Starting a Small Business Looking at Your Shoes?
Helpful articles because running a small business is Big Work!
If You Only See Your Shoes
Starting a Small Business May Be Difficult
Are you starting a small business? If you are or ever have, maybe you can relate to this. I am very aware of what the tops of my shoes look like. When I walk to the front door, I can admire what a lovely choice I’ve made. Sitting down at my desk requires watching my feet scooch me in. When I walk to the coffee pot I’m focused on those shoes moving my feet quickly. I am also aware of what I look like from the waist and up. Using the ladies room enables me to see my shirt selection as I wash my hands.
Starting a small business can sometimes be like this; only seeing pieces or parts instead of the whole. An easy mistake to make when starting a small business is focusing on particular tasks independent of the whole goal. It helps to have someone in your corner that can see the whole picture. A company that already knows what’s around that corner so that you won’t be caught off guard.
Start at the Beginning, Not the End
Enthusiasm is a very helpful ingredient when starting a new business. Sometimes, however, it catapults us over some very important tasks that shouldn’t be overlooked. For instance, we once worked with a person who wanted us to create their logo and then build them a website for their new business. They had selected their business name, which was rather clever. They’d spent hours coming up with the right slogan, which was also quite clever. In their mind, they had figured it all out. Now, they just needed to execute.
As with all of our logo and website projects, we started doing our research. What we uncovered this time was like pulling the emergency brake on an Amtrak train. This business name already existed. Not only that, they were doing business in our state.
TIP: Do an internet search for your business name. Use GoDaddy.com to see if your domain name for your website is available. Search with your local government to see if your business name has already been registered.
You Can Please Some of the People All of the Time
As the quote by John Lydgate goes,“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
This is important to remember as you determine what your target market will truly be. Sure, we’d all love to get ALL of the local business in our market. However, that’s just not realistic. Unless you have absolutely no competition, local or through online shopping avenues, your new business won’t capture 100% of the market. Trying to build your business model like you will is your first step into disappointment.
Are you familiar with Cross Pens and Bic Pens? Both write in blue or black ink. Both can be used by anyone. Each company offers a selection of ballpoint or rollerball. And yet, their target markets are different. If Bic worked to capture the Cross market, they would probably struggle. It would be a hard fought battle. There would be a marginal return on investment. Bic can’t be everything to everyone who needs a pen. They know who they can market to, and why. They know why their customers choose them. Conversely, Cross would have a hard time capturing the Bic market with their price-points.
Think through your niche market and build an “ideal customer” profile that will help guide your efforts. For instance, instead of all women in your local market, select a more specific audience. Depending on what your product or service is, your ideal customer might be defined as follows. “Women ages 25-45 who have small children and work outside the home”.
TIP: Don’t try to market to everyone. Find your niche market and do what you do best.
If you’re not confident in the longevity of your information, resist the urge to post it. We cannot claim to have been 100% consistent ourselves. And we can tell you that, at a time, it hurt our business. Our hindsight is incredibly clear.
When you’re just getting started it’s easy to have the mindset of “I’ll fix that later” in order to keep your momentum. It’s a way of checking things off the list. One of the most important reasons, from this girl’s perspective, why that will hurt you later is in the way that the internet indexes and displays your business information when you’re not consistent.
If you’ve moved, the internet doesn’t know unless you tell it and correct it– everywhere. The same is true for any business-specific information. Inconsistent information hurts your credibility (and search engine rankings). There is truth in the saying that removing it from the internet is almost impossible. Your actions leave a trail. Unless you focus on keeping your local presence consistent, you could be creating a real mess for yourself later. And unless you understand how Moz Local, Google My Business, Google+ Branding, Bing Places, CitySearch and all those other digital repositories actually work; your business could be in real trouble.
We are not at all suggesting that your business won’t grow or some of these things will not organically change. However, we caution against a rush to get to market at the expense of long-term accuracy.
TIP: Checking things off your list is not as important as emphasizing accurate information across all platforms
Haircuts, Car Repair, & Coping Crown Moulding
We never take offense when we hear people say things like “I used to code back in the 90’s, so I know how to do this“. Or things like “building a website can’t be that hard with platforms like Wix“.
Evidence of continuous change is all around us. The word “Bling” is in the dictionary and wearing pants below your waist is a fashion statement. And even with an oven and a cookbook, I challenge those of you reading this to get that soufflé to turn out just right.
Haircuts, car repair, coping crown moulding, and website design are all best left to the professionals. In the case of website design, there is so much more to it than just making it look pretty. Knowing how to get that website found by customers and search engines is just the tip of the iceberg. Understanding the ever changing best practices and algorithm updates by Google play a part in whether Google serves you at all. Keyword stuffing is not tolerated, and if you don’t know what that means, you may need a professional.
Professional web designers will be able to help you compete in your local market in a way you may not know about. Studio Barn Creative keeps up with SEO (search engine optimization) best practices and design trends. We use tools enabling reduction of overall file sizes of your website images (because images that aren’t properly optimized will slow down your site). We build and develop a website that works on all devices. Especially relevant, our computers and peripherals are current to enable working with emerging technology.
In 1978 I cut my own hair. The next day, school pictures and that mistake lives on. In 1993 I bought my mother a car without an inspection. Two days later a $3,000 bill from the after-the-fact mechanic.
TIP: DIY will save you money. It may also cause you long-term trouble.
Starting a Small Business: A Check List
In the simplest of terms, there are some items that you’ll need to check off your list to build a positive online presence. We’ve named a few, although you have a different list as it relates to your specific target market, state, city and needs.
- Research your business name and register with your county / state as necessary (e.g., get a business license)
- You’ll need a professional email address (e.g., Google Business Email – $5/email address)
- Get a phone number that is not your personal cell (e.g., Sideline)
- Determine your target audience
- Write an “Ideal Customer” profile
- Set aside a realistic budget to build your website / logo / business cards
- Start compiling all of your content about you, your business, your services etc.
- Find a web / digital design company that can work within your budget, has experience with Local SEO, and can answer all of your questions (Studio Barn Creative offers payment plans for qualifying customers)
- Create a coming soon website page
- Build your website with local SEO best practices in place
- Have your web firm create a Google My Business Listing, and a Bing Places listing for you. Ask for access
- Have your web firm create a Google Analytics Account for you
- Have your web firm connect your Google Analytics account with Google search console
- Consider working with your web firm to monitor your local presence across all indexing repositories
- Create your social media accounts (with accurate company information) and post regularly
- Create monthly blog posts optimized for SEO
- Work with your web firm to get your quick link to Google reviews
Starting a Small Business with Studio Barn Creative
Are you starting a small business? If you’re ready to get started with the build of your online presence, let’s connect. You can find more information on our website about who we work with and what you can expect.