Hey guys! So recently when I was collecting questions for our monthly “Ask Claire,” I had several around how to start a business when you know nothing. Now, I think nothing is probably an extreme term to use because even if you don’t know anything about a particular business niche, you may have experience in sales, marketing, branding, social media, etc. And the point is – there are so many things that go into a business. So while you may feel clueless, I bet you know more than you think! However, I get that starting can feel really daunting and overwhelming when you feel like you’re starting from scratch. Even if you know something about the area you want to have a business in, it can still be hard to know what the first step should be. So today I thought I would share my experience with starting my blog/IG and most recently developing an app. Hopefully this will help if you’re wanting to start a business or in the beginning stages.
The first thing I will say is everyone started as a novice. No one was born knowing what they know – they had to learn it. That being said, if other people can learn how to do it, you can too!
Second thing. Google is your best friend. You don’t know where to start? Google it. Literally google “how to develop an app” “how to start a clothing line” “how to start an Etsy store” “how to learn digital marketing.” So many resources will come up whether it’s blogs, YouTube videos, online courses, etc. If you’re wondering what your first step should be – this is it!
Literally, research as much as you can before spending any money on anything. When you’re wanting to start a business you want to know as much information as you can going into it – who are your competitors, who is your target audience, how much does it typically cost to get started, what do your margins need to be/what do you need to charge and sell to be profitable (eventually), what can you do on your own vs. what do you need to outsource, etc. Researching questions like this will give you a good idea of what your business will actually entail in terms of getting started. It will tell you how much competition you have, if you can fund the business on your own at first or if you’ll need a loan, how long it will take to launch (can you bring something to market in 2 months or will it be 2 years?), etc. Of course there will be many learning curves along the way, but doing this preliminary research will at least give you an idea of what to expect.
Another piece of advice I would give is once you do as much research as possible, ask yourself what is the most minimal viable product you can launch with? For example, if you’re starting a skincare line – what would your hero product be? What would you be known for? You don’t need to (nor should you) launch with 15 products. I would say pick 1-2 and keep your inventory low. Same goes for something like a clothing line. You don’t need to launch with 10 different pieces. Pick a few items and order low inventory numbers. You don’t want to be stuck in a situation where you invested a ton of money and have a lot of inventory left over. It’s always better to sell out and have to order more! Starting small will be less stressful financially, and you can get an idea of whether there is a market for your product (ie. does the inventory you have actually sell?) Another example about launching with the most minimal viable product – let’s say you want to start a blog. Start with a free template. You don’t need to spend 5K on a web designer right off the bat. Make sure you actually enjoy blogging, are consistent with content, and that you’re attracting readers.
One last example of this. As some of you may know by know – I have been working on launching an app in the women’s safety space (launching 12/7!!). When I first had the idea for the app, it had a physical component attached to it. When I started researching though I quickly realized that having this physical component was going to cost upwards of 500K to get started (yikes). So then I thought – okay, what can I do as more of a minimal viable product? What can I bring to market to help show proof of concept that is much more cost effective? Through this brainstorming, the functionality of the app changed slightly, and I got rid of the wearable component. Then, I started talking to app development firms about what the cost would be to just get the app developed. This reduced the cost dramatically and it gave me the ability to get the app/concept out there initially without having to come up with 500K. And honestly (in hindsight), I’m really glad the app doesn’t have a physical component because I think having the app itself with the adjusted concept ended up being much more practical for women in everyday life. ANYWAY. Hopefully giving these examples of minimal viable products across different businesses helps you get an idea of what it would look like for whatever business you’re wanting to start.
Overall – the best thing you can do when wanting to start a business is to google, google, google. Do your research! And then figure out what is the minimal viable product you can launch to help show proof of concept before investing serious money. Any specific questions, comment below and I am happy to try and answer.