Starting, running and scaling a business requires a lot of things. It requires resources, resourcefulness, time, energy, talent, and straight up grit. When you’re just getting going or you’re slowly gaining momentum it can be easy to get caught up in all the resources that you feel like you need that you forget how to be resourceful.
You may have heard me ask this question before… Do you have an actual business, or do you have what LOOKS like or appears to be a business? The key difference: Are you actually making money from selling your products, services, or offers?
Or are you getting caught up in spending too much time in the prep stages, keeping yourself at the starting line and LOOKING like a business but missing the one key principle that actually makes you one: selling your offer to a consumer.
These are the 5 things you DON’T need to get started. Ready for your to-do list to get shorter?
You DON’T need a professional or custom website
When I think about early stage entrepreneurs, I can almost picture their to-do lists in my mind: Pick a business name. Register a domain. Invest in a custom website design. Make sure the branding photos and website copy and SEO are all in perfect working order and super effective and… Launch the thing.
And so often we get stuck, we delay as we tweak and perfect, we try to be AS prepared as possible and look as professional and put-together as possible… and it ends up taking all of this time and attention and, yep, money too, when you could’ve quickly launched, let done be better than perfect as you get your idea out into the world, paid attention to the public response, starting bringing in some profits, even if they are minimal, and then taken any feedback and use it to adjust, tweak, and build the look and feel of your business as you went. But let me tell you, that mentality is only holding you back.
If you really, really, REALLY want to have a place for people to visit outside of social media, there are many options other than a custom website. Most website platforms like WordPress and Squarespace have options to launch a website and use a template design for anywhere from zero bucks to a hundred, and you can pick a few low-cost stock photos as images or even temporary shots from your iPhone until it actually makes sense to invest in branding photography.
Heck, if you don’t want a website at all, you can make a landing page on our favorite email service provider, Flodesk, and have that as the place where you send people to (and win, win, you’ll be growing your email list in the process!)
You can launch most businesses these days using social media, an email list or existing selling platforms like Etsy in order to begin getting your offer out there, making a few sales, and tweaking your methods based on the response from your new clients.
These are just the basics. Truly just a landing page will give you a place to send people to that you own and the truth is, it need not be perfect to drive results for you. Will it be gorgeous? Probably not. Will it match the image you have in your head? Meh, maybe not! And that’s OKAY. Most of us look at businesses that have been around for years and years and expect to keep up with their pace and design and functionality when it’s just not necessary OR realistic at first.
2. You don’t need a professional logo right away
I hate to tell you this but NO ONE cares what your branding looks like as much as you do. As long as you’re delivering true value and communicating that clearly, people don’t really care about your logo.
There are free platforms like Canva or PicMonkey where you can create your own logo design by tweaking preset templates that actually look pretty dang fabulous and were created by actual designers. You can also by a not-totally custom logo from a creator on Fiverr or Etsy! It’ll give you the custom feel without requiring the custom investment.
Whichever route you choose, from there, use what resources you have: Pinterest has tons and tons of color palette inspiration for you to look at and play with for your branding. Pick three or four colors and two main fonts that you can access for free and use them across the board in all of your social graphics and any other materials.
Now I know not everyone has a “designer’s eye,” but come on, you know what you like! What you gravitate toward. Just pick something that you love and go with it, realizing it will likely change and evolve as your business grows.
3. You don’t need a team at the start
My advice? Build your business and create your systems with a team in mind for the future… but right away? It’s okay if it’s a one-woman or one-man show for a while. There’s a lot of info out there about why entrepreneurs NEED a virtual assistant or an integrator or a copywriter in order to function and be successful, but a lot of times that advice is reserved for established entrepreneurs in the growing/scaling stage of their business, not necessarily at the starting line. And while I do believe in the power of outsourcing, it’s not the first or even fifth action I’d recommend for early entrepreneurs.
Why? Because it’s another way to spend excess money before you’re really bringing in enough to sustain and rationalize the expense. Plus, in the beginning your priority should be: How can I get my thing into the hands of the right clients and how can I best serve them? That’s the goal and that’s what will give you the resources TO be able to hire.
Focus now on mastery and narrow your focus on showing up well on one or two platforms as your comfort and confidence grow. Get really, really good at showing up in those one or two spaces and figure out your own method or system for them. Once you have your way of doing things eventually, you can hand it off to someone else when the time is right and it makes sense financially, and you’ll actually have a solid system to train them on.
If you continue to grow, you’ll know when the time is right to hire and expand, but you want to make sure that when you do hire, you’re tying that expense to actual results so that each project you outsource or person you hire to your team is driving results for your business and moving you closer to your dreams.
4. You don’t need paid advertising.
A lot of times people invest too soon on paid ads without understanding the true strategy. Ads should act as though they are gasoline you’re pouring on a fire, a way to scale what’s already working, not be the point of being the fire started. If you haven’t gotten yourself results with free methods, I wouldn’t recommend investing in paid ads. If something is requiring a ton of money being committed with the promise of jumpstarting things, I would proceed with caution.
I think people see ads as this magic band-aid that can somehow make their offer irresistible just by getting it in front of more eyes, and that’s just not the case. Once your offer is working and bringing in money on its own BEFORE you pay for any sort of advertising, that’s when ads can work wonders!
And in the beginning, you simply don’t know enough about your offer and your clientele to be able to confidently set up ads, target the right audiences, and know they’ll be worth the investment. Focus on tweaking and perfecting your offers so that they’re what your audience actually wants and needs from you and then when you’re ready to scale and have a system that works, that’s when you can pour gasoline on the fire to scale.
Where to begin if not with paid advertising? Let’s start with just talking to people! Keeping your dream or idea quiet and locked away isn’t going to help you in getting it out in the world. It’s time to start hinting at what you’re working on, inviting people into the process, getting feedback, and leaving a breadcrumb trail as you build so that when it comes time to launch, you have a devoted fan club ready to convert into actual clients.
Start sharing your curiosities, your passions, your progress. Ask your friends, family, and followers what they need, how you can serve them, what products interest them and so on. This means including others in the process from ideation to launch and beyond, so that their needs feel heard and catered to, aka you’ll have a source of interested and engaged potential clients at your fingertips when the time comes, hopefully soon, to launch! You’re not meant to chase your dreams in a silo. You’re not meant to work alone on your own little island. We need cheerleaders, community, and feedback.
5. You don’t need a full suite of offers.
One of the biggest ways I see new entrepreneurs win is by creating one thing, getting it out into the world, gaining the confidence and feedback and then extending their offers based off of feedback and client requests! Instead of having too many options, they remove the concern of decision fatigue or confusion for potential clients and they tend to speak more specifically to exactly who they want to work with, building a devoted client base.
If you started with one thing, the easiest lift — remember, where passion and true progress intersect, and the offer that excites YOU the most to get out there, you could quickly launch, ask for feedback, and then continue building out your suite with actually useful guidance from those who have already invested in your first offer, rather than having to guess what YOU think people might want from you and then having half of your products potentially fall flat.
It allows you to get that proof of concept, gain the confidence of actually making money doing what you love, and gather that critical feedback that will help you form more offers that are aligned and just what your audience is looking for!
Start with one thing. Adjust and add from there. It really is THAT simple… I promise.
The Big Picture
I hope this gives you the permission to start simple and get fancy later. I really, really believe in launching before you feel ready or everything looks perfectly polished. To actually launch and get it out there is better to hold your idea close, waiting for perfection to move forward. In fact, that’s where I believe entrepreneurial magic awaits and the confidence is conjured up.
It’s in stepping forward, taking brave action no matter how scared you feel, and just getting your stuff OUT there for people to consume, buy, and provide feedback for. That’s the quickest way for you and your business to grow and begin making a profit, and it’ll feel a heckuva lot more practical and productive than spending a year planning, designing, tweaking, and perfecting before launching anything.