As a kid growing up in Brooklyn I always wanted to start a business but lacked the confidence, resources and support to make it happen. Despite my setbacks, I never stopped dreaming. I spent my career supporting entrepreneurs and business owners as a banker, teacher and public servant, and knew that I could do more. So I started Progress Playbook, a learning and business service platform for entrepreneurs. We believe that anyone who has a dream to build a business that will benefit the world should have step-by-step support along their journey.
Below are the resources and steps I took to start Progress Playbook:
Build an audience
Create a business plan
Establish your brand
I quit my job
Land your first customer
Set up your business foundation
Tell as many people as possible about your new business
Secure more clients
Expand on your brand assets
Hire others to support you
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Form x-s01 for Sole proprietorships
1. Build an audience
I knew that I wanted to start a business education company, so I started building my audience years before I launched Progress Playbook. I built relationships with entrepreneurs, service providers, organizations and anyone who wanted to talk about business. I built my audience largely by organizing Meetup groups, sending out business newsletters using Constant Contact. teaching business classes and always finding ways to help others. These activities and others helped me to build an audience with hundreds of people and establish my personal brand before launching my business.
2. Create a business plan
I am a planner by nature, so I created several mini (1-5 pages) business plans that mapped out my mission, customer profiles, customer problems, solutions, product phases, potential revenue streams and my marketing & sales approach.
3. Establish your brand
Once I had my business idea and plan in place, I had to come up with a business name. I landed on Progress Playbook, because it was catchy and represented the entrepreneurship journey of making continuous progress. I purchased the Progress Playbook domain name on Hostmonster and also secured the name on all social media platforms, including, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I then hired a graphic designer to create my logo, built my website on Squarespace and used Canva for design support.
4. I quit my job
After five years of working for the Department of Small Business Services and Grant Associates, managing one of their business service centers- NYC Business Solutions, I decided to quit my job. My workload was becoming more and more demanding and all I could ever think about was starting my own business. With the push of a few friends, I finally made the decision to quit my job and give my notice to my boss. I was terrified but excited about what was possible.
Because I had a great relationship with my manager, I was able to negotiate working part time for five months while I worked on my business. I also had about three months of living expenses saved and had a few teaching gigs lined up that provided consistent income.
5. Land your first customer
Interestingly, one month after I quit my job, a former colleague asked if I would be interested in being a consultant for The Actors Fund to design an entrepreneurship program for performing artist and entertainment professionals. I said, YES immediately. After a few interviews with the Actors Fund, I landed my first client, and worked with them to design the Creative Entrepreneurship Program.
My initial business plan did not account for working with organizations to design entrepreneurship and business programs but I adjusted my plan based on this new need I found in the marketplace.
6. Set up your business foundation
In order to work on my first project I had to get some things squared away. I went to the County Clerks office and registered my business as a sole proprietorship in Kings County (aka Brooklyn - my home and favorite place), because it was the easiest and least expensive legal structure to set up. We eventually switched over to an LLC a year later. I then applied for a EIN number on IRS.gov, opened up a business bank account with Chase and applied for a business credit card. I was officially in business. :)
7. Tell as many people as possible about your new business
I gave myself a goal to close six customers in my first six months of business. I set up three to five meetings every week with people in my network that I thought could help me. I shared my vision and told them that I was looking for clients and support.
8. Secure more clients
The meetings paid off and I was able to secure six clients in my first six months of business. My contacts referred me to several organizations, many of whom were looking for support in designing and executing entrepreneurship and business programs.
9. Expand on your brand assets
After months of going to meetings and business events and not having a business card to give out, a colleague and friend of mine, designed and ordered my first set of business cards at a local printer. I also signed up for gmail suites and google voice to get a professional business email address and business number.
10. Hire others to support you
I work harder now then I have ever worked before. As a solopreneur I was responsible for everything, including securing and servicing clients, developing products, business planning, bookkeeping, networking and the list goes on.
To alleviate some of the workload, I hired a virtual assistant on Upwork who supported me for 10-15 hours a week to handle the tasks that I needed to let go of, like, scheduling, invoicing, research, CRM management, email marketing and other administrative tasks.
We have supported over 1,000 entrepreneurs, small business owners and organizations in NYC through our programs and services over the last 3 years. Our goal is to continue to grow by deepening our relationships and programs across the city, and expanding into new verticals, such as online classes and new innovative learning experiences.
Meetup is a platform used to organize online groups that host in-person events for people with similar interests.
Constant Contact is a online marketing company that provides email marketing services.
HostMonster is a hosting solution for businesses that allows you to secure a domain (URL) name and host your website.
Squarespace provides software as a service for website building and hosting. Its customers use pre-built website templates and drag and drop elements to create webpages.
Canva is a graphic-design tool website, founded in 2012. It uses a drag-and-drop format and provides access to over a million photographs, graphics, and fonts. It is used by non-designers as well as professionals. The tools can be used for both web and print media design and graphics.
The X-s01 is a legal form If you are starting a business as a sole proprietor or partnership in New York City.
Chase is a leading commercial bank that provides business banking services, such as business back accounts and credit cards.
G Suites is a brand of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools, software and products
Google Voice is a telephony service that provides call forwarding and voicemail services, voice and text messaging, as well as U.S. and international call termination for Google Account customers in the U.S. and Canada.
Upwork is a global freelancing platform where businesses and independent professionals connect and collaborate remotely. In 2015, Elance-oDesk was rebranded as Upwork.