Oh my gosh, what a ride 2020 has been! It feels like it has been years since I last went into work at my corporate job. Don’t get me wrong, I loved what I did. I was an Event Planning Manager for a high profile resort in GA but, I also gave my life and 60% of my time to the job. My relationships were hurting, my mental and physical health were declining and I was left with an overall sense of failure because I couldn’t balance everything. So, I fully believe that being laid off was a blessing. I’ve said it before, but it gave me time to focus on what I truly want out of life. So, that is just what I did AND I decided to go full force into owning my own business.
So how did I get there? Below are the steps I took to get to where I am now!
**These are the steps I had to go though living in GA – each state is different so please do your research! 🙂
EDUCATE YOURSELF – It is very important when coming up with a new business venture to look into all of the details surrounding it. I consumed hundreds of hours of podcasts, blogs, and books about how to create a successful business. My main contributor was the Goal Digger Podcast by Jenna Kutcher. She shares her business and marketing info freely for creative entreprenuers as well as paid courses for a more in depth look. She really zeros in on how to show up successfully in a social media world. Do you research on your location, competitors, state regulations, and ideal client base. This will help to put some tools in your belt when getting it all going.
VISION BOARDS – I knew I wanted to be a brand – I am looking into doing SO much more than just photography. So, I wrote down the goals I wanted to reach and how I want my potential clients to feel when they visit my website/social media/etc. I then went on to Pinterest and created a board just for color palettes, fonts, photos I found inspiring which really helped to zero in on my overall asthetic.
MARKETING MATERIALS – Canva has a ton of great resources and templates to help you get started. I opted to go with the premium package and pay $12.99 a month for it. It gives me access to a lot more content. They also have a helpful tool that will help you choose fonts that fit well together as well as color palettes. I really love that you are given the color codes too so that you can transfer it to your website and products. I began to create marketing materials and went through many versions before I settled on one that I liked. Trial and Error!
WEBSITE – Speaking of trial and error – I created a whole dang website on Wix – which I loved… until I found ShowIt. Oh my gosh, I love ShowIt! It has a ton of templates – I ultimately used a free template and built from there but they also have a lot of beautiful templates from creators. Their drag and drop features are so easy. The only issue I came across (other than connecting my domain) was that Wix offered an extensive library of stock photos where ShowIt has you upload your own. As a new business, I did not have too many images from my own to showcase so I decided to use Pexels and Canva to help me a bit. Otherwise, I uploaded all my content and created https://jcrosweood.com. I also loved the fact that you had the ability to assign brand colors which would reach your whole site and integrate a WordPress Blog. I built everything through a free trial and then once I was ready to go live, signed up and paid for a year. Quick note – I also bought my domain through GoDaddy and purchased a company email plan so that it looked more professional.
MARKETING STRATEGY – Once all of my visuals were done, I took all of the knowledge I have learned and came up with a Marketing Strategy. Other than listing on Google and all of the obvious pages – the biggest way to show up is to allow your audience to know, like, and trust you. So, I built a month’s worth of content and I vocalize it on my Facebook and Instagram buisness accounts with relatable hashtags. I also created Blog Posts that I could share over and over again. I use Pinterest to draw interest to these Blog Articles with different images and wording. A month before opening, I started to promote so that when I did open, I already had established a presence. Right now, I am testing these methods to see what works best – again – trial and error!
APPLY FOR AN LLC – I will eventually get into the benefits of a LLC over a Sole Proprietor but overall, I wanted my business to be separate from my persons and plan on expanding so I went ahead and filed. First, I looked up my chosen business name to make sure it wasn’t taken – I used https://ecorp.sos.ga.gov/BusinessSearch. It wasn’t taken so in GA, I went through the Secretary of State Website and paid $100 and placed it under “Any Legal Purpose” to give me a bit of wiggle room to pivot. For more information and the source I used – https://howtostartanllc.com/georgia-llc is a great resource. There are services that offer to do this for you but I wouldn’t spend the money.
APPLY FOR AN EIN NUMBER – Once you have your LLC – you will need to apply for an EIN number. Your EIN number is a tax id and will be how you will file your taxes for your business. This also separates you from filing your taxes under your personal social security number. I won’t get into it here but there are a ton of tax benefits for filing your earnings separately and will cost you less in taxes in the long run. I also highly recommend an accountant if you can afford it to help keep everything together!
FILE FOR AN OCCUPATIONAL TAX– I operate out of Lavonia, GA. Just a small town with a tiny population. So I went to my local City Hall and it was $50.00 for my business license. It varies depending on your location but once I got that, I was in business!
OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT – It is super important especially with an LLC that you keep your finances separate. Depending on if you are a LLC running as a sole proprietor or operating as an S Corp – there are different avenues to pay yourself however, when it comes to business expenses – separating your business transactions from your personal will make things much easier and more credible when tax time comes.
BUSINESS INSURANCE – SUPER IMPORTANT! These days people will sue for anything. It is so important to cover yourself and your business. Under an LLC, if someone sues you it allows your business to be a separate entity and separates your personal assets. So, if you are sued – that business insurance can cover you. I am also a licensed insurance agent with my friend’s company and help out my husband (also an agent) from time to time. For more information on this – Canon Insurance Advisers, LLC is the company work for and use! email@example.com
To wrap it all up, my biggest advice is before establishing yourself – do your due diligence to soak in as much information and advice as you can. It will save you so much time! Trial and error is always good in a business but if you set yourself up appropriately from the beginning, it frees you up for more success.
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Servicing North Georgia, South Carolina
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