Opening your own small business is like climbing a ladder. You do it step by step. Soon you’ll be growing a company, earning money and you’ll be the boss. But there are a few essentials you start with first.
- Write a business plan. Look up business plans on Google and look for a template to write your plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated. What is your mission—what do you want to accomplish and how do you want to accomplish that.
For example, for your mission: you want to open a dog walking business in your zip code area, focusing on residential homes. How do you want to accomplish this: You can buy a list from a mail house or you can walk a neighborhood and write down homes that have fenced in backyards. What other things can you do to promote yourself?
- Set a budget you want to spend for the first few months and then update that number frequently as you determine what is working and what is not. Include the cost of printing business cards, doorhangers, giveaway items, a magnet car sign with your number and name, and, of course, a phone if you don’t have one.
- Decide on a name for your business. Trademark it. The US Patent & Trademark Office website walks you through the process. Using your last name is easy.
- Open up a business account with a bank. There will be paperwork to fill out.
- Set up your books. Go to ShingleHanger.com to get a FREE website, tools to invoice, schedule appointments, track the hits on your site and much more. After January 1, 2021, the cost is only $4.99 a month. That is a minimal cost so put it in your budget.
- Build a great website using the templates from ShingleHanger. Think about what you want to say, promote (your experience, testimonials from satisfied customers, rates, etc.). Think about what you can offer than others can’t. Maybe you offer to feed the dog or cat or promise to walk them for 30 minutes.
- Spread the word. Go to your local quick print shop and get some doorhangers to put on front doors describing your business. Don’t put them in mailboxes because that’s illegal. Make the doorhanger colorful. Use short sentences and bullet your information. Your phone number and e-mail address should be prominent and in bold print.
Now get out there and get to work!
Go to city and dog parks and hand out your business cards or doorhangers to people walking dogs. See if you can leave some or put one on a bulletin board in coffee shops. Talk to friends. Put the doorhanger on doorknobs in a 4 block area, but not in mailboxes. Post it on your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account. Give some to friends to hand out. Use your imagination. Working for yourself can be fun and rewarding.
— by Amy Baach, Baach Creative Services