Lifehack asks the group how to start a small business. Funny thing, I never wanted to start my own business. It means dealing with bookkeeping/accounting, legal stuff, marketing, and finding clients.
But in 1999, after completing my certificate in Internet Technologies, I thought I wanted to do web design on the side. At the time, I worked for a large company. But the more I did web design, the more I didn’t enjoy the work. An opportunity to write an article came along, and I discovered I enjoyed this. Slowly, I received more writing and editing assignments.
Repeatedly, I’ve come across advice that recommends starting your own business on the side while you have a full-time job. Keep building up that business and then switch when the time and finances are right. This is exactly what I did. I spent about five to six years building my business, then I went full-time in August 1995.
2006 was my first full-year as a content maven. I’ve been lucky that it was successful and that I didn’t get into a situation where I had to urgently find new clients. But that doesn’t mean I’m not marketing on a regular basis. Marketing isn’t limited to phone calls. Writing articles, blogging, and asking current clients for referrals worked well.
As for the accounting stuff. I finally got the hang of QuickBooks. For someone who digs into software easily, I struggled over a year to stop relying on a crude Excel spreadsheet and do all of the work in QuickBooks. Sure, I could outsource this, but even a friend of mine who has had her own business for years says it’s better to do the accounting yourself. A friend of hers lost a lot of money because her accountant stole from her business.
I’m not saying to avoid accountants (we have quite a few good friends that happen to be accountants) — the key is to know exactly what’s going on with your business’ finances. For me, the easiest way is doing it myself with QuickBooks.
As for making your company official, many states let you do this online. Check with your state’s Secretary of State’s web site. When I established meryl.net as a business, I contacted the county clerk’s office and someone mailed the Assumed Name Certificate. I filled the form, took it to a notary, and mailed it in with payment.