When I started my business 4 years ago I jumped in with zero knowledge of what I was doing. I knew how to design and I knew how to code and like a lot of people I figured out the rest along the way. I Googled my way through setting up client contracts and on-boarding, through building out a membership site, through email marketing, and video production. But laying a strong foundation for my business from the start…eh, I kinda skimmed over that.
The thing is, it’s so easy to start a business now that we forget some of the basic things because we’re too excited setting up social media accounts and buying Instagramable office supplies.
Those are important as well, but are you missing these 7 small business essentials that could keep your business from growing consistently and positioning yourself for long-term success?
1 | A vision + goals
So you’ve got a name, a domain and some services or products – now what? What do you want to accomplish this year? Who are you helping? What does your business bring to your own life? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? If this isn’t just a quick entrepreneurial phase, you need a plan to build something that will last. Your products and services may shift and grow, but WHY you’re doing all this work will likely stay the same. Nail it down at the start and you’ll have a much better chance at lasting through the highs and lows of being a solopreneur.
2 | A bookkeeping tool
I’m going to guess that you intend to make money with your business, right? If you haven’t been through tax time as a solo business owner yet you (or your accountant) will thank me for reminding you to set up a bookkeeping tool from the start. (I use Xero for my business.) This will allow you to update your books in just a few minutes/week and download complete reports when you go to file your taxes. I literally login, file all of the transactions for that week and I’m done.
The awesome thing about online business is that it’s really easy to start bringing in income from multiple sources, but this means it can take a lot of time to track and assess what is working. Setting up a bookkeeping tool will allow you to see how all of your streams of income are faring at once and give you an at-a-glance view of your year. This was something I waited and waited to invest in and it’s such a relief to have all that info updated and visible so quickly now!
3 | A blog
Your blog will be your home base and your big marketing machine. Content is way more than king, so you can’t get away with having a static website anymore. If no one in your niche is blogging YOU need to get the ball rolling. Blogging will help you build trust and create a connection – two things you MUST have in order to get people to pay you. Plus it will help your site show up in the first page of search results because Google favors websites that are updated on a regular basis. (This post can help you get started)
Also – while social media is also a necessity, having your own space to share content means if algorithms change you won’t get screwed.
4 | A business ally
Who can you talk to when you’re stressed out, trying to make a decision, or need feedback? You may be a solopreneur, but you do not have to go it alone. For most people the big problem is that people in their offline life are not building an online business, which makes talking to friends and family about what you’re doing not entirely helpful. Fortunately there is a massive community of people online doing exactly what you’re doing and having all the same issues. Get on social media and make some friends!
5 | An email list
Even if you’re on day 1 of building your business, you need to have an email list. This will be the fastest and most direct way to get in touch with your audience, share your expertise, position yourself as an expert, earn their trust, and then move them to make a purchase or hire you. (I set up my list on ConvertKit) Sending out email on a weekly basis will help your subscribers get used to hearing from you so when you do send a sales pitch or information on your services you will not come across as salesy, you’ll come across as informative and helpful.
6 | A freebie
Whether it’s a set of worksheets, a free sample of your product, a mini online course, or your top 10 tips, giving readers an incentive to join your email list is key. You can no longer get away with just telling people to “Subscribe for Updates.” (Could we ever get away with that??) You MUST to give them a reason to hand over their precious email address. A valuable piece of content that gives them a small win is a great way to do that. (I deliver freebies with LeadPages)
7 | Daily processes
If you’re hoping to get through your workday without stress, your week without overwhelm, and your year without burnout then putting processes in place for EVERY task you tackle is a non-negotiable. Do not move forward in building your business without having a system in place for writing blog posts, emailing customers, on-boarding clients, filing, bookkeeping, designing, etc.
Because you’re likely doing everything yourself, every single task no matter how big or small, needs to be completed in a way that takes the least amount of time while still being 100% effective. Setting up processes and systems for how you run your blog and business is essential to creating consistent growth and keeping yourself on task and focused.