Starting a Business
By Kate, age 18, New Hampshire
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
When the economy goes down, it tends to drag us all with it. So, how do you rise up and out of the jobless mess?
If you read the title of this article, it should be obvious enough. Start a business!
Sure, it's not as easy as it sounds, but it can be done, and anyone can do it. Think back to when you were five years old and sold lemonade and cookies - your very first business. Sure, you were cute, and business for a cute little girl is easy when you have the cute little face. Things have changed, and you can't always get by with those good looks, but there are other ways - like advertising.
It can be a long and tedious process, and if you're an adult trying to raise a family, it might not be the best option if you are the only one working, since you don't get the benefits of health care and such from a big corporation. But for any teen or young adult, starting your own business is the perfect way to go to make some fast cash to be used towards college, a new car, your own place, or anything else!
So, where do you start? You create your business, of course! I will use my newly created business as an example to give you ideas, since I am in this process as well.
1. The best businesses are the businesses that people need. If you try to sell your little arts and crafts, chances are, you won't get any business. People are starting to save their money and spend it on things they need. So, if you like that kind of artsy thing, why not sell things a little more useful? Make your own style - sew together some clothes and sell them for cheap. And hey, if it's what you're into, it could be the start of a future fashion career.
For me, I decided on a photography business. I had taken some pictures of a friend for a photography class and showed them to her. She showed them to a friend who showed them to a friend. Long story short, I found two women who are interested in me photographing their wedding. Though I don't feel "professional" enough to do weddings, it opened up the possibility of doing other types of photography - senior portraits, family portraits, etc.
2. Come up with a name. This may seem simple, but you can't use something that someone else has used. You want it to be creative and eye catching, but simple enough to remember as well. I originally wanted to call my photography business Little Flower Photography - little flower is what my last name means in Italian. After tossing the idea around to friends and family, I decided against it. It sounded too "childish," as if I only take pictures of little kids. Having the "little" in it was the problem.
I then played around with camera terms and corny little things such as "Timeless Treasures" or "In Focus". After a quick Google check, I saw that many of these names were taken. I decided to go with Fiorella Photography - yes, it's simple, and yes, it's not very creative, but it was professional enough that people would feel good having me take their pictures, plus, it incorporates my name, so people know who I am. Of course, you can always spice up simple names by creating catchy slogans. My slogan? "Wicked good photos for a wicked good price." In case you don't understand, "wicked" is a New England term. ;)
3. Copyright. This is by far the most important step. You don't want people stealing your name or idea or products. Copyright, copyright, copyright! You may have to do a little research and traveling, but you will need to copyright your business name. It will probably cost around $50, but it's totally worth it. Copyright everything you can - your name, your slogan, your products, etc.
I personally haven't gotten to this step yet, but I will in the next few days. I plan on copyrighting everything - name and slogan. I also put my name on every single picture I take, and for pictures I post online, they have a big huge copyright symbol on them, so if people try to take them, they get that big watermark right in the middle. Try to steal that!
4. Create a website. Depending on what your business is, this is the best route to go. You can talk about your business, what you sell, and even create order forms so people can make purchases online. If you are really serious about this, you can work towards renting a building - but that's in the way future. Right now, I have a website hosted by Webs.com. (www.kfiorellaphotographyetc.webs.com) Eventually, I will purchase a domain name, which you should do as well. This usually costs a lot, so again, save up for it. But once you purchase your own domain name, you won't have the .webs.com part (or whatever website you choose to host your site). Remember - the website should be your business name. Easy to spell and remember.
5. Advertise. There are tons of ways to do this. You can choose to advertise on sites such as Google, but these options will cost money. Or, you can simply make flyers to send around town and business cards. Business cards are key - you can give them to just about anyone anywhere. And, of course, don't forget to mention your website on the card, or no one will know where to find you!
I am currently having my boyfriend, who is a designer, create a logo for me, which will go on my business card. I will give them to friends and family, and even to the public. If you have read my bio, you know that I am part of a Civil War reenacting group. Besides reenacting, we sell Civil War period items to the public and are now starting to take pictures of the public dressed in period outfits or with some of the reenactors. They will be able to buy these pictures if they would like, and of course, with it comes my business card - free of charge. ;)
6. Open up a bank account for your business. Even if you are not yet incorporated (Inc. or LLC), you can get a business account - usually it's called a DBA (your name "Doing Business As" the name of your company). Once you get a steady flow of cash coming in, you will want to keep it saved up to purchase things you need to help your business grow. You MUST keep this money separate from your personal money! This is a job for you now, and the government knows about it. They will tax you, just like any business, and just like having any job you will need to keep track of everything you purchase for the business or earn from your business. You will want a separate credit or debit card for your business to make purchases for your business only.
7. Organize. Mind the little things. Have an appointment book, if you need one, to keep track of everything. Keep receipts for purchases and records of whom you do business with.
8. Have fun. You have your own business now, and hopefully, you're making some money!