Welcome to part two of how to start a business! If you haven’t read part one yet, make sure to go check it out because it’s important to have the whole picture in mind when going through this step-by-step guide.
In the last article, we covered narrowing down, building a business plan, creating your values, mission and vision, mapping out your financial model and lastly, setting up your legal structures. Once you’ve accomplished these steps, you should start to see the foundation of your business coming together.
The action steps covered in this article are where you start to see that foundation come alive! We will be covering a few other back-end logistical items and then venturing into the front scenes action where the beginning days of your business will take place!
Once again, I’m sharing the tactical tools that I have used from the personal experience of starting multiple businesses. This article series is the guide that I wish I had at the very beginning of my entrepreneurial journey.
- Set up your financial accounts and structures
After you have received your LLC, EIN and business license, you will be able to open a bank account. I recommend calling the bank you want to use and asking them if they can walk you through the steps of starting a business bank account. This will vary depending on the bank, but normally, they will get some of your information over the phone (like your LLC name, EIN, etc) and set an appointment for you to physically come to a branch and finalize details/sign the documents. Make sure they set up a business checking and a business savings account(which they won’t automatically do). Having a savings account is really important because it will allow you to set money aside for taxes, cash flow savings, etc.
Once you have your business bank account set up and have created your online portal logins, you need to decide what Point Of Sale (POS) system you want to use. This depends on what type of business you have. If you have an online based business, Stripe, Quickbooks or Paypal are good options. If you have a physical location business, Square is a good option. Here’s a list of POS systems for you to review and assess what works best for your business model. I recommend setting your POS system up right after you get your bank account open. You want to be ready to bring in cash as soon as possible and sometimes it takes a few days to verify details.
Next, find a bookkeeper and/or CPA to do your taxes. This is optional but highly recommended. I know it sounds like a great idea to save money and not invest in bookkeeping, but trust me, you will save and make a lot more money in the long run if you do the books the right way. So unless you have an accounting degree/are very good at business finances, I highly recommend a bookkeeper or bookkeeping software as well as someone (a CPA) to do your annual taxes. Taxes are something a lot of business owners don’t think about at the beginning but having someone who knows the legal system well is a huge asset to your business.
- Front-load the organization of your business
Do not underestimate the power of organization as a business owner. Organization is key and will save you so much time and money in the long run. As soon as you start creating or receiving any type of business files or content, set up your core organization systems to keep track of everything.
I recommend trying to do this as paperless as you can. The platform I like for organizing everything from legal documents to business systems is Asana. If you want a more basic software, creating a google drive works as well.
Another key part of business organization is starting a business calendar. You don’t want to fall into the trap of mixing personal life with work life too much. Not only is this good for business appointments, but it’s also good for reminders. When you start a business, you have a lot more dates and reminders to keep track of. For example, I highly recommend going through your LLC and business license filing dates and putting those quarterly/yearly reminders into your calendar to trigger you to remember to file them. Also, if you have business partners, it’s good to have a business calendar that you are all on. In the past when I’ve had business partners, I’ve had a personal work calendar where I stored my business meetings/reminders and then I had a shared business calendar where I stored anything that was joint with my business partners.
- Create a three-month strategic ACTION plan
This step will be a lot easier to do once you have your organization system in place. For strategic plans, Asana is one of my favorite tools. If you’re not an Asana lover, you can outline your strategic plan on a document or piece of paper (if it’s a piece of paper, make sure you store it online too so you don’t lose it!)
When you’re starting your business, it can feel like everything needs to be done all the time- and you’re not wrong. This is why it’s essential to make sure your priorities and focus are in the right place, at the right time. Mapping out a three-month strategic plan starting at day 1 will help you with this. I recommend just a three month plan because so much can change in business and doing it for much longer than this can be a waste of time due to the many pivots you might have to make along the way. You should already have your business plan in place at this point which can give you the big picture perspective.
In this strategic plan, separate your business into a few core elements and make your number 1 goal for each element. Some example elements are: Advertising, Sales, Customer acquisition, Personnel, etc. What one thing will really move the needle in each area in your first three months? When you have your elements and one thing, you want to create at least a 5 step action plan to accomplish that one thing.
Here’s an example of what this could look like
My One Thing Goal:
Grow my business instagram to 200 followers by _____ (whatever date is 3 months from now)
- Create my branding aesthetic and customer avatar that I’ll be marketing to
- Start an instagram account for my business
- Post on instagram 5 days a week and post to stories 7 days a week
- Do 2 instagram collaborations with 2 influencers who have over 10k followers
- Do 2 give-aways
As you can see, this is a strong action plan that will help really move the dial on your goals in the next three months. It’s also realistic and measurable. If you want to take more of a deep dive into goal setting in general, check out this article.
- Hit GO
It’s go time. You’ve done a lot of up-front work setting up the foundation of your business and now it’s time to tackle and execute. None of the work you’ve done will amount to anything unless you take massive action on executing your well thought out, sleek goals.
Most early-day business owners fail because they fail to show up everyday, even on the days the process absolutely sucks. There are going to be times where you feel like you’re making 0 progress, but no matter how you feel, keep showing up and taking strategic action on your goals each day. A rule of thumb in business is that what you do today, you most likely won’t see the effects of until three months later.
Another hack that will really help you keep showing up and make the most of your time is time-blocking. Listen to this podcast episode to learn how to make every second count!
- Build out systems every step of the way
Most of us start a business so we can experience more freedom in our life! However, the majority of business owners end up working for their business instead of their business working for them. In other words, they become a slave to their phone, their customers, and their business as a whole. This usually happens when business owners spend all their time working in their business instead of ON their business.
What’s the cure to this common theme? Systems. Systems are your way to freedom. They’re the least “sexy” thing to build, but the most incredible thing once they’re in action. Systems are how to build a self-running business.
The best way to build these systems is to have the mindset that you’re working yourself out of your job – even in the very early days. This means that everything you do, from paying the bills to training your employees should be documented.
The more systems you have, the more assets your business has and the closer you will get to a self running business once you work out the kinks. Also, when you add personnel to your team, it will be 10x easier if you have systems for them to step into.
Check out this article for a step-by-step on how to build systems for your business.
If being a business owner was easy, everyone would do it. Although you’ve chosen the hard route, accomplishing the steps in this two-part guide can not only help you build a strong foundation for your dream, but it can make your first couple years of business much more streamlined and successful. I’m proud of you for choosing such a meaningful and impactful route to building your dream life!
Happy business building!
If you want a personalized look at how your first couple of months should look specifically for your business, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to hop on a 30 min call with you to get you on the right track!