No matter how serious you are about your dream business, it will only remain a big idea unless you start doing something. It may seem overwhelming at first, especially when you’re clueless about where to begin. But even the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world had the same dilemma, too.
So don’t worry—it’s actually not as complicated as you’ve imagined. We’ve broken down the process into smaller steps that will motivate you to build your own empire ASAP:
1. Start with a plan
For a business to work, it has to be something you’re passionate about—one that you’ll be willing to wake up for every day.
Art directors Alan and Nikki Po found their true love not just in each other but in graphic design. After seven years of working for known advertising and publishing agencies, they decided to grow their careers by exploring the unknown—freelancing.
In 2012, Nikki was hired as a creative consultant, allowing her to accept more gigs on the side. This led the couple to land bigger projects for clients such as the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of Trade and Industry, until finally establishing their own creative agency, Savant Design House, in 2016.
Do comprehensive research to identify the following: the need for your product or service, your target market, your competition’s strengths, pricing, and marketing scheme, and your store location, among others. Start simple with a one-page plan that gives an overview of your business. Define your vision, mission, and objectives. Make an outline of your basic strategies, then write down detailed tasks that will achieve your goals. Know what sets you apart by identifying your unique selling point (USP).
“Savant Design House focuses more on government and corporate clients, which are usually overlooked industries in the creative community,” says Nikki.
2. Set a realistic budget
A start-up doesn’t demand you to sacrifice your life savings. However, an initial investment is needed to keep things running.
Alan shares, “At the onset of the company, we managed to buy a single computer that we shared. Overhead was very low since we worked from home. Once our clientele grew, we collaborated with freelancers on a per-project basis. This helped to keep costs manageable and afford excellent people that contribute to the value of our company.”
Set a practical estimate particularly if you’re funding it on your own. Figure out how much is required for initial expenses such as market research, licenses and permits, and branding, as well as for operational costs for at least the next 12 months, such as rent, production, and marketing. Note every spending in a spreadsheet so you can carefully keep track of your budget.
3. Decide on your business model
Since you are at the initial stage, you may opt to register as a sole proprietor to lessen paperwork and save on legal fees.
Once you’ve tested the sustainability of your business model during the first six months, you can then re-evaluate and change it to a partnership, limited liability company, or corporation, depending on the growth of your business. If you need more guidance on picking the best structure for you, consulting with an accountant or a lawyer may also be a wise move.
“We hired professionals right away—this ensured us that there won’t be any problems with processing. Our philosophy is to hire people that specialize in these things so that we don’t have to worry about this aspect of the business,” says Nikki.
4. Promote your start-up
As soon as your business starts operating, you need a marketing plan to boost your competitive edge among potential customers. Explore effective ideas such as creating a Facebook and an Instagram page to promote your brand, and securing your own URL—smart and affordable ways to advertise, whether you’re building an online business or not.
For a minimal monthly fee, domain sites like HostGator allow you to buy your chosen website address that you can build through website creation tools such as Wix. “For some years, we’ve relied on our connections and strong portfolio to sustain the business. So far, through posting on our social media, we’ve had success in gaining new business,” Alan says.
Always keep the purpose of your venture in mind—turning your passion into profit, taking a plunge towards financial freedom, or finally owning a home—and you’ll be surprised how hard work can grow not only your company but your business expertise, too.