5 Business Essentials To Help Your Business Get Started
Written by: Brewster Chamber Member, Anneliese Gartner of APTO Media
We all have to start from somewhere, right? I remember those days crystal clear when Google was my best friend. Back in 2017, when I began Apto Media, the information provided was different. Not many entrepreneurs were revealing their secrets of becoming successful, how they built successful companies, and of course, NO ONE was revealing their pricing. Everything was a secret, and it was challenging to figure out where to even begin.
So I started Googling “How to start a business” and “What do I need to start a business” and the best one “What qualifications do I need to start my business.” All were questions that I Googled when I first started. I didn’t know any other entrepreneurs in my industry, so I did what I could. Now Google only got me so far. After Googling for hours, I tried A LOT of different methods, and in the end, some worked, and some did not.
Over the years, as I’ve helped businesses, I’ve learned from working with them what’s important when you first get started and what can sit on the sidelines a bit until the funds start coming in. From my own mistakes and the businesses I’ve helped grow, here are the five business essentials if you have a service-based business and are just getting started that you need to implement from the very beginning:
Contracts, Contracts, Contracts
Contracts need to be the first thing you invest in when you first start your business. I have a bit of a story behind this from personal experience. To this day, a client still owes me $20,000, and with interest, it’s probably another $5,000 on top. So what happened? I trusted a client too much, and my contract wasn’t strong enough. I thought I could get away with it when I first started. I copied and pasted my first contract from the internet. Well, you can probably guess what happened next.
The client signed the contract, and I started working. Then the client didn’t pay the invoice, and I continued to work. As time went on, the client didn’t pay the invoice; finally, I stopped work, and the client has never paid the invoice. Unfortunately, when I reached out to a lawyer to explore my opinions, he chuckled and said my contract would never hold up in court. Learn from my mistake, invest in hiring a lawyer to create solid contracts for your business.
Now, I do want to mention why I don’t advise just buying a template contract. If this is your first time dealing with contracts, I recommend hiring a lawyer to write the contracts for you. AND make sure they walk you through everything that the contract states. I recommend finding a lawyer specializing in your type of business and has worked with other clientele in your industry.
Proposal and Invoice System
Long gone are the days when checks and Venmo (it’s highly illegal to use Venmo for business transactions, you don’t want any reason for the IRS to come knocking on your door) are acceptable. It’s time to upgrade, automate, and never have to email clients 4-5 times just to get one invoice paid. Implementing an invoicing system can save you so much time and money. Instead of waiting by the mailbox, you’ll receive email notifications of when your clients have paid and on time. I highly recommend and am currently use HoneyBook*. It’s simple, easy to set up, and I never have to worry about when or if clients have paid their invoices. The system is very comprehensive, easy to manage, and everything is in one place. Trust me when I say I gained so much time back after implementing this into my business, and since then, my business has grown because of it—no more chasing clients. Instead, you’ll be gaining more!
Think of your website as your business resume. To get any new job, or in this case, a client, you need a resume. So when you first start a business, it’s no different. You need a website. To get started, you could create a simple landing page that explains who you are, what you do, and the services/products you have to offer. Also, include a section for testimonials and case studies from past clients. Eventually, I would invest in a Website Designer if you aren’t one yourself. I would also recommend using WordPress from the very beginning. I DO NOT suggest using SquareSpace, Wix, and the other website builders, and here’s why; they are VERY limited in the features they offer. These platforms might be great to use when you first get started, but as time goes on, you’ll realize they are limited in their functionality, features, and design. To avoid this issue in the future, I suggest using WordPress from the very beginning.
Also, I DO NOT recommend GoDaddy to purchase your domain and hosting. Why? Because their customer service is awful, you’ll receive a different answer for every problem, and they will start charging you hidden fees that they make you think you need, but in reality, you don’t. They lost an entire client’s website once because of misinformed information. The client was lucky as I had backed up the website, but if not, the client would have had to start redesigning their website from scratch. For domain and hosting, I recommend SiteGround*.
To learn more about what this is and why you need it, read this blog post. After you read that post, you’ll completely understand why this is a business essential for when you first are getting started.
Brand Photos & Videos
Brand Photos and a Brand Video are critical assets most businesses don’t think about when they get started, and they NEED to. These assets will help set up your business marketing for success. Having brand photos and a brand video will help uplevel your business from the very beginning. Not only will your business appear more professional, but you’ll also connect with those potential clients a lot faster because they’ll be able to understand who you are, what you do, and how your services can help them.
Typically you think of brand photos, but I also suggest having a brand video BECAUSE no matter how pretty your website is, people are going to skim through it. According to Wyzowl, where both video and text are available on the same page, 72% of people would instead use video to learn about a product or service.” AKA, your brand needs a video to connect with your clients a lot faster than them reading about your services.
At Apto media, we offer Brand Photography & Videography packages for clients in New York, Massachusetts, and the states in between.
Alright, so there you have it. Those are the five business essentials you need to get started. I didn’t mention marketing strategies (email marketing, social media, video marketing, etc.) and SEO. There’s a reason I didn’t. If you don’t have these essentials set up first and you go right into marketing your business, you’ll end up going back to the drawing board six months after starting. Start with the essentials first, and then you can implement the marketing strategies.
If you have any questions, comments, or other suggestions, please let me know! I’d love to hear from you. Email me at [email protected] (yes .co NOT.com)
*We only recommend products we use, and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that Apto Media may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.*
Anneliese Gartner, CEO, and founder of Apto Media, wrote this blog post.
Anneliese Gartner Bio:
Anneliese began her career in corporate America at NBCUniversal after graduating from Pace University in New York City. After three years of grinding away at her 9-to-5, she knew she needed to get out and become her own boss. With experience in freelance photography and videography, she took a leap of faith and quit the corporate world to create Apto Media.
Since then, Anneliese has helped hundreds of business owners adapt, grow and scale their businesses. She’s also a frequent guest on industry podcasts, Instagram takeovers, and guest blogs. She has spoken on various platforms about marketing, branding, consulting, and much more. Anneliese is also the co-host of Per the Contract; a podcast focused on candid conversations with fellow entrepreneurs.