Deciding to start your own business can sometimes feel like a roller-coaster; overwhelming and scary at times, but for the most part, exhilarating. I suggest buckling up, screaming when it's appropriate, and throwing your hands in the air. It's an exciting adventure! Here are a few more steps to help make your business start-up a successful experience.
No matter if you are selling hunting gear or animal rights posters, all businesses have one thing in common: they start from an idea. You may have dreamed of starting your own business for years, or inspiration may have hit you unexpectedly. Regardless of the source, the first step of starting your own business is coming up with a business idea.
Do Your Research
You've identified your big idea, now it's time to balance it with a little reality. The research you conduct in your small business start-up process will help you figure out if your business idea has potential.
In order for a small business to be successful, it must solve a problem, fulfill a need or offer something the market wants. Some of the questions you should answer in your market research include:
-Is there a need for your anticipated products/services?
-Who needs it?
-Are there other companies offering similar products/services now?
-What is the competition like?
-How will your business fit into the market?
Make a Plan
In order to make your business idea a reality, you need a plan. If you intend to seek financial support from an investor or financial institution, a formal written business plan is a must. Even if you don't plan to seek financial support, a business plan will help give you clarity about what you want to do and how you plan to do it.
Your business plan should outline business goals and the motivation behind them, as well as your plan for reaching your goals in terms of marketing and funding. In your business plan, you should think relatively long-term - what is your intent?
Plan Your Finances
Starting a small business doesn't have to require a lot of money, but it will involve some initial investment. There are a number of ways you can fund your small business, including:
-Small business loans
-Small business grants
You can also attempt to get your business off the ground by bootstrapping, using as little capital as necessary to start your business.
Choose a Business Structure
Your small business can be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation. The business structure you choose will impact many factors from your business name, to the liability, to how you file your taxes.
You may choose an initial business structure, and then re-evaluate and change your structure as your business grows and needs change.
Pick and Register Your Business Name
The name of your business plays a big role in almost every aspect of your business, so pick a good one (no pressure!). Make sure you think of all the potential implications as you explore your options. I suggest thinking long and hard about your business name and making sure it makes sense phonetically.
Once you have chosen a name for your business, you will need to check if it's trademarked or currently in use. Then, it's time to register it. A sole proprietor must register their business name with either their state or county clerk. Corporations, LLCs, or limited partnerships typically register their business name when the formation paperwork is filed.
Don't forget to register your domain name afterwards!
Get Licenses and Permits
Paperwork is a part of the process when you start your own business. There are a variety of small business licenses and permits that may apply to your situation, depending on the type of business you are starting and where you are located. You will need to research what licenses and permits apply to your business during the startup process.
Up Your Business Location
Setting up your place of business is important for the operation of your business, whether you will have a home office, a shared or private office space, or a retail location.
You will need to think about your location, equipment, and overall setup, and make sure your business location works for the type of business you will be doing.
Small businesses run most effectively when there are systems in place. One of the most important systems for a small business is an accounting system.
Your accounting system is necessary in order to create and manage your budget, set your rates, conduct business with others, and file your taxes. You can set up your accounting system yourself, or hire an accountant to take away some of the guesswork.
Completing these business start-up activities will help you cover all of the bases and make good decisions so you have success as a small business owner.
Buckle up! Starting your own business is an exciting process and you've already made the first big step. Congrats!