So you’ve been having this recurring thought of taking the plunge into the small business world but maybe you’re not fully committed yet. You want to do a little more research, maybe take a little action without going all in.
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 during nap time, 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 a checklist that allows you to productively procrastinate on your business ideas. It gives you breathing room to hold off a bit longer on stepping into the world of business but still meaning you’re taking imperfect action towards your goals. Winning!
Starting a small business checklist – 7 things to consider
1. Brainstorm your 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 really haven’t given much thought to your biz name, 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 if the business name isn’t taken, it’s fair game. This isn’t quite accurate.
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’s all good for you to use. You need to do a bit more research before you assume an ABN is good to go.
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 plan to operate in a totally different field. If you are confused, give IP Australia a call, they are actually super helpful and can help clarify things for you.
3. Website domain & social media handles
This kinda goes hand-in-hand with registering your business name. When doing some brainstorming around your new business name, check the availability of the website domain. Many hosting providers offer this tool, a quick Google will set you on the right path.
Hop over to social media and also check the availability of the handle you’re thinking of using. 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.
It doesn’t really matter is your social media handle is different to your website/brand name but it will help with consistency and brand recognition across platforms. It helps to instill that sense of omnipresence that is proven to work in marketing.
4. Market research
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. Note: if your family/friends aren’t your ideal customers, avoid using them for accurate research. In your survey ask questions specific to what you are going to be selling and gather important information to help develop your future marketing strategy.
Questionnaires are great for:
- Validating business ideas
- Building an email list
- Getting to know the language your customers are using (a.k.a voice of customer – marketing GOLD)
You can put together your own questionnaire for free using Typeform or Survey Monkey and to improve the chances of getting the right people to complete the questions, offer a prize of a gift voucher to sweeten the deal (also good for collecting email addresses and building your email list).
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.
Again, don’t rely on your family or friends here unless they are in your target audience. Their feedback is likely to be biased and won’t give you the information you need.
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. develop 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 business 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. Revisit your business plan each quarter to help tweak goals and stay on track.
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.