“I got my start by giving myself a start.” Madame CJ Walker
I am tired of seeing Black women beg for crumbs. With studies saying we have a net worth $5 and us making $.64 of a White man’s dollar I think it is time we bake the cake. How? Start your own business. So you have an idea and want to start a business but you don’t know where to begin. Well, you are in the right place. I have put together a whole bunch of free resources and some of my own advice to get you started.
Start Your Business
Check out my earlier post, “Five simple ways Black women can start a business or career for free.” For some reason people believe that you need a million dollars to start a business or career. You don’t. You can start for free. You just need your brilliant ideas, creativity, desire and time. For more ideas on what kind of business you should start click here. For several business ideas by utilizing what is around you and your skills click here.
Create a Business Plan
Here are six sure-fire ways from the United States Small Business Administration to create an awesome business plan. The SBA also offers a step-by-step tool on their website to help you create, build, print and save your business plan. All you have to do is login. For their business plan tool go to www.sba.gov/business-plan.
Find Your Customers
The United States Census offers free data right down to the census tract for all Americans. If you are creating a brick and mortar location there is data that can help you determine where your customers are, how much they make, their race, gender, age, education, employment and even language. Heck, you can even use the national data to determine how to target your American customers online. All you have to do is type in what you are looking for and that is it. I personally like to use American Fact Finder because it contains the census’ latest and greatest data. That data is based on estimates. Click on “Advanced Search” so you can make multiple selections to create large or multiple tables. For census data click here.
Grow Your Business
Social media is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to let people know your business exists. Here are some of my social media tips.
- Go to where your customers are.
- Join message boards, websites, Facebook pages, Instagram accounts and other online places that may interest your potential customers.
- Engage and leave awesome comments regularly. Leave a few tips. Share that site’s information. When you do this regularly it shows that you are invested in a topic.
- When you are a regular poster people will listen to you. My advice is to include your website in your tagline. That way when you comment you are giving people an opportunity to visit your website. It is free marketing.
Here is a tip. Try not to connect your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Writing for Facebook and Twitter are two different monsters because of Twitters character limits. A Facebook post can be long. A Twitter post must be like a newspaper headline. It has to be short, to the point and of course grab your readers attention.
The SBA also offers an extensive video to show you how.
Build a client list
You can build your email list/client list for free in several different ways. You can ask. That is cool but it won’t produce high numbers in a short period of time plus your audience is limited. You can pay for a list but that defeats the purpose of doing it for free or you can do it by creating a social media contest and offer your product as the prize. Why is it important? I say this in every post but email lists allow you to speak directly to your customers without having to depend on third-party companies like Facebook, Amazon, Twitter and others for access. Unlike others who solely depend on them you won’t have to pay them a dime to promote your business. The most important part is that you can build up a relationship with your clients. Let them know when your next item comes out and inform them of special offers. Here is how to build your list:
- Create and share a high quality contest flyer featuring your product as the prize.
- On that photo, give step by step instructions on how to be eligible for the prize. For example, they must subscribe to your website, follow you on social media and share your website with a friend.
- Have a contest ending date and then announce the winner.
- Ask the winner to leave a testimonial about your product.
Now you have new emails, you’ve spread the word about your product and promoted your business for free. How awesome is that?
Here are two tips:
- If your product is visual, I stress using high quality photos and using social media that rewards it like Pinterest and Instagram. Make sure you water mark your pictures so others won’t steal your work and most importantly leave your contact information so others can contact you.
- Create a social media posting schedule and keep it up regularly. If you use Gmail, it has a free calendar that will send you reminders throughout your day.
Beat your competition
How do you beat them? Study and learn from them. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Create a new kind of wheel or make upgrades on the old one. Try this:
- Find your competition on Amazon, Ebay, Etsy or even on their own website and check out the product reviews.
- Read the negative comments and do the opposite.
- Read the positive comments and do it better.
That is it. You will stand apart from your competition by learning from their mistakes and improving on their service.
I hope these tips will help you start and grow your business. If you like this or other posts don’t forget to subscribe on the upper right side of the page and share with your networks. Information like this is only valuable when others see and use it. You can do anything as long as you make a committed focus on your goal. So let’s get started.