I’m a huge fan of simple, consistent and imperfect action when it comes to growing a business and I think a little bit of planning will go a long way in avoiding some of the bigger (and potentially costly mistakes) that can arise when you’re building a startup business in motherhood.
These are the things you can chip away at in your kids naptimes, while you are breastfeeding your baby, or maybe in those quiet moments of the night after the little ones have gone to bed.
This is essentially a checklist that allows you to productively procrastinate on your business ideas. It allows you to hold off a bit longer on stepping into the world of business, all the while doing your due diligence and taking imperfect action towards a bigger picture.
7 things to do before you start your own business
1. Brainstorm a business name.
Chances are, if you’re thinking about starting a business, you’ve probably already had a think about what your business name will be. If you are already sold on your business name, then move along to the next step, you can’t procrastinate on this one.
If you haven’t thought about a business name though, here are some ideas to get those creative juices flowing:
- Using your own name.
- Things/phrases associated with your product or service (duh!).
- A beloved pet’s name.
- Combos of your children’s names/letters of their names.
- Acronyms (these are V popular so be careful)
- Words associated with places you love to visit.
In my experience, if you aren’t 100% sold on your product or service, it is always good to go with a more generic name +/- a describing word to make it more specific. For example: Jessie Parker could become Jessie Parker consulting (very unimaginative, but you get the drift).
2. Check for existing trademarks.
There’s a common misconception that in Australia, once you’ve registered your ABN, you’re set. Wrong.
Registering your business name through the Austarlia Business Register is necessary, yes but just because the name is available to be registered, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a registered trademark insitu. For example, my ABN is registered under my partnership name but I had my actual brand name Borne Too trademarked. This would mean someone else could register the business name Borne Too via the ABR but operating under the name Borne Too would be considered a breach of copyright, because of my trademark.
You can see whether your potential business name is under trademark using a quick trademark search on IP Australia. Keep in mind, there are different categories for trademarking – so sometimes there won’t be a conflict if you will be offering a totally different product or service to that which has been registered. If you are confused, give IP Australia a call, they are actually super helpful!
3. Website domain & social media handle availability.
If you’re thinking you’ll need to build a website for your new biz, then you need to check the availability of your website domain. You can easily Google how to do this, or jump over to SiteGround to search using their tool.
While you consider your website domain, you could also be searching social media to see the availability of your handle. When I was looking to switch over to my personal name for my brand, I found it tricky to find a social media handle for my name, Jessie Parker. It’s not a unqiue name and so there were so many different accounts already using variations of the name and this helped me in deciding to go with my website jessieparker.co as it aligned with the social media handles that were available, too.
I don’t think it matters greatly if your social media handle is different to your website/brand name but it definitely helps with consistency and brand recognition across platforms and helps to instill that sense of omnipresence that works so well in marketing.
4. Survey your potential customers.
Even if you feel like there’s a gap in the market, it’s important to do your due diligence and ensure there’s a market in the gap. Sometimes we think our business ideas have legs, only to find they flounder when we launch.
An easy way to see if there’s a demand for your product or service, is to create a survey and ask your potential customers to complete it. You can ask questions specific to what you are going to be selling and gather important information to help develop your marketing strategy if you go ahead.
Surveys are great for:
- Validating business ideas
- Building an email list
- Getting to know the language your customers are using (gold for marketing material)
You can put together your own survey for free using Typeform or Survey Monkey and to improve the chances of getting the right people to complete the questions, you could offer a prize of a gift voucher to sweeten the deal (it can also to get those email addresses).
5. Create a customer avatar.
As I’ve mentioned through this blog already, to nail your marketing when it comes to actually selling your product or service, you need to have a clear representation of who your target market is and even more so – who is your ideal customer?
This profile of your ideal customer is referred to as your customer avatar. If you were marketing to only one person and they were your perfect client, what would they be like? There are plenty of worksheets available for free online for you to compile your customer avatar’s features.
6. Research trends and create Pinterest Boards.
Pinterest is a wonderful resource for keyword research. Start looking for images and articles related to your product/service and ideal customer.
You can begin compiling these things on Pinterest boards – which can also help with starting to form your brand identity and attract potential followers. If people like your vibe on Pinterest, they may just start following you to see what you’re all about!
6. Put together a basic business plan.
Failing to plan means planning to fail! Having a business plan gives you an outline of the direction which you want to take in your business. It also helps you cross your t’s and dot your i’s when it comes to having everything in order – especially your finances.
A business plan helps to flesh out a busniess idea and gets you thinking about all the ins and outs that you must consider as part of the bigger picture. Things like short and long term business goals, financial plan and funds allocation, marketing strategy including market research.
Use a free business plan template available online and start thinking realistically about how this business of yours would actually look if and when you start putting it out there.
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