By Kasey Kaplan, co-founder and president of Urban FT.
Can you start a company in 48 hours? You bet. You can apply these concepts to companies in almost any industry. Keep in mind, this advice is only on how to get started. As you go, you will need to productize, optimize, upgrade and possibly fund what you initially start with.
Set Up a Legal Entity
First, consider setting up a legal entity like an LLC or C-Corp. If you don't plan on raising venture capital, an LLC is likely fine. Google "incorporation packages" and you'll find plenty of sites that can help. In most states, you also need a registered agent. Many of the incorporation sites can provide this, but it's basically a service that can accept mail on your entity's behalf so you don't expose your personal address.
Buy a Domain
This will encompass your website and email address. Do you need a .com, .io, .co, etc.? It can be difficult to get a .com domain, but in my opinion, it gives your brand more legitimacy. Use sites like GoDaddy.com or Google Domains. I've found that on average, it costs around $12 for the first year.
Set Up Your Email
Once you have a domain, set up an email account. There are a lot of email services, but I prefer Google's Gmail because you can access Google Drive, which is great for organization and collaboration.
If you buy a domain through Google, it's a click of a button to get email set up and costs around $5/month per account. You can also set up aliases and groups, which means if you want a general inquiry to go to hello@[company].com, it won't cost another $5/month -- emails automatically go to your inbox or multiple users' inboxes. Also, having an email with your company's domain gives you credibility and helps keep company-related information in one place.
Create Brand Colors and a Logo
To stand out, you need to establish your brand. It should come across in every medium a consumer interacts with. Pick colors that make sense for your brand. Have at least two: a primary and accent color, used throughout your website.
You also need a logo. Unless you're making your own, consider looking for talent on freelance sites like Fiver to create one. Remember, when working with designers, it's important to give examples and articulate what the logo needs to accomplish. Is the logo horizontal or square? Should it have the company name or be a symbol?
Create Standard Copy
Create a document that holds all the information. Cover things like a short and long description of the company, product/service descriptions, slogans, etc. You're going to have to populate this information time and time again, so it'll save time and keep you organized if it's all in one place.
Set Up Your Website
The complexity of your website depends on the business. For example, an e-commerce business needs more thought around layout than a service business. The good news? There's no need for developers: Sites like Wix make it easy to drag and drop content and create layouts that fit your brand.
Once completed, connect it to your domain. Most template sites give you directions on how to do this, but it generally involves changing the DNS records.
Set Up Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel
One important thing to understand is website performance. By setting up Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel you'll better understand website traffic and will be more effective at targeting audiences once you start using digital ads. Both services are free.
Most website builder sites will give you directions. You'll see how much traffic you're getting, where it's coming from, who's interacting with your site, and track the results of marketing campaigns.
Use Social Media Sites
Using social media is good for general SEO and brand awareness. It can also be an amazing customer acquisition tool. Even if you don't plan on using the medium, make sure you own the username.
Get Your Name Out There
A great way for your brand to be discovered is to get mentioned on third-party sites. Look at industry trade publications and see how you can be featured in them. Whether you're finding sites that list service providers or are providing answers to questions on sites like Quora, all of this makes noise and draws attention.
This is just the start of getting your business up and running, but it is the fun part. You can move fast and get results in almost no time at all. If you have a business idea, now is the time to start.
Kasey Kaplan is the co-founder and president of Urban FT. He drives strategy, innovation, and growth.