If you have a business idea or investment opportunity and need to know the next actionable steps to starting your own business listen closely. Once again, this assumes you have a solid business idea that could make money (invention, online retail, real estate, concept, consulting, idea etc). If you don’t have any business idea yet, that is a different issue and you should email me. Anyway, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to quit your job, drop out of school, sell your house, or plant roots somewhere to start a profitable business. People ask me all the time how I manage working 40-50 hours a week while still maintaining several businesses that probably make more money than your current job. I would like to show you how!
In my experience as a coach and consultant for entrepreneurs all over the world, I typically find that there are two big hurdles blocking people from starting a profitable business: 1.) assembling the right team of experts and 2.) leading that team in a lean and cost-effective way. Bestselling author and wealth consultant, Robert Kiyosaki, discusses the importance of understanding and hiring experts in accounting, investing, markets, and law. The issue is that it can be very expensive to find a vetted, qualified, and cheap team of advisors.
I am going to show you how to accumulate the right skillets around you with my own play off Kiyosaki’s brilliance. Secondly, I want to demonstrate how this team will essentially carry your business to the next level at a fraction of the exhaustive effort or cost you may think it takes! Listen closely to the steps below to find my 7 tips on finding inexpensive, effective, and flexible resources that will help you take action and eliminate the excuses preventing you from starting your own business!
LAW. Set-up your legal framework. Just like Kiyosaki says, it is very important to understand the legal structure of your business before you decide to start taking on payments. Having a good legal strategy whether it’s a limited liability company, corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, etc. is important to do to protect you liability wise from potential risk to your new found organization. Also, if you plan to bring on investors or partners, having a sound operators agreement is going to give you the legal ownership over you and/or your partners respective roles in the company. I always recommend meeting with your local real estate or small business attorney before filing for an LLC because I enjoy the face to face interaction. However, LegalZoom can be a great resource if you struggle finding someone locally or you are in a rush because money is coming through the door.
Merchant Services. A company is useless unless you have some way of collecting payment. Local businesses always struggle because they only take cash payments. Only 11% of US consumers use cash as their preferred method of payment. Therefore, you could miss 89% of the transactions if you don’t have a method of collecting credit or debit card payments. Also, without money, you have no business. So, you need a method of collecting money. I prefer to use Square. Square can do a ton of different things. I use it most for point of sale, embed code into my website, take payments over the phone, set-up recurring payments, or invoice to people. I use all of these. The one I enjoy the most is the point of sale/payments over the phone. This allows me to convert my clients on sales while I am still talking to them on the phone and accept payment, so they commit to the program. One of the best pieces of sales advice I ever received was “never take the sale offline.” Therefore, if you can make a sale while on the phone with someone and accept payment that way, then you will have a much higher conversion rate.
Website/professional email. If you want to look like a legitimate company, you will probably need to have a website so customers, clients, patients, or consumers can check out your product/service and find additional information. Many of my clients get all hung-up on starting a website, when in reality this can be set up in a matter of minutes and have a very clean and professional look. Though there are many different website options. I would take the first step would go to Wix. I prefer to use Wix because it has a variety of pre-developed templates that look very visually appealing. It has an auto-builder feature that sets your website up depending on if you are a realtor, online retail, musician etc. You can then brand out your website with colors, fonts, pictures etc. Don’t get all worried about pictures, there are plenty of free stock photos that will do just fine until you get up and running.
Accounting/bookkeeping. So, this one is a huge pet-peeve of mine. I absolutely hate bookkeeping. I hate anything tedious and repetitive. Especially because I have money coming and going out of dozens of different accounts. Tracking it all and keeping it organized is extremely time consuming. After several years of being yelled at by my accountant for not having neat enough books come tax time, I thought this year I finally had it meticulous and accurate enough. Nope. I spent the better part of 60 hours trying to configure my own books just so they were acceptable enough for my CPA to take them over. At that moment, I decided to go with Bench. Bench is an online virtual bookkeeping service. There are real people on the other line and you have one bookkeeper for your different businesses and accounts. Then you, as CEO, can analyze the income statements and balance sheets like a good business manager would do so you can stop wasting time configuring your books and spend time using the information to build strategy and make business decisions. They also will track your personal finances in addition to your business. So, when you want to buy another real estate deal or seek lending options, you can quickly have your personal financial statement prepared and make your deals go faster. Then come tax season, you bring one report to your CPA or you use the CPAs that Bench already has on staff. Bench plugs in with most of you accounts including square. It can help with payroll for employees or independent contractors. All those annoying things about starting a business they take care of.
Marketing. Marketing is NOT just digital marketing like everyone seems to believe. However, a good starting point is to promote your business and have information available via the various social and digital channels. This is more fun for young people and annoying for old people. Both generations spend a lot of time trying to get their digital marketing game on point. Branding, logos, color scheme, business card layout, website design, social media, branding social media content, cover art, graphic design, the list goes on and on. The good news is, yes, you can outsource it. I prefer to use the freelance service Fiverr. Fiverr has thousands of freelancers that work mostly with digital services like the ones I have described. I typically use them for social media marketing but I will use them now and again for banners, flyers, graphic design work etc. independently. What’s cool about Fiverr is it is essentially an international bidding war for your business. So you can get really cost effective options and the freelancers are essentially racing to the bottom as far as price. Though I have run into some quality issues with products, Fiverr has reviews and “pro” options to show some more vetted freelancers. This is typically who I use for all my miscellaneous marketing projects or needs.
Scheduling. For me, I have about 10 million things going on all week. My businesses also require me to meet with multiple people face to face, over the phone, or on video call throughout the day. I found almost 2 hours a week was being dedicated to rearranging and re-organizing my schedule with events. I solved that problem by having Acuity. Acuity is a fancy scheduling software that works great for, doctors, lawyers, personal trainers, coaches, consultants, or anyone that needs an automatic scheduling solution. Now, it does have a merchant services feature to it. The merchant service option isn’t quite as robust as Square, but it can be used for simple transactions. My favorite part is it also has features, so your employees can book out of it and it keeps a giant master schedule with all the various life, business, and personal events going on. It integrates well with social media platforms and websites. So now my clients can see my set availability and schedule their own times by clicking schedule in all my social media profiles. On my end, it pops us a notification that I have a meeting with either a link to our video call or at a location in town. It’s helped me lean out my processes for sure!
Virtual Assistant. Now this option is easily one of my best investments. Learning to delegate is an essential leadership attribute which I can go on and on talking about. But hiring a Virtual Assistant has basically replaced the need for a Chief Operating Officer. A VA is typically someone very competent in taking ambiguous and complex ideas and challenging and converting them into actionable steps. This was a huge weakness I had as an early entrepreneur. I struggled to figure out how I was going to make all my crazy wild imaginative dreams come to life! My VA is amazing at balancing out my creativity with an action plan to get results. She also manages and maintains my project status on all the various directions throughout the week. She is the person on the ground in the trenches of the day to day. This allows me to focus on the strategy, next steps, and company vision. The issue with VAs is they have access to a lot of personal information. Social media accounts, maybe bank statements, legal documents, etc. That’s why I was very hesitant trusting someone overseas or somewhere random. I wanted someone with very qualified credentials to help me run my businesses. I wanted a college education, robust problem solving skills, detail oriented, results oriented, and able to work in a fast paced environment. That is why I used the company called Belay. Belay is a mix of “match.com for leaders” and a temp-agency. The VAs are month to month independent contractors that are screened and vetted to meet your specific job description, personality type, and leadership style. Now, they are relatively expensive for a growing business but they are actively managing multiple tasks and very competent people, so this has proved a significant ROI for me and my businesses. Belay comes with a relationship coach to help you adjust to a VA lifestyle, and they coach you and your VA so you can work from home but still manage any day-to-day tasks. They also handle all the payroll and wage distribution. What’s nice is they are all independent contractors going month to month so anything that may happen to your business doesn’t require a huge lay-off or some hard conversations. They simply just do not get signed on for the next month. Once you have a little money coming in, hiring a VA makes running your business fairly hands-off and you can focus on the next BIG steps for your company! I highly recommend using a VA!
You are the CEO and you are essentially going to build your C- suite.
Step 1.) is your Chief Legal Officer which you can find at legalzoom.com.
Step 2.) and Step 4.) is your Chief Financial Officer where all you need is Square and Bench.
Step 3.) and Step 5.) is your Chief Marketing Officer and all you need to do
is check out Wix and Fiverr.
Step 6.) is your personal secretary managing your master schedule. Just go to Acuity.
Step 7.) is your Chief Operations Officer. Search for some options with Belay.
There are officially no excuses now to run your business. I provided all the resources. Now just take some MASSIVE ACTION! Be somebody!