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Ep. 46 Business Basic Recon – START YOUR BUSINESS RIGHT

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When starting a new business venture it’s best to do some basic recon. From naming your company to researching the competition Torie Mathis and her cohost Sean go over some essential steps to take prelaunch and some advice for setting the stage for success in starting a business.

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SAF 46

[00:00:00] Torie: And when you mix-match all these different things, you end up with a unique business idea, just your,

Hey, welcome to Smart AF on your host Torie Mathis. We have got a great show for you today. So let’s get started. So I started when I started my business, it was not because I decided to, but because I had to. Oh my goodness. What a different time that was. I have been on my own doing my own business for almost 14 years now.

Like it feels like, and it’s amazing. And I would never, ever, ever go back, but I didn’t have a lot of time to put any planning into what I was going to do. I started my business in 2007. I had taken a couple of, of clients I was doing publishing work in the real estate industry. And I had people come to me every once in a while needing a logo or a brochure design.

So I did a few little things, but the publishing company that I worked for did all real estate publishing. That is everything we did. And in 2008, when the real estate market came crashing down. So did the post. We downsize. I went and started working from home. We kept as many clients as we could. I think at that time, like the actual CEO, the owner.

She had pretty much bowed out before that like she was able to get some money out of the business and she was not really involved at that time. And so it was pretty much me as the assistant publisher. Just trying to keep clients happy. Just the couple ones that we had. I’m just trying to make them happy.

And there was another printing company that actually ended up scooping up those clients and asked me if I wanted to continue to design anything. So I took those clients and full on a hundred percent had my own business, like when, like I’ve been doing some freelance stuff, but like within a week like it was my business and that was all I had.

There was no more paychecks and we had just bought a house. We had been married, not that long. I think we were gonna have a baby in the next year. Like there was big stuff happening at that time. Like that was a, that was a big time in our life. And so well, yes, it absolutely was because I went from, you know, I built myself up at this company and I was making really good money.

Like it was a bomber that I had never made money like that. And for it to just be gone, like it was high times and then it was gone. And so I didn’t have a lot of planning. And so I screwed everything from naming my business to building a what? Like I had no idea what I was doing. Even like how I tried to structure my business, like looking back, like it’s laughable.

And I know there’s a lot of people out there right now trying to start businesses and I’m gonna let you know. And like I did, like, if you can just do some basic recon. It’s going to make all the difference in the world. But before we go on there, Sean is the same way. Like Sean’s business he had no time to really be able to do all this recon.

Like, I think you recon on like what your services were going to be like, kind of how you’re going to decide what your, your main services and right. How you’re going to do it. But as for like starting the business, we had an opportunity to do an automotive museum. It was an amazing opportunity. And it was like, you take it right now or your regret it later, right?

[00:03:48] Sean: Yeah. Yeah. That is pretty much it, it is either do it or guaranteed. It was going to be a regret because it’s easy to regret something like that, because in hindsight you’re like, well, I could’ve made it work, but you didn’t even try. And for me, my intention was to always do it, but I wanted to do 20 years from now.

And I had more than one car and more time to invest in it and preferably a whole lot more money to, to make all this kind of stuff happened. But yeah, opportunity came knocking and we just had to go for it. And that did require quite a bit of research on trying to figure out. What that meant, you know, is you can say automotive museum, but what does that mean?

And so I had to do a whole lot of recon work to, to see what other automotive museums were doing. And then the certain aspects that I thought would work for what we were going to do with like having cars on consignment and offering storage and all that kind of stuff. Like I had, I had to see what else. What everyone else was doing. 

[00:05:00] Torie: And no matter how much recon you do change it, do the recon, but really like, you still have to be flexible. You have to be able.

[00:05:13] Sean: Well then no matter what, like, no matter what you do, like data can always be missing. No. So mousy time originally opened up in a small town and a town that Tori and I had never even been to before, until we walked into this building, which then became the museum, boom.

You know, we’re getting told all kinds of stuff, you know, tons of traffic drives by this place, you know? So all you gotta do is let people know it’s there. And none of those pull into the parking lot, come to find out it’s not entirely accurate. Yes, there was a bit of traffic that would go by in front of the building, but it wouldn’t say it was a lot.

And it was the same people over and over commuting for work. No, that almost never actually took the time to stop because it wasn’t a, it wasn’t an area where people would travel through. It was like an area where people went from, you know, where they live to, where they needed to go for work. And that was the only reason I ever passed by.

But I, I didn’t know that consignment, you know, we sold a shit ton of cars and made it ton of money off of it. But only if you look at it from one angle, you look at it from the other angle, we didn’t really make any money off shuffling money. There is a lot of stress involved with it. 

[00:06:43] Torie: And see it’s exactly like. I made so much money, kind of like I was a bank, thousands of dollars coming in and paying for printing and doing all these incredibly stressful things like, man, I don’t want to do. 

[00:07:02] Sean: Pay the legal fees to be able to sell cars, ate up like majority of my profit and then just the utilities on the building itself took the rest of it. So like, you know, it sounds good in theory. And if you, if you looked at specific numbers on paper, you’d be like, well, that’s, that’s good. But ultimately it, that it wasn’t good and it was nothing I want to do. 

[00:07:26] Torie: So you gotta be able to, you know, no matter what your businesses, and even if that’s what your heart is set on, sometimes you shouldn’t be printing.

Sometimes you shouldn’t be selling cars, but it doesn’t mean that the business is over. It doesn’t mean that that’s not what you should be doing. You should always do some recon when you’re going to start a business. But I think for things like services, things like what else? There are some things that. 

[00:07:52] Sean: Restaurants, if you’re going to open up a restaurant, Let’s say it’s a Mexican restaurant, go eat at your local Mexican restaurants, go see what they’re doing, how right.

[00:08:01] Torie: But if you’re going to open a Mexican restaurant, like you’re opening, you can’t really be that flexible on that. I’m talking about things that you have to be flexible on. You know, like maybe you’re going to, you think that you’re going to be famous for your enchillada sauce. And it turns out it’s your tacos that are hit. Like you got to go with the taco. Like there’s things that you need to be flexible on, but yes, let’s start on. If you are going to start a business, we’re going to give you a list of things that you absolutely need to check out. Don’t be like us. And like, sometimes I know you’re going to get pushed against the wall and you’re going to have to jump and I am all for jumping. However, there’s some things that you got to look into. So Sean was talking about your competition.

[00:08:50] Sean: It’s like the easiest thing to do. And you shouldn’t want to do it, see what they’re doing, you know, you could go in there and be like, oh, their stuff is awesome. And I can’t do anything better. And you know, you think of a completely different business idea instead, or you walk in there and you’re like, this is nice, but.

They don’t do this. And I would, I would want to offer this and see right off the bat here, you’ve got in your mind an edge because you’re doing something different and better in your mind in which means in certain customers, they’re going to be on the same page as you and want to go to your business instead, because you’ve, you’re, you’re, you’re offering that kind of stuff, but you may not even realize that kind of stuff without going into your competitions. And understanding that something that. 

[00:09:46] Torie: And don’t think that just because there is competition, that that means that it’s not a good business idea. In fact, if there’s no competition at all, it might be a bad business to educate people. Right. And that’s, that is a lot harder. So if you, you know, you can’t say that just because somebody else is doing it, that you can’t do it.

And I hear this all the time that somebody is like, oh, there’s already this there’s already that well, Right within a close distance of your house. How many grocery stores are there? How many gas stations are there? How many restaurants are there? How many coffee places are there? Like there’s a ton. So when you’re going and looking at your competition or your soon to be competition, what are they doing?

Right. What can you do different? What can you highlight that? They’re not. How can you package things a little bit different that make you look more unique? There’s always some way that you can skew it. There’s always some way that you can twist it so that yours is a little bit different and it doesn’t matter that you’re the 10th dog groomer in your town, like just what is it that yours is going to be a little bit different. Can you do it faster? Can you do it quicker? Can you be more high end? Can you charge a whole lot more? Do you want to be volume-based like the Mexican restaurant we always talk about and, you know, have lunch specials all day. Like these are all things that you can do different and when you mix match all these different things, you end up with a unique business idea, just yours. 

[00:11:18] Sean: Because you are the newest one that can take all the different elements of other businesses that you like, put your twist on it and present it as something new and different, even though the basics of it have already been tried and tested. 

[00:11:35] Torie: In this the next thing I think that we would need to talk about is customer research. Yes, go to your competitor and yes. See what you can do different, but don’t do it different because it’s something you like and that your heart set on. Right. How many people do this? And they’re like, but this is so great, but it’s not what people want.

Like you have to make sure that what you’re doing is for the customer and not for you because so many times people have their heart set on these things and they think it’s the greatest product or the greatest idea ever. And it’s great for them, but you have to be great for customers. Like you open up a Mexican restaurant and you’re like, but I’m a vegetarian.

So you’re going to open up a vegetarian Mexican restaurant like definitely not. Have vegetarian dishes, but it’s possible that like, people are just going to walk in there and be pissed off that they can’t get chicken tacos. It could happen. Right. So you need to make sure that you’re doing it for your customers and you do some customer research on the area that you’re in, what kind of customers you have in that area and make sure that there’s a market or whatever it is you’re selling.

So let’s talk about names, naming your business.

[00:12:54] Sean: It pretty much sucks. It does. 

[00:12:57] Torie: And there’s some people that are really good at it. And there’s some websites out there that you can go and research some names and stuff like that. I think just going out there and doing a lot of research, seeing what your competition is doing and trying to do something that’s a little bit different.

Some people like for like design type companies choose to be their, their business name. I think one of the worst things that you can do is just grab a name and roll with it. Like you have to research. 

[00:13:22] Sean: Well now, like it goes more than just a name of the business. You get to look at that, you know, the domain available or how close to that can you get, or. Like the name you have is does the domain go to something you don’t want it to go that to. 

[00:13:36] Torie: Or is the name trademarked? Like, that’s a really big thing that you have to research. You definitely don’t want to steal somebody else’s name and get sued later. After you’ve invested all this time in my business. 

[00:13:49] Sean: Changing locations or expanding, in which case you may not want to name an after this specific town or city that you’re in. There’s a lot of things to consider. 

[00:14:03] Torie: Would you sell the business later? Maybe you shouldn’t name it, your name, maybe, maybe you should make it something that, you know, would be a sellable idea. Like these are all different things for your name that you probably should think about. And again, like the domain and new competition is really big ones.

I’ve seen people name their business, very similar to another business because their heart was set on it. But you’re not only making it hard on you, you’re making it hard on the other company and all of your customers. And that’s just not cool. 

[00:14:35] Sean: It’s hard to be unique nowadays, like super, super unique. Cause it seems like almost everything is already taken, but you can’t let that discourage you. You can get creative still and, and it’s okay if somebody winds up having the same or similar name, but like they’re nowhere near you or it’s a different industry or something like that. But if it’s the same area, same industry, like they got, sorry, like they’d beat you to it. Think of something else. Right? Like even if it’s your name. 

[00:15:16] Torie: You know what? Okay. So when we moved to Georgia, because I still had, I have a corporation for my business and I still have the corporation in North Carolina, and I wanted to just name it the same name in Georgia. And they said, no, you can’t have two corporations with the same name in two different states.

And I needed them to overlap anyway. And so I was like Mathis Media. That would be great. Now tell me, are you trying to think. But, you know, I had to do the research and go look for it. And somebody already has Mathis Media Inc. Pretty much Mathis has anything I wanted. They had to, you know, kind of do something which was fine.

But this is the research that you really have to do even. If you think it is just a hobby business, which, you know, I hate that. If it’s going to be your business, it’s going to be your business and you need to be serious and professional about it. And you can’t just think that you’re gonna, you know, randomly pick some name for your hobby business that you can just roll with.

Like, you need to make sure that you legally can use it. And that, again, you’re not having infringing on anybody else’s rights because that’s not cool. 

[00:16:26] Sean: It was like trying to think of a name for the museum. Rudel. It was difficult to, to think of something that wasn’t already taken, like anything that classic and memory and automotive car, like it almost every version of it that it exists.

Unless you start getting into like Mathis Automotive Museum. And I knew I didn’t want to go that route because I didn’t want it actually named that.

But then we ended up finding Miles Through Time, which was neat and unique. But at the same time, it’s also similar to another museum. 

[00:17:10] Torie: But luckily the other museum is kind of in a different industry. So, I mean, you wouldn’t get the two of them confused. So we figured because they were different enough. Like there’s no way that you would accidentally go to the wrong do the other one. So. I mean, things can be similar. You just got to not be so similar that you get confused with them. Cause that’s kind of Dick. I don’t like that. So is there any other, if you could go back, is there any other research that you wish you would have done that you weren’t able to? 

[00:17:43] Sean: I think if you’ve got a brick and mortar business, Which I’ve never had experience in before, but that, there’s a reason why they say location, location, location. I get it’s super. 

[00:17:57] Torie: So. And you can’t just go by what the realtor says or what somebody says like, yeah, I agree. You really need to. Do your research on that, and you can’t assume like if you have a Mexican restaurant and there’s a Mexican restaurant down the street that you can just open a Mexican restaurant down there, like you got, gotta do your own research.

Don’t just make assumptions for things to think that it’s okay. Because sometimes that does. 

[00:18:21] Sean: Now without getting too technical and stuff like there, some industries that are going to require various licenses and permits or whatever the case may be, and that varies. Sometimes by county. 

[00:18:36] Torie: It does, like some counties are a lot more expensive to do things the personal property tax. Like that’s something to look out in your county because like that can be a really big difference. Even like when you were going to do sales and w what is it called that you did like it, wasn’t your car that you were selling? Great. So in doing consignment, you would think that that would be something really easy to just be doing because it’s not your cars, but no, that’s not true.

Like Sean had to go through all of this training and said all this money to be certified and then all this extra money every month. And it’s really, really expensive. Plus you had to have your own phone line and you’re like, there were all these crazy things that you had to do just to be able to sell cars and like legally.

It seems like there’s a lot of people that might sell cars illegally, but like, these are things that you really need to research to see what the, like, if there’s rules like that, because sometimes it’s easy to think, oh, there’s all these people that are doing it. And just assume that it’s going to be easy.

And then you get in there because especially when you’re starting. I personally think like, if, if you don’t just have bags of cash, like you gotta make sure that your overhead isn’t going to eat up every single bit of profit you have and stuff like all this extra licensing and things like that. Like you gotta be prepared for that.

Cause that’s going to be a whole different issue with your cashflow. And that could be a game changer for your business. 

[00:20:04] Sean: In online business. If you’re trying to sell something. You need to build some sort of an audience, like you’re not going to be able to just open up your online business and be like, oh, turn the lights on and they all come in like, like slides to a light. I get it doesn’t work that way. So you’re going to have to prepare for there to be some time to take. To build up that following or list or whatever it is that they even know you even. 

[00:20:34] Torie: Right. I think there’s two things there. There’s the herd, like the people that you need to make sure that people have heard of you, so you need to build your herd. And the other thing is that like, people need to trust you. Like you need to look and be trustworthy that know like, and trust that we talk about all the time and when you’re first starting out, you know, and you put your first thing up for sale. Like you don’t look trustworthy and it takes a little bit of time to do that.

And so when you’re looking at somebody else that’s selling, you know, all these coffee mugs or, you know, what courses or whatever it is that they’re selling, like they didn’t start where they’re at right now. They had to start building that trust too. And you don’t know where they came from. Maybe they brought that trust online from a brick and mortar store.

Like you really don’t know where they came from. So you can’t make assumptions. About just looking at some other business and thinking, you know, they did it. I can, I think you can do it. You just need to realize that you don’t know what resources they came with, but everybody’s resourceful and you’re resourceful.

And just doing some of this due diligence and doing some of this recon work is just going to make you so much more prepared to be successful. So biggest advice that you would give somebody that is going to start with.

[00:21:53] Sean: Yes. Advice. 

[00:21:54] Torie: Like biggest piece of advice, like one piece of advice that you think would make a really big difference for somebody that’s thinking about starting a business. 

[00:22:03] Sean: I would say 10, not thinking too hard because it’s really easy to then overthink get overwhelmed and do absolutely nothing. You take it in those little sections, you know, start with the name and move on to something else and let it just grow. Instead of thinking, you’ve got to do all these different things all at once, and then you go out there and you’re like, now I’m open. Just get a name. Get a website and say, you’re open. And then start doing, I start with the landing page type website and add more pages as you need them. You don’t have to do this grandiose thing and have that huge expert, like you’re brand new.

You should almost kind of look like you’re brand new and continue to, to make it better and better and better, but don’t worry about it being perfect and everything you want from the very beginning. Now, even if it’s a brick and mortar business, like it’s probably not going to have all the furnishings inside there that you like, unless you’re taking a loan out or have a ton of money already, but, and over time, you’re going to add more pictures and stuff on tables or whatever the case may be.

Don’t let that kind of stuff holds you back. Just, just do it. Like if you’ve got that idea and you did a little bit of recon work, go for it. If it fails, try again, try something different. But if you waiting for something to be perfect before you ever actually do it, you probably will never do it. Or you will have wasted so much time and money to then do it for it to fail. Like that deaf people commit suicide over that kind of stuff. Like don’t, you don’t need to go down that kind of route. So just go for it.

[00:24:06] Torie: You know, that really goes with what my advice would be which is to not have your heart set so strongly and go so narrow minded on one thing and allow the business to grow a little bit organic. I don’t like, you still have to have like that main focus. Of what you’re going to do. So you don’t do shiny object, right. And don’t get, you know, go off on all those things and not finish one thing. However, start where you’re at right now. Don’t go too far and spend too much money or too much getting it.

Perfect. And getting it and being so stringent, you know, don’t spend $10,000 on your first website with a hundred thousand pages before you even launch your business or say, you’re open. Like, don’t go that far because then you feel so invested in something. So like, you know specifically. That it feels hard it feels hard to pivot or hard to maneuver yourself. You know, that wiggle, you might talk about, you got to leave yourself a little bit of wiggle room and not have your heart set so strongly. Because 95% of businesses have to pivot in one way or another. Like you’re probably going to have to pivot a little. Yeah. You know, Amazon started selling books. Like if Jeff Bezos was like, no, I’m selling books, books, books, books, I will never sell anything else. Like he wouldn’t have been where he is that. And he still is selling books. Like if that’s his love. And he was like my whole life, I want to sell books. He’s still selling books, but he couldn’t have stayed so hard on just that thing.

Yeah. You look at like Steve jobs got fired from his business. He still went and did other stuff, like imagine if he was like, but that’s my business. It’s my whole life. Like he could have never did anything. Again, and then he ended up coming back to it, right. Because that’s what he went and did while the Pixar Dreamworks.

Is that the same thing they go together at some time? I don’t know. No, no, 

[00:26:08] Sean: I don’t know they didn’t. 

[00:26:11] Torie: So because of that, because he was forced to pivot like all these other wonderful things happened and then he came back to it. Like, you never know what’s going to happen. And it’s probably that first idea you had, isn’t going to be the one, but that’s what makes it cool.

You know, Sean is not a car salesman. Woo with a museum on the side. No, he has a museum, you know, and then that’s the direction it’s going. I’m not, you know, printing every day and, you know, huge jobs because that’s just not where I was supposed to be. And I let it be a little. No wiggle room. Goodness. You know, sometimes your original idea isn’t the final destination, but you still have to have like those far end big goals and you still have to keep going one step one, step one, step one step.

And every once in a while you think it’s going to be a left step it’s a right step. Still take the step, like keep on going forward. That’s how you get. So, if you liked this episode, why don’t you leave us a review or you can subscribe to our channel because we would love that. And wherever you’re watching this, you can give us a like and we hope that we’ll see you on the next episode.

Get smart tools to build your business, go to getsmartaf.com.

About Digital Marketing Expert Torie Mathis

Torie Mathis helps entrepreneurs, like you, use digital marketing to grow your business without wasting time, money, or your sanity.  She is a best-selling author, Army veteran, speaker + trainer, and your digital marketing coach. You don't need crazy tech skills, buckets of cash, or dedicated staff to market your business. In fact, you don't even need a lot of time. What you need is to be SMART.

Torie hosts SMART AF, a show for non-techy entrepreneurs looking to grow their business, with her husband Sean and is the creator of SMART AF Magazine. Learn from Torie at the Smart Arsenal and on her channel.

hi im torie
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You don’t need crazy tech skills, buckets of cash, or dedicated staff to market your business. You don’t even need a lot of time.

What you need is to be SMART.

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Hi! I'm Torie!

Torie Mathis HeadshotI help entrepreneurs (like you) use digital marketing to get more clients + to make more money. And I make it easy! 

You don’t need crazy tech skills, buckets of cash, or dedicated staff to market your business. You don’t even need a lot of time.

What you need is to be SMART.


from your Digital Marketing Coach Torie Mathis!

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