So you are thinking of starting a business and you don’t know where and how to begin. I’ve got you covered! This article will help you get started as a small business and walk you through all of the tools I used to launch Monika Freeman Studios. Full transparency, I offer a 3 week course that dives into starting a business from scratch and landing your first client within one month, so this article isn’t going to be a tutorial on how to utilize all of these platforms. That said, I will give you all the tools you need to get started on your own without my course today, and you can follow along on YouTube, TikTok and my podcast, Create The Flow, for daily business tips.
If you are reading this it is likely that you have a small business or are about to launch a small business. In this case, once you have settled on your business name, purchased your domain name, and setup your social media accounts, the debate of whether working as a sole proprietor, LLC, S Corp or C Corp come into question. Everyone’s business model looks completely different, and so do your taxes, so this is up to you and your CPA and/or attorney to decide. I will say, in the beginning, my CPA advised me not to incorporate until I was making over six figures annually. However, if you are ready to incorporate now, that is where I advise starting. Registered your DBA and apply via Secretary of State. If you are not quite ready, you can work as a sole proprietor in the meantime.
Now that you have a business I suggest separating your personal and professional bank accounts. Again, this is also up to you how to proceed. For the sake of this article I will share with you what I did when I was first launching my business and did not have any employees. I setup three business accounts. One for all business income I was receiving, a second account for taxes which was $0.25 of every dollar made (rate for CA), and a third account for retirement/savings. At that time I was using QuickBooks but you can opt for Self-employed QuickBooks for a fraction of the cost. Then, I linked my QuickBooks accounts to my three bank accounts and created rules for all expenses so my taxes where perfectly itemized for tax season.
If you have a bookkeeper or accountant you may not need Quickbooks. That said, I used it for my business and personal checking and savings accounts at the same time and it was great. I like to file quarterly taxes because CA can be quite pricey, but each state is different. Regardless of when you file, QuickBooks is easy to use and keeps everything organized.
Business Management Service
Now that you are an official business you need to invest in a business management service. There are several software programs that automate your busy work and stay on top of all your to-dos, invoices, proposals, etc., so you can grow your business. I use Dubsado. For 20% off of your first year use my code: mfstudios. Dubsado is great because it is linked to my Square and PayPal allowing clients a variety of ways they can pay. For businesses that offer payment plans it allows you to create workflows for recurring payments, payment reminders, and such. You can create all of your proposals in Dubsado attached to your contract which makes sending a proposal seamless and time efficient. We all know how tedious crafting multiple custom proposals at one time can be. Dubsado is a great way to exchange emails with clients and schedule any work on the calendar, too.
Once you have Dubsado, or whichever business management service you decide to use, you need to setup an online payment solution with your e-commerce. As I mentioned above, I use PayPal and Square for all branding and web design as well as commercial work, marketing materials, photography, social media management, etc. I also use Shopify for all courses and products that I sell directly via my website that are not linked to a custom proposal or my workflow in Dubsado. For more information you can reference my Ultimate Business Masterclass that is packed with tons of video courses emailed to you directly on how to start and launch a business using these tools.
When it comes to scheduling meetings and calls, depending upon your type of business, you can become inundated with emails and calls. For this reason I make it clear in my onboarding process what days my clients can contact me, how they can contact me, and/or schedule time with me. This helps me work efficiently as well as prepare for each call. I take calls one day a week and clients are able to schedule time with me via Calendly. Calendly is integrated with my Zoom and Outlook accounts so my clients can schedule time with me and it syncs to my calendar scheduling a call with my Zoom link. This way I don’t need my assistant to handle my calls, and my clients do not have my direct line to call me at home all hours of the day. This helps create boundaries. Scheduling with calendly keeps everything streamlined so I can focus on client work and not busy work.
By now the entire world is on Zoom or Google. Both work well. The great thing about small business owners who work from home is that you do not have to provide your direct line to clients. You can create a Zoom or Google account and provide them with that number so that you are not distracted with calls all day as mentioned above. Depending upon what you use Zoom for it’s also great to record calls and share you screen to walk clients through work and/or presentations you are doing for their companies. You can reference and share these videos with them again later.
Email Marketing Service
Once you are ready to start marketing your business you need an email marketing service provider. I use Flodesk but there are several others out there. You can use your email marketing service provider to design and send on-brand marketing emails, create opt-in forms to grow your list, and build powerful email automations to scale your business. For 50% off of your Flodesk subscription click this link.
I use Trello for all of my client management. Every Trello Board is specifically created for each client. Trello makes it easy for me to link all of my clients contracts, invoices and share Google Doc’s. In Trello we share videos and chat back and forth daily so that we do not need to send emails all day. With Trello all of the deliverables and work weeks are broken up into individual days so the clients can see where we are in the process every step of the way. For social media management clients I also use workflow spreadsheets via Airtable.
Phew, that’s a lot to take in! Now the good stuff. Once you have a functioning company and you are ready to utilize all of these tools you need a website to share rich content and start advertising your products and/or services. These days their are tons of website builders for individuals with and without coding and SEO knowledge. I’ve always used WordPress and Showit, but you can use SqaureSpace, Wix and so many others. The goal is to design a website that hooks your audience/consumer with a gorgeous online storefront and converts them to a sale.
I suggest hiring a professional brand and web designer like, me, but if you are savvy with brand and web design GO GET IT! Just make sure all of your branding is cohesive and on-brand across your website and all of your social media platforms.
After you have all of these things setup you are ready to start promoting your products and/or services. There are SOOOO many valuable resources, brand strategy checklists, social media management tips, sale trainings, price guides, business plans, sales funnels, adverting and PR tactics, etc., you will need to monetize your business to become successful. However, this list will get you started so you can tackle the backside of the business and start making money on the frontside.
Send us a DM or email if this was helpful or you have questions about any of these tips. You can also email us for all business inquiries and 1:1 coaching: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want more business resources? These books are a great place to start!