I should pre-empt this by saying that it has taken me a lifetime to develop the skills and knowledge required to develop my new business (Impactiv8), but the actual process of setting up the business and all the social media channels that were to accompany it took me less than a week (of bloody hard work).
I am also not saying that everything is in place from day one, but I am here, I have launched, I have clients (granted I already had a couple despite my lack of on-line presence) and I am in business.
Like many small business owners, I had been thinking about starting my new business and planning what my business would look like in my head and to an extent on paper (i.e. computer) for some time now – about 3-4 years in my case. However, I was always too busy in my current job to invest in the development of my new “business” as such. This post is about the “how” I set up my business and not the “why”. You can read about my motivation for starting up a business in social media for small business here.
I have provided a link to all the tools I used along the way to assist those who are not familiar with my business tools of choice.
So lets get started…
This is what I achieved whilst thinking about setting up my business (3-4 year period)
- Develop appropriate skills, experience and resources to position myself as an expert in the social media for small business space.
- Assisted in the set up several businesses for clients as a consultant within sport and leisure (my other job), including the development of their social media presence.
- Enthusiastically developed a social media presence for many friends and family that were keen to get involved in social media but had no idea how to do so (and learnt a hell of a lot along the way).
- Decided social media for small business was a space I wanted to work in, because I am a big believer that you need to do what you both love and are good at and social media solutions for small businesses well and truly ticks both of those boxes for me.
- Decided on a business name and registered it.
- Set up a domain name (impactiv8.com.au and impactiv8.com).
- Set up a couple of social media channels (Facebook and Twitter) for my business, just to secure consistent branding.
- Develop a logo in Adobe Illustrator, using images I purchased from Shutterstock, combined with my creative flair.
- Updloaded logo to Facebook and Twitter profiles.
- Shared a few relevant posts on my Facebook page when I felt that way inclined.
- And then kept thinking about setting up the business until…
This is what I achieved in 1 day
I attended the 2011 ProBlogger Event (#pbevent) on 21 October 2011 in Melbourne. I came to this event with much anticipation and excitement about what I might learn about blogging (as I blog for the Australian Leisure Facilities Association and managed the WordPress back end that supports it) and who I might meet, but little else. No clear vision of who I was there representing, no personal brand to promote and no business cards to share. I realised then and there that I had been spending way too much time developing other people’s brands and not enough time developing my own.
Whilst the content and quality of the presenters were excellent, I was pleased to also be able to gauge that I know my stuff and there was nothing holding me back from launching my new business, other than a whole lot of work.
This is what I achieved in a week
I awoke the next morning with a vague idea of a launch campaign. Only problem was that it was time dependent around my birthday (exactly one week away). I also wanted to use my launch and the journey that went with it as a case study of the power of social media and what I am capable of achieving for myself and potentially my clients.
I knew that given the timeframe I wouldn’t be launching with all the bells and whistles of a fully established website and social media platforms, but I was OK with this, as it was my intention to develop these in conjunction with my community over time, using those experiences as learning opportunities for all those interested in my journey.
I started taking voice notes on my iPhone and writing notes in Evernote whenever I an idea sprung to mind and there were many! As I didn’t have the luxury of time on my side, this became the format for my plan and I refined it constantly throughout the week. Having done this previously for other clients, I didn’t require a great deal of research time to work out what was required and instead used previous lessons learnt to enable me to get straight to work.
To follow is a sequential list of all the things I did that week that specifically related to launching my new business. In addition to this I continued to do my consultancy work (my other job), ate, slept (not much), looked after my family (not particularly well) and went to the gym (granted only once rather than my usual 3-4 sessions). So here goes…
- Decided to set up and launch my small business in a week.
- Talked to a few friends that work in social media and marketing about my idea to gauge their response and get feedback to refine my idea.
- I checked out what other companies that provided social media solutions for small business were doing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and their websites and/or blogs (even though I had visited them many times before).
- Revised the tag line on the logo I had developed (I was happy with the rest).
- Updated the Impactiv8 Facebook page – I liked relevant pages as a means for providing content for my news feed and obtaining sharable items, with the hope that some may also like me back. I updated my company information. I developed some tabs for my page (landing tab and contact form).
- I decided that I would launch my business with a video blog that was supported by an e-mail campaign (to all my friends, family and past and present work colleagues), utilising Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread the word.
- I looked through all the resources I had developed previously to see what would be a valuable resource to include within my launch campaign that would both demonstrate my knowledge, whilst at the same time provide information on how I could provide social media solutions for small businesses and create food for thought as to why a small business may need my assistance. There was nothing that fit this specifically, so I decided to develop something new.
- I wrote my first draft of the script for my launch blog, focusing on my value proposition (and then decided to leave that for a few days to consider).
- I updated my LinkedIn profile (including adding Impactiv8 to my employment profile as I would later link to this profile both on the Impactiv8 website and as part of my launch campaign).
- As I had done little but set up the Twitter account previously, I spent some time following relevant people and businesses on Twitter so I would actually be launching to someone via this medium.
- I set up #Impactiv8 to assist in tracking conversations about my business on Twitter.
- I sent a tweet to #pbevent stating the following (there was no turning back now):
“Inspired by #PBEVENT I decided enough procrastinating. Gave myself 1wk to launch my new company @Impactiv8. Launch Fri 28/10 #Impactiv8”
- Set up web hosting and got impactiv8.com redirected to impactiv8.com.au. Then waited 24hrs for the domain name to propegate. I used that time productively getting on with other tasks.
- Set up an initial launch database using Mailchimp. To achieve this, I exported all the contacts I had in various locations (Outlook, gmail, LinkedIn, business cards, etc) of people that I had strong relationships with and thought might be interested in my business. I set this database up to send my initial launch email sequence to (a three email introduction series).
- Developed a mailchimp subscriptions form to enable people to opt-in and subscribe to Impactiv8’s e-news that I planned to share as part of this introduction email series, as I didn’t want to continue to email people long-term that had not subscribed.
- Started to draft launch campaign e-mail template and the content to go in it.
- Once my domain hosting was live, I familiarised myself with the hosting control panel and set up e-mail (on computer and iPhone).
- Downloaded WordPress.
- Spent three separate occassions on hold waiting for my web host to talk me through a couple of steps in the set up process that I was having problems with (we are all human after all and their instructions were particularly bad).
- Started writing a list of future blog posts that I could write as a spin off form this launch campaign (whilst waiting on hold).
- Installed WordPress on web hosting site.
- Uploaded the plugins that I was aware of would be suitable (based on blogs I had developed previously) and added to my to do list a note to speak to some other bloggers to find out what other plugins I should use to further refine my site in future (post launch – just not enough time).
- Customised the look of my WordPress site to fit with the look I wanted for my brand, including searching WordPress Forums to find plugins I needed and assist in making minor tweaks to code where necessary.
- Developed a home and contact us page and posted my first blog titled “Impactiv8 Launch” that had nothing more than “coming soon – 28 October 2011”, just so that there was something there if anyone cared to visit.
- Drafted a pre-launch teaser e-mail to send to my e-mail list to inform of my plans, generate interest and also serve as a method of checking the integrity of my list.
- Set up a YouTube channel.
- Set up Google Analytics for the Impactiv8 website.
- Told my husband of my intention to start up a new company by Friday (I had been holding off as I wasn’t sure I was going to achieve it), it was Tuesday evening by this stage. I explained my vision behind the company, what my niche was, what unique skills I thought I brought to the market, how I thought it could be viable, what my goals were (including being asked to present the case study of how I launched my company and the rise to success over the first 12 months at the 2012 #pbevent) and then ran my launch campaign idea past him (he went to the gym to digest it all). I felt great to finally say all this out aloud and confident that I could achieve this after all.
- Drafted this blog post whilst my husband was at the gym and reflected on how far I had come in such a short period of time and how much I still had to do [sigh].
- Wrote the content for and posted the About and Loren Bartley pages. I now had four basic pages to my website and a few under development that were yet to be published. Made the decision that was enough to let people know about my plans via a pre-launch campaign teaser.
- Finalised pre-launch teaser email and sent it (10am Wed 26 October – definitely not going back now).
- Developed and sent pre-launch tweets and Facebook teasers.
- Checked my e-mail bounces, looked up new e-mail addresses and cleaned out list, then re-sent campaign to revised e-mails.
- Tracked open and click through rates to gauge likely level of support (not bad).
- Responded directly to those people that acknowledged my campaign, whether that be via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter.
- Sourced photos and included them in the blogs I had developed to date.
- Set up an “Everyday Hero” page for Impactiv8’s charity of choice (Diabetes Australia Research Trust) and linked it to the charity section of my website.
- Drafted my launch campaign and sent it to two friends that work in social media and marketing requesting their feedback.
- Received some valuable feedback and proceeded to make tweaks to campaign, incorporating that feedback.
- Identified other business pages where I would post my campaign directly in addition to through my own social media channels.
- Recorded the audio for my video blog using GarageBand. I couldn’t manage it all in one go without getting tongue tied, so several takes and a bit of editing was required.
- Developed slides to accompany my video blog. This included developing a template in Powerpoint and obtaining images, some of which I had on file from previous use and some of which I purchased via Shutterstock.
- Used iMovie to incorporate my presentation and audio into one file.
- Imported completed video blog into iTunes.
- Shared video blog with YouTube via iTunes.
- Wrote the resource 8 Things Small Businesses Must Ask Themselves Prior To Setting Up A Social Media Presence using Word and then copied text into inDesign and formatted it to look more like an e-book than a document.
- Exported this document to pdf and reviewed how it looked in Adobe Acrobat.
- Uploaded this document to the website and included a link to it in the launch campaign e-mail.
- Finalised my e-mail launch campaign, sending myself a test.
- Tested all links within the e-mail and checked spelling.
- Spell checked everything on my website (I hope) and published all the pages and posts I had been developing throughout the week.
- Checked I was happy with all on-line presences of my business that I had developed.
- Scheduled my email campaign for 10am the following morning, with auto-posting to Facebook and Twitter.
- Fell into bed for a much deserved sleep.
- Woke up, enjoyed the “happy birthday” celebrations from my family, then took the kids to school.
- Arrived home and decided I couldn’t wait until 10am so I cancelled the scheduled email and sent it immediately.
- Started posting campaign to identified pages.
- Looked at mailchimp reports to see what the response had been like so far and then turned off the computer and went out to celebrate my birthday!
I would like to say that all the hard work was finally over, but I truly understand that this is just the beginning. If you would like to follow me on my journey as I continue to develop my business and share the stories of what I have learnt and achieved along the way, please subscribe to Impactiv8’s weekly updates. This subscription will also provide you with loads of valuable resources and tips on social media for small business, along with notifications of latest products/services, specials and free stuff.
Is there anything else I should’ve done or you would’ve done differently? Please let me know in the comments below so I can make sure I add this to the list for when I am assisting other small businesses that require assistance with their company setup and launch.