The other day, I was talking to an incredible entrepreneur-to-be.
She had her business idea, a big dream, and even a portfolio of some of her work thus far, but hadn’t put any business logistics in place yet.
In other words, she didn’t have her business name or entity set up yet, let alone a business plan or any sort of formal infrastructure.
Her question to me? Am I ready to launch my website yet?
My answer? Not quite yet.
Read on to learn why you may not be quite ready for a business website just yet…and what you need to check off your list in order to get ready to launch your site.
The Dangers of Launching a Website Too Soon
Before you’re going to be ready to launch the website for the business of your dreams, there are a few things you need to have in place first.
If you launch your website before you’re ready, there’s a good chance you may not love the outcome, have an updated vision (or even business name) that is very different from where you started, and have a confusing message on the site.
All of these things are cause for more than just minor changes to your website after it’s launched. If you’re not ready for a website, you may end up having to perform a complete redesign!
Learn the 5 steps to take before you launch your website (so you won’t need a redesign later).
5 Important Steps to Take Before You Launch Your Website
1. Your business name
It may seem obvious, but one of the first things you’ll need before a website is a business name.
I know the pains of finding the perfect business name, but it’s an important step in the entrepreneurial process.
Without a business name, you won’t be able to determine the right domain name or take any more steps in the design process.
You don’t even need a logo yet, because many website design and development companies (including ours! 😉) also design logos.
2. Your business entity
Each state has its own separate laws or rules about starting a business. For instance, here in Florida, we use Sunbiz to register a business and submit annual reports.
Some states have a business registration process, while other require business licensing. To find out more, simply Google “start business [your state].” You should find an official state website with more information.
You’ll be able to search for whether your business name is unique in your state. (You don’t necessarily need to trademark your name, but you do need to have a unique name in your state.)
Here’s where you’ll determine your business structure, too. Will you create an LLC? Corporation? Partnership? Sole Proprietorship?
My best recommendation: find an accountant you trust who understands how your state laws will impact your business taxes. This is a critical step as it will impact your future financial success.
In addition, you’ll likely need to start the process of applying for an EIN (Employee Identification Number). This establishes your business in the eyes of the IRS.
3. A business bank account
Whether you plan on building your own website or hiring a trusted website design and development company, it’s critical that you’re not using your own personal funds to do it.
Not only is having a business bank account important at the end of the year for tax purposes, but it also ensures you keep things clear when it comes to business vs. personal funds and it critical for legal purposes down the road.
Setting up a business bank account is a relatively quick and easy process.
4. Your business offerings
You probably already have a good idea of what your business does…that’s why you’re dreaming of being an entrepreneur, after all!
But it’s important to spend the time getting crystal clear on what your product or service is, how you plan to deliver it, and the problem(s) it solves for your customers.
Consider spending the time to get real world validation that your product or service is necessary in the market. You might offer your product or service to a select group for a discounted rate (or even free to start).
In addition, this is a good place to create a business plan so the foundation of your business is nice and strong. Organizations like SCORE offer great free templates to get started on your business plan!
5. Your ideal audience
You have your business name, entity, bank account, and product or service offerings. Now you need the audience.
Who is it that you’re trying to reach to buy your product or service? In other words, who is your ideal customer?
You may hear these people called your avatar or buyer persona, but they are all one in the same: your target market.
Understanding your ideal audience prior to building your website is important because it will affect design and content on your site and your overall web presence.
If you don’t know who you’re talking to, your website will be confusing for visitors.
If you have everything above in place, congratulations…you’re ready to launch your website!
You may never feel fully ready and business is a constant work in progress (so things can always change), but you are definitely ready to consider getting that site up and running!