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How to Start a Small Business (+Why Branding and Identity Are a Must)

No we are not giving you a full business lesson, we are not even going to try—we are probably not qualified to do that, as we are not an institution, nor are we doing these blogs to replace the role of that professor you maybe should have paid just a little more attention to in college. What we want to dive into here (or, really just scratch the surface of for now, since we could go on about this stuff forever but would rather help you at least start on your way) is how to help you get a good framework using some tried and true methods.

Perhaps you have been working a seemingly dead-end job and are finally deciding after years, or even decades, that it is time to be your own boss. You may even have had a dream of opening up a little shop selling baked goods, handmade gifts, or anything else you are passionate about, but just are not sure where to begin. Want a head start? Then let’s have a quick chat about branding and identity.

Your starter kit of sorts should include things like a name and a logo. Stumped? It might sound like a bit of a daunting task and you may be thinking to yourself, “how am I just supposed to come up with something on which my whole business will be built?” Take a peek at the ones we have here and decide if you’d like us to help or if you think you can come up with one on your own. If you’re an artist, yourself, then by all means, get to work on creating the look and feel for your new brand-to-be. After all, you know your business best!

If you have a moment and are sitting down, try out this exercise: grab a pen and a notepad. Ask yourself, what exactly is it that you want to do? What made you decide to open your small business in the first place? You have a story. Everyone does… you just have to figure out what yours is and how to tell the world about it. Write down one main thing you’d like to accomplish by opening your business. Got one? Now, branch it out into 3 more words, phrases, or sentences on how you think you can get there.

From there, if you haven’t gotten a case of writer’s block by now and you feel the creative juices are flowing pretty well, keep going. You can continue to branch this out into micro-plans, or even just notes of inspiration to come back to later if you don’t have a specific strategy in mind yet. Jot down anything you think will give you a spark… you might even think of something in the middle of the night, so nothing wrong with keeping that pad handy on the nightstand for a while in the early stages, while you’re in branding and identity ideating mode!

What is the point of all this? The items in your toolkit that we mentioned (name, logo, colors, look and feel, etc.) will slowly but surely start to form something real. You want a brand people can look at and automatically feel something. Your strategy needs to eventually bring about messaging that will get your potential customers to desire something and take an action.

Think of a company everyone knows about—take McDonald’s, for instance. When they started, not many people knew about them (anyone get a chance to see The Founder?) since they really only had one shop, in one part of the world. They grew this big because they got people everywhere to recognize their name, over time. People would see those big “golden arches” they brilliantly made part of their branding and identity, and they’d immediately know there was food in it for them, if they wanted it.

They became recognizable. Their logo, their name, their product, even a mascot and a tune later on, for the modern day. So the question is, how do you want to be recognized? This is where you begin.

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