This article isn’t about giving a detailed look at each and every legal and strategic step you need to follow in order to start a small business, because frankly, there are enough of those guides out there (like here or here) and they’ve done a great job.
Instead, this post will look at how my wife and I started JSL Marketing, how we built our team, and how we made it a success – all in three simple steps (with a few sub-steps sprinkled throughout).
Not to oversimplify the process of creating a business or starting a startup, as a lot goes into it, but instead, I want to highlight some of the problematic areas that people often get hung up on, along with common mistakes and how to avoid them.
Just Start | Just Sell Something | Just Jump
Take a note from our beautiful coffee mugs – and just start!
What is your passion, your skill set, or your product idea? You could spend 15 years honing it, or you could go for it now. There are plenty of inspirational quotes out there that tell you in 101 ways to just try, to just keep going, or to just start. But this is actually completely true!
If we had dragged our feet when we finally decided to go from ‘part-time freelance’ to ‘all-in-digital-marketing-firm’ it would have taken us years longer and lost a lot of the momentum we had gained in the industry.
Sometimes it can be scary to jump into something, and I don’t think you should go for an idea that is only half-baked, but you need to understand that if you keep waiting for the stars to align and all the pieces to fall into place, you’ll be sitting on your startup idea until the day you die.
Starting a startup isn’t always smooth sailing, but it does teach you to think on your feet, be flexible, and brave. Sarah and I were brave when we started JSL – and though our company still took a lot of planning, when we felt unsure if we were ready to jump or not, we pulled the trigger and dove headfirst into the business.
Even if you gain nothing else from this post – understand this: your startup has a 0% chance of succeeding if it never starts. No matter what you do, you raise those odds when you do it.
Build Your Team of Wizards
As surprising as this might be to some, you can’t do everything yourself. In fact, you shouldn’t even try. If you want your startup to be a success, you need to work with people who have skills that are different, experiences that are different, and minds that are different.
Take JSL for example, our team consists of a group of creatives who each have unique skills they bring to the table. From ad creation and implementation masters, email marketing and CRM software specialists, digital design and print professionals, SEO and audit experts, all the way to content creation gurus and hard-coding geniuses – we have a team that rivals The Avengers.
Yes, when we started out, it was just Sarah and me, but we quickly had too much work to handle, especially while trying to elevate and grow our business
We needed help.
So, we went out looking for people who were teachable, passionate, ambitious, loyal, honest, and fit with the company culture we wanted to create. We took the hunt seriously and started out on a ‘trial-period’ with each of our new members, but as they grew with the company, as they continued to learn and try new things, we saw that we had created something invaluable – a team of professionals who were truly dedicated to making JSL a success.
We didn’t hire experts from the very beginning, instead, we hired the type of people who were hungry to learn and hone their skills. Those who were passionate about their area or field and wanted to improve it each and every week.
Ultimately, we decided to work with people who wanted to become the best in their field – and wanted their company to be right alongside them.
Market Like Your Business’s Life Depends on It (Because It Probably Does)
Here is something the team at JSL knows about twofold – marketing is king.
How do we know this? Well first, our company is built on the facts (and statistics) that say you need to market yourself (and market yourself well) if you want to succeed in today’s instant-information, online age. And second, we experienced the need for marketing firsthand when we started a Digital Marketing company in Dallas at just about the same time the SEO and Digital Marketing boom hit.
Think of it like this – if you are looking to work with a call center, yet every time you call them you get a busy signal, are you going to trust them with your business? If you go to speak to an architect and their office is in an unfortunate-looking building, are you going to trust them with your build design?
This is exactly the situation that JSL wanted to avoid.
If we were going to try to be the very best web design company in Dallas, then we needed a great website. And if we were going to try to be the best digital marketing company or SEO experts in Dallas, then we had better show up in that number one spot on Google.
So, we worked hard, learning all along the way, and we made it to that top spot.
Though other forms of marketing are still viable and popular, digital marketing is overtaking them all, because no one goes to their phonebook anymore when they need to find a new service, restaurant, or product – instead, we all turn to search engines, our laptops, and our smartphones.