Starting a business is a huge process; it doesn’t happen overnight. Once you’ve incorporated, what comes next? We asked our small business experts what they did just before or after they opened their doors. Here’s what they had to say…
“When you start a business you need to get your legal docs (operating agreement or articles of incorporation) and accounting systems set up first.
Once your business foundation is set up you need to focus on your product or service so you can provide customers with value that they will pay for.
Finally, and most importantly, you need to focus on sales and marketing. Unless you can sell your product or service then you don’t have a business!
It’s all vitally important, but if you don’t generate sales and revenue then the rest of it doesn’t matter.” –Nick Braun, Pet Insurance Quotes
“If you’ve opened your doors, you must feel you are ready. Now all you need is customers, so do whatever it takes to get people into your doors.. Once they start to come, you will find out if you need employees, accountants, supplies, salespeople or whatever else the ‘Customers Require’.” –Cristopher Rither, One Mean Dream
“Imagine this; spend months planning, designing, and developing your revolutionary idea. When it’s done being built, customers will fall in love and not stop purchasing! That picture could not be further from the truth. For us, when opening day came, and the doors swung open and slammed us right in the face! Before hiring, worrying about taxes, or moving into that sweet new office, we needed customers, and fast. We spent, and continue to spend, our time developing and implementing small, testable plans for customer outreach. When we uncover something that works, we maximize that approach, automate it, then move on to the next.” –Judah Lamm, Skill Silo
“Insurance and Accounting should have been thought about before you opened your doors. The next thing to do is look at your marketing plans. Did you create one, if not do it NOW! If you did create one, it should be evaluated on a regular basis. What are the things that are working and what needs to be fixed? Marketing and Sales are where the focus should be after the doors are opened.” –Anne Kleinman, Ad Infinitum
“Meet and Network with Your Local Business Community. Visit local stores and businesses, take the owners out for coffee or beer, and pick their brains about the local market and their business strategies. Ask them what is working and what isn’t working. Ask about how they found their best employees and even ask about hot seasons that bring in a lot of business.
One of the best ways for a new business to grow sales is through word of mouth. You can even offer your local business community discounts for sending new customers to your new company. Building these relationships will become crucial for the long term viability of your business. Local networking is such a beneficial practice that a lot of people fail to fully grasp in today’s digitally driven world.” –Elizabeth Jenkins, Source Capital Funding, Inc.
“The first thing I did after starting my business was heavy duty promoting. I posted coupons on my company’s various social media platforms to help draw customers. The next thing I did was blog. I started blogging about topics that would interest my customer base.” –Zondra Wilson, Blu Skin Care, LLC
“Once you start a business your next step should be to have a heavy focus on marketing. All the other aspects of your business are important and deserve attention but none of them will matter if you don’t have any clients. You can have the best services or products but you won’t stay in business if no one knows about it. The truth is marketing is extremely challenging. Everyone thinks all they need to do is put a sign out front and build a webpage, but it’s not that simple. I have a 10 foot sign up 40 feet in the air right next to a major highway and I still get new customers that come in saying they drive by all the time and never noticed us. With regards to the website, it’s easy to build one but very difficult to create one that is Search Engine Optimized and brings customers to your doors. There is a lot of competition out and it’s not only coming from your neighbors, it’s coming from far away because everyone always searches the net and doesn’t look out their window. Therefore marketing efforts should get major attention in any business, quite frankly months before you start and it should continue throughout the life of your business.” –Gabino Solano, San Antonio Pain and Injury Doctors
“The first step after opening the doors to my business was to focus on how to get customers in. I had already planned for insurance and financing, but getting people to come to my location – especially being in the odd spot that it is and being in such a competitive industry – was my number one concern and priority. I had to focus on how I would market to customers and what I needed to start offering to be attractive enough to make people drive out of town for my services.” –Shawn Miskelley, Preventative Maintenance Repair, LLC
“The first thing you need after you open your doors is customers and the best way for local businesses to do that is through local search marketing. So be plan is to attack a local search engine optimization strategy.
The first thing I would do is to get my business listings set up and all of my local citations in order. Most local marketers don’t know that if your citations are not consistent across the dozens and sometimes hundreds of places that you are listed online then Google will penalize you and see your local location as several different locations rather than one location for them to rank well.
The next thing I do is start developing localized content and I would interview local business owners, local bankers, local restaurants to build local content on my site so Google knows that we are a local authority.
Then I would do a local scholarship with local high school and promote it on my local pages showing Google that we have a local presence in that city.
Lastly I would reach out to at least two other local businesses that I featured and ask them to provide back links to my local landing page from their site thus sending more local signals to Google for high local rankings.” –Bryan Clayton, GreenPal
“After I opened my business the first I did was start searching for employees. Finding reliable, trustworthy and honest employees was very important as they would help me move my business in the positive direction. My employee’s would be the heart and soul of my small business. I had to do whatever I could to find these employees and train them to the best of my ability. My business cannot run efficiently without my employee’s help. My best advice for new small business owners is be sure to take the time to know each potential candidate before your hire them. Their contribution to your business can mean the difference between mediocre and success.” –Lisa Chu, Black n Bianco
“After you have written a business plan, started the new business, created an entity, and figured out taxes and payroll, the most important next step is to create a basic business development plan. If you’re already busy with clients, that’s great–but how are you going to keep that stream flowing and growing? You should get down on paper your plans for growing your network, what your targets are in the near and long term, and who has responsibility for maintaining and expanding your client base. Writing this down and revisiting it on a quarterly basis will not only help keep you on track. It’s also great info to add to your entity’s quarterly and annual reports.” –Abigail M. Carlen, Turquoise Marketing
“First thing to do is to start selling the product or service even if it does not exist yet. Then you make sure you get an email list started. Finally engage your customers and suggest referral ideas to them and repeat the process.” –Hamilton Perkins, Hamilton Perkins Collection
“I just recently opened my first business- a women’s clothing boutique. Now that we are through the process of being officially opened for business my next steps is focusing on attracting customers to our store and retaining loyal customers. I’m constantly thinking of new marketing strategies to drive more sales. The sales are the most critical part of operating a business and this is where a lot of my time is spent is thinking creatively on our advertisements and focusing on our brand.” –April Christopher, BAAK Boutique
“When starting the business of my dreams, the first goal was to get the first client which I was able to do by month two. Our first client was the employer that laid me off. I offered them a percentage of the ad revenue increase and was able to make them additional millions. We were able to break even by month five. Over a 2.5 year period, we perfected the business model and now offer it to websites around the world.” –Kean Graham, MonetizeMore
“I started a global marketing firm 15 years ago and for me after my website went live the big thing was to fill the pipeline and find clients so I could get some reference accounts to sell more business. For a professional service firm it is all about your pipeline and keeping your team busy. I knew a lot of work would come from repeat business and referrals so getting those early clients is what put us on the map.” –Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls
“Once the business is open, you need to think and plan on how to get leads coming into your door. It doesn’t matter if you have the best-looking place in town if people aren’t coming in. It doesn’t matter if you have the best sales pitch if there is no one listening. It doesn’t matter if your website looks great if there is no traffic. You need to attract the right leads for your business.” –William Torres, Keyforge
“Hopefully any business that accepts card payments, will have thought about payment processing, before opening their doors, but if not it’s something they need to think about quickly. It can be confusing since there are hundreds of companies to choose from in the United States with rates all over the map. And the difference between a good company and bad one can cost your business thousands of dollars a year. Make sure you understand all the fees you’ll be paying as some company will offer seemingly low fees per transaction but have very high fixed monthly costs.” –Ian Wright, Merchant Machine
“When you start a new business, the most important thing to do is finding customers. Market yourself. Open up a website. Talk to local events. Find customers no matter what. Customers will give you the cash you need in order to operate your business properly. Without them, your business will not survive for long…” –Pierre Lechelle, SaaS Growth Marketer
“We were a single-room business when I launched my first website, with a skeleton staff. We now have over 160 members of staff, including our own production teams, but in the beginning we had everything drop-shipped from other manufacturers. For that reason, my main priority once the business was launched was hiring a customer service team to deal with customer enquiries; as the orders began to flow in, we saved hard and were able to afford our first proper premises, where an in-house customer service department could be established. Now, we operate from a 40,000 sq ft facility and turnover more than £15m a year.” –Darren Green, Wooden Blinds