9 Things Solopreneurs Must Do When Launching Their Business
As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to ease, professionals who lost their jobs because of the pandemic as well as those seeking to try their hand in running a business will launch a business. The nature of these business formations are much different today than just a few years ago. In the early 2000s, the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that around 60% of all business applications were for businesses planning on having employees. Fast forward to this past year, and this number shrank to 34%—with 66% of business applications from solopreneurs.
Solopreneurs Launch Businesses in Huge Numbers
The surge in new business formations is already upon us. Applications for tax IDs skyrocketed 77% in Q3 over the prior quarter this past year—the largest increase ever in business applications. While some of these are businesses with employees, a majority of the applications are by solopreneurs.
There are a number of reasons behind this spike. First, technology and gig economy makes it easier than ever for a solopreneur to start a business and thrive. Second, stimulus funds being extended with the passage of the American Rescue Plan, the 30 million or so Americans relying on the benefits need to find alternative income sources. Third, as happened following the 2008-09 Great Recession, a number of professionals see starting a business as a better post-COVID-19 option than returning to a traditional job.
Checklist for Solopreneurs to Launch a Business
For solopreneurs seeking to launch their businesses this year, the following is a checklist of things you need to consider when launching your business:
Decide What You’re Going to Do
For many professionals, you don’t have the luxury to ease into their new solopreneur gig. You must work double time in their current job while working on your own business at the same time. But due to COVID-19, many may not even have the ability to transition between your current work and your new business venture.
When settling on what the business is going to do, solopreneurs must settle on an idea and specific scope. The business idea must be something around which you’re passionate and can see yourself doing for the foreseeable future. At the same time, there must be market demand for the idea; a product or service that has no demand isn’t going to generate the cashflow you require to pay the bills.
Brand (Name) Your Business
Solopreneurs need to settle on a name for their business. You likely will want to bounce names and concepts off of family and friends as well as potential customers. Finding something that resonates and differentiates your business from competitors is important. You should check the different business names against the domain registries to determine which ones are available. Once you register your domain, you need to set up a professional email address attached to it. Too many solopreneurs opt to use a Gmail email address, which diminishes their professional brand.
Get a Professional Address
Many solopreneurs automatically assume it is fine to list their home addresses when registering their business. However, doing so raises liability and privacy issues. Plus, some apartment complexes and home-owners associations prohibit using home addresses for businesses. Finally, a home address lacks the professional brand image that most solopreneurs want to convey with their business.
Instead of listing a home address, solopreneurs need to consider a virtual address like Davinci Virtual Office. First impressions count, and having an address in a professional business complex that includes a lobby directory listing, lobby greeter, and more goes a long way in communicating your brand—and there are other advantages as well (see below). Many virtual office services also come with mail receipt and forwarding.
Register Your Business
Once you have your domain secured and a professional email address, it is time to register your business. How and where you need to register depends on your business structure and location. A good starting point to determine the requirements is the Small Business Administration’s website. There are a lot of factors to consider—federal, state, and local.
Rather than wading through all of the options, solopreneurs may want to consider using a service such as Davinci Virtual Office, which includes an incorporation and registration service, to register their business. These services take the guesswork out of forming and registering a business, enabling solopreneurs to focus on getting their business off the ground. Davinci Virtual Office, for example, not only helps solopreneurs to determine what incorporation is best for them (e.g., LLC versus S Corp) but it also enables solopreneurs to track and store notifications, compliance deadlines, and more.
Figure Out Your Financial Details
Solopreneurs need to understand what revenue is required so that they can afford to run their business as well as support themselves and their spouses and families. For solopreneurs offering services, this means you need to nail down project rates and/or hourly rates. These may not be what you publish, but these are the rates required for you to make a profit and sustain a revenue flow to keep the business going.
Microsoft Excel is probably not the best route to take for managing the finances of your business. Indeed, there are a number of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based accounting solutions for small businesses that are affordably priced. When vetting these options, you may want to look for one that includes (or integrates) project-based management capabilities in addition to accounting management features. Many of these have trial offers so that you can test them out to determine if they are a fit for your business.
Build a Compelling Website
Just as professional email addresses are a requisite for solopreneurs, having a professional website is key as well. A solopreneur does not need to build a huge website to convey a professional presence. There are a number of do-it-yourself (DIY) SaaS-based website solutions that include templates for solopreneurs—which are designed for different business offerings (e.g., accountant, attorney, business consultant, insurance agent, etc.). The upside is you don’t need to know how to code HTML to build a great website. Nonetheless, if you don’t have the time to spend building a website, you can engage with freelancers who can build you one (via FiveR, Upwork, Truelancer, etc.).
Consider Live Receptionists
Being a solopreneur isn’t easy. Juggling clients and projects while doing marketing and business development often results in a 60-, 70-, 80-, or 90-plus hour workweek. Incoming calls and emails, managing your calendar and scheduling meetings, and other administrative tasks can be a huge distraction and consume a lot of valuable time. This is where live receptionists (or virtual receptionists) can help.
These on-demand services, such as Davinci Live Receptionists, are typically priced based on the number of calls received and emails answered. Professional experts in your business, live receptionists route calls and emails to you that require immediate response, while pushing those that aren’t urgent to your voice mail. They can even be used for outbound calling, order processing, administrative tasks, and more—which is especially helpful when you are busy working on client projects but need the business scale.
Leverage Virtual Office Space
Solopreneurs are often on the go and lack access to their home offices. Working from a coffee shop lacks the privacy many solopreneurs require—not to mention all of the noise and distractions that come with them. Internet connectivity is often poor as well. This is where virtual offices such as coworking space and day offices are a great alternative. Space is available by the hour, half day, or full day. In the case of Davinci Meeting Rooms, solopreneurs have the choice of 5,500 different office locations and 20,000-plus spaces around the world.
Beyond having a professional office location equipped with a lobby greeter, business services, and all of the right technologies needed to be productive, virtual offices afford solopreneurs the opportunity to network with other like-minded solopreneurs. These collaborative interactions can result in everything from business partnerships to new business opportunities.
Use Professional Meeting Space
As COVID-19 restrictions are eased, in-person business meetings will begin to occur again. Professional meeting rooms like those provided by Davinci Meeting Rooms are a great option. Unlike coffee shops that can be noisy and lack privacy, professional meeting rooms are fully serviced and equipped and give solopreneurs the ability to have productive, confidential meetings with clients and partners.
New Solopreneurs Need to Get a Head Start
Getting your new business venture off to the right start is important. There are a lot of things solopreneurs must think about and check off their list of “to dos.” Numerous tools and services make it much easier to get your business up and going—and the upside is that they are affordable and simple to use.
All signs indicate there will be a flood of new solopreneurs launching businesses in coming months. For those wishing to have a “leg up” on their competitors, you will want to get started with your “business-launch checklist” right away.