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Seven Essential Steps to Take When Starting a New Small Business: Seven Fresh Tips

Updated: Jun 30

Honestly, like I'd know. Ha ha. Most of the time I wing it. I've done that with books, I've done that with writing, just start and hope it works out. Most of the time it does.

However this venture is a little larger than just me working on a podcast or a book or showing up for work. This is on me. I thought it would be helpful for anyone else to just get down Seven Fresh Small Business Tips in once place, so you can at least start to know what you're doing. A solid foundation matters, and taking the time to build it now will make it so much easier when you ready to launch.

I have done Ghostly Walks in Victoria for ten years. I was lucky enough to be hired by John Adams who gave me a chance and led to my first book (with his blessing), podcasts, and a lot of other really fun opportunities that I can very easily trace back to working for that company.

Since I moved I have missed it. I love the process of getting together a group of strangers and going through the city sharing stories and ghostly encounters with them for an hour and watching their reactions. It's a lot of fun. If it wasn't I wouldn't' have done it for a decade. Had I stayed in Victoria, I'd still be doing it, but since the move I realized maybe there's a way to keep going, start my own company!

That's where Prince George Ghostly Walks came from. It's a city that doesn't' put a lot of value on itself. Part of that is really crappy press coverage, but part of it is also people think bigger is better. It's not.

The difference with Prince George is it has everything a big city does, without the traffic, congestion and rude people. That was one of things that was so striking here, people are so kind, friendly and open. I realized that, the first time a stranger started a conversation with me in a line up, and I was feeling concerned about what their angle was, that perhaps I'd gotten out of "the big city"" just in time.

Now that I'm here, I think our new city slogan should be "Prince George- Don't Move Here" because, quite frankly, I saw what an overwhelming population influx did to Victoria and it's not pretty.

And the time and place is just right to kick off something for our communities amusement and entertainment and perhaps a tiny bit of education as well.

Want to start a small business? Here's what I've learned so far:

1) Come up with a great name and a great slogan. This will matter as you need something that's going to let people know what your business is all about, just from the name.

2) Have a logo created or if you're that way inclined make one yourself. I designed a logo for PG Ghostly Walks myself, but I knew it was lacking "something" so I found a graphic designer online and my only instructions were: "This logo, but with a sneaky ghost" and they delivered. In reality, they changed next to nothing about the logo, but the added ghost changed the whole thing. I can use JUST the logo and you still get an idea about the business. I love it. I'm posting "My" logo and the one the Graphic Designer came up with at the bottom of this post.

3) Stake your claim, digitally speaking. As much as I HATE social media, it's a necessary evil. I remember hearing an awesome quote once, something about, if you start a business but don't advertise, you're just flexing your muscles in the dark. Social media is the cheapest form of advertising you're going to find, but it will cost you in time and effort. The Beast needs to be fed, and you feed it with posts, hashtags and all the other nonsenses. On the plus side you are able to schedule a lot of that kind of thing now, so it's not as onerous as it used to be.

4) Get a website. I have set up a couple of websites before but this one, this one has been the biggest challenge. I have not had a website that has so many moving parts before. Booking tickets, buying books, yikes! I'm happy with the look, I like the flow, but the mechanics can be a real burden. If you are selling ANYTHING having a website is pretty important. It adds a level of legitimacy that an old brick and mortar store would have back in the day. It's also a lot easier to keep fresh than print material.

5) Have "advisors". I have sent the finished website out to a circle of friends before I listed it on google. I did not say to them, "Tell me how good this is". I asked them to let me know what worked, what didn't. What aspects they liked, and what they hated or annoyed them. I took all their feedback and incorporated it as best as I could. They had some great ideas which I ended up adding, they brought up good points, so I changed some elements and they helped me trouble shoot some of the technical aspects as well - different things show up different ways on different devices unfortunately. I have used my advisors for all kinds of different projects, the podcast being one of the principal ones. I still have a small circle of people I know will tell me the truth - sometimes unasked - about the most recent episode. :) I value this feedback, it keeps me focused on what is working and what isn't. You can bet I'll be taking test-subjects on the ghost walk route the first few times before paying customers ever show up.

6) Be Flexible. This is huge and one of the massive advantages to starting nice and early. Don't pledge allegiance to one aspect or another. Yes there will be practical considerations, sometimes things are the way they are. However, it's a great thing to be able to say, that's not working, what else can I do that is better? I have found that, just in the few weeks I've been working on this business. It's given me so much freedom to change and adjust as I need to so that things are easy and flexible in the long term. Remember, it's a small business, you're not taking on General Electric!

7) You don't need to solve every problem immediately. This is another plus of having lots of time to prepare. As you are not in an "emergency" situation time-wise, you have the luxury of saying, about any issue really, "Hmmm, that's not working, I need to find another way to do this" or even better "I have no idea how to fix this problem, I gotta figure that out". You'll be amazed at what your brain can accomplish in the background. You'll not even be thinking about it directly and all of a sudden you'll know how to fix it, improve it or even simply accomplish it. It's a great feeling. Trust your brain.

That's about it! All my hard won wisdom. lol. I'm no expert, not even close, but I'm happy to share what I've learned. I will continue to do so on this journey but I'm not foolish enough to pledge that I'll write a blog every week or anything like that. I know myself way too well. If you have any feedback you'd like to share about this post, I'd love to hear it. You can get a hold of me on Facebook or Instagram @ghoststoryguy. Next step, will be to finalize the story and location list.....stay tuned!

original logo for Prince George Ghostly Walks
Original Logo

My original concept for the logo that I designed myself.

Professional logo for Prince George Ghostly Walks
Professional Result

The professionally designed final logo by a graphic designer. Totally nailed what I wanted.

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