Step 1: Choose Your Cause
This is BY FAR the most important part. You MUST choose a cause that is important to you personally. There will be times when business gets tough and you just feel like throwing in the towel. It’s just part of the game. When taking steps to start something that a very small percentage of people are willing to go through, there will be unforeseen challenges and not many people to turn to for answers. The cause, purpose, and your collaborative relationships will oftentimes push you over those hurdles and help you navigate through the tough times. The more support, the better!
A good place to start looking for a non-profit partner: https://www.guidestar.org/NonprofitDirectory.aspx
Step 2: Choose Your Businesses Name
Once you have decided on a cause, you can start researching key words within your niche. You want your name to assist in educating people on the purpose of the brand and also should be visually appealing to your particular audience. Researching similar brands, fonts, designs, and styles to come up with an idea board and then begin to refine. It is always wise to do a google search for the names that interest you; this will help determine the types of businesses and people associated with the name you end up choosing. The more research you do at this stage, the better.
A good place to research your new brand name and determine if the domain is available: https://www.godaddy.com/
*Tip – Run a Google Search for coupon codes for GoDaddy domains, my wife and I just recently paid .99 cents for her mama’s mugs domain for an entire year of service.
Step 3: Create Logo
Now that you have a general idea of your audience, your cause, and your demographic. It is time to begin creating a logo for your brand. With the abundance of freelance design websites available these days you should have no issues finding a designer that meets your needs. I would suggest creating several versions and utilizing your social media following to fine tune and gain feedback on the design. For a little extra boost during the launch of your brand I highly recommend finding a designer with a large social media following to help create your logo. Not only will you benefit from the experience of someone already running their own business. But, you will also benefit from the established social media following your new designer has built. As you read on you will notice the word collaboration comes up fairly often…
Step 4: Create Social Media Channels – Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, & Etsy
Alright, you have your cause, your name, and your logo dialed in. Now, it’s time to start creating some buzz. In my opinion, the best way to accomplish this is to launch some social media business pages and begin sharing them with your friends and family. This is a very organic and effective way of spreading the word about your new project.
Recommended Channels for Social Impact Businesses: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, SnapChat,
Step 5: Start Producing Products
With all of your new social media channels up and running you’ll want to start creating content to share with all your new followers. Products are by far the best way to do this. What you’ll want to do is create a hand full of products and order the samples. Next you’ll want to create some lifestyle and product photos to begin your marketing. This step will give you endless amounts of material to populate your social media cover photos, image galleries, and eventually your website. Much like the logo, if you were to collaborate with someone who already has a social media following and one that has some skin in the game (meaning they dig your cause) than you will find the organic reach of your first product launch will increase exponentially. That’s not to say you cannot create designs and do the marketing yourself. But, why not utilize an already developed audience with an experienced designer to help boost your initial launch?
Recommended Dropship Fulfillment Centers: Printful, PrintAura, & Merchify
Step 6: Build Website
This is probably my favorite part. Building a website really sets the tone of your brand and will be the first impression for new customers just learning about your project. With all the content you have built up with steps 1-5 you should have plenty of material to populate your website with some lifestyle photos, product images, and an interesting about section to entice visitors to support your cause. I use Big Commerce which has worked great for me. But, there are several other companies with similar products that can have you up and selling products within a couple hours.
Recommended E-Commerce Providers: Big Commerce, Shopify, WooCommerce
Step 7: Develop Relationships
As mentioned is steps 3 & 5, developing collaborative relationships for a small business is a crucial step to creating buzz around your launch. Hands down the most effective way of producing organic visibility is to have both a non-profit partner receiving a percentage of your proceeds. And, to have a designer and brand advocate that already has an established audience interested in your cause. I mean, you could do all that leg work yourself; start a 501c3, spend time and money gaining thousands of followers, go to art school and learn design software, develop educational and community strategies to tackle the issues within your cause… OR, you can do the aforementioned and benefit off of the experience of your new partners. Think about it this way, if you pick up 1 designer/advocate with 10k followers, and a non-profit with another 5k followers, you will already have a really solid targeted audience to market your brand too, and this can all be done prior to your launch. A little footwork at this stage in the game will save you a ton of money, time, and headaches in the first few years of the project.