There are lots of things I wish I knew when I was trying to figure out how to start my nursing business. When I started my first business I spent money on stuff I didn't need. I changed my services every week and felt like I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to chase every bit of knowledge that could set my business off into a new realm.
There are no shortcuts to success, but if you can start off lean and focus on the important stuff, you'll still be in business a year (because your first year is one of the hardest) and on your way to being a successful business owner who happens to be a nurse too!
Here are my top 10 tips on starting a business NOW:
1. Just get started. You can do this. But you've got to stop thinking all the time and just focus!
2. You need a website and a domain. You're going to want a home base online that people can come to, where you can start developing SEO and gain a following. Buy a domain, sign-up for Wix and design your own site. No web developer needed!
3. Get your business license. Research your state's regulations for business online and fill out the appropriate paperwork. It shouldn't take much over a few business days to get this done. You can do most everything online now. After this, get your EIN number for your business. You'll need this number to open a business bank account. Your EIN is free through the IRS, don't get scammed into paying a company to get one for you.
4. Skip the business cards (for now). If your business is based online and you don't plan on going out to events until you start getting some work under your belt, skip the business cards and other stationery. Wait until your business is at least semi-established before getting 500 business cards that you may end up having to change due to instablity all new businesses face during the start-up phase.
5. Work from home. More than ever small business owners are working from home (approximately 69%) because it's convenient. You don't need to spend money on renting a space or wasting gas commuting to an office. Have client meetings at a local coffee shop. I personally conduct interviews at the local Panera Bread in my neighborhood. (Hint: Even if you work from home, you'll most likely need a business license.)
6. Seek legal counsel when needed. If you need a contract or a letter of agreement for your services draw them up with an attorney. This will save you headaches down the line. I can't tell you how many problems this will solve when you get to working on a project and somehow your client isn't upholding their end of the agreement.
7. Blog. A blog isn't a must, but it can help you gain credibility and market your business. But only if you commit to posting regularly. If you're going to blog this Wednesday and then one year later write a post, well then you need to forget it. That will do more damage than not having a blog in the first place. People will wonder if you are a flake and untrustworthy. It's one of the best (and practically free) things you can do to invest in your business, but it's not worth anything if you don't keep up with it.
Stumped on what to blog about? I've got you covered in an upcoming post.
8. Keep your readers updated. A newsletter is also very important. An email list to help promote your products and services can increase your overall revenue. Your loyal customers will buy from you simply because the trust you. There are many newsletter services to choose from. A Mailchimp account is free up to 2,000 subscribers.
9. Beware of consultants who seemingly know it all. No guru knows it all. And if they claim to, they're lying. You can take all types of courses and read all sorts of books, but until you get really up close and personal with your own business, no one can be really super helpful to you.
10. Don't be a Jack of all trades. We all know that a Jack of all trades is a master of none. When thinking about what services to offer your clients, please don't do it all! If you try to offer everything you're going to end up strung out, tired, and with poor results. In the beginning narrow it down to 2 or 3 products or services and tweak from there. You may find that one works out better than the other or that all of them are a hit, but just keep it simple in the beginning.
You can do this, and I believe in you. You're awesome and you DO have something unique and special to share. Don't doubt yourself (at least not more than 2% of the time) when you are first starting to figure out how to start a business. Take your time and make sure the business decisions you make feel right to you.