So you want to start a small business. I have a lot of clients at the beginning of their journey and here is what I suggest to get started on the right foot. These tools are the foundations of my small business and while you may not need them right away (I’ve seen a lot of clients start without a website), you will eventually so setting them up properly will give you the best chance for success, and make it easier in the long run.
DOMAIN ($9 per year) Get 20% off with this link
Your domain is a no-brainer, of course, but it is usually the first step in getting your small business set up. Sales is what feeds your company and your website is your best marketing tool. I suggest keeping it simple with a .com domain – yes, it’s what everyone else is using, but when I’ve visited websites with .co or .net I almost always type it in wrong. Also keep in mind that your domain name should be: simple, meaning easy to spell and pronounce.
WEBSITE PLATFORM ($20-40 per month)
Once you have your domain, you’ll need something to build the website with. There is Squarespace, Wix, etc. but hands down I suggest Showit. Showit is a website building software that has a WordPress backend. You get the great features that a WordPress site brings – customization, SEO, content management (blogs), but with a super easy interface and NO CODE. I love creating Showit sites, so if you need help, contact me. I would be happy to create a beautiful, user-friendly site for your business.
GOOGLE SUITE – ($5 per month) 20% off yearly plan with this link
This was my favorite part of setting up my business! Having an email associated with your domain name not only makes you look more credible (hint, hint bloggers looking to secure brand partnerships!) but helps with email deliverability when you start to do email marketing for your small business. Plus, you can use all the benefits of the Google Suite including Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, etc.
ECOMMERCE ($9-300 per month)
Eccomerce is a fancy term for a site that sells stuff. If you want to sell anything, you will need a store where you can post listings and keep track of sales, inventory, and reporting. Shopify is the e-commerce giant right now. For my clients that want to sell simple things – like an ebook or t-shirts – I suggest using Shopify Lite ($9/month) along with Showit.
However, if you want to have a more complex store, then Squarespace ($26/month) or being exclusively on Shopify are the way to go. I suggest digging deep into both and seeing which suits your unique needs best.
Note: All these sites are great, so it’s not as important as which one you choose, but really just getting started.
CRM SOFTWARE ($25 per month)
Automation, Automation, Automation. You hear it all the time. But what does that actually mean? For my small business, it means not having to do anything when a lead comes in and make it easier to onboard a client.
That involves a CRM software.
A CRM software (customer relationship management) helps businesses manage their customer data. I use Dubsado (Get 20% off with this link), which if you are a creative (graphic designer, photographer, wedding services provider, virtual assistant), I recommend ONE HUNDRED PERCENT. I use Dubsado to: take in leads with a contact form on my website, automatically send emails to those leads with basic information so I don’t have to answer every single one, create my proposals, contracts, invoices, list out my packages so I don’t have to rewrite them every single time I have a potential lead and utilize workflows to onboard my client.
One of my favorite parts is that once a client signs the contract + pays their first invoice, a welcome email is sent with the next steps and the branding questionnaire. I then get tasks set up for me automatically to put that client in my project management system. The whole process from the time a client sends me an email to when they sign and onboard takes me less than 15 minutes.
One thing I did invest in (and found was definitely worth the investment!) was a consultant who set up my Dubsado for me. Krystal Clark Creative helped me walk through my process and then put together my workflows. This saved me so much time so I could focus on building my website and serving my clients. If you have the extra money, I think time-saving investments like these are worthwhile.
EMAIL MARKETING SOFTWARE (Free)
If you are looking for different ways to connect with your audience, email marketing can be super easy to set up and inexpensive-no cost. I personally use ConvertKit now but before that, utilized Mailchimp. It’s free, easy and integrates into everything.
ACCOUNTANT (Price range varies)
If you are bringing in money with your new venture, you will need to report that to the IRS. And, I don’t know about you but tax law and accounting is pretty foreign to me. I hired an accountant to help me check my books quarterly and give me advice for my growing small business. I suggest finding someone local so you can visit them as needed.
PHOTOGRAPHY ($150-$500, varies by the photographer)
A solid, professional website along with great photography and copywriting can do wonders for your business. I always suggest my clients get new photos taken once a year to keep their content fresh. You can use this photographer on your website, social media and all accounts to keep a cohesive brand. If you can’t afford this just yet, at least make sure you have a clear headshot that you can use for all your profile images. When you are ready, look for a photographer that has great reviews and has an aesthetic similar to your brand. You can find photographers local to your area by searching through hashtags (such as #orlandophotographer).
HARD WORK (priceless)
This one doesn’t have a cost associated it, but with starting any business there are a lot of hours that you WILL work without return. It’s a hustle that has to stay consistent through the good times and the bad, the times you “just can’t” and the times where you are trying to balance everything from your relationships to a full-time job to parenting. The ones who have succeeded are the ones who go in with no excuses and stay persistent. Starting your own business will take a lot of time and effort and for some, that is just as valuable as money. The good news is that the return on you as an investment is unlimited!