Wanting to start your own service-based business, selling your expertise? Check out these five steps to getting your business off the ground and start booking clients!
Starting a business is most definitely not for everyone. However, if you’re teetering on the edge of whether or not you should take the leap, I wholeheartedly say go for it. Because here’s the deal – you get to decide how deep you want to wade into the waters. Forewarning though, the act of starting something from nothing is the most amazing journey you can embark on.
So, let’s say you’re ready to take the leap. Where on earth do you even start? While this by no means is an all-encompassing list, I want to walk you through the five basic steps for getting a service based business off the ground. If I was starting from square one, these are the five main tiers I’d go through myself. In fact, my husband just started a side hustle this spring and we’re walking through this exact process together to get his biz up and running.
Step One: The Bare Minimum
Thankfully, we live in a time when starting a business could not be easier. Now, making it sustainable is an entirely different story – what I mean is, thanks to technology, literally anyone can register and ‘start’ a business with a few clicks. How freakin’ amazing is that? That being said, there are a few must-dos after deciding that you have a thing you want to put out there.
Decide on a business name. Easier said than done, I know.
Register your business with the Secretary of State. I’m not a lawyer or an accountant, so please don’t take this as professional legal/financial advice. However, I do know you can DIY this and it’s relatively inexpensive to make your business legal.
Purchase your domain. While the actual website creation is farther down the line, it’s important to purchase your domain as soon as you can. Again, expect to invest about $10-$20 per year for domain registration.
Snag your social media handles. Similar to the domain purchase, it doesn’t make sense to wait to get all the social handles registered to you – sometimes the one you want isn’t available and that might sway your decision on business name, domain name, etc.
Step Two: Getting Started with Branding
It’s easy to look at the more established business owners, see their polished brand and think you have to start your business looking like that. Good news – you don’t. Brand consistency comes from clarity, which only happens by taking action. That being said, your brand has to start somewhere. So, even though you’re in the beginning phase, there are a few key items that will get you started on the right foot.
Get clarity on your four brand pillars. There are four pillars that I talk about on a consistent basis that go into helping you create a consistent and cohesive brand. They are: who you serve, why you serve, what you offer and how you want people to feel. Answering these four questions will give you a strong brand foundation to build upon as you start taking action in your business.
Purchase (or DIY) a brand start kit. This would include a logo, font recommendations and color palette. If you’re going the purchase route, check out my Semi-Custom Brand Shop!
Step Three: Build a Website
As a website designer, obviously I am biased towards the benefits of having a home base. Can you get started with just a Facebook business page? Absolutely. But I also firmly believe it’s easy enough to put together a website and the benefits vastly outweigh the drawbacks. The main one being, you own your website. You don’t own your social media channels. Also, putting something together now (even if it’s just one page) will set you up for success in the long run.
Purchase website hosting. I use and recommend Siteground. More often than not, the ‘Get Started’ plan is all you need to get off the ground.
Decide on a WordPress theme. There are LOADS of themes out there to choose from. What I use for Witt and Company and in building client sites is Divi. It’s a drag-and-drop editor that is super user-friendly. However, there is a learn curve. If you’re looking for something more template-based.
Step Four: Pick ONE Marketing Strategy
When you’re just getting started, it’s tempting to want to be everywhere online. I get it because I felt the same exact way. But here’s the deal. The more places you try and show up, the more stretched out you become and the less effective your marketing strategy is. You’re only one person. If you have the ability to hire help from the start, hell yes, go all-in on multiple platforms. However, I’m going to assume you’re a one-woman shop with limited time. In which case, I recommend picking ONE marketing strategy and doubling down on that. Can you have a presence across multiple? Absolutely. But with marketing, the goal is consistency. So ask yourself, what can you consistently show up for? And then look at your ideal client. Where are they spending their time? Do they read blogs? Do they listen to Podcasts? Maybe YouTube is the place. Or, Facebook groups? Is it the ‘Gram?
From there, dive in. Create great content and create it consistently.
Step Five: Start an Email List
So here’s the deal. You don’t own the audience(s) you have on social media. So inevitably, when the channel algorithms change and your reach decreases, the panic doesn’t have to happen if you have an email list. Why? Because you own that list. You can control how often you connect with them.
Pick an email marketing platform. There are LOADS to choose from. First, know that an email marketing platform is different than the tool you use to send business emails. An email marketing platform’s purpose is to send a mass amount of emails, automate and segment an audience. I personally use and recommend Mailerlite. However, I have experience and also recommend FloDesk, Covertkit and ActiveCampaign.
Create an opt-in form. This is the ‘thing’ of value you’re giving to the subscriber in exchange for their email address. Tailor it to your ideal client and what they’re needing support in. I.e., if you’re a health coach that works with post-partum moms, your opt-in could be a free seven-day meal plan for new moms.
Start sharing that form via your one marketing strategy. Your goal is to get as many eyeballs on your opt-in as possible. Remember, people need to see things multiple times before it resonates and/or they take action. Don’t be afraid to share this again and again.
There ya have it. Five steps to getting your service based business off the ground. Simple? Yes. Easy? Not necessarily. Building a business, building something from nothing, doens’t have to be HARD. But there is a learning curve. And it’s easy to get frustrated. So, take it one step at a time. Your goal is to move forward every day – even if it’s just an inch.
And remember, consistency is your best friend. In my humble opinion, it’s what separates those who succeed from those who don’t. So my recommendation is to make the decision now that you’re going to consistently show up for your business every day. Even when it’s hard. Even when you’re not seeing progress. Even when you feel like giving up.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be digging into each of the five steps more in depth, so stay tuned for even more action-items and even more information on building your version of success.
You got this my friend!
All my best,
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