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November 28, 2018
Our friend, Morgan (of Morgan Stapp Design)’s blog covers a wide range of topics, from web design and branding to various tips for managing your business day to day. I thought it might be interesting to write a post that surveys all the different things a small business owner needs to get together in order to have a coherent business.
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When we start businesses, we tend to get tunnel vision and focus on the one thing that made us want to start the business in the first place, whether it’s a single product or service, or just the idea of ‘not working for the man.’ We don’t think about the million different things that make a business seem like the real deal.
The first is the prosperous local business that has absolutely no web presence. Maybe you stumble across the cutest storefront you’ve ever seen. Whatever they sell, they have impeccable taste and an excellent presentation. The store is crowded and business seems brisk.
Weeks later, you’re telling a friend about the place and you try to bring it up on your phone to show them, and the first result on Google is… a Yelp review? How do they not have a website?? Your friend just has to take your word for it that their store is awesome. You just expect that a business that has it all together will have a website, though, so your friend won’t be entirely convinced until they see it for themselves.
The opposite can happen too. You see a well-designed website and an active social media account and tons of beautiful photos so you decide to visit the physical location, and it looks like the Great Depression. There’s hardly any stock and the store is empty and looks like it’s been that way for a year. Maybe they have a thriving online business and that’s why they’ve neglected their physical location, but it’s hard not to pass judgement on the worst part of the business rather than on the best part.
This can happen to businesses that are purely online as well. You could have a gorgeous website, but if you set up your social media accounts and posted for a while and then went quiet for a year, it might give people the idea that you’re not in business any more, or that you’re not fully committed to it.
There are a couple lessons from these hypotheticals. The first is that you should make sure you execute well at whatever you decide to do.
If you choose to do something and then abandon it halfway though, it will give people the wrong impression about your business.
Once you’ve been in business for a few years, you’ve had enough time to get familiar with all of the different ways you can present your business, but if you’re rather new to the world of small business, you’ll want to make sure you’re not accidentally missing anything that could drastically impact someone’s opinion of your business.
To that end, here’s a list of things to think about including in your plan as you’re building your business…
I was going to say building a website, since one of my hypothetical was about a well run business without a web presence, but I think it’s important to emphasize design.
It’s important for your website to look beautiful and professional. If you think you can pull this off yourself, great, but if you’re just getting started in business, you should definitely have a professional at least give you some feedback. It’s surprisingly hard to recognize good design until you’ve been doing this for a while.
If you’re interested in seeing where you’re at with your web design, Morgan wrote an incredibly helpful blog posts recently that serves as a great checkpoint: 5 Elements that Every Website Needs. We’d argue these are some of the MOST important elements to include, yet they are frequently missed.
Like web design, having great brand design is very important. It’s even more important to get a professional involved in this.
A lot of people will grab a bunch of colors, patterns, and fonts that they like the look of individually and stick them all together and call them their brand.
That’s like going to IKEA and just picking out individual pieces of furniture that you like without regard to how they go with each other or the room that they’ll be going in.
Quick note: This is something Morgan Stapp Design does SO incredibly well. She has tons of valuable resources on branding and web design on her blog (and if that isn’t enough, her portfolio is gorgeous!). We highly recommend checking it out for more tips and inspiration!
Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, etc. There are a lot of ways to get your business in front of your ideal clients, but it’s important to do in a way that feels authentic. Everyone likes to know that there is a real person running a business.
Here are a few helpful questions to ask yourself:
Copywriting is really important and something that almost no one thinks about when they’re starting a business. In our experience doing web design, we’ve found that a lot of people don’t even know what copywriting is.
Copywriting is basically all of the information on your website! It is the words that tell your prospective customers everything they’re going to find out about you without talking to you directly.
What message does your copywriting convey? Does it accurately convey your personality? Does it have an appropriate level of formality or playfulness? Does it read like an infomercial?
I debated leaving this one out entirely, because email funnels aren’t exactly crucial to a new business, but I kept it in because email in general is definitely crucial, and it’s really important to have a plan surrounding your email.
It’s totally fine to follow more of a blog post format for weekly newsletters, but the main reason to have an email list beyond informing the world is to increase your chance of selling something to someone. To that end, you need to have a plan for how you will introduce your products and services, convince people of their merits, and ultimately offer the products and services to your list.
Ultimately, a business has a lot of moving parts. There are a lot of different faces to present to the world. Most of this stuff requires a large investment of time to get set up, but much less time to maintain, and it pays big dividends in the form of making you look like a real business.
You could have been running your business for less than a month, but if you have a great looking website and brand, copy that speaks to your ideal client, social media accounts with a ton of engagement, and a polished email funnel, people won’t think twice about the fact that you haven’t been around as long as someone else because you look like a pro.
For more in depth info on each of these topics, we highly recommend checking out Morgan Stapp Design‘s blog. She recently took the leap into running her business full-time and she has incredible resources for new business owners!
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