Are you looking to get started as an independent business owner? Being your own boss comes with huge perks and huge responsibilities. Mobile Disruptors gives you a leg up on the marketing that helps get you noticed. Keep reading for seven steps to becoming an independent business owner and the questions that should guide you through each step.
1. Why do you want to become a business owner?
Understanding why you want to be a business owner is a crucial first step in the journey towards independence and taking the time to think this through can save you a lot of time and effort down the road. Why do you want to start your own business? Are you entering a part of your life where you want greater control over your work-life balance, like beginning a family? Perhaps you’ve identified a niche in your industry that needs to be filled and believe you have the skills to do it? Are you looking for career growth and finding you have hit the ceiling in your current workplace? Consider all of these things and think through what success looks like in your venture. Maybe the goal is getting a business off the ground that allows you financial security and greater control over your hours and work-life balance. Or it could be building a business to a place where it could be franchised or even sold off? Answers to questions like these will help you discern along the way what projects and investments, business tools, and partnerships to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to. Planning also provides a point on the horizon that will help you stay focussed on the big picture and the end goal, rather than getting lost in the minutiae.
2. What do you want to do? How are you offering something different than what’s already out there?
Just like a writer is encouraged to “write what they know,” the same applies to business. A good place to start a business venture is doing what you are familiar with. Look at your experience and skillset and determine what niche you are uniquely qualified to fill. What sets you apart? We are in an age where you are a few clicks away from finding at least one business that offers what consumers want. So, what sets you apart? It could be ethical, social, or enterprise-focused. People are always looking to vote with their dollar. Perhaps you are fair trade, organic, Black-owned, etc. You could be subculture-focused or special equipment that is hard to come by. Consider your target audience as this will have ramifications on decisions you make down the line, like advertising, which we’ll talk about a bit later. When considering your ideal customer, consider who they are and what they are looking for. Do market research on your intended demographic so that you can make informed decisions about how to bring your business to market. Industry articles are a good place to start when learning about your intended market.
3. How are you going to finance your venture? Where is the money coming from?
Finances are easily one of the biggest hurdles to starting your own business. Be it small or large, all business ventures require some upfront cost. A Gallup poll surveyed Americans and found that 25% considered starting a business and decided against it. The top two reasons as to why were “needing a steady income” and “not having enough personal savings.” But your finances are not the only avenues for funding your dream venture. While you can ask friends and family for support, don’t be discouraged by thinking that you’re limited to making awkward elevator pitches at family gatherings. Get a realistic estimate as to how much your business will require. A lifestyle or e-commerce business will have the most accessible upfront financial costs. Franchises come with varying financial buy-in with other aspects of the business already taken care of. Anything high tech will require more financing, but look into different funding sources, like small business loans and grants aimed at growing the economy.
4. What format is your business going to take? Independent contractor? Incorporate? Sole proprietor?
Related to finances is considering what format you want your business to take. Do you want a brick-and-mortar storefront where you will need to factor in insurance, furnishings, rent, utilities? Or would you prefer to run your business online, which will require different costs such as domain, website design, and credit card fees? The paperwork side of the business can be time-consuming and boring, and there is a lot of it at the beginning when you’re just getting your business off the ground. Ensure you do it right the first time. If you want to incorporate or register as a sole proprietor, different paperwork is required. There are different costs and consequences on your business, liability, and taxation, so choose wisely.
5. Handle your administration: What licenses do you need? Certification? Applications?
Depending on what kind of business you have, there will be different licenses and certifications required. If you have a professional designation, such as a lawyer or accountant, think about how you can keep it now that you are your boss and not working for a firm. If you are working with food and drink, what certifications do you need for food handling and responsible liquor service? Consider reading through industry articles and your local chamber of commerce for resources for what paperwork and certification you need.
6. Who are you working with? Who is working for you? Are you working on your own? Additional to this, who is your support network?
It’s a good piece of advice not just for business but for life in general. Surround yourself with a robust support network and not just for moral support. Reach out to people who have been there before. They can give you good advice about how to get started and what pitfalls to avoid. They can make for good inspiration and advise you on business strategy and make introductions and help you network.
7. How will you market and advertise?
Now that you have determined how you are unique, what you are offering your customers, and who your customers are, you can begin to make focused decisions on marketing based on real metrics. Your target audience will dictate much of your advertising, as will your business type. Digital marketing vs. traditional marketing? Is your business primarily online? Then focus on digital marketing. Are you a brick-and-mortar business? Look at local marketing and connecting with community organizations that will introduce people in the community to you and what you offer. Social media is always a good way to introduce potential consumers to you and your offerings. And it’s free! Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth.
If you are interested in learning more about what Mobile Disruptors can do to help you with your business, reach out. Mobile Disruptors also has opportunities if you want to offer marketing services to small businesses.