So, you have a great business idea, now what?
Starting a new business is exciting. First, you have an idea. Not just a great idea in the shower that you tell your friends over drinks and forget the next day. No, this idea is better. This idea is GREAT. It has to be one of the best ideas you've ever had. You start to obsess over it. You dream about doing this business full-time. You imagine walking into your boss' office and saying "I quit!" because you are going out on your own, finally, in this new business venture. But a good business idea is only 5% of what makes a business successful. Ideas are a dime a dozen - it's what you do with the idea - how you nurture and grow that business - that counts.
This idea of yours - do you like it? do you love it? Are you passionate about it? Are you prepared to talk about it, on repeat for the next ten years? I hope so. Because when you start a small business, it becomes a part of your identity. Your business will come to define a part of who you are as a person. You want to start a baked goods store? Prepare to live, eat and breathe baked goods for the foreseeable future. Or, like my father, you want to manufacture and produce gate latches for farm tube gates? Prepare to live, eat and breathe gate latches. I am a business partner with my Dad on his product GateHands, and people still ask me, "hey aren't you that gate girl?" And I reply, "Yes, that's me." I wear many hats. I run MyMediaMatters, I help my Dad sell gate latches and I run an Airbnb in my spare time. In my time of starting businesses I've learned a thing or two.
Everything is always exciting in the beginning, but over time that passion and excitement fades. That's when the real perseverance kicks in, when you are left with the daily grind of running a business on a hope and prayer that your business idea will live up to what you hoped and dreamed it would be. When the people around you aren't there to cheer you on, when you have no good news to share, when you've been told no 17 times in two weeks...those are the moments when it really counts.
But here is the good news, and a secret to business success that I think everyone can benefit from. You can't succeed if you quit. You can't succeed if you never start. And like everything else, with time and patience, your business will grow. Things that were once hard, will seem easy. You will learn things, innovation will be inevitable and you will have successes. You will also have failures, but that's part of the process.
So, you have a great business idea - now what? What comes next? What I'd like to share with you today are 4 absolutely ESSENTIAL business technology items that EVERY small business needs to start off on the right foot. As different and varied as every small business is, these items are almost universal - I say almost because there are exceptions to every rule. I work with a wide variety of business owners and all of them are unique and different. MyMediaMatters prides ourselves at being adaptable and flexible to meet all the technology needs of our clients.
So, you want to start a new business? Make sure you have these 4 essential technology items to make sure you are starting your business journey off on the right foot.
1. A great domain name
A great domain name is by far the most essential thing you will need as a business owner. And you shouldn't stop at just one - buy several! Get the .net, .org, .com, and the .biz. The last thing a new business needs is some internet troll buying your domain name with a different TLD and sticking something offensive on it. If you have an e-commerce store I also recommend buying the .shop and .store TLDs just to be safe. Domain names costs $25 per year per domain, so spending a few hundred dollars a year on the perfect domains can save you a lot of headache in the future. Plus, the perfect domain name is necessary to also have the perfect custom email address.
2. A custom email address
Recently, the IE Domain Registry – responsible for managing the .IE domain extension – surveyed 1,000 consumers to find out what makes them trust an online business. The results were telling:
So yes, maybe it was free and easy to make your @hotmail or @yahoo account, but your customers deserve to know that emails from you are authentic and not spam. MyMediaMatters offers basic email service for $20 per year per user, which is very affordable considering that other ad-free email providers (Google, Yahoo, Outlook) start at $49.95.
3. A great website
Great websites are absolutely essential. Whether you build it yourself, or hire someone like me to build it for you, a website is a natural extension of your business identity, and if it doesn't function, looks bad or never gets updated, that reflects poorly on your business.
4. Social Listings
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, Google Business, Pinterest, Instagram, Whatsapp, Yelp, Yellow Pages...you don't necessarily need to be listed on every single social listing, but find the ones that cater to your target business demographic, your audience, and take the time to set up your listings. Not only will it give you more exposure and validation as a legitimate business, but directory listings help drive your website SEO.