I want to start off by saying by no means am I an expert in the area of business, nor do I profess to have all the answers in this area. I have however, successfully started a simple small business, and thought I would share how I did it. I broke it down into 6 “Ps”, because we can never have enough alliteration. Right? ;)
These are meant to be in a general order, but some may happen before others. A business will vary based upon the person running it, so these results will look different to each person. These business tips are also meant for one product or service sold but one person. In other words, a sole proprietorship.
Business opportunities are everywhere. In America we have an incredible privilege in having an opportunity to make money how we choose. This can be working for someone, working for ourselves, or both. I’ve started a very successful business in the last four years, and also had a failed business. I wanted to share some things with you all which I have learned.
Before even thinking about starting a business, you have to have a product, or a service which is of value to other people. For me, I discovered a rather large, but niche market of prop collectors. Then I worked up to a point where I could offer quality custom Saber props for sale based on commission. That’s what anyone who wants to start a business has to do. They have to be able to present something of value which people are interested in buying.
What product can you offer? Do you have artistic skill? A passion for outdoor work? Handy with a hammer and tools? Enjoy fixing electronics? All these things can be turned into businesses, and are just a few examples.
So you have a product, and have some folks interested in buying your work. When founding a business, asking yourself “Why am I doing ____?” is a great idea. If your sole purpose of a business is to make money, it is going to be hard to make it successful. Don’t get me wrong, making money should be a goal, but not the main one, if that makes sense. ;)
This purpose can and should be translated into a mission statement. This provides the framework for your operations, If you ever wonder “should I do this”, go back to the mission statement and see if it lines up. That’s where the power of purpose comes in.
Now that you have sold a few things to your family and friends, you find you like this extra money and desire more sales. This is where promotion comes in, and honestly the remaining “Ps” are going to be under this catagory. Esentially, if people don’t know you are selling something, then they can’t buy it. I personally recommend every business setup a website with their own domain name. It is extremely cheap, and with a backstage wordpress editor, extremely easy to do. Don’t settle only for a cliche’ facebook page, look legit and pro by buying your own domain and setting up a site. This shows potential customers you are much more serious than the other folks who have only social media pages.
It is important to consider the type of people you will be selling to, and then cater and advertise to those needs. This can be something like stylistic touches to your site, the way your describe your product, and more. You want to make it as appealing as possible to the people you are selling to. For instance, I wouldn’t have a lacy and frilly site for my saber business, because my demographic is not attracted to that style. In the same way, if one is selling knit scarves, and they have a dark sci-fi look to their site, people are not going to be as attracted, as it usually doesn’t match the buyers tastes in that area.
This is important to consider, but once you are started up in your business, where are you going to keep your supplies? Do your work? Keep your inventory? Having a place to setup and store your supplies is a great way to increase efficiency and relieve frustration of all items being all over the place. Don’t be afraid to invest in some containers or even a desk if the need arises. And a comfy chair. Those are very important. ;)
In doing business you have been making money. If you haven’t, you might want to reconsider if your business is a viable one or not. The time period to recoup your investment costs will vary based on the amount of capital needed to produce a product. For my business, it took me about a year and a half to get back into the green and make money. A game plan is crucial to properly managing your profits.
Money is active, and if you don’t manage it, the funds will go nowhere and be wasted. First thing you want to do is make sure and keep your business and personal accounts separate. You want to register your business with the county, and make sure you pay taxes if you do over $400 in sales. An Employer Identification Number is pretty handy as well, as it allows you to make bank accounts and other things without having to use your social number.
Hopefully some of those tips that I have learned over the past few years were helpful to you. Owning a small business is a wonderful opportunity to learn how economics works, puts a little extra cash in your pocket, and also looks great on a resume. If you’ve started a small business be sure to leave your tips in the comments below!