So you are thinking of starting a business and don’t know where and how to begin. We have you covered. This article will help you get started as a small business owner and walk you through all of the tools we used to launch Monika Freeman Studios before we had any employees. For more information, videos, additional resources and tutorials, we offer an eCourse that dives into starting a business from scratch and landing your first client within one month. However, in this article we will give you all the tools you need to get started on your own without our course. Follow along on YouTube, TikTok and our podcast, Create The Flow, for daily business tips.
If you are reading this it is likely that you have a small business or are about to launch a small business. In this case, once you have settled on your business name, purchased your domain name, and setup your social media accounts, the debate of working as a sole proprietor, LLC, S Corp or C Corp come into question. Everyone’s business model looks completely different, and so do your taxes, so this is up to you and your CPA and/or tax attorney to decide. When we launched MFS our CPA advised us not to incorporate until we were making over six figures annually. However, if you are ready to incorporate now, that is where we advise starting. Depending upon where you are in your process you will need to apply via Secretary of State, register your DBA, file your statement of information, and apply for your EIN. If you are not quite ready, you can work as a sole proprietor in the meantime.
Now that you have launched your business we suggest separating your personal and business bank accounts. Again, this is also up to you how you decided to proceed. For the sake of this article we will share with you what we did when we first launched our business and did not have any employees. We setup three business accounts. One for all business income, a second account for taxes which was $0.25 of every dollar made (rate for CA), and a third account for retirement/savings. At that time we were using QuickBooks to manage our accounting but you can opt for Self-employed QuickBooks for a fraction of the cost. We linked our QuickBooks accounts to our three bank accounts and created rules for all expenses so our taxes where perfectly itemized for tax season. We eventually turned over our accounting to an accountant once we hired employees.
If you have a bookkeeper or accountant you may not need Quickbooks. That said, we used it for our business and personal checking and savings accounts at the same time and it was great. Our CEO likes to file quarterly taxes because CA can be quite pricey, but each state is different. Regardless of when you file, QuickBooks is easy to use and keeps everything organized.
Business Management Service
Now the you have incorporated or you are working as a sole proprietor with a DBA (Doing Business As), you should invest in a business management service. There are several software programs that automate your busy work and stay on top of all your to-dos, invoices, proposals, etc., so you can grow your business. If you do not have any clients yet it is not necessary to setup a software management system right away. However, if you are ready to invest in a software management system they will save you time and money. We use Dubsado. For 20% off of your first year use our code: mfstudios. Dubsado is great because it is linked to Square and PayPal allowing clients a variety of ways to pay. For businesses that offer payment plans Dubsado allows you to create workflows for recurring payments, payment reminders, and more. You can create all of your proposals in Dubsado attached to your contract which makes sending a proposal seamless and time efficient. We know how tedious crafting multiple custom proposals at one time can be. Dubsado is a great way to exchange emails with clients and schedule work, too.
Once you have Dubsado, or whichever business management service you decide to use, you need to setup an online payment solution. As mentioned above, we use PayPal and Square for all branding and web design, commercial work, marketing materials, photography, social media management, etc. We also use Shopify for all courses and products that we sell via our website that are not linked to a custom proposal or workflow in Dubsado. For more information you can reference our Ultimate Business Masterclass that is packed with tons of video courses emailed to you directly and teach you how to start and launch a business using these tools.
When it comes to scheduling meetings and calls, depending upon your type of business, you can become inundated. For this reason we make it clear in our onboarding process what days our clients can contact us, how they can contact us, and/or schedule time with us. This helps us work efficiently as well as prepare for each call. We take calls one day a week and clients are able to schedule time with us via Calendly. Calendly is integrated with our Zoom and Outlook accounts. When a client schedules time with us, it syncs to our calendar and schedules a call with our Zoom link. This allow the assistants to handle productive work and not stay busy scheduling calls all day. Scheduling with Calendly keeps everything streamlined so we can focus on client work and not busy work.
By now the entire world is on Zoom or Google. Both work well. The great thing about small business owners who work from home is that you do not have to provide your direct line to clients. You can create a Zoom or Google account and provide them with that number so that you are not distracted with calls all day as mentioned above. Depending upon what you use Zoom for, it is great to record calls and share you screen to walk clients through projects and presentations you are doing for their companies. You can reference and share these videos with them again later.
Email Marketing Service
Once you are ready to start marketing your business you need an email marketing service provider. We use Flodesk but there are several others out there. You can use your email marketing service provider to design and send on-brand marketing emails, create opt-in forms to grow your email list, and build powerful email automations to scale your business. For 50% off of your Flodesk subscription click this link.
Trello is our go-to for all of our client management. Every Trello Board is specifically created for each client. Trello makes it easy for us to link all of our clients contracts, invoices and share Google Doc’s. In Trello we share videos and chat back and forth so that we do not need to send emails all day. With Trello all of the deliverables and work weeks are broken up into individual days so our clients can see where we are every step of the process. For social media management clients weI also use workflow spreadsheets via Airtable.
There are other software management systems and applications we use such as Illustrator, Canva, Photoshop, Keynote, Google docs, Excel, Word, Premiere Pro, Final Cut and so many more. These are pretty common applications for the types of businesses who need them so we will not go into the logistics of any of these here. That said, our Master Class deep dives into all of the ways we utilize each platform.
Phew, that’s a lot to take in! Now the good stuff. Once you have streamlined your business and you are ready to utilize all of these tools, you need a website to share rich content and start advertising your products and/or services. There are tons of website builders for individuals with and without coding and SEO knowledge. We design out websites in WordPress, Showit or Shopify, but you can use SqaureSpace, Wix and others. The goal is to design a website that hooks your consumer with a gorgeous online storefront and converts them to a sale.
We suggest hiring a professional brand and web designer like, us, but if you are savvy with brand and web design GO GET IT! Just make sure all of your branding is cohesive and on-brand across your website and all of your social media platforms to build brand loyalty and cohesiveness.
After you have everything setup and you are ready to start promoting your products and/or service we recommend reaching more valuable resources, brand strategies, checklists, social media management tips, sale trainings, price guides, business plans, sales funnels, adverting and PR tactics, etc., to help you monetize your business to become successful. Our list is a great place to start!
For questions you can send us a DM @monikafreemanstudios, or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org For all business inquiries and 1:1 coaching: email@example.com.