Updated: Aug 23
Starting a new business means wearing many hats. In the beginning you’re probably doing much of it on your own. It’s easy to get bogged down with the day-to-day that come with being an entrepreneur that some of the basic elements you need to succeed are forgotten about or pushed to the back burner. How many of these seven business essentials has your startup overlooked?
1. COMPANY MISSION STATEMENT
This one seems like a given, but many of us don’t spend the time crafting one. Mission statements are important because they force you to really focus on your business’s fundamental purpose.
A mission statement should address these three questions:
What do we do?
For whom do we do it?
What value do we provide them?
Try following this framework: Who + What you do + Impact
As an example, this is my mission statement:
Designing meaningful brands that empower passionate entrepreneurs
There’s a reason why I put this as the first thing your startup needs. It will help focus all of your business decisions towards this one common goal. Remember, a mission statement needs to be short and sweet, so spend time crafting it and you’ll be grateful you did.
2. IDEAL CUSTOMER PROFILES
In your mission statement you need to specify for whom you do business. Let’s pause there and really dive in on who they are.
Creating an ideal customer profile will help you better understand your business from your customer’s point of view. When you put yourself in their shoes it reframes how you approach your business strategy.
Try and create two to three profiles for the type of customers your business is marketing to. Your ideal customer profile should cover:
Where they live
Feel free to customize the criteria on the profile. You want to be as specific as possible to get the best grasp on who your ideal customers are. This tactic helps you better position your brand’s messaging so that it truly aligns with your target audience’s needs and values.
Give them names and keep these profiles on hand throughout your business development so that you can always refer back to them and ask, “Would this [business decision/product] resonate with Sam?”
3. A WEBSITE WITH A CLEAR CALL-TO-ACTION
Is your website capturing and converting your audience? If the goal of your website is to sell your product or service, what is currently in place to achieve this?
What your startup business needs is a website with a clear call-to-action. The best call-to-actions provoke emotion and a desire in your audience. When writing your call-to-action, what problem do they have that you can solve for them? Compare these two examples for a meal kit delivery company.
Get simple recipes and ingredients sent right to your door! [ LEARN MORE ]
Want to save time and money while eating better? Get healthy recipes and ingredients delivered right to your door! [ SEND ME HEALTHY RECIPES! ]
The second example not only provokes a stronger emotional response but uses action-oriented verbiage for the button. And remember, understanding your customer will help you find the best emotional triggers for your call-to-action.
PRO-TIP: Try to keep your call-to-action above the fold, which in the digital age means keeping the important content at the top of the screen. No need to scroll.
4. A BRAND STYLE GUIDE
When starting a new business, clients are eager to get a logo designed but aren’t always going that extra mile to create a brand style guide. If you want to invest in your startups’ success, a brand style guide will ensure your brand is consistent and cohesive.
A brand style guide is the visual bible for your company. It outlines the brand colours and typography to be used and where. It provides guidelines for how your logo should be presented in different formats, what style of imagery should be used alongside your brand, and even the tone of voice behind your social media captions or in emails.
Establishing this in the early stages of business development will help ensure your brand has a strong cohesive look across all platforms. Your brand style guide will clarify your creative decisions, giving your more time to build your business.
5. A SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT CALENDAR
Social media is the easiest and most effective way to build brand awareness and the best part is IT’S FREE.
Carve out some time once a week or once a month, if you’re feeling ambitious, creating a content calendar for your business. Creating content and posting regularly will allow you to connect with your audience, build their trust and help keep your business top-of-mind. For your content calendar include posts that:
get personal: tell your story
show behind the scenes and sneak peeks
offer advice or useful tips
share client testimonials
run contests and giveaways
How can you create a worthwhile content calendar? Start by looking to your competitors for the type of content they post. Which posts get the most engagement? Similarly, think of the type of content you like to see in your feed. How can you develop similar content for your own business?
If creating content is too daunting a task, hire a social media strategist or pay for a subscription service like Jasmine Star’s Social Curator that provides monthly content ideas, captions, and images.
6. A FAVICON FOR YOUR WEBSITE
So small it’s easy to forget. A favicon is the tiny icon that appears in the tab of your web browser when users are on your website. If you’re building your own website using any of the traditional platforms, there is usually a place you can easily add your own favicon. This gives your business that extra personal touch and shows demonstrates your attention to detail.
Your favicon image file needs to be between 16x16 pixels or 64x64 pixels depending on the browser — tiny tiny — so don’t go too heavy on the detail but use a bold, square orientation of your logo that will stand out in your browser.
This will also be the icon that displays if a user bookmarks your website or saves it to their phone’s home screen. Go ahead and test these out with your own website.
7. POWERPOINT OR KEYNOTE TEMPLATE
Does your company pitch prospective clients? Do you host webinars? How do you onboard new clients? Having a PowerPoint or Keynote template designed for your business will give you that extra professional credibility where it matters most.
A pre-designed presentation deck that follows your brand style guide will make creating webinars or client presentations much easier. With slides designed for nearly every type of content means you just have to simply plug and play the copy.
Often overlooked until it’s too late, having a presentation template designed for your startup means the end product always looks professional and is consistent with your brand.
How many of these seven business essentials does your startup already have? If you have four or more, then pat yourself on the back. You’re doing just fine. For any that you have overlooked or not yet prioritized, make sure you carve out the time to work on them. Your business will be greater for it.