From 0 to 100: How we launched our business in 3 months

Nicole Steinberg
Oct 17, 2023

So we’ve decided to start our own business. Now what?

I’ll admit, when we first committed to opening a studio, nothing but the above question was echoing in our heads. Sure, we had spent time dreaming up what we wanted the business to be, but how did we go about making it a reality?

When we quit our jobs three months ago, we were both itching to get started, and the question became less about how we would accomplish everything and more about when. With bills to pay and a to-do list a mile long, we set a course for Steinh Studio and took off full steam ahead.

Starting off on the right foot

Before we could get to any of the fun stuff involved with starting a business, we knew we had to get through the boring stuff. Things like determining our processes, drawing up contracts, and figuring out how the hell we go about doing our taxes. While not the most glamorous of tasks, we understood that putting in the work early on would set us up for success in the future.

We checked off the dullest to-dos from our list first. We jumped through all the government hoops of making sure our company was properly registered, set up a CRA business account, and went to the bank more times than we care to think about. Invoices, contracts, and software subscriptions were all quickly taken care of so we could keep moving forward.

Next, we started thinking about how we wanted the studio to operate. We came from jobs with either too many or too few processes surrounding onboarding clients, so we were eager to figure out what would work best for us. We put together thorough discovery documents that would help us get to know our clients and templated presentations for when we started taking on projects. Throughout all of this, we spent time thinking about who we were as a business—the values that were important to us, the types of clients we wanted to work with, and how we would talk about the work we do. With all of the administrative tasks completed, we were ready to start thinking about our brand.

Building our brand and portfolio

Designing the look and feel for our studio was perhaps the part we were most excited about. It’s not often as designers that you get free reign over a project, so creating a brand from scratch was both a thrilling and daunting task for us.

We spent hours toiling over colour palettes, finding the right typefaces, and digging through countless pages of inspiring websites. We wanted every detail to feel carefully considered and, above all, representative of who we are. This meant that everything from our blog images to our icons needed to be consistent and have some of our personality injected into them.

When it came to our portfolio, we wanted to not only speak to the industries we’d love to work with but also show potential clients exactly what we could offer them. Tia Lola speaks to the storytelling that can be done with a brand and what we can do for businesses in the hospitality industry. Camp CodeBreak shows how we’re able to adjust our thinking to speak to audiences of all ages and immerse ourselves in the world of tech. Burnish Candle Co. is an example of how we can make a brand stand out amongst competition and craft a social presence that connects. Finally, Next Phase displays our understanding that building a strong foundation for a brand means providing a structure that will scale with them over time.

Writing (and re-writing) copy

With the look of our brand nailed down and our portfolio visually realised, we next needed compelling copy to support all of it. Now, David and I consider ourselves to be decent writers, but knowing that this copy was going to be what potentially brought in business made it a whole other beast. 

After a lot of time spent thinking, writing, deleting, re-writing, and just generally sweating over our copy, we had an aha moment. We realised that our brand voice didn’t need to sound like anything other than ourselves. We had established brand values early on, but we knew it wasn’t enough for them to just be listed on our site; they had to be the backbone of our brand voice. These values were chosen because they spoke to the type of business we wanted to run, but also because we genuinely live by them in our everyday lives. We’re curious, hardworking people who love to connect and learn from others, and have a laugh while doing it.

Once we had that epiphany, our case studies fell into place, and the brand started to really feel like what we imagined Steinh to be in our heads. Everything was coming together; there were just a few more things to do before launch.

Dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s

The end of our to-do list was now in sight, but there were still lots of tedious things to be taken care of before the studio could officially enter the world. The last few weeks before launch were a blur of resizing images, setting up social accounts, and writing blogs (like the one you’re reading now). We combed through our site over and over again, searching for bugs, optimising for different screen sizes, and praying not to come across any spelling mistakes.

During this time, we also made an effort to connect with other entrepreneurs to start building a network we could lean on for future projects. While we like to wear many hats, sometimes we’re just not the best people for the job, and that’s okay. So we spoke to other creatives, crafting a list of like-minded people we could bring in or pass work off to when our two-person team wouldn’t cut it.

With three months of hard work now behind us, we had finally reached the end of our seemingly endless to-do list. Now the only thing left to do was to put it all into practice and get started.

Now what?

The question that kicked off this whole process is once again rattling around our brains. But now it’s not a question of uncertainty, but one of excitement for what’s to come. It’s hard to believe that what was once a tiny dream shared between us is now a reality. But the exhaustion and pride we feel from these last three months is just the beginning, and we can’t wait to find out what’s next.

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