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How to Start a Business: A Step-by-Step Guide

I am about to share with you this step-by-step guide on how you can make a difference in the world. What I am going to share is simple – How to start a business. My goal for writing this guide is to help you become more fulfilled and focused in your work and life, make your dreams come true by building a profitable business that makes an impact in the world. It’s possible.

If you want to serve others as a business owner and you know you have a bigger purpose or you have a business but feel like you are wasting time and are strapped for cash, or maybe you want less stress and more joy and calm so that you can be more in control of your destiny. Get ready because I created this guide just for you!

In this guide, I’m going to show you a new plan for your life. Something that gives you the resources to quit your day job and build a business that really makes a difference in the world. You are going to see how to transform your passion and skills into a business so you can make a living doing what you love and have more freedom and time to spend with your family and pursue your dreams and goals and control your destiny.

The goal of this guide is simple, to equip you with a proven plan, a plan that makes getting out of bed and going to work fun and not feel like work. This plan will give you more freedom to travel, hang out with your kids, check off those things on your bucket list, and take care of yourself and your family.

This is about living your purpose, making a lasting impact on this world, and leaving a legacy. And the more you do that, the more you will inspire others and use your gifts and talents in the world to make a difference.

IMPORTANT: BEFORE WE BEGIN THE HOW TO START A BUSINESS GUIDE

Entrepreneurship, online marketing, and social media are opening up so many opportunities for you right now! Businesswomen are paving the way in entrepreneurship. There are women who are online business owners, social media managers, coaches, bloggers, consultants, online course creators. We even have CLASS members who are farmers, home organizers, membership site owners, gift box providers, coaches, travel consultants, authors, and physical trainers. The list goes on.

Thriving. Business online is thriving. You have a huge opportunity to learn how to start a business right now.

BUSINESS TRENDS RIGHT NOW

There are two trends you need to know about right now.

The first trend is the global impact that you and your business can make.

Your business can have clients around the world and reach and help millions of people. Today as an entrepreneur there are no barriers. You don’t have to have thousands of dollars to spend on advertising. You can start with $5 and reach your target market with one click online.

The second trend is that women desire and can have more freedom than ever before.

Freedom in your career is real and it’s a big change in the online space because you can work from your laptop anywhere you want. Me, I’ve worked from Brazil, a car, an airplane, a closet, a laundry room, and even in a coffee shop from Australia with a 6 month-old on my lap. When Corporate Rescue Plan launched, I recorded the launch video in a koala sanctuary in Australia while holding my daughter. If that’s not life on my own terms, I don’t know what is.

And you can make small steps on the side of your day job like I did. I worked as a Corporate Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton for 8 years. I know how little time I had to build my dream. But guess what, I had 15 minutes here and there and I used that time to grow my little business into the internationally recognized e-learning platform that it is today.

THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS

You can make as much or more as your income right now and you can build it up so that when you do make the leap, you aren’t stressed wondering how you will pay your bills.

You can make more money building your own business and be in charge of your own raises. You can start building your own goals instead of working on someone else’s goals everyday when you go to your day job. You don’t have to wait for your boss’s approval to make a change.

You don’t need a ton of money to get started and you have these two trends of global impact and freedom opening up the opportunities for you. Now I’m sure you’ll agree, trying to start a successful business that matches your purpose and makes a difference, isn’t always as simple as people sometimes make it seem.

THE REAL ENTREPRENEUR LIFE

Here’s the thing. Entrepreneurship is HARD, right? And it’s so easy to get distracted by the pretty photos on Facebook where it looks like entrepreneurs fly to Paris last minute, drink champagne in Italy, and live a luxurious laptop lifestyle from the beach. They make it look so easy so why is it so hard for us!

I am often hustling in my bedroom in a messy house with my daughter running around and dishes piled in the sink. So, I decided to create a movement around the REAL experiences of starting a business. The truth is, entrepreneurship comes with a lot of challenges.

John and Anna on How to Start a Business You probably have heard that if you go the entrepreneur route you will never find benefits or live without the security of a paycheck and how the heck will you have enough money to support your family.

I get it, my husband and I quit our jobs within three months of each other and we had a 6-month-old daughter. We had to make the leap and figure all this stuff out too. And then of course the fears of what people will think! Some family members were not in support of both of us quitting our jobs. They said, How can you do this?” What if the internet breaks! One of my regrets is that I didn’t have a solid business plan that I could show my husband when I quit. I mean it was in my head and I knew I was going to succeed, but a business plan to show him would have been helpful which is what I’ll teach you in this guide.

THE BUILD A PROFITABLE BUSINESS ASSESSMENT

The purpose of “The Build a Profitable Business” Assessment is to help you quickly overcome frustration and overwhelm chasing after clients and trying to make sales so that you can experience clients coming directly to you.

Problem:

Does your idea solve a problem in the world? Can you explain the idea in simple terms to a potential client? This is where you absolutely have to talk to potential clients and interview them and ask them what keeps them up at night and what their challenges are. Don’t make this about you. It’s not about providing a product you think YOU think your market needs.

Payment:

Will people pay for you to solve their problem? Have you tested your idea on your ideal market? Are you set apart from the competition? You want to make your competition irrelevant and be able to stand out so that you don’t have to compete on price. In order to start and grow a business, you have to be crystal clear about how your business will make money and that your clients will pay for it. This is as simple as testing it.

People:

Is there a large market for your product or service? Who is your ideal client? This is where you absolutely must create a client avatar. You want to know who your ideal client is, what she or he loves doing, how old she is, what education she has, what job she has, what she does in her spare time, what books he or she reads. You want to know his or her needs and frustrations, goals and desires.

Passion.

I am not all about making money the focus in your business, it’s important of course that your business is profitable but you need passion to get you through the tough times. Are you passionate about your business idea? What is your why and reason for growing a business? This is important because this is how you will brand your business and your passion is what will make you stand out in the market and I know many of you are worried about all your competition out there.

First, anytime you are trying to build a business that fits you and your purpose, it’s inevitable you’ll hit roadblocks.

Common Roadblocks:

  • Inconsistent monthly income leaving you stressed, puzzled, and overworked.
  • Not attracting enough customers to cover your expenses.
  • A Business model is limited so you are left unable to scale your business and impact the world like you know you could.
  • Or maybe you have experienced Self-doubt and the impostor syndrome feeling like a fraud and afraid to put yourself out there.

Here’s what I know to be true. If you’ve ever faced these thoughts of am I good enough to do this, are they going to find out that I don’t really know my stuff, you’re totally normal?

But if you allow these to become your everyday truth, you’ll never achieve a business that makes you money 24/7 and impacts the world.

Here are the five things you need to have in your offer to create an offer that sells itself.

1. A reason to buy now

The first thing you need is a deadline or a reason for the customer to buy now. Maybe it’s discounted, doors are closing or they are going to miss out on something. There is some form of scarcity.

2. A problem

The second thing you need in an offer is that you need to touch on what is missing in your client’s life. Your offer needs to point to the problem and that something is missing or lacking. They are in pain over something and you’ve identified what keeps them up at night through your surveys and interviews with ideal clients.

3. Hope

The third thing your offer needs to have is that it needs to have hope. You need to give your customers hope that your product or service will fix the problem. They need to breathe a sigh of relief when buying and be excited that your product or service will fix their problem.

4. Social proof

The customer needs to see that this has worked for other people and can work for them.

5. Trust

Your potential customer needs to trust you and your company in order to know that you are going to deliver on your promises to make their problem go away.

The Profit Plan

The most important number you need to know that will guarantee your business’s success.

This number will mean success or failure. You need to know how many sales you need each week to reach your goal.

Identify your desired annual income and the cost of your product or service. Then, calculate how many products or services you need to sell every EVERY WEEK.

This simple calculation kept me going as I was growing my business on the side of my day job. I would track every dollar amount that would come in until I hit my weekly goals. This also makes the fear of leaving your secure paycheck easier because you can quickly do the math to see what income you need to have coming in on a weekly basis to make your expenses.

When I was just starting, this helped me stay focused on income-producing activities. I asked myself, was reviewing my Facebook newsfeed going to make my weekly quota, nope! Was booking 8 free coaching sessions in one day going to help me meet my weekly quota, you bet! Was watching TV going to help me meet my quota? Nope. Was booking a speaking event for 25 women going to help me meet my weekly quota? Yep!

How many customers do you need to reach your goal every week? I bet it’s pretty doable.

This is keeping things practical. We aren’t trying to make a million dollars or have a six-figure launch right out the gate. We are focusing here on consistency, cash flow, and weekly revenue coming into your bank account.

Old Photos, Messy Houses and Juggling Three Jobs...

How do you find time to grow your side hustle?

Here’s what my side hustle schedule looked like.

I created blog posts and scheduled social media updates in the morning, headed off to work, took networking calls and even interviews during lunch break in my car. Evenings and weekends were focused on taking client coaching calls and delivering my online courses and group coaching programs. I just focused on the right things. I am always 100% focused on the one thing that is really going to move the needle and make a difference in my business.

But I’m scared to fail?

Just remember that this is all about baby steps. This won’t happen overnight. As long as you just keep taking action forward and get in a supportive community. You can’t just throw up a Facebook ad and expect to quit tomorrow. When I was scared to fail, and I still am sometimes after listening to doom and gloom podcasts out there that like to be so negative and I get done and all my nails are all bit off. You don’t have to listen to the negative and the overwhelming advice. Stick with a positive environment and community that supports you in whatever phase your business is in like we have here.

But, I don’t have the money?

If you think you don’t have the money, remember that it’s not expensive. You can even start a blog for free. You can use PayPal to take an order for free. You can use your cell phone to start conducting your service. You don’t need a fancy photographer, just have your friend take your photo. Use mailchimp.com to start a free email list.

How To Start a Business Guide: The Freedom Roadmap

This is what you’ve been waiting for and the best part of this How To Start a Business Guide. Here is what you need to build a profitable business.

1. Mindset

The first thing you need that I’ve already touched on a lot here is the right mindset. You have to switch from an employee mindset to an entrepreneur mindset. First, that means, remembering that time is money and, more importantly, our entire focus here is that time is freedom. You don’t have to sit in your office for 8 hours a day being “busy” instead the time you put into your business must be focused on revenue-producing activities.

Utilize the most important asset, Your time. We all have 24 hours in a day. It’s what you use those hours for that will later give you the freedom you desire.

2. Website

Your website is your home base. Just like myspace disappeared, so could Instagram in a year or two. We have no idea. Instagram and Pinterest weren’t even around when I started in 2010 or maybe it was but I wasn’t cool enough to even know what they were. Social media can change in a blink of an eye.

We need to create a place where your followers can always find you now and in 5-10 years from now. I have followers who have been following my blog articles for 6 years. I have followers who have been receiving my emails for 6 years.

3. Email List

You want to have control of when your market sees your message. When launching a new service or a sale, what would you rather do, post to Facebook where they probably won’t see it unless spending money on advertising or send it directly to their inbox so they see it the second they wake up?

We want to control when we deliver the messages and that’s why an email list is so important. Plus, FB and Instagram don’t show all your posts to everyone who follows you. Yes, it’s unfair. And that’s why your goal is to take your audience from social media and to your email list.

[RELATED: 71 Must-Have Small Business Tools]

4. Social Media

Love it or hate it, social media is a fabulous tool to create a community and relationship with your potential customers. There is so much opportunity for you on social media.

My tip for you today though is to just pick one platform. Find out where your customers are hanging out and focus on. What social media platform are they on before they shut off their phone and go to bed?

5. Lead Magnet

What is that? A lead magnet is a valuable free giveaway that you create for your ideal client. You give it away in exchange for their contact information.

A lead magnet builds a relationship. It is where you are going to give your best stuff away for free. It is where you are going to give a sneak peek of your products or services.

3 Ways To Overcome Self-Doubt and Boost Your Confidence

The 6 Phases of Going From Employee to Entrepreneur

In this part of our How To Start a Business Guide, I am going to dive into the most important things that are going to make the biggest difference in starting your business. Keep reading to identify which phase you are at right now.

Phase 0: Founder

You are a Founder if you have no idea what to do first. You have no plan. It’s hard for you to see your future vision. You desperately want more freedom and flexibility in your life.

Phase 1: Designer

You are a Designer if you are motivated to start your own business but confused about what type of business to start. You are scared to take the first step and struggling to find enough time to make it happen. You are beginning to figure out your purpose and strengths and how they will fit into your ideal business.

Phase 2 Planner

You are a Planner if you know what business you want and you are now ready to create your business plan and conduct market research. You want to map out how to make your business grow quickly and successfully.

Phase 3: Hustler

You are a Hustler if you are now taking action and implementing your business plan. You have a product or service that people want and are selling it. You are still figuring out how to balance your time and are working your butt off. You majorly need a day off.

Phase 4: Entrepreneur

You are an Entrepreneur if you are getting closer to making enough income to support yourself full-time. You are confident in your future and excited about the opportunities that lay ahead and the difference you can make as a full-time entrepreneur.

Phase 5: Influencer

You are an Influencer if you are starting to grow your team and passive income. You are now ready to scale your business and have even more freedom and flexibility. You want to make your business match your dream business. Your business serves others and is making a difference.

In this phase, we now get to start influencing others on a bigger scale. This is the phase that I am currently in. The Classy Career Girl brand is continuing to influence more and more people.

How To Start a Business – The Obstacles

“Anna, I am afraid to create a service that markets are already flooded with.”

Here’s the good news, if the market has people like you in it already, that’s a good thing. It means you are onto a profitable business idea.

But here’s the thing. You have your own strengths and experiences that make you completely different from anyone else out there. My daughter loves Daniel Tiger and in one episode I’ve heard a million times it talks about how each snowflake is different. Similar to a snowflake, each business is different and can serve and support your customers in a unique way. Customers will connect more with your background and who YOU are than anyone else out there.

This is one reason why I loved the Strengthsfinder assessment because after I took it I realized that there are only one in 33 million people with the exact same strengths in the order as me. That’s how unique I am in my market. Only I can run my company the way I run it and I believe I was created for a unique purpose to actually run this company. I love my strengths because of it!

How to Turn Your 2021 Goals into an Organized Plan

What if I can’t monetize?

You have a massive opportunity to build a product or service that is exactly what your clients want and need! Monetizing is all about testing. It requires pivoting. It requires failing. It involves tweaking. Different prices. Different markets.

Where you start today could be vastly different than what you end up selling years down the road. It doesn’t matter. We are on the hunt for creating a beta version of what we have to offer into the world and testing it. Selling it. Does anyone want it? Why not? We ask the market what they want instead. We dive deep into learning as much as possible about our ideal clients.

  • Their frustrations.
  • Their desires.
  • What keeps them up at night.

Then, here’s the key that I want you to remember, we solve a problem that they will pay us to solve. That’s monetizing. You have to think this and believe it, “I will make my business happen no matter what. I will make it work. It’s non-negotiable.” See how that’s no longer a fear. We find a way.

I’ve had setbacks. I have had some pretty bumpy personal life issues. I have had products that flop. Businesses that fail. Courses that don’t sell. Membership sites I have closed.

And here I am today. I am making it work no matter what. It’s a non-negotiable.

But, what about what others will think of me?

Another thing that a lot of people talk to me about is being scared of what other people will think of them and this holds them back from truly living their purpose. Here’s a story that not many people know. I am still scared sometimes to hit publish on status updates, stories, and important life events to my personal Facebook page filled with my closest friends and family.

These are people that have known me for my entire life but it still freaks me out to put myself out there and be the real me! But today, those same people are the ones that say I am inspiring them.

If you are on the fence about putting yourself out there, think instead of how your story and service could impact one person. We have to get out of our own heads and stay 100% focused on our mission and purpose.

If you are scared to make that first step, think of the people that need to hear your message. Not everyone is your ideal client. So if you are worried about those trolls online, just stay focused on your purpose and why you do what you do.

Career Coaching Resources by Anna Runyan

I hate tech!

Another obstacle …technology. You may not know this but I am 100% self-taught in the technical areas of my business. Who created and updates my website, who manages our email list, our Facebook ads, our branding, logos, social media images, the list goes on? Me and of course my husband, John, too.

There are so many tutorials and training online these days, you don’t need thousands to get up and running and most of the time, you can learn how to do it yourself, affordably if not for free. So here’s what I would do if you are stuck and scared about the technology side of growing a business, download the PDF business tools blueprint and check it out. I have a whole section of resources and tools on the PDF to help you set up your website and email list quickly and with little stress.

What if I can’t contribute to my family budget?

The other obstacle I hear a lot when working with consulting clients over the last few years is that you are scared that you won’t be able to contribute enough to the family budget. Well, when it comes to budgeting, you are talking to the queen of budgeting.

When we were in debt, my poor husband had to have monthly budget review meetings with me to review our finances and we had to have a limit on how much we could spend on food each week. We were tight with money for a while. It wasn’t that much fun but we paid off $80,000 of debt in 18 months. Now, That is FREEDOM!!!

If you all know Dave Ramsey, you know what I mean.

But, there’s so much noise online right now?

So now let’s talk about the online noise out there right now. There’s a lot of promises of six-figure launches and million-dollar lifestyles on Facebook these days so that’s why I am so passionate about my startup story.

You may have to live off half your paycheck for a while, or even one paycheck or no paycheck, and cut some expenses. It’s not going to be wining and dining in Paris when you start. You are going to want to invest everything you can into your business and cut some expenses. Live modestly, not fancy.

You can make it work. You just have to do the math and actually look at your numbers. You have to have a budget and a plan. You can do it.

CCG Quote - Take Imperfect Actions and keep moving forward

Wrap-up

If there is one thing I would take away from this how to start a business guide, it is to focus on who you are here to serve.

You just have to take imperfect actions and keep moving forward. Not doing anything means you won’t be able to start making the impact and have the freedom that you want to have to spend time with your family and friends and do what you love.

CCG Free Printable 90-Day Planner Also, make sure you follow along with my free printable 90-day planner.

I have worked with thousands of female entrepreneurs all around the world in all kinds of markets. These strategies work.

If you take nothing else from this guide, know that you can start a business on your own terms. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. Don’t let fear stop you.

The fact that you are reading this shows determination. I know you can create your dream business and have the ideal lifestyle that you dream of. It’s not as hard to transition from employee to entrepreneur when you have a system and a plan.

Today the online business world is a level playing field and the doors to becoming an entrepreneur are swinging open for you.

But, here’s the thing. You have to start taking action.

Hi, I'm Anna!

I’ll help you create a career strategy and plan so you can finally have a job or business you love that supports the life you really want.

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