The Best Way To Start Is To Start
It’s very easy to come up with excuses as to why we shouldn’t do something. We do it with diets and exercise and apologising. We’re also very good at coming up with excuses when we want to start our business.
Yes, you may have registered your domain name. You may have even created a Facebook page (but have you published it?). These are great to do, and yes they make you feel good, but I’m sorry to say, it doesn’t mean you’ve actually started a business.
How do you know when you’ve started?
When you start telling people about what you are doing (as opposed to what you are going to do). You know you’ve started your business when you start sharing with friends and family what you're doing. You ask them to like your Facebook page. You send them an email introducing your business. You attend a networking event with your business name on the name tag, as opposed to someone else’s.
But hang on a minute! There are a few things I suggest you do before you start. Let me spend a few moments sharing with you what I think you should do before you start. I'll then share with you, more importantly, the things I don’t feel you need to worry about if they're stopping you from actually starting.
--Before You Start--
This is the number one place people will look for you online. Yes, it's important to have a business Facebook page (see next point). However, I know for me, if a business only has a Facebook page, and not a website to go with it, for some reason I still feel they aren’t presenting like a ‘real’ business. Websites don’t need to be hugely expensive these days. Take a look at Squarespace. I think they’re one of the easiest and best looking website builders around at the moment. Alternatively, I use a WordPress site, hosted on Hostgator. Get something up there live, preferably with your photo and a blurb about you and what you do.
Yes, absolutely get a Facebook page. Go and do it now! It is best to have your business name pretty well sorted when you do this. You can change it however, I think Facebook only lets you change it a certain number of times, so keep this in mind. And ensure you get a unique url ie. facebook.com/theconciergesociety instead of facebook.com/376473839278658 - this is much more professional, plus helps when people are searching for you.
To be honest, I don’t actually have business cards at the moment. I prefer to send people my contact details at the time or after an event, via email or sms. However, I do recommend them for most people, especially new business owners. It looks professional, and forces you to identify who you are in a small amount of space, a great process in itself. There are lots of cheap and easy ways to do this. One way would be to design them in Canva.com and then have them printed via moo.com.
You can see one of my past blog posts for more information on pricing. I do suggest you have some form of pricing sorted out right from the get go. Don’t think you’ll just wing it when a client asks you. You won’t, you’ll look unprofessional, and you will potentially lose an opportunity through not being prepared. Set an hourly rate at the very least. You can always change it, or change your pricing model, but it is important to have something now.
Terms & Conditions
Once again, these will likely be an evolving document. Consider things like cancellations, travel, making purchases for clients, opening hours etc. Just ensure you have something in writing for clients to sign right from the start. Let me assure you, it is worth having this document to refer back to when needed. For those who are members of The Concierge Secret Society, you can access a template based on my own Client Agreement, in the Member Content Library.
Then do it!
Start! Tell people and act as if. It’s the only way!
--What Your Can Do AFTER You've Started--
No, you don’t need to find suppliers first!
No, you don’t need suppliers first. I know of a lot of new personal concierge businesses who spend a lot of time building up their database and negotiating arrangements with suppliers before they start. You may want to have an idea of which cleaner you will call on (here’s a hot tip, you will almost always get asked about cleaners when you first tell people about what you do), and possibly a handyman. If you have the capacity, have a gardener, an electrician and a plumber on your radar. But please, don’t spend a lot of time on this. The thing about being a personal concierge is that the work you can potentially be asked to complete is so varied. You can always be working on building up your supplier network as you go, but do not let this stop you from actually starting. It's not as important as you may think, and you can always bluff a little before working Mr Google. Even now Google is my best friend for many client requests.
Create the templates in your SPARE time
I’m always asked about templates. I too spent a lot of time creating templates at the start of my business. Often they were redundant before I even used them. However, I still started my business. I didn't wait until I had a folder full of ‘just in case’ templates before I put myself out there. I just started and worked out what I needed as I went along. I got into the habit of saying I would get back to them the next day, or within 24 hours, if a specific template was required. Once again, don’t let the creation of templates stop you from getting out and peddling your wares. It's just an excuse. Unless you are one of the very few who are inundated with clients immediately, I can assure you, you will have a lot of time to create your templates.
--Start And Then Do This!--
Get out and network
I've said it before (here) and I'll say it again. The best way to (a) build your confidence and (b) land your first clients, is to get out and talk to people. Explaining what a personal concierge does isn't easy. The best way to practice is to get in front of people and tell them what you do. Take note of what questions they ask. Remember what gets them excited and what gives them that glazed-over look. Make mental or physical notes of this, and then get out there and do it all again. You'll start refining your elevator pitch, as well as narrowing down who you resonate most with - your ideal client. Plus, you're first client is likely at the very next event you attend!
Tell EVERYONE what you do
It's very easy to feel nervous and unsure. We're afraid of putting ourselves out there, worrying about what people think. However, what is even worse than people not appreciating what you're trying to do, is for them to not even know about it in the first place. I've found that friends, family and colleagues are my best advocates. The right people believe in you, are enthusiastic, and will happily share your information - as long as you ask them to! Send them an email, invite them to like your Facebook page and share it, ask them if they know of anyone who may be interested in your business. The worst they can do is say no. The second worst is that they ignore you. Who cares! The right people will be behind you every step of the way, as long as you've actually told them you're in business.
Brainstorm ways to find clients and then tick them off
There are so many ways to go about finding new clients. In fact, there are probably more ways than you can possibly handle (for some ideas, go here to download my eBook '50 Ways To Find New Personal Concierge Clients'). I suggest you start brainstorming ideas, put them in order of what gets you most excited, and then work your way through them. Overall, you need to be focused on your ideal customer, and remain consistent. That means, if you decided to start blogging, keep doing it. If you decided to start a Facebook page, post on it regularly. If you decided to hire a PR consultant, be prepared to listen and implement what they recommend.
Write Your Master To Do List
Starting a business can be overwhelming. One of the best things I did when I first started was brain dump everything I needed to do onto a master to do list, and work my way through it. This might mean registering a business name, having a logo designed, researching insurance, or having business cards printed. Continually add to your master to do list and refine as you go. Use your master to do list as a way of getting everything out of your head and on to paper. It's much easier to organise words on a page than thoughts in your mind. Plus, it means you'll sleep a lot better!
There are so many ways you can convince yourself that you're just not quite ready to start your business. You can tell yourself that once you've done a, b or c, that you'll start, for real. Just be aware of the excuses versus the real deal breakers. Most of the time, the only thing standing in our way is ourself. So go on, create your Facebook page and share it with your friends. Register your domain name and then make your website live. Book yourself into a networking event. And go. I'd be quite confident in saying that, for you, the best time to start IS NOW!