A practical guide to starting your small business or side hustle

When we have the pleasure of working with a new client who has a budding new business idea, we usually find ourselves returning to the same “getting started checklist”.

Depending on your business type and where you are on your journey, then this list can sometimes include subtle differences. However, this is our most general starting point (and we’ll mention special cases along the way!). Once we’ve checked everything off the list, then we can put your business online!


Choose a brand name and buy a domain name

Almost everyone thinks of their brand name first, so hopefully this one will be easy. Once you have your brand name then we can start thinking about buying a domain name. If you are lucky, then the perfect domain address may be available and waiting – but, don’t worry if it isn’t. There’s plenty of creative ways to get a great domain name that looks good and is easy to communicate to your customers.

When deciding on a domain name consider the following key factors;

  • Does it clearly identify your brand?
  • Is it easy to communicate verbally?
  • Bonus: Can you get a familiar Top Level Domain (TLD) like .COM or .CO.UK?

Tips for choosing a domain name

Still not sure how to choose the right domain name, or struggling to come up with an alternative because your ideal choice is taken? Read our tips for choosing an awesome domain name


Logos & Branding

You’ll need a logo to go on your website, email footer, customer invoices, etc. The colours, font and style of your new logo will lead to your “branding guidelines”. This is a standard practise that ensures your brand seamlessly runs through everything visible to the outside world.

There are a couple of choices here;

  • The DIY option, Looka.com
    • This is a great starting point. Do this before you do anything else! All you have to do is enter a few details and Looka will generate an endless stream of branding and logo ideas. And, there’s no purchase necessary until you are ready to commit.
    • If you decide to go ahead then you can get high resolution image files for web and print for about $65 (£56) and they allow you unlimited changes thereafter. There are also bigger packages that give you even more assets (images for your social media, products, clothing, etc)
  • Graphic Designer option
    • We specialise in the “building” of websites, but when we need creative input then we go to one of our talented graphic designers whom we regularly co-work projects with. We’ll ensure that you get the highest quality and at a competitive price by working with one of our recommended graphic designers and we’ll even host the introduction. This option is best for a tailored logo based completely on your ideas

What do you do? (Products & Services)

This step is purely formalising the type of product or service you intend to sell to customers. Also, if you have a strategy to promote your products and services in mind, then we’ll want to know this too.

There are so many options to get your business online – a bespoke WordPress system, an enterprise Umbraco CMS solution, a social only setup (no website!), the list goes on and on. Our findings here will help us decide the approach and what type of solution best fits you.

Example: A bakery side hustle

Let’s illustrate with an example. You run a small baking operation as a side hustle and you promote it using social media and sell products via cash orders. Your products are cakes and small baked goods, but you also offer a bake to order service.

That’s all we need! From that short statement we can see that you need a solution that is easy to operate yourself. Time and usability is important to the solution as you are looking to grow a side hustle and need an efficient system that will save time and make your life easier. Your use of social media is a bonus as we can consider a solution that integrates this side of things, automatically pushing products to your social channels.

Shopify is a popular solution that would be a great fit for this scenario. You can manage all of your products and take payments via the website for a low monthly fee. As you’re just starting out, We can customise a starter-theme (£150) instead of building a website from scratch to keep things cost effective. We can always create something more bespoke in the future or include a few certain aspects of bespoke features where your budget allows. Shopify also automatically adds your products to your social channels, allowing you to create posts that promote products and link straight to your website.

You also have an option to buy a Point of Sale (POS) device, so that when you go to fayres or are selling face to face you can take card payments.

Basic Content

Before we can start putting the website together we’re going to need to get some initial content to put on it. I’ll break it down into 2 categories of must-have and nice-to-have;

Must have (the bare minimum):

  • Products. This ties in to the above somewhat, but here we’ll want photos of specific products and services, prices, etc
  • Contact details (maybe just an email address and an online form, a physical address too if you service face to face)
  • Homepage is an obvious one and usually puts itself together based on the message from the rest of the content – lovely!
  • Photos. Lot’s of Photos! Imagery is so important to supporting the message of a page and keeping the reader engaged.

Nice to have:

  • “About us” page – talk about your brand and yourself a little bit, customers will be interested!
  • Blog pages – Optional, but writing articles about your brand’s area promote your search ranking and help customers find you
website on laptop

Website inspiration

Now we just need to figure out what we want the website to look like and how we want to present the content. Usually, you will have an idea of what you want your website to look like. Or, sometimes what not to look like. This can be anything from just a feeling or vibe and depending on this it can sometimes be a tricky subject to pin down!

I always recommend looking around the web at websites you really like. Sometimes you may have one particular website in mind or several with different parts you like from each. But, having a visual reference that we can sit down together and point at increases the chances we will get onto the same page quicker.

Building your website

As mentioned in the example above, we can use a starter-theme which suits modest budgets. From here we can customise and tweak this starting point to create something unique for your brand. Not only is this option cost effective, but it also offers a quick turn around.

Alternatively, we can be more bespoke where your budget allows to be more expressive and tailored to the ideas you have in mind. Custom features that automate and make your business run more smoothly are ideal for growing effectively. It also makes your life easier!

Ultimately, we want to provide you with the perfect product and at the most competitive price. We will always offer you plenty of options and keep you informed as we proceed, so that you can be a part of and understand the process (if you want to!).

open for business e1666879161693

Open for business

We’ll do our very best to get you into a position where not only are you up and running, but also able to do all of the everyday stuff yourself. Although we want you to be able to comfortably manage your new system on your own, that doesn’t mean we leave you there. We will always be on hand to guide you and support your growth along your journey.

Working with new businesses and helping new ideas get of the ground is a real pleasure, so if you have any questions about anything in this article or how you can get started please drop us a message on the contact us page or hit the chat icon to speak to us straight away!

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About the author

I'm Joseph D'Souza, an experienced .NET developer with a speciality in Umbraco and WordPress development. My professional journey began in 2010, when I graduated with a degree in computer science. Since then, I've navigated the web development world, honing my skills as a full-stack developer across front-end, back-end, and database design.Today, I'm proud to be the Director of Alpha Labs, a leading web development firm based in High Wycombe. I use my broad expertise in various web development technologies to deliver high-quality, user-centric web solutions, setting Alpha Labs apart in this fast-paced digital world.

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