like email@example.com is fine
- Get a graphic designer to create your banner so it fills the appropriate space to fit your chosen template
- Fill your website with interesting, educating & compelling content, but don’t think you have to do this all at once, starting off with a basic 5 page website it a good start & build from there
- Your ‘About’ page is extremely important, it should contain information about how the reader will benefit from contacting you as well as being personal enough to let your potential customers/clients know why you are the right person for them to engage with. Here’s a bit more about writing your bio
- Make sure you have lots of images & lots of white space
- Choose colours that are consistent with your brand & type of business (your graphic designer can provide the colour codes from your logo)
- Have a ‘call to action’ on every page - e.g. sign up to my newsletter, contact me, download this..., specific diet or lifestyle changes etc.- what do you want people to DO now that they've read that page?
- Make your content valuable, informative, educational, entertaining - what’s the purpose?
- Make sure your branding is consistent - have images created to fit the appropriate spaces
- Facebook Cover Image - 851 x 315 - only 20% of this is allowed to be text according to the facebook regulations
- Facebook Profile Pic - 180 x 180 - but the image space visible is 160 x 160 so don’t put your text or image all the way to the edge
- What is your message? - Fill in all of the ‘about’ section & make sure you have all your contact details up to date including your email, website and phone number
- Plan your social media and have enough content to post regularly. Combined your own content with other peoples (with expertise similar or complementary to yours)
- Post images regularly, they generate a wide reach and make you wall more interesting to visitors
- Make at least 70% of your posts informative and the other 30% sales or ‘calls to action’
- Utilise the Tabs on your facebook page to connect your fans with other social media platforms http://www.involver.com/applications/ is one website that has apps you can install to help you connect things like you You Tube channel and Twitter account
- Make sure you have a sign up tab for your newsletter on your facebook page - this is done through the Integrations & Plugins link on the newsletter platform (e.g. mailchimp has a short stack app that allows you to put the newsletter sign up form on your facebook page)
Get onto Google!!
Set up a gmail account for personal correspondence - it’s great to hand out your business/profesional email, but there will be the odd occasion where you don’t want to. Plus, having a secondary email address means you’ll be able to set up different profiles in places that only allow one profile per email address.
Google enables you to use:
- Work on documents from different devices without sending them backwards and forwards to yourself
- Have other people work view your documents online, by invitation - choose whether they can just view or edit
YouTube - easy access
Calendars sync automatically so view your schedule from anywhere
Google+ - You may or may not want start on Google Plus profile
It’s important to stay in touch with your customers and capture potential customers and a Newsletter is perfect way to do it
Most of the time newsletter services are FREE to use, you have control over the content and you can send it as frequently or infrequently as you like
- Investigate Mailchimp, Office Auto Pilot, Constant Contact, aWeber to name a few
- If you have an existing database you can import it to an excel spreadsheet and import it to your new newsletter service
- Make it easy to sign up to - Your website & Facebook should have visible sign up forms
- Ask people you come into contact with (customers, clients, at networking events) if you can subscribe them, either in person or via email
- Offer an incentive to sign up like a free eBook to download
Here’s a great article on how to build your mailing list and why it’s important - http://blog.kissmetrics.com/5-digit-email-lists/
On the newsletter itself
- Make yourself sharable - have the ‘share and forward’ buttons on your newsletter
- Make yourself findable - give people easy access to your social media profiles and website
- Keep your branding consistent - use the same or similar header image to your facebook cover image and website banner. The newsletter platform will allow you to customise your template or choose a pre-designed template
- Ask others to contribute to your newsletter
- Post a snippet on the newsletter and have a link to the full article on your website
- Have a purpose to your newsletter - educational, inspirational, invitational etc.
Cloud storage & Back-ups
Use an online cloud storage system like drop box to share large files like images & presentations.
It also gives you access to your files anywhere by logging in from any device
Set you images to auto-upload to save them somewhere safe in case your hard drive crashes
Create a signature in your email account that allows people to instantly recognise who you are, what you do & where to find you
Again, be consistent with your branding, it's all part of creating & upholding the image you want people to see