The Budget, the Schedule, and the Contractor – 7 Tips for Starting your own Business

You know what they say about renovations - double your budget, add some more, and expect it to take twice as long as you think? Turns out the same principle can be applied to starting a new business. And don’t leave your decision making hat at home either. Whether you’re renovating or setting up shop, you’ll be astounded at how many decisions you’ll make, about things you didn’t even know you had to decide!

I’ve just launched myself as The Stylish Marketer, a marketing and communications consultant for women-owned businesses. And while I didn’t have to relocate during the process, I did learn a few things I’m happy to share with you:

1.      Start with your business name – ‘cause the one you really, really want is probably already taken somewhere on social media. It’s no longer enough to find the perfect website domain, you need to consider your Twitter handle, and Instagram too, if your target market is likely to be found there.

2.      Do your research – you really need to know who else is out there doing the same sort of thing as you. After you define the problem you are going to solve for your customers, the next most critical thing is to succinctly state why they should buy from you. Pretend you’re trying to explain it to your grandmother.  

3.      Have a big picture plan – you’ll be stymied and distracted more than once along the way, so it’s helpful to have your overall goal defined, as well as some reasonable stepping stone goals. You may not get there in exactly the way you envisioned (what do you mean the inspector said we need to re-do the wiring?!), but if you can be adaptable and willing to compromise on the little things, you’ll get there in the end. There’s usually more than one way to do something.

4.      Budget – seriously, double it and then add some. And the same thing for your time-frame. I didn’t actually spend that much to set up my simple, home-based consultancy, but everything took longer than I thought it would. Plus, you’re so eager to get going you’ll be 100% focused on your business, but sadly, not everyone else will be too. And who knew that a simple PO Box with a street address would cost $25 per month!

5.      Get good help – because you’re going to need more help than you thought. Fortunately, there are all kinds of resources available for small business owners, in nearly every community. And if you’re a woman setting up on your own, there are additional resources geared towards your needs. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is a great place to start, with links to local assistance too. Once you’ve identified specific tasks you might need assistance with (unless you’re a plumber, you probably shouldn’t be installing pipes!) check your own network first. Everything I outsourced was to other women in my neighborhood. But I built my own website! (You need to know how IT unfriendly I am to know what an accomplishment that is!)

6.      Talk to others – know anyone who’s already done it? This applies to both your business and your renovation project. Because everyone learns something the hard way; why not benefit from the experience of others? I like to call this ‘wisdom acceleration’.

7.      Believe in yourself – this is a toughie, especially if you’re a woman. Remember all those decisions I said you had to make? You’ll second guess most of them. And spend waaaaay too long agonizing over them. But if you’ve already decided to pursue your own business, you’re already more than halfway there. Not everyone has the right blend of confidence, skills, and knowledge, not to mention chutzpah, to even dream about their own business. But you do. Just don’t forget to include a few cheerleaders in your planning for those times when you’ll need a little boost. Check out the Facebook groups Women’s Business Garden and The Biz Chix Coop for great support and excellent community.

And when everything’s in place, tell anyone and everyone! You never know if your husband’s sister’s nephew might be a potential customer.

There. Now you can advise those who are considering a project of their own, whether that be a renovation or a new business.

Good luck!