Starting a new business? If you are, you’re certainly not alone. In fact, these past two years have been banner years for people launching a new company. Perhaps they were quitting jobs as part of the “Great Resignation.” Or, maybe since folks working from home had more time, or maybe it was just more people realizing that they wanted to pursue their dream of being their own boss. But 2020 and 2021 saw a surge in the number of new businesses starting.
Most new businesses are one-person businesses, at least at first. Your new business is likely to be just you, too. So I asked my readers—small business owners and consultants who’ve “been there, done that”—to share some of their best suggestions for starting and running a one-person business.
Here’s some of their best advice:
Jennifer Croshal: “Keep bank accounts and credit card transactions for business separate from personal.”
Jennifer, a CPA, also suggests consulting a tax professional to help you understand the tax implications of your new business.
Right on, Jennifer. I was heartbroken to see so many one-person businesses not get Covid relief funds just because they didn’t have a business bank account. And I’ve seen many small businesses not get all the help they needed after a fire, hurricane, or earthquake because they didn’t have adequate financial records. Maintain good financial records and keep those records backed up in the cloud in case of emergency.
Bill Odell: Figure out—and write out—what value you bring to a client.
Bill’s pointing out an important truth: you can only create a profitable business if you fill a real need or desire of a customer. All too often, first-time entrepreneurs launch a business because they have a passion or a personal need they want to pursue. But that doesn’t mean there’s really a market. Before you start, analyze what value you offer that enough customers will pay money for.
Helena Bouchez: “Get in the ring and go!”
Helena goes on to say that you don’t need a fancy website or logo. “You just need the barest minimum website that says what kind of problems you solve and for whom…and why you’re qualified.”
All too often, a startup entrepreneur will spend all their time (and a lot of money) trying to get just the perfect website or perfect company name or logo instead of just getting out there and starting their business. That leads to the next suggestion…
Isaac Kremer: “Have clients and relationships in place BEFORE starting your business.”
You may wonder how you get clients if you haven’t started a business yet. The answer? Get out there and make sales. Lots of wanna-be business owners spend years planning their businesses (and hey, I’m all for planning—I wrote a bestselling book about business planning). But going out there and talking to prospective customers helps you understand what you can really make money selling.
Marti Lemos: “Start small, get experience to grow.”
Good advice, Marti. A lot of first time entrepreneurs target big customers first. But those are the hardest customers to land and to keep. Instead, get out there, land some small customers, learn what the market wants, adjust your pricing, and get better at what you do.
Jim Howes: “Create a process for developing proposals.”
This is going to save you a lot of time! Develop templates for proposals, processes, and spreadsheets you use over and over. Jim goes on to say your proposal template should include “defining scope of work, pricing, scheduling, and all the language to cover changes, liability, and the legal stuff.” And Jim counsels that this not only saves time, but it helps you focus.
Anna Hay: “Be authentic…Stay focused and do your research…Create a mantra or motto for your business…Be open to changing your target audience…Reach out to your local SBDC.”
Anna had a load of good advice. She recognizes you need to have a clear, genuine focus for your business, but must also be willing to pivot if the market demands it. And check with your local Small Business Development Center. They’re a fabulous, free resource!
And best of luck in your new endeavor. I’m pulling for you!
Copyright Rhonda Abrams, 2022
This article originally ran in USA Today on January 12, 2022