Starting your own business is a big and daunting task. Just ask any entrepreneur or business owner and they’ll tell you that setting up a business requires lots of work. There are undoubtedly many benefits to owning a small business. However, to become a successful business owner requires patience, hard work, vision, and commitment. Having an idea for a small business is not enough. You need to put in some serious effort to turn your idea into a reality. Some of the tasks like naming the business and creating a logo are quite obvious. However, there is much to starting a business than just naming it! Here is a 10 step guide that covers all that is required to start a successful business.
Do Market Research for Your Idea
If you’re looking to start a new business, you probably already have an idea of what business you want to do. But it’s not enough to have an idea in mind. You also need to know the market you want to target and the value of your idea. Do a thorough research on your target market, how your idea will be received, what needs your business fulfills and what services you will offer to the customers. Researching your potential clients involves conducting surveys, researching SEO and public data and holding focus groups. If your business sells something other companies don’t or if you can deliver the same product but quickly and cheaper, consider yourself ready to set up a business plan.
Write a Business Plan
Writing down a business plan is one of the most important steps in launching a business. A well-written business plan answers many questions like the purpose of your business, the service you provide, your target audience, long-term goals, startup costs, and financial credibility. A business plan is a sort of blueprint that guides your business right from the start-up to establishment and eventually business growth. A detailed, clear, precise, and professional business plan is a must if you’re seeking financial help or loan from a bank or an investor.
Gather Your Finances
The amount of start-up capital you require depends on the type and scale of your business. Staring a small business may not require a large investment. But it will still require some initial investment and capital to cover ongoing expenses before you start earning a profit. It is better to estimate the costs of start up and initial business expenses. Evaluate your finances and see if you have enough to cover your estimated costs and more. If your startup requires significant funding, you should consider finding an investor or taking a loan from SBA.
Decide a Business Structure
Once you assess your finances, the next step is to register your business. However, before registering your company, it is better to determine the legal business structure of your company. Your business can be a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation. The business entity you chose affects many factors like the name of your business, your liability, how you file your taxes, roles of different team members, etc. If you want to separate personal liability from company’s liability, you should consider incorporating your business. If you’re still confused about the structure of your business, you should probably find a good consultancy like Corporate Direct to help you out.
Register Your Business Name
It is extremely important to register your business name before launching a business. Corporations will need an ‘Articles of Incorporation’ document. This includes the name, purpose, corporate structure, stock details and other information about your business. Otherwise you will need to simply register your name with the government. Find out what licenses and permits you will require and start applying for them. After you register your business, you may need to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. Also known as the Tax Identification Number, this number helps the IRS keep track of your business for tax purposes. If your company needs any trademarks or patents filed, this is the time to do so.
Get Insured From the Beginning
This is one step that budding entrepreneurs often forget in their haste to start a new business. Planning for every contingency is a sign of a good businessman. Even if your business is not launched yet, you should still insure it for any future problems like property damage or theft. If your business requires employees, you will, at least need to purchase workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. You may also need other types of coverage depending on your location and industry. If your business is providing a service, you should also consider professional liability insurance. This insurance will cover you in case you do something wrong or neglect to provide a service that you should have given while operating your business.
Assemble Your Team
Once you register your business and set up a good location for use, you should start assembling your team. If you’re going to work alone, you need not worry much about this step. However, if you need a team of employees you should start the interviews now. You should make identifying your future team, defining roles and responsibility, and figuring out how to communicate with them your top priority. It is important to give the people in your team the same attention you would give your products.
Manage Your Finance and Accounting
Once your business is up and running, you will need to handle the daily accounting and finances of the business. Set up some basic accounting documents for your business like balance sheets, income and cash flow statements, ledgers, etc. Select good accounting software and keep your books updated on a daily basis. It is also important to understand your business tax requirements and fulfilling them regularly. Also, take care that you don’t spend too much money on unnecessary things as this might eat up your budget quickly.
Advertise and Promote Your Business
Your launch and first sales are just the beginning not the end! In order to keep making profits and staying afloat, you need to keep growing and advancing your business. Collaborating with noted brands in your industry, advertising, and promoting your business can help you grow better. Approaching influential bloggers for promotion or donating time or products to charities can also help you get your name out there! Keep looking for new ideas to improve and expand your business. If things are not going according to plan, be prepared to adjust to the situation. It may take some time, effort, and hard work but the result will be very fruitful indeed!