After years of being in business for myself as a professional photographer, I learned quite a bit about how important the “behind the scenes” part of being in business was to my success. Launching Farm & Country Co with Randy this year has been so exciting and challenging.
There were a few things that I naturally started doing before our soft launch last month, and I am realizing that there are some seasoned business owners that don’t realize how important it is to do these things! So, I thought I’d share with you guys the first 5 things I did before opening up an Etsy shop!
What is a business plan? It’s basically as simple or complex as you want it to be, and it will go over things like your vision for the company, the mission for the company, and answers questions like what you do, why you do it and how you do it.
Think of your business plan as a treasure map. It’s going to take you to the X that marks the spot, but it shows you how to get there! It’s something you can refer back to and adjust as needed, but it’s a good place to start.
I cannot stress this enough: if you are in business, you need do it legally. This means you’ll need to get a business tax EIN (AKA an “Employer ID Number”) from the IRS and registering your business with your local Secretary of State (google how to do it for your state)! If you plan to sell products (even digital products), you’ll also likely need a sales tax license. Again – look up the rules for your state!
I’ve been a longtime GoDaddy partner, and so it was a no-brainer for us to go to GoDaddy to purchase our URL. Having a personalized URL with your business name makes it so much easier for people to find you! Instead of saying “Go to Etsy, then type in the name of our shop!” we can just give them our URL, and have it forwarded to our shop.
For us, the two big social medias are Instagram and Facebook. They are the most populated and the most opportunity for us to engage with potential customers. I kept everything the same, so that way it was easy for clients to find us! I also added a special Farm & Country board to my Pinterest account; we might create us a whole new Pinterest board just for the brand, but for now I plan to just keep it on my personal.
If you keep your plans a secret, it’s hard to have people cheering you on. The best way to get people in your corner is tell them about it! You don’t have to spill all the secrets, you can keep an air of mystery. But! You do need to tell them “I’m up to something, and I can’t wait to share it with you.” And then once you’re ready to launch, you’ve already gotten people’s attention!
As I mentioned, I’ve been in business for years and I’ve kept a running newsletter the last few years to keep in touch with what I’ve been up to. I honestly kind of sucked about it, but it’s become a vital part of my communication plan. With the ever-changing algorithms and censorship going on with social media, sometimes posts get lost and news doesn’t get shared. Having a newsletter literally puts me in my supportive community’s email inbox!
If you’re starting from scratch, this is the time to start a newsletter. I can’t tell enough you how valuable it is!
Ashley Durham is a mom entrepreneur and small business educator who loves to help other moms grow their small creative businesses online.