While many people are happy working for someone else, there are many of us that feel the pull of entrepreneurship and starting our own small business.
Working for someone else can be considered ‘easy’. You get up, get dressed, drive to work and possibly stop at your favourite coffee shop on the way and put in your time. Then you go home, do your nightly routine and call it a day.
But what if that doesn’t make you content? There is a good chance you were meant for entrepreneurship. The desire to work for ourselves, while creating a business that can provide employment for others is one you should listen to. Especially if you already know what that small business is. Whether it’s a bookkeeping business, landscaping or artisan cheese, you need to move from dreaming it to planning it.
In this blog post, we’ll go over some of the crucial steps you need to get started. At the bottom, we’ll even include some resources local to us. If you’re not in our area, be sure to look for similar resources near you.
Let’s get started! For the purpose of this blog post, we’ll use bookkeeping as an example.
Step 1: Do a brain dump. Similar to a brainstorming session, this is where you get a piece of paper and a pen and start writing down all the words that come to mind when you think of your business. You’ll probably see words come out like tax time, accounts payable and receivable, spreadsheets, accounting software. But take it further. Think BIGGER! Maybe you’re going to provide virtual bookkeeping services. If, so, what about finance management, money blog, financial podcast (Check out Mo’ Money by Jessica Moorehouse, as an example).
Step 2. Organize those thoughts. Make a section for common words (accounts payable and receivable, taxes, budgeting, ledgers, transactions), (blog, podcast, social media), (administration, pricing, client outreach), (marketing, branding, business name).
Step 3: Come up with a name. This can be tricky. A lot of people will want to incorporate something in their business name that’s a child’s name or a favourite object. Think of your target market. If you’re targeting moms and you make baby chew toys, definitely pick something cute and catchy. But if you’re looking at bookkeeping and you’re targeting other small businesses, think of something that will appeal to them. Something professional that screams ‘you can trust me with your most confidential information’. Once you’ve picked a name, do a search for it. Make sure you’re not duplicating someone else because it can become confusing. Google it and search on social media. In Ontario, you can check the Public Records search to see if your business name has been trademarked or incorporated.
Step 4. Get your business registered and apply for an Ontario Master Business License. This will also secure your business name and ease the processes like applying for an HST number.
Step 5. If you plan to make over $30,000 a year with your business, you’ll need an HST number. If you are going to make less than that, at least in your first year, this isn’t a requirement. You can apply for it here: Business Registration Online.
Step 6. Write a business plan. There is where it all starts to fall into place. This helps you map out what your business will look like. There are important steps in business plans such as your company profile, market research and financial overview. Locally, our Small Business Centre has a great Business Plan Template to help you get started.
Step 7. Organize your finances. Whether you’ve received a small business loan, grant or you’re putting up the money yourself, you need to manage your budget. You would’ve worked through your budget and finances in your business plan template, but make sure it’s feasible. And for reference, check out our past blog post ‘6 Ways To Cut Back on Small Business Expenses‘ to help you fine-tune that budget.
Step 8. A favourite step of ours, branding and marketing. Have some fun with this. This is where you can let your personality shine. Use your bold colours, bring out that circle or square logo and get fancy with the swishes. But make sure your branding represents your business name. Don’t go for ‘Professional Bookkeeping Services’ and have a glittery logo.
Step 9. Set up analytics. This is important because this where you can see if all your hard work is paying off. There are free programs that can track your analytics and you can download the information into an excel spreadsheet for you to manipulate the data any way you see fit.
Step 10. Start making some money. Whether this means you’re opening an Etsy shop are starting to network, this is where all your hard work comes into fruition.
Now that you’ve created a solid foundation in which to start your small business, it’s go time! Don’t be nervous. You’ve planned, you’ve organized and you’re prepared. You got this. We’re also very fortunate to live in the Quinte area where there is a strong support network for small businesses through the Youth Beyond Enterprises, Small Business Centre, Hello Boss Girl, and more. You don’t have to go it alone.
And remember, we are here to help. We can help with your office admin, marketing and bookkeeping. Because your success is our business!