Do you want to start your own creative side hustle, but don’t know where to begin? I got you covered! Today, I’ll be walking you through the 7 basic steps of starting a business to help you jump start your launch!
1) Define Your Why
Before you dive into starting your business one of the most important questions you need to ask yourself is why am I doing this? Understanding your “why” will inform every other decision you make when building your business. Ask yourself the following questions:
Why am I doing this?
Why is this important to me?
Owning a business is not as simple as it looks. According to the Small Business Association, only two-thirds of small businesses make it past two years. It’s essential to love what you’re doing in order to survive the constant ebb and flow– it’s definitly a roller coaster ride! If you are just starting a business for the money and don’t have a strong “why”, you won’t be in business for long.
2) Create a Business Plan
If you think you don’t need a business plan because you work in a creative field, think again! Having a business plan isn’t just for large corporations, they are also needed for creative businesses of any size! If you are starting a photography business, selling goods online, or running a copy-writing business, you need to have a roadmap to help guide you through the various phases of business.
Without a doubt, a business plan is one of the most important documents needed for your business. Having a plan in place helps you see the bigger picture, plan ahead, make important decisions, and improve your likelihood of success in business.
If you don’t know what a business plan is, why you need one or how to get started, check out my Creative’s Business Plan! In this 30-page Business Plan Template I walk through exactly how to write a vision + mission statement, review finances, marketing, outsourcing, get detailed with your branding + much more!
3) Make it Official
There are a few important steps you need to take in order to make your business official:
- Choose a business name. The hardest part is choosing a name for your business. You’ll want one that reflects your brand and type of business. You will also want to make sure your business name isn’t already used by someone else.
- Register your business in your state. Once you’ve selected the perfect name, it’s time to make it legal and protect your brand. If you’re doing business under a different name than your own, you’ll need to register with the federal government, and possibly your state government depending on their rules.
- Select a business structure. The legal structure you choose for your business (Limited Liability Corporation, Sole Propietor, Corporation, etc) will impact your business registration requirements, how much you pay in taxes, and your personal liability.
- Get a Federal and State tax IDs. You’ll use your EIN (employer identification number) for important steps to start and grow your business. It’s essentially a social security number for your business.
- Open up a business checking account. Place all of the money you make from the business into that account and pay all of your business-related expenses from there as well.
- Apply for licenses and permits. Make sure you are staying legally compliant by securing any licenses and permits needed. Each state is different and will vary by industry, location and other factors.
- Purchase liability insurance. Having liability insurance in place will protect you from certain lawsuits. It can protect you from things like bodily injury, property damage, or certain libel and slander statements.
- Set up social media handles. Every business now-a-days thrives on social media. Be sure to secure your handles for Instagram and Facebook!
- Purchase a website domain. Are you wanting to have a website? You’ll need to purchase a domain through a site like Bluehost, GoDaddy, or HostGator in order to host your website.
4) Pay Taxes!
If you take home any business profits (more than $600 in a year), you’ll need to pay taxes. I personally follow the Profit First Method where I split each of my payments into percentages to cover: owners compensation, taxes, operating expenses and profit. It makes it much easier at tax time to have a sum of money sitting there ready for pay my fair share.
It’s also a good idea to immediately start utilizing a bookkeeping system (like Quickbooks) and chose an Accountant to help with your taxes. The last thing you want is a hefty bill come tax time!
Whatever system you decide to utilize to save for taxes, make sure you are planning ahead. Be smart about what you are doing with your money—keeping in mind that what you are doing now can affect you later.
5) Start Marketing and Surround Yourself With Community
If you have followed the steps above and chose your why, created a business plan, and set yourself up legally –– it’s time to market yourself!
Start by building your website based off the brand you created in your business plan. What do you want your business to look and feel like? What words do your ideal customers use? Everything from the colors on your website to the font on your business cards should reflect a consistent brand experience for your customers.
Next, begin to reach your ideal client on social media by posting frequently. This is where you get to start the conversation with your potential customers, tell your story, and share what you have to offer! People buy from people they know, like, and trust –– that is your opportunity to establish those connections.
Even though you are running your business on your own it doesn’t mean you have to go at it alone. Find other people in your area who can help support you, give advice provide resources, or connections. A great Facebook group for any newbie to join –– in my opinion –– is The Rising Tide Society. It’s a great group to ask questions in, seek advice, or find others in your community!
6) Fear is Normal
At one point or another you will most likely feel imposter syndrome, fear or both. Fear is just a part of the journey, and if you know that going in, you can set yourself up to overcome it! Sharing yourself and your service is scary and vulnerable, but you can’t succeed unless you do it!
7) Start Now!
You will never be completely ready to dive in. If you wait until you’re ready, have more experience or until everything is absolutely perfect, you’ll never do anything! Done is better than perfect. Do it now –– even if you aren’t quite ready!
If you do these 7 basic steps to starting a business, you’ll be well on your way to running a successful and profitable business! Get out there and get started!