So you just graduated. Kudos to you for all your hard work. Now, what’s your plan?
Are you going to try and get a job (probably in the industry you ‘trained’ in) or make the leap and start a business?
If you answered ‘yes‘ to starting a business, you’ll embark on the most challenging and yet extraordinary journey of all – that of true financial independence.
And yet, a lot of these new businesses FAIL in the first year.
Unless you’d plan to become yet another part of this sad statistic, there’s hope for you and a lot to do to succeed.
Here are the steps you’ll need to take so that you can start a business after graduating college.
Step 1: What are your skills? What services can you provide?
Are you great with kids? Do you cook like a chef? Are you a talented graphic designer? Do you possess a huge sports experience?
EVERYONE HAS A SPECIAL SKILL (or more). So dig deep, ask your friends are relatives and single out the few things you are really great at and love doing. If these potential services are also in demand, you’ve just figured out what you can do to earn money.
Step 2: Create a simple business plan
I hate anything business related and have felt like this for ages. And yet, after working with absolutely no plan in mind and wasting valuable time with stuff that didn’t allow me to reach my full potential, I grew up and started planning.
You don’t need a huge plan, unless you’re looking for funding and this comes with a huge set of requirements.
But, if you’re just thinking about earning money with your own small business, a short plan will do the trick.
Here’s what you should include in your business plan:
- GOALS – 3 years from now goals, 1 year goal, 3 month goal – be specific and realistic: ‘earn 5k/month, working 40 hours/month, with a team of 2′)
- CURRENT BUSINESS STAGE – have you made any sales (so you validated your business idea)? Just starting out?
- KEY ACTIONS – having goals is great, but you need to clearly understand how to achieve them. By choosing the right key actions to develop your business, you’ll be successful in your business – examples of key actions: create a business website, get support from influencers in my industry, write a book etc.
- STEPS – what do you need to do in order to get influencers to vouch for you? Set up a linked in account for instance, actively sharing their content, getting in touch etc. What do you need to do to get your website? Get a domain name, set up hosting, choosing a content management system (probably WordPress), getting a responsive design for it, setting up your pages (about us, services, testimonials etc) and so on.
For many of my students creating a business plan (even just editing a template I already provided) seemed like a daunting tasks.
Most of them told me it’s impossible to know what will happen in 3 years time, how could they possibly plan this?
While we know we cannot foresee future, it’s still quite possible to think about what we’d like to achieve and then clearly set the steps to this.
By thinking about the key actions + steps part of your business plan, you’re no longer shooting in the dark, but creating an outline for your success.
Your plan is not final, you can edit and improve on it, as you move further with your business.
But, believe me, it’s a very helpful exercise to become successful.
Step 3: Prepare a website for your new business
You need a website.
No matter what you’ll do, you need a website.
Ideally, you should have one custom tailored for your business. With a good design, SEO and marketing plans in mind.
Then start a mailing list, create a great lead magnet (a special report, an e-book, a cheat sheet) to get people to subscribe. We give our subscribers free access to 2 of our best lessons on the freelancing course or a special report of the biggest 10 website mistakes many people make (feel free to join both our newsletters, we send only great content. No spam!).
Create a business blog and deliver outstanding content to your readers. Become well known in your industry, share a lot of knowledge and you’ll convert visitors into customers in no time.
Step 4: Promote, promote and then promote some more
Tell everyone about your business, but don’t spam/annoy people.
Grow your mailing list, set a budget aside for paid ads (if you’d like to promote this way), connect with key people in your industry.
Step 5: Take care of your first clients
Under-promise and over-deliver.
Care for your customers, share insights, give them great support, show them they’re not just money ‘providers’ to you.
In little time you’ll become the ‘go to‘ person for them and others will be referred to your business.
Starting your business is a SIMPLE process. There are steps you need to work on and it can be done.
It’s not an easy process though, since you need to be productive, understand your market well, provide excellent service, have a knack for marketing and so on.
After spending 12 years as a web designer with my own small biz (and 7 years doing this full time), I can only say it’s WORTH IT.