Building a business is no easy feat, but if you’re even considering it - congratulations! There’s honestly nothing like designing your own business. It’s more like designing your own future! You’re likely creating a business centered around something you love, something that inspires you daily and that right there, sets you apart.
It’s really easy to get stuck in a career you’re not passionate about - trust me, I’ve been there. And at times, I thought maybe that was it for me. Maybe this was what I was meant to do - sit in a job everyday that makes me want to cry more than it makes me want to work. At that thought alone, my performance started declining. And let me tell you, I’ve never been lazy - I’ve always been a hard worker, and I’ve always gotten top marks in class. So why was I not working to my potential in the job I worked so hard to get?
One day it hit me. I was uninspired. I was stuck. I worked hard in school because I liked what I was doing - I was learning and trying new things. That wasn’t the case anymore, so I started looking for jobs, applying and interviewing, but nothing gave me that inspired feeling. I knew in my heart I was meant to start my own business. I would never be as inspired as I could be if I wasn’t working on things I wanted to work on everyday - if I wasn’t allowing myself to be the creative person I knew I was.
So even though I had no idea what I was doing, I started and figured it out along the way. I side-hustled for a long time until I made enough where I felt comfortable leaving. I tried and failed and then tried again and looking back, I wish I had done more research and read more blogs on how to get started.
And now that I feel like I know how to get started, I wanted to create this guide for all of you out there beginning to build your own businesses. I truly wish you all the best - keep going, things will click soon!
Make a plan.
Well, duh, right? But hear me out - a lot of people skip this step. I did in the beginning. I didn’t want to sit down and write out a business plan, but I didn’t realize just how important it is. I wasn’t going to be submitting my business plan to anyone, so why did I need one? Let me tell you why - I needed it for myself. I needed something I could refer back to, and I needed something where all my ideas and direction were in one place. What was my marketing plan? What was my financial plan? Which tactics did I plan on using? I needed to determine all of that and so do you!
To be honest, I think I was so against a business plan in the beginning stages because everything was in such a serious business-like format. I was intimidated and also so inspired - and didn’t I leave my job so I could be full of inspiration? So, I created my own beautiful and modernized business plan and after years of tweaking it, I shared the one I’m most proud of as a template that can be purchased. If you’re looking for a business plan template to help you get started, I truly believe in this one.
Learn the basics (or outsource if you’re in the position)
Let me start off by saying that I was NOT in the position to outsource anything when I started my business. I had no money to invest in my business and if it was going to work, I would need to figure things out for myself. So I did. Everything.
I learned the basics of running a business, how to create my own website, how often I’d need to release new content to grow, the ins and outs of pinterest marketing, how to take my own (decent) photos, and more. Since I couldn’t afford to hire help, when I could I invested my hard earned money from my full-time job into various courses so I could learn things for myself. I highly suggest doing that if you’re able - but be careful. You don’t need every course out there. Pick one or two and start there. Master one thing at a time and then move onto the next. Be strategic about how you spend your time and what you’re learning.
Create basic branding
You’ve probably read somewhere that branding can wait, but I highly disagree. Branding is super important to your business and you have to have some type of consistency to be taken seriously as a business.
Now’s probably not the time to invest thousands into having a logo and various assets created for you. There will be a time in your business for that, but now’s not it. You’re just staring out and likely don’t have the money to do that anyway. And even if you do, save it and put it into another part of your business. With the help of templates, you can create your own basic branding that looks beautiful and professional.
My mission in my business is to help those of you starting out to build a beautiful and strategic business. That’s why I created pre-made brands - a way you can save time without sacrificing professionalism and style. Right now, we have four pre-made brands available (Autumn&Co, Ana Wren, Autumn Rose and Sophie Ray) and each include a primary logo, secondary logo, sub-mark, brandboard and a business card template. You can easily edit everything for your business and can either use the colors and fonts included, or change things up to make it your own.
Build a website
Here’s another thing you may have been told you don’t need in the beginning stages of business. Again, I strongly disagree. Your business needs a home - a place you can link to that has all the information a potential client or customer might be looking for. An Instagram or Pinterest page isn’t going to cut it here.
Building a website might sound really daunting to you, but it shouldn’t. There are SO many beautiful designer templates available that are already created for you - you basically just need to plug in your information. You can create a stunning website in hours instead of weeks/months.
Again, now’s not the time to pay someone thousands to create you a custom site. Just like with your branding, there will be a right time for that in the future. Website builders like Wix, Squarespace and ShowIt make it possible to create something that looks custom for WAY less.
* I no longer sell website templates on my website, but I do still offer a few Wix templates in my Etsy shop if you’re interested.
Build an audience
Let’s get this straight right from the start - this is not going to happen overnight so don’t expect it to! This one takes work and a lot of time. But it’s important that you get things rolling because your audience is who you’re going to sell to first. Here’s a few ideas to get you started.
Write blog posts and create pins for each one. Gone are the days where people will find your blog posts organically. It can happen, but it’s better to help the process along. You need to market your content and the best place to do that is on Pinterest. Create multiple pins for each topic and post them to your Pinterest business account. Join group boards to help get your pins to a wider audience.
Create a business Instagram account. This one is iffy. Instagram doesn’t work the way it used to and it’s really hard to grow a following. Photos aren’t going to do it anymore, but if you enjoy creating reels, this option may be for you.
Create free offers and share them. Maybe it’s a checklist or a free digital product - you want to create something people will want to download in exchange for their name and email. Once you have that, you can start to create an email list, which is so important to your business. These are your people - they’re who you will sell to first. Again, use Pinterest to get your free offer out there.
And there you have it! Those are the top things I think are most important when just starting out. What’s most important to remember? Creating a successful business takes time. Things won’t happen overnight or even in a month. Keep working at it and success will come your way. Comment below if you have any questions or thoughts!