In this post, I shared some of the linchpin decisions I made when starting my business (which should be rinsed and repeated continuously, no matter where you’re at in business).
In summary, if you’re thinking about starting a business:
- How to know when you’re ready
- Study your industry
- You don’t have to go into debt to start a business
- Get yourself in the room. Literally and figuratively
- Find true advisors
- Build a website (note: this doesn’t have to be a custom site. Designers such as the designer of my website offer templates, cutting costs down to a fraction of the original price)
- Create a logo/brand (same note as above)
- Take care of legal (entity formation, website agreements, client agreement). Hire a lawyer. Do not DIY legal. It’s foolhardy and an amateur move that will keep you in the amateur zone. Your lawyer will also become an invaluable networking resource, and you will always want to have someone on hand to call.
- Establish your brand voice
- Business coach/mentor (A mastermind is a great way to both work with a mentor and build a network)
- Focus on rainmaking
This advice is short and sweet. I want to share the one thing I desperately, fervently, am begging any new business owner to invest in….and if you, like me, took a few years to figure this out, it’s not too late. Implement now.
I wish I’d hired a graphic designer & copywriter who worked in tandem with one another,
To create a cohesive brand for me, and get me out of the gate running.
“Consistency” is preached to every entrepreneur, but it doesn’t just mean how frequently you “show up” on social media. It’s the deeper undercurrent of your brand presence and voice that leads to familiarity and recognition of your brand, no matter how that brand evolves. It’s what separates you from the crowd; what creates the enduring brands that immediately come to mind.
If there’s one thing that can be relied upon in business, it’s that you will evolve. Like myself, you may shift markets. Or, just like every other one of us out there, it may just take a bit to really get your feet under you as you operate your company.
However, you want those evolutions to look just like that- evolutions. Not a constant tearing-down of the castle and reappearing doing something else. This shock and awe approach wears thin, fast.
If I’m being entirely honest, I didn’t think I needed a copywriter. I cringe saying that, but it’s true. It’s not from a place of arrogance; rather, it’s part of my job to write persuasively.
This brand is a fantastic example of my ignorance. When I approached my copywriter, hat in hand last year, you should have seen the jumbled document of a concept I gave her. I literally sent her this:
- I want to publish a blog on:
- Reasons to be an entrepreneur (apirational)
- How to start a business (tools and guidance)
- What I do
- How to thrive in recession/difficult times
- We’re in the midst of a New Renaissance.
- Using 3 concepts of Renaissance to build the framework of the blog content. Art+science+architecture=renaissance
- Art (synonyms: artisan, vocation)
- Recognize and appreciate it
- Science (synonyms: informed, learn, knowledge, pioneer)
- Learn it
- Architecture (synonyms: framework, contour)
- Build it
She took that, and helped unwind those thoughts into the copy you see on the website. In other words, took my heady thoughts and actually translated them. I’m forever grateful for you, Copy Uncorked.
Similarly, I’ve undergone several iterations of my brands over the years- it just took awhile to shake them out. Within 1 year, I’d split one company into two, and by year 3, I wanted to separate the brands nearly entirely (but keep them slightly cohesive). It was confusing for anyone.
Hiring Angela of Saffron Avenue provided me with a logo that serves as a guidepost for how the firm’s brand is growing. Hiring Kadie of DropCap Design to tweak the firm and Creative Law Shop®’s websites to be slightly more cohesive with one another immediately cleared up confusion between clients and customers.
Your first “investment” hires will become a foundational element of your early business network.
I’m not saying you’re married to these people, but when you start a business, there will be a certain ebb and flow. It can feel like an overwhelmingly vague and monumental thing to do; then the day comes that you actually take those first steps, and realize starting a business is a lot more doable than it seemed at first.
It’s not a law of nature, but I’ve seen it with every business owner I’ve met, including myself: after that initial high wears off; after the hype of that first launch wears off, then you’re left with the reputation you’ve built up until that point. A multidimensional topic in and of itself, until you’ve built up true gravitas in your industry, your reputation will be reliant upon the consistency of your brand. It bears repeating: those who tear it all down just to rebuild every 2-3 years make themselves look like frauds.
As a legal aside, your graphic designer and copywriter should be working with an attorney to run due diligence searches of proposed business names and logos before you use them for your business. I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve seen someone launch a new brand, and then receive a cease and desist. It falls back on all parties- the client, the designer, and the copywriter, and it’s usually not a pretty scenario.
Truly talented “brand partners” are worth their weight in gold. The longevity that investment will bring won’t just save time, but will almost accrue value over time as your reputation continues to grow and build upon itself. The beauty lies within the simplicity of this first step.