It's been a crazy few weeks...we've seen an unprecedented number of website design requests for new businesses. However, every one of our conversations revealed one glaring issue; these businesses are not near ready for prime-time. To help guide these future business owners along we provide them with a checklist of 'to-do' items before they begin investing in the design of a new website.
To get you started we've compiled 12 steps to getting your business launched.
- Decide On Your Business Name: This is the first and most important step. More than likely you've already decided on a name, however, things that are seldom considered when deciding on a name is whether it's too common or overly unique and difficult for consumers to connect with. Don't just settle on one; brainstorm some ideas and share the names with friends, family, and colleagues to see what sticks.
- Establish a Legal Entity: You'll need to decide on what your business structure will be. Is it a Sole Proprietor; LLC; an S-Corp? If you don't know, go with the cheapest option that provides you some protection of your personal assets. Talk to your accountant or lawyer about what would be best suited for your business. This is also a good time to get your business tax ID (EIN) and to register your tradename.
- Research and Secure Your Domain Name: This is critical. In many cases, you're going to find that your business name has already been taken. If this is the case, you should research variations of your businesses' name to determine there availability. Buy any and all relevant variations that are available under the .com designation (don't worry too much about the other top-level domains; ie. .org, .net, etc).
We recommend: NameCheap
- Set-Up Your Professional Email: You can't have a business without a professional email address. Once you've secured your primary domain name now it's time to secure your professional email. We recommend that you use Google's G-Suite solution. It's secure and stable unlike many of the other hosted email platforms and integrates well with just about any email management platform.
Google G-Suite Set-Up
- Logo & Style Guide: Now the fun begins! It's time to begin designing your logo and to create a style guide. Your logo should be simple, clean and memorable. The trend has been to deliver a design that is easily identifiable and can be translated in print as well as digital. A style guide that outlines your color scheme, fonts used, logo variations (black and white, color, vertical, and horizontal) should accompany your final logo design.
- Claim Your Google Business Listing: All businesses should go through the effort of claiming and setting up their business listing with Google. It's not only vital for SEO but establishes credibility for your business. Note that once you set-up your listing it WILL NOT be activated immediately - activation requires an activation code that will be sent to your registered business address via a physical postcard. This typically takes 7-14 days.
- Write Your Elevator Speech: The idea is when you meet someone and they ask you what you do - you should have a response that is no longer than sixty seconds. Your sixty-second elevator speech should be descriptive and clear. This speech will act as your foundation for your marketing message, brand tone and it's accompanied content.
- Design Your Website: Now that you have your logo, you've secured your domain, you have a professional email set-up and you have the basis of your business pitch complete; it's time to plan your website design. The design will heavily rely on your business model; e-commerce businesses need a lot more thought put into their design than those offering a service. The big decision will be to hire a designer or take on the challenge yourself.
We recommend: Squarespace
- Add Your Website and Site Map to Google Search Console: This is one step that even the most seasoned website designers neglect. Once your site is launched you must add your website and its corresponding sitemap to Google's Search Console.
Google's Search Console
- Choose a Social Media Platform: The first question to ask before selecting your social media platforms; where are my customers most likely to be? For most consumer-based businesses, Facebook is a great option. The one thing to keep in mind is that in order have any success with social media you need to be engaged and consistent.
- Set-Up Google Analytics: It's important to understand how your website is performing. By adding your site and setting up Google Analytics you will have access to an extremely powerful tool to measure and evaluate your site's performance.
- Claim Your Business Listings: The Yellow Pages have been dead for years but your listings still remain alive and well and many of these listings are wrong and incomplete. To check your listings visit MOZ Local Search to check your businesses' listing.
Now you're ready to get out there and build your business.