1 Start A Blog
You don’t need a product or service to start a blog. If you know your business name already, or are comfortable using your own name, buy your domain and START. You can start building up evergreen content on your domain that will lay the foundations of your future search engine visibility and also start crafting your own industry credibility.
It can be a personal blog if you prefer, but keep your end goal in mind, and write posts that are related, at least tangentially, to your future business niche.
2 Get Started On Instagram
Even if you don’t know your product yet, if you have an idea of the sort of vibe your business is going to have (luxury skincare, yoga apparel, interiors accessories) you can start crafting a beautiful Instagram account.
Start posting relevant images (unsplash.com is your friend here if you aren’t sure of your photography abilities yet!) . If your vibe is going to be beachy tropical, Nordic hygge or chic minimalist, you can start assembling images (and crediting them correctly) in a stunning Instagram account that will help you create an audience for your future launch.
3 Up Your Photography Game
You are almost certainly going to have to do some photography on your journey as a business owner, and now’s the time to learn!
Emily Quinton of Makelight Photography in London has some stunning and highly regarded courses that she delivers both online and in person. An investment in your photography abilities will never be wasted. Sign up for one here.
4 Join The Right Facebook Groups
You don’t have to do this alone. Facebook groups can be wonderful, dreadful and everything in between. Some are brimming with woo, some are dry and practical. But many are inspirational, sensible and filled with engaged and genuinely helpful women.
You can join the Flourish Facebook Group here where I can answer any of your startup questions directly – I’d love to meet you there!
5 Get Pinning!
Pinterest can be the no. 1 source of traffic to your brand if you approach it right. Start building a following there now by pinning and repinning a highly relevant selection of pins to your account. Give your account a highly relevant name and description and make it abundantly clear what sort of vibe you are putting forward to potential followers and pinners.
6 Start Studying Your Competition
If you have a product in mind at this point, start watching your competition. Identify 5 small-medium brands in your niche and see what new products they are launching, and what ends up on clearance. Seeing what might not be working for your competitors – and being realistic about it – could save you a LOT of money.
Make notes on their promotion strategies – sponsored Instagram posts, offers and emails. What makes YOU want to click and what turns you off?
If you haven’t got a niche or product pinned down yet, this free course I created will definitely help you find some clarity and a positive direction.
7 Get Your Finances In Order
Starting any kind of business can take financial investment, especially one that is centred on physical products. The last thing you need to start with is financial anxiety.
If you are working right now, do your best to clear off any credit cards, store cards or debts now. Starting your business with debt that is passively costing you money every day in interest will add pressure and anxiety.
If you simply can’t clear them just yet, then I want you to pay attention to them. Don’t close your eyes and hope they will magically go away.
If you don’t know quite how much you owe, go check those statements and write it all down and make a plan to start paying them off bit by bit every month, with an end date in mind.
8 Take A Book Keeping Course
You may choose to hire a book keeper when you get started, but if you can keep track of your own spending accurately from the very start, you will make your accountant very happy.
You will probably use a platform like Quickbooks Online or Xero to keep your accounts, and if you can take a course on either platform (Udemy might be a good place to start) you will feel a lot more in control of things as you enter your first year as a business owner.
9 Learn Learn Learn
A lot of people are offering courses, free and paid, to help you on this journey. You can’t do them all, but a great start would be my free course, Flourish: Find Your Product. This course will help you zoom in on your industry and identify the best product or range of products for you to invest your time and energy into launching. It will also help you to explore the relationship between your business plans and your personal goals and ambition to help you launch an aligned business.
There’s even a fantastic free Trello template that I created to help you stay on track throughout this 1 week free email course, so that you can organise your ideas and constantly refine your goals.
Update November 2021: I can’t believe I wrote this post three years ago! I just reread it to make some updates, and realised that everything I said here in 2018 is 100% relevant today in November 2021.
All I would add, is that you should check out this blog post I wrote today on doing really effective competitor research.
AND make sure you sign up for Make It, Sell It, my free product building workshop before you go!