Step-By-Step: The First 5 Things I Do When Starting A New Business…
Today I’d like to show you how to take your business idea or plan, and turn it into a reality from a practical standpoint.
If you’d like to know…
Then you’re in the right place, because today I’m to teach you all of that and more by walking you through the steps I’ve taken to get SelfMadeMan.com up and running.
So let’s start with a quick re-cap for the vision and purpose of SMM.com because that will have a dramatic impact on the type of website, logo, and look/feel we’ll want the business to have.
For SelfMadeMan my target audience is men, but specifically, men who are interested in personal development and improving every aspect of their life, from finances, to health, to relationships, to parenting. If you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no one.
Once we have our target audience defined, we need to figure out how to get in front of them.
The single best way to do that if you want to play the “long-game”… Meaning that if you want to build a super-high quality business with a massive number of raving fans, there’s only one way…
In other words, you have to become a welcomed, recurring part of your audience’s lives.
One of the most visible and successful people when it comes to this strategy over the past few years, is Gary Vaynerchuk.
Five years, and 1,000 YouTube videos later, Gary cemented himself as the number one personality in the wine industry, and in so doing, became the number one guru in the social media marketing space.
This is the same strategy I used to build Magnetic Sponsoring, and EVG… I consistently put out the best quality content that I could, and as a result, I’ve built a following of more than 500,000 email readers. But Self Made Man will need to be slightly different…
I simply don’t have the time to produce new unique content each week, and I don’t have the expertise in all of the areas I want to provide content for, such as relationships, etc…
So what can you do?
The solution is to step aside from the role of a “teacher”, and step into the role of a host. You simply create a platform or a show, where other amazing people can share their value with your audience… Think Oprah or Larry King.
Which means I had two options…
I could do a video show on YouTube or a podcast. Hmmm… Decisions, decisions…
Now whenever I start a new venture, I like to take the simplest road possible. It’s more important that it gets off the ground, than being the highest quality solution in the industry. You will improve. The most important thing is to just get it going. So, podcast it is.
A podcast is without borders, and without cost, which means it has the opportunity to make a real impact on a significant amount of people.
The goal of the show is to provide a new generation of men around the world with access to mentors who can give them the knowledge, wisdom, and leadership they need in order to fulfill their highest potential in every area of life… From business, to relationships, to health, to finance, and legacy. While men might be my primary target audience, women are also encouraged to listen and would actually be the primary beneficiary… How? Ultimately my goal is to help their men become better husbands, better fathers, and better sons.
Alright, now that we have an idea of what this business is going to look like, let’s step back for a moment and get into the practical steps that are required to bring it to life…
So now that you’ve got a handle on your business plan, it’s time to call a good business attorney.
If your business is built around you and your name, such as “Mike Dillard Mentoring”, there’s not going to be any real concerns around trademark issues. Unless a celebrity in your industry shares your name, it’s shouldn’t be an issue. Self Made Man is a different story. Commonly credited to Benjamin Franklin, it’s a phrase that’s become part of the American lexicon.
Assuming that your business name comes without any obvious conflicts, your next step is to set up a legal entity, which you’ll need to open up a bank account, and protect your personal assets from any potential business pitfalls. They happen. They are unexpected, and there are horror stories of people losing everything because they wanted to save some money by creating a sole-proprietorship, instead of a formal corporate entity.
If you are operating a business under a sole-proprietorship, there’s no easy way to put this… You’re a fool. Stop it.
You need to get an entity, and here in the US, that’s typically going to be an LLC with an S-Corp tax election. Your entity does not have to match your domain name. It can be anything you want.
For example, my entity is “Mike Dillard Media, LLC”. SelfMadeMan.com is simply a domain name. You can use sites like InCorp.com to set up your entity on the cheap, but I prefer to talk to a real human that I can work with over time as my business grows. Your legal protection is NOT the area you want to scrimp and save money on.
People who use automated sites like LegalZoom scare me.
Personally, I use Joey Leak to handle this part of the business setup process. You can reach Joey at www.JosephLeakLaw.com
If you’re needs are a bit more sophisticated and you’d like to look into an offshore entity, contact Kevin Day at www.Day-Law.com.
Along with your entity, you’ll also need to have some basic legal documents created for your public website. (Joey can do these for you as well). Most commonly, these include your:
Please note that these are REQUIRED. If you have any kind of business on the web, you MUST have these documents displayed. Failure to do so could result in serious legal consequences. If you use a real attorney like Joey, you’re looking at around $1,500 to get all of these basics setup.
Once you have your entity documents in hand, you’ll want to head to a local private mailbox provider and purchase a mailbox for your business. DO NOT use your personal home address, as this will be displayed at the bottom of every single website and email that comes from your business.
I learned this lesson the hard way many years ago after Magnetic Sponsoring students started to randomly show up at my front door.
Once you have this address in hand, log into GoDaddy.com or whatever service you bought your domain name through. Update your contact and WHOIS information with your new business address, or spend the money to buy the domains-by-proxy service which will hide your domain contact information.
Now that you have your entity documents and a new address for your business, you’ll be able to open up a business bank account. This process is very simple and self-explanatory. Just bring all of your documents with you, and you’ll be good to go. Also… Make sure you order a bunch of checkbooks. I always forget to do that until I need them.
Alright, now it’s time to finally get into the fun stuff!
There are few things I love more in life, than the creative side of starting a new business. Aside from your primary idea and business plan, the first really creative step you’ll take is the creation of your logo. With that being said, YOU DO NOT NEED A LOGO, especially in the beginning.
In 95% of cases, having a logo will not make any difference at all when it comes to selling your product or service in the beginning. The purpose of a logo is to create a visual brand identifier that serves as a short cut to the brain. It moves the identification process from a conscious thought, to unconscious.
Through years of proper marketing and personal experience, that symbol will come to represent qualities of that product or service. As you start to think about a logo, ask yourself these questions…
Will a logo help communicate the purpose of my business, or help my business be identified by my target audience? If the answer is “no”, then you might not want a logo. Let’s take “Mike Dillard Mentoring” as an example… The name itself is the brand, and my face is the logo, as that’s what I want to actively promote in the market place.
Another consideration is whether or not you plan to take your logo offline… In other words, will your audience want to wear your logo on a shirt or hat?
If so, that will have a huge impact on your design. Questions to ask yourself: How will this look on clothing? Is it something cool that my target audience would want to wear?
One of the best examples of a logo that was so awesome, it literally turned into the company… www.JohnnyCupCakes.com People loved the logo so much, that it became the actual product in the form of a clothing line. In the spirit of full transparency, this is a process that I’m currently struggling with when it comes to Self Made Man.
Will a logo help me communicate the purpose of my business? YES.
Will it help identify and rally my target audience? YES.
Do I want to use it on clothing and other offline goods? YES.
But there was one major problem/challenge that I’d never tackled before… The starting point for the launch of Self Made Man is the podcast. Which means the primary consideration for the logo is how it will perform visually in the Apple podcast marketplace.
Which caught my attention the most?
What did they have in common?
What colors did they use?
Were they based on the face of the host, or a logo? It’s about 50/50, and that’s a huge decision that needed to be made.
Normally, I’d use my own image which is what Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, Dave Ramsey, and James Altucher have done, as it would further develop my personal brand. But in this case, what Self Made Man.com represents is beyond me. It’s far greater than Mike Dillard. It represents a set of values, and it is a brand that belongs to the followers and participants in this community who will declare to the world, “I am a Self Made Man”, not “Mike Dillard is a Self Made Man”
Therefore, a logo that could be accepted and revered by the community was required.
But what could it be?
The first thing I did was jump on Google, and search “Self Made Man”. I wanted to see if there was already an established icon for that phrase. If so, I wanted to see if there was a way I could borrow that built-in brand equity.
Images of an incredible statue made by Bobbie Carlyle, an artist in Colorado.
If it looks familiar, it’s because you’ve seen it advertised in Robb Report for years. I don’t think there could ever be a better physical representation for a phrase, and yet that’s also the problem…
When I saw the statue, I knew it had to be a part of the SMM podcast logo, but as I’ll get to in a minute, it didn’t come without compromise. Given the fact that this is someone’s intellectual property, I needed to get Bobbie’s permission to use it.
I called her up, and she graciously agreed to allow her amazing piece to represent SelfMadeMan.com.
This was the first draft that we came up with…
It’s okay, but there’s one big problem…
The statue does not translate very well into the physical world. It’s simply not going to work on clothing.
That means I’ll need to get a logo created that WILL work offline.
Ultimately, we decided to take focus in on the “hammer and chisel” which would translate to clothing…
So where can you get your logo created anyway?
For the last five years, I’ve had all of my logos created at www.99Designs.com
In the past, you’d have to hire a single designer to come up with your logo.
But that was expensive, and there’s no guarantee that they’d ever really get it right. 99Designs.com let’s you basically create a cash prize for their design community. Everyone submits their ideas for your logo, and then you get to pick the winner.
That designer gets the cash. In other words, you can get hundreds of logo ideas and concepts, for the price of one. It’s AMAZING.
The last logo I had created was for my “Live Free And Prosper” mentoring group which is now the www.SelfMadeManSociety.com.
When I created the design over-view for “LFP” in 99Designs, I communicated the fact that I wanted a logo that would look good on clothing. There were over 600 logos submitted during the week-long contest! Here’s what a few of the entries looked like…
Here are some tips when it comes to 99Designs…
1: I’d dedicate a guaranteed prize of at least $500. This will ensure that you get a few dozen design ideas. At this point in my career, I offer up $1,000 for the prize. It’s a lot of money, but it will ensure I attract the best designers to the contest, and get at least 100 entries.
2: Scour the web for logos that you love by searching Google for, “best corporate logos”, etc… Find 5-10 examples that you like, and then use www.JingProject.com to record a video description.
Post a link to that video in your design description so the artists can watch it. Trying to communicate your likes and dislikes about an image with text is almost impossible. Use Jing to record a simple video instead. It’s an AMAZING tool that I couldn’t live without.
3: Use Jing once again to provide video feedback to the designers, as they’ll refine their pieces for you daily. They designers really need and want your feedback during the process.
4: Let your people vote. 99Designs has a great tool that will allow you to create a survey with your five favorite logo designs. Send the survey out to your customers and friends to let THEM decide which logo is best. After all, you are creating this logo for your market. Not for you.
I have a crazy love/hate relationship with technology. In so many ways today, technology is awesome, and yet no other aspect of the business building process has cost me more time, money, and headaches.
The lessons-learned that I’m about to share with you have literally cost me MILLIONS of dollars in lost time and revenue. I should probably start by letting you know that I’ve completely lost all of my tech skills over the years.
At this point, I have no idea how to set up blog, create a website, or setup a shopping cart. That should be GOOD NEWS for you. While many people think that you’ve gotta be a tech-nerd to build a successful online business, clearly you do not. Being able to build a website does not bring in sales and revenue. Marketing does.
So I spend 90% of my time maintaining my skills and expertise at marketing, rather than technology.
The software innovations that have come about in just the past five years alone are incredible, and they are the driving force that gives you and I the opportunity to build a massive business from our home computer, without the need to become a master of HTML.
The services we can use to power our businesses today would cost you tens-of-millions of dollars to develop, and yet we can we can use them for as little as $99 per month. But…
The decisions you make today can either make or break your business, and I know this from personal experience. Failing to follow them almost destroyed my business.
Rule 1: Keep It Simple. You don’t need complex, feature rich software to run your business. You need to make your first sale, and then repeat that single step over and over again as many times as possible each day.
Rule 2: Keep It Low Cost. Don’t spend a dollar more than you need to until you make that first sale and prove the viability of your business model and product.
Rule 3: Keep It Standard. The words “custom” or “proprietary”, translate into, “death” and “bankruptcy” for your business when it comes to software. Avoid them at all costs and use the services I’m going to share with you today as they come out-of-the-box. Make your business fit within the constraints of the software.
Do not change the software to fit your desires for the business. There is no perfect solution. Every option we have will be a compromise, so don’t chase the dream of a perfect system.
Rule 4: It’s Never Cool. Whenever you or someone on your team says the words, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could _________?” …Please re-read Rule #3. Your goal is to bring your business to life, and make your first sale as quickly, easily, and cheaply as possible. Period. All you need to have in order to make your first sale are these four things…
Now there are many things you might think you should have before your big launch day like a blog, a YouTube channel, a Facebook page, and many of the other bells and whistles you might deem necessary. They are not.
They are completely unnecessary and a major distraction during your first few months in business.
Do you know what I had in place when I launched EVG and made over $3 Million in seven days? The four items listed above. That’s it. Literally.
So let’s take a look at some of the most common shopping cart platforms or “CRM”s, which stands for “Customer Relationship Manager”.
Unless your business is doing at least $5,000,000 per year in revenue, and relies on tracking numerous details and information about your customers, you don’t need Sales Force, so let’s just skip that one.
InfusionSoft.com has arguably become the most popular technology platform for online business owners. Why? Because it’s the closest thing to an “all-in-one” platform that there is…
It integrates CRM functionality with a shopping-cart, with tracking and split-testing, with customized marketing campaigns, with an email autoresponder. What it can do is quite amazing… BUT… It definitely requires tech help to setup. Unless you’re a software tech, you’re not going to be able to get it up and running on your own.
So with that in mind, here’s what I’d recommend…
If you’re going to sell a digital information product such as an E-book, Video training series, or membership site, I’d use www.SamCart.com. It’s unbelievably easy to use, and requires no tech abilities to setup. It’s by far and away, the most elegant solution available, and provides the biggest bang for your buck.
If you’re going to sell a physical product of some kind, then I’d use Shopify.com. It’s simple, it’s easy, it’s inexpensive, and it works.
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t bother with this kind of stuff any more so I can focus on marketing. Instead, I use a local team here in Austin… www.VisionTechTeam.com
They are some young entrepreneurs who know all of these platforms inside and out. They created www.MikeDillard.com, and www.SelfMadeMan.com for me, they setup my shopping cart, email auto-responders, hosting, membership sites… Everything.
I use JingProject.com to send them videos telling them what I need, or what to change, and they do it. They’re my big red technology easy button.
So those are the first five things you’ll want to do whenever you’re setting up a new business, and if you found this post helpful, you should definitely checkout the SelfMadeManSociety.com. You’ll learn how to drive traffic to your business, how to lawsuit proof your life, how to invest the money you make in order to build real wealth, and much more…