Starting a business may sound simple enough, and it is easy to announce a business and start selling, but starting a business that will last years rather than weeks takes more effort and planning. Just as you can build, a shelter from a few branches but takes planning and laying some solid foundations – so a prosperous business needs strong foundations.
Business success comes from consistency. Consistency makes you predictable and trustworthy so people will return and builds a strong reputation for your business. It can also make life easier for you as it builds habits. You can set up systems and processes from the beginning to encourage consistency – it is easier to start a business with favourable habits and methods than to adjust to better patterns later.
How to Establish Consistency when Starting a Business:
- Have a style that suits your brand and create a plan that you can easily follow. A consistent style builds your brand so it is recognized and trusted. A style guide makes it easier to remember the specific choices you have made, and easier to communicate them to others who may need to know.
- Write down procedures for important and repetitive processes in your business. Writing it down can cement the process in your mind and often shows up better ways of doing things. Having a written procedure to refer to is a major saver in tasks you don’t do very often and for when you are training someone new.
- Plan. All too often new businesses do things impulsively which results in inconsistency. For instance, writing website pages one by one, as ideas arise rather than planning a proper structure can end in pages with a different layout and a different writing style. Alternatively, ordering business cards and then getting a logo so the cards don’t match the website and brochures – giving you the choice of inconsistent branding or throwing out the first cards.
Consistency and procedures does not mean nothing can ever change (as that is not a great business model either) but it means things are only changed deliberately for potential gain rather than by mistake or without being noticed.
Aim for when Starting a Business
A professional business earns trust and respect, which generates sales in the long term. Being professional simply means doing the right thing and taking the business seriously; it doesn’t have to mean being serious all the time, being formal and stuffy, or wearing a suit. It means paying attention to details, having integrity and abiding by the rules of proper corporate behaviour in your industry.
Starting a business can be an expensive and nerve wrecking time. Don’t let that, or the size of your business, fool you into being less than professional ‘until we get established’.
For one thing, you need to build a habit of professionalism and consistency as the foundation of your new business. For another, lack of professionalism can loose you clients you will struggle to recapture later. Being professional and appearing professional from the starting point is important to your long-term success.
Professionalism Includes Activities Such As:
- Setting up proper contact details – a Gmail or Hotmail account isn’t appropriate when domain names are cheap and easy to get and a phone answered by the family can lead to problems and poor impressions.
- Having a website and business cards professionally designed is worthwhile – or at least use a good template and adjust it. Amateur websites look amateurish and people will click to another site fast if the site is unappealing – they will not be there long enough to read how good you are. It may seem more expensive to do things properly but it will save you time (compared to doing it yourself and then getting it done properly later) and will give you an image that can start selling straight away
- Being consistent with your brand – a refresh after a few years is one thing, but changing a logo or colour scheme every few months is annoying and doesn’t give an impression of stability or permanence.
- Opening a business bank account is a good idea – it looks more professional and permanent than an account in your name (unless of course your business name is your name!) It also makes doing your accounts easier and showing your records to others, (e.g. a bank manger when after a business loan) is better if your personal money isn’t tied in your business accounts.
- Appropriate language and ideas is important in anything that will be associated with your business. Have whatever personal opinions you want, but if you are talking, tweeting, posting on Facebook, commenting in blogs and forums, or writing anything on your own materials be sure you are projecting the image you want.
Are you ready to set up good communications foundations for your new business? Tash is passionate about helping small businesses succeed, giving tips on effective communications in her blog and as TashWord on Twitter.