How to start a Business
Are you ready to take the plunge? Starting a business is as terrifying as it is satisfying. Trust me, I know. My first business, Healthcare Deciphered, was created from my passion. The struggle to pull everything together can be overwhelming at times, mostly panic wakes you from a good night sleep. There is good news. The process to setup a business is straight forward. Seriously, it is!
The first year I started my business, I actually still worked a full-time job at the same time. There were definitely some late nights for sure and lots of coffee. It is definitely the safer approach. I still had a steady paycheck to deposit into the bank, which I used to fund my startup costs. I expanded slowly as my client-based increased. Plus, I worked out of my home. Within the year, I was able to replace my full-time (safe) job working for someone else with my newly founded business. My targets were simple. In order to secure sustainable growth, I divided my annual goal into a monthly objective. The truth, I only targeted 1 new client a month.
For healthcare consulting, adding 1 client a month allowed me to keep overhead costs low. Now if you are trying to sell merchandise, pick a more realistic goal. If you are selling 1 sponge a month for $5, you will never really have a sustainable business. Consulting is a little different. I would onboard one client, by the time the work was slowing down, the next client was onboarding. With Healthcare Deciphered, the initial setup of clients is always more work, then maintaining. This is generally true. You should always expect the worst to occur. There will be months when goals are missed. It’s not necessarily your business idea, it could be the market.
By the end of my 2nd year, I was able to hire staff and had a very nice shared office space.
Cheat! You do not need a big fancy office, most businesses are home-based now. If you do want to venture into a store front or actually office-space, apply rule 1. Start Small. There are a number of shared offices with all types of configurations. Personally, I loved this idea. My initial shared office had a personal secretary who would answer my phone calls as if she was personally employed by me. In addition, clients had no idea our common spaces were shared. That includes the spacious conference rooms. I had access to printers, fax machine, mailroom, etc. Basically any equipment I would have normally needed to buy to start an office was already included for the lovely low price around $100 bucks a month. The best part is the ability to use the physical address as my office address. Whether or not I worked full-time out of the office or my home, clients perceived my office as completely professional. I was able to create the perfect office environment for my clients without really have to purchase space myself. I loved it! It was cheap!
With the birth of my child, I moved back to full-time home based office. When I’m ready to branch out again, I’ll be going back to a shared office. I see no reason, for myself, to lease or rent an office space that I have to fund and build with a high cost to startup. Keep the money for marketing.
Nothing is Perfect, Spend Less Time
This I have to keep reminding myself over and over again. Speaking from one perfectionist to another, it is difficult to understand this concept. With my 1st business, I cannot even calculate the number of hours spent on my website. The funny part is I really do not think it was even necessary. For me, all my referrals were from my connections. Clients loved my business. I was completely humbled by the amount of referrals I received and how quickly. This is not normal. Marketing is a big part of starting a business. That’s where you should spend money and early in the process.
Brochures, ads, and any other types of marketing will be extremely useful in the beginning. People need to hear and see your business. Post it everywhere! The simple fact is not all the marketing materials are going to be perfect. There are 2 major reasons. At this point, you do not know what draws in your audience. It will take some trial and error, even when you’ve thoroughly done your research, to find the key that drives clients to your business. You may need a marketing expert to help, but give it a try yourself first.
Outline & Time Management
There is no time. This is the simple truth about starting a business. In the first year, I worked on my business from 8pm to 2am. I barely slept. The only component going well was my ability to create task lists. Whether or not I got through the task list is another story. You have to give yourself a break. Again, I tell this to myself regularly. When you are the CEO, CFO, COO, CMO, and every other position in your business in the beginning time runs out quickly. The best method is to weigh the importance of the task. You have to file for incorporation and other business licenses. However, you do not necessarily need to work on your website for half the day. Email setup is usually generally important, but I’m sure there are tasks that can be moved to the bottom of the list or crossed off all together. There are also time savings tricks that will help. Outsource for cheap when you can. You can hire out basic everyday administrative tasks from online resources that allow you to focus on more important tasks. Remember the monthly is to hit your goals. This is the primary objective make money, bring in clients or sell products. Spend the majority of your time reaching your audience, only spend an hour on administrative tasks. If you cannot are spending less time obtaining clients, outsource more. In the early stages, you have to find clients. It is the only way to sustain the business long-term.
I know, your next question is how to find your audience. Do not worry clients are findable, no matter your specialty. If I can find clients for one of the most boring sounding businesses ever, you can certainly find people!