WRITTEN BY RYAN FRANKLIN, BLOGGER AND YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR
Are you a Midwesterner who has an amazing business idea, but think you might be too young to start working towards it? Don’t think that way! You’re never too young to start chasing your dreams. Plus, the Midwest is a great place to launch a business. Startups are flourishing all over the region, due in part to Midwestern values like an enterprising attitude and the willingness to help out our neighbors.
So you have your idea and you’re in a great location; what’s next?
Establish Your Business’s Name
Get the fun stuff out of the way first by letting your creative juices flow. Once you have your idea down, choose a business name and then get it registered with your County Clerk’s office. This way, no other company can come along after your business is established and use your business name legally. Remember, this is not the same thing as getting a trademark of your logo or a copyright of written content on your website. Look into the U.S. Patent Office for steps on doing that. Once you have registered your business name, get online and purchase a domain name. It should be as close to your business name as possible, though you may have to get creative. Set up the placement page so visitors will know your site is under construction, and then create a direct marketing channel by obtaining visitor’s information. This way you can send out a mass email promotion when the site goes live. Avoid spamming—your customers will appreciate it!
Write a Business Plan
Because you are young and have less business experience, it’s likely that you will have to raise some money to achieve your startup capital. Creating a good business plan will be essential for seeking outside funding of your business, and it will also keep you on track on those days when you feel in over your head (and there will be days like that!). Having a business plan will maintain your focus by laying out the future of your business step-by-step. Sections of your business plan that should be included are:
- Cover Page – Business Name, Address, Phone Number, Website, Logo.
- Purpose Section – A short summary of the purpose of your business and how it will stand apart from others.
- Business Structure – How will your business structure be set up? Sole Proprietor, Partnership, LLC, Corporation?
- Product or Service – Give more detail about your product or service. Include pictures.
- Client’s Needs – How will you meet the needs of your clients?
- Financial Table – How much will you charge? Expenses of business?
- Time Table – Break down by quarter what the goals and expectations are. Explain where funds will be spent in company.
- Management and Staff – List founders, managers, staff, volunteers, vendors, etc.
Now that you’ve done all that hard work, there is still one more important thing to consider: marketing. Sometimes, the toughest part of getting your business off the ground is getting your name out there in front of those potential consumers. Plus, learning to set your business apart from the rest is an ever-changing process. However, there are a few tried and true methods to get going:
- Design business cards and flyers to advertise your website.
- Link your website to every social networking site that makes sense for your business.
- Create a legitimate SEO campaign to maximize your website’s traffic.
- Generate traffic to your site through search engines and be select with the ads you allow on your site.
- Produce great web content. Remember, there’s nothing worse to an online shopper than landing on a page that’s cluttered with junk. Be mindful of your web content!
Finally, it is extremely important to remember to take advantage of your supportive community. Don’t overlook any way to network and get your name out there. No connection is unimportant when you are getting your business off the ground!
Ryan Franklin is a blogger and young entrepreneur who writes on behalf of Ordoro.