A Step by Step Guide to Start-Ups

By Malaika Charrington and Emil Beckford

Ever wanted to start a business but thought it was too difficult to get it up and running? Between the business proposals, the necessary licenses, and all the other commonalities of entrepreneurship, it’s not hard to be intimidated. We put together these step by step lists to ease some of the pressure.

  1. Recognize your organization is a business. A business can be anything from a major banking firm to the lemonade stand on the corner. If you have a marketable idea that could make money, you have a business.

  2. Set goals for your company. Going blindly into a business venture is a great way to lose a great amount of your time and money. Clearly define what your company is going to sell, whether it’ll be appealing to consumers, and if that demographic is populous in your area.

  3. Determine a good fee. Every business owner wants to make money, but be sure you are charging fair prices. For most businesses, the clients or customers are the lifeblood of their success, so be sure that your prices make the customers want to come back, while still being fair to you. Check out of childcare and pet pricing guide here.

  4. Promote. Promote. Promote. The best way to increase your clientele is to advertise. Talk to your friends, family, and family friends. Post on a neighborhood bulletin board. Knock on your neighbor’s doors. People are always looking for new and fresh business ideas, so take advantage of your contacts and technology to increase your market.

  5. Do a good job. The best way to lose business is to make your clients think you aren’t responsible or trustworthy. If you do well, your clients will tell their friends, and you’ll get more business.

How to start an online clothing company

 
Photo by Emil Beckford

Photo by Emil Beckford

 
  1. Decide what your theme is. There are lots of options in the clothing industry, so try to focus on one specific area in the beginning. For example, if you like hipster gear or vintage clothes or clothes for plus sized women, then focus on that specific area. From there, you can decide whether you’re going to resell clothes or make them yourself.

  2. Stock up and manage your inventory. Set aside some money (we recommend $100) to build up your inventory. Open a Simple account, or another bank account that allows you to keep track of spending with graphs and goal setting. If you’re reselling clothing, take advantage of deals that thrift stores have. Value Village has 50% and 75% sales daily, and everything in the store is 50% off on the last Wednesday of every month. Goodwill’s “Deal of the Day” also offers daily deals on clothes.

  3. Find a good selling platform. The internet is full of clothing vendors, so one of the best ways to gain traffic is to piggyback onto a site that’s well known. Etsy has huge markets for artists and creative spirits to sell their material, so it can be used as an online shop. If you want to create a custom website for your merchandise, Big Cartel offers easy shop design for free and offers more features for $10/month. No coding is required.

Quick Start Plan

Go choose a name, theme and logo design:

https://www.graphicsprings.com/start-your-logo

Go to open a bank account and online business account to transfer money:

http://getbankednow.org  http://simple.com | http://paypal.com

Set aside an initial investment and go buy clothes on a 50% off day:

http://www.valuevillagethrift.com/ | http://mersgoodwill.org/shop/current-sales/

Design your store or personal website:

http://squarespace.com/  |  http://weebly.com |   http://etsy.com

Ship your sales:

http://stamps.com

How to start a babysitting business

  1. Determine an age group. As a professional, you want to always be sure that you feel comfortable when working, and the best way to ensure comfort is knowing which ages you can handle babysitting (not too young, not too old). Base your prices on how comfortable you are with each level of children, but make sure you’re consistent  (our guide is here).

  2. Be prepared. Get a profile on Care.com; it’s the best way to apply for babysitting jobs (our graphic on how to navigate the site is here). Get a background check so people know that you aren’t an axe murderer. Be sure to take CPR and first aid certification classes as well, you can even take babysitting classes! Not only will they prepare you in the unlikely event that something happens, but it will also ease the parents’ potential worries. Then make a list of possible activities that you can do with the kids.

  3. Expand, if possible. You don’t have to do it alone. If your business gets too much for you to handle, consider bringing some friends in. However, while this strategy could mean less work, it also means less profit.

Tips based on the business plan of Attiya Charrington, a successful pet-sitter and babysitter who started a dog walking business at the early age of 12. She relied solely on word of mouth to expand her clientele. She began working with neighbors, and as her business grew she developed a reputation of being the “dog walking girl”. According to Attiya, “[She] never really had to ‘build up’ clientele. References and word of mouth are incredible for business.”

 

Attiya Charrington with her cousin at a family event | Photo by Khalilah Charrington

Attiya Charrington with her cousin at a family event | Photo by Khalilah Charrington

Quick Start-Up Plan

Get a background check / specializations:

http://www.stlouisco.com/LawandPublicSafety/PoliceDepartment/Services/CentralPoliceRecords#rec_check

http://www.slmpd.org/records.shtml

http://www.redcross.org/lp/cpr-first-aid-aed-certification-hero?utm=a&device=d&scode=PSG00000E017&gclid=CNieo4Ck3MYCFQiNaQod1r0Lvw

Make a profile:

https://www.sittercity.com/ | https://www.urbansitter.com/ | https://www.care.com/ 

(care.com navigation infographic)

Market yourself:

Message as many families as possible.| http://www.craigslist.org (safely! and without personal information). 

Get references:

Call friends, family, neighbors and ask for a typed or written reference letter with contact information. Scan this and be prepared to send it as a PDF.

How to start a dog walking or pet sitting company

  1. Make sure you actually like animals. If the thoughts of being tackled by a giant dog or being covered in cat hair repulse you, or you cower in fear whenever you see your friend pick up their dog’s poop, you may want to think up a new business.

  2. Familiarize yourself with animals and their needs. Before you agree to pet-sit or dog-walk, make sure you know how to praise, or discipline the pets if necessary. Be sure to ask the owners whether or not the pets are trained, and what to watch out for if they are not.

  3. Start small. When dealing with other people’s pets, you’ll want to make sure you aren’t dealing with too many at a time. Start with maybe one or two dogs and work your way up as you become more comfortable.

Quick Start-Up Plan

Create a flyer, post in on neighborhood bulletin board, and knock on doors:

http://www.flyerforfree.com/ | http://www.postermywall.com/ | https://nextdoor.com/

Set up a pet care provider profile on these sites:

http://www.care.com (infographic)| https://www.rover.com | https://www.sittercity.com

A majestic feline by a window | Photo by Attiya Charrington

A majestic feline by a window | Photo by Attiya Charrington

No matter what kind of business you want to start, make sure you have a financial plan. Open and manage savings and checking accounts so you can keep track of where all of your profit is going. Starting a business can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t always have to be. Use our simple steps to alleviate some of your stress and give you that final push toward entrepreneurship.