starting a small business

Posted by Samantha Armstrong on

WHY I STARTED
Pure Glow Natural was never just a "spur of the moment" idea. For years prior I have been making my own DIY skincare from face masks, body scrubs, etc. It wasn't until I finished school and wasn't able to get a job due to the pandemic that I had really started to consider starting my own business. After endless research on all of the what I thought were clean beauty brands, I decided that I wanted to create safe, all natural products for others too. The more and more research I did, the more I realized how many harsh and dangerous chemicals and ingredients are used in our everyday skincare, body care, bath and beauty products. This was also a time where I decided that I wanted to start my natural wellness journey. I discovered such a big gap in the natural skincare industry and thought to myself "what if I started creating safe and natural products that are affordable but also high quality?". I'll be completely honest, even up until this day I never pictured myself as a business owner but I was definitely up for the challenge. Looking back almost a year later... I have learned so much more then I could have imagined when starting out. If you are interested in starting your own small business, keep reading!
STARTING A SMALL BUSINESS IN ONTARIO
1. Come Up With a Name
This was actually one of the most difficult parts of the beginning process for me. I had so many idea, wrote out all of the products that I wanted to create, looked at different branding, etc. Then I realized that I didn't have a name.. I tried researching multiple different things and finally came up with Pure Glow Natural. When it comes to a name I personally think that it is best to keep it short and sweet. This way it is a lot easier for people to find your brand and also remember the name of your company. 
2. Social Media + Domain
Once you have come up with a business name, you are going to want to get yourself a domain (if you are planning on having a website), as well as creating social media accounts. You also want to make sure that your business name is available on all of these platforms. I personally use a GoDaddy domain as it seemed like the best option at the time. Now, I would personally go through Shopify as that is what I use for my website.
3. Register Your Business
The next and probably most important step to starting a small business is registering your business. This is very affordable, quick and easy to do. I personally did mine through Ontario Business Central. You simply enter all of your details and the best part is that it only costs around $150.
4. Writing a Business Plan
This is something that I DREADED doing at the beginning but it actually was really helpful in the end. Writing a business plan doesn't have to take you long, but also try to be as thorough and precise as possible. Writing a business plan is a great way to think deeper about your business and to better understand your 'why' for starting. Let me tell you now, starting a business is NOT easy.
5. Set Up Social Media Accounts
As I mentioned previously, make sure that you double check all social media platforms prior to registering your business. You don't want to register just to find out that you can not use your business name on all social media platforms, including your website. At this step, it would be a great idea just to simply create these accounts, and then come back to them later.
6. Plan, Plan, Plan!
Personally, I think that this is probably one of the first steps when it comes to starting a business. Everything starts with an idea, then you can start planning out how you are going to make it happen. For me, I started out with an idea and then create a "brand". Once that was done, I began planning out all of the products, the labels, formulations, etc. This part was very difficult and also very time consuming. This process is going to look a little bit different for every business depending on your niche.
7. Branding
Branding is SUCH an important part of starting a business and a brand. Your brand is really going to give your customers an idea of who you are as a company. Personally, I have a very minimalistic style and I also have always loved design. With that being said, I still had to do a lot of research but for me this was generally a pretty easy portion. I would recommend going onto Pinterest and searching "brand templates" or something within that range. There are various templates where you can create a logo, choose colors, fonts, etc. 
8. Website
Once you have all of your ideas planned out, you can start creating a website. I use Shopify for my website and absolutely love it! It is affordable, very user friendly and great for beginners like me. One tip I wish I knew was to utilize the 'apps' feature to customize your website to match your brand. I personally also recommend adding an about us + contact us page so that your customers can really get to know you and also reach out if they have any questions or concerns. For me, building a website was a huge learning curve and it took a lot of time and practice. If I can give you one piece of advice, google will become your best friend! Google anything and everything, watch videos, and just utilize as many online tools that you possible can.
9. Marketing
I'll be completely honest, marketing was and still is something that I struggle with. It is definitely not my strong suit when it comes to business, and I know that I need to keep furthering my knowledge as marketing is such a huge aspect when running a small business. I personally have found Canva to be a great took to help me with marketing, they offer so many different templates and ideas for you to use. Being that this category is not my strong suit, I recommend just researching everything you can and even taking courses if needed. 
10. Utilize Social Media
This is actually something that I just recently starting doing more. I recommend posting fairly consistently on all social media platforms and encourage you to follow the current trends. Currently TikTok is such a huge platforms, especially for small businesses. I honestly was not really into TikTok for a while so I never really thought of even using it to promote my business. I struggled enough as it was to create content for my other social media platforms, and figured I would run into the same issue with TikTok too. Once I created an account, found other small businesses that I liked, some of which were a similar niche, I realized that this platforms could really help my business. I slowly started creating TikTok's and kind of just had fun with it. It was honestly really difficult for me to do this as it was really out of my comfort zone, but the more I did it the more I realized how fun it is and after a little while I started gaining traffic to my website. Although I haven't seen many sales from this platform, I do believe that it is a fun and engaging way to create an audience for your brand and also to gain traffic to your website if nothing else.
11. Learn
When starting a business of any kind, there is always going to be continuous learning and growth that comes with it. Like I said before, starting a business is HARD. It takes time, money, dedication, and so much more that you usually don't see from the outside. I have spent countless days working 9-5 and coming home to work on my business until I was too tired to function. I blew all of my savings starting up this business and still to this day have not made any of it back. I think that this is something that most people don't realize, but most people do not actually make any money atleast the first year of business. I am constantly looking for ways to improve, reinvesting all of the money I have made into new packaging, products, ect. There are so many different aspects of starting a business and believe me when I tell you, you will never stop learning.
12. Just START
The biggest piece of advice I can give you is that if this is something that you want to do, then DO IT. I remember in the beginning feeling so afraid of the judgement, of loosing money, of not being successful but I can assure you that it is the best thing that I have ever done. It is very difficult, I have doubted myself more then ever before, I have been so close to giving up but I am here to tell you that it is all worth it. You have to keep going, you have to believe in yourself even when it's hard, but I encourage you to just start and to keep going. 
If you have made it to the end of this post, THANK YOU! Thank you for reading my journey to starting this small business of mine. I really hope that you are able to take some advice from this post + I hope it inspires you to start whatever it is that you have been thinking about. If you have any questions about starting a business, designing a website, branding, etc. Please do not hesitate to ask. You can leave a comment or fill out the 'contact us' form to get in touch!
xo, 
Sam

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