Want to start your own business? Here's what you can expect.
The barriers to entrepreneurship have never been lower, meaning anyone with an idea and some grit has the resources right at his/her fingertips to get started. No longer does it take an extensive amount of capital to get up and running – there are plenty of business ideas that require little to no initial investment and plenty of resources on how to do it right.
The biggest questions prospective entrepreneurs ask are
- How do I start a new business?
- What’s the best and least expensive way to get started?
- How do I know what I don’t know?
There are numerous things I wish I knew when I started my business all outlined in this free PDF: 5 Things You Must Know About Running Your Business.
Here are the 10 milestones prospective entrepreneurs should expect in order to set themselves up for success
1. Begin With Research
Planning a successful business launch requires a realistic evaluation of your business idea. This step puts your business through a reality-based testing process that will help you know if your business is needed. It involves asking some fundamental questions.
- Does the market really need your product/service?
- What type of customer are you targeting? If you don't yet know, grab this free Buyer Persona template.
- Are other competitors providing this service?
- Assess the level of competition in the market. Who has the most market share, meaning the companies snatching up the most business? What are they doing right?
- What gaps are there in the industry?
- How will your business fit in the larger business environment?
2. Plan Your Business
As you plan your business, research what it will take to lay the right foundation in your business. The most important aspect of this step is to give your business a strong purpose in terms of what the mission and vision are for your business and exactly what you aim to accomplish. Aim and purpose will drive all efforts, including networking, marketing, and operations.
Perhaps the most important step here is setting an action plan for your business. This includes what objectives you want to achieve in the short and long term.
It also includes aspects related to financing such as
- Anticipated expenditure
- Initially desired profit
- Source of start-up capital
3. Plan Your Finances
Financial planning involves calculating the initial amount of money that goes into starting your business. This includes expenses such as licensing, market research, marketing, property leasing, etc. In addition to that, you'll also need to calculate other expenses such as traveling, renting, employee salaries, etc.
Most importantly, decide how you'll finance your business. Some options include:
- Bootstrapping - using only the savings you've built up
- Small business loans
- Small business grants
- Angel Investors
4. Structure Your Business
Your business structure refers to the type of business entity you intend to build. This means your business will either be a corporation, sole proprietorship, partnership, or a limited liability. This will impact important factors like taxes, your company’s name, and your personal liability as the owner.
Personally, I hired an attorney to help me walk through this process and I recommend you seek out professional assistance from someone with an expertise in structuring a legal entity.
5. Choose and Register Your Business’s Name
Out of all the startup steps, naming my business was the hardest. To pinpoint your business's name, consider the following:
- What do you do and who do you do it for?
- Stand in the mirror and pretend like you're introducing yourself as the founder of your business. How does it feel?
- Has the name been taken by someone else?
- What would your name look like in a URL?
- Is the URL for your name already taken?
- If your name is too long, your URL might be too. Think ahead about all the places your business name will be written, like email addresses, a Facebook page, and on business cards.
Once you choose your name, you'll need to register for it. LLCs, corporations and partnerships usually register their company’s name when the paperwork for formation is filed.
6. Business Licensing and Permits
Businesses, industries, and even states vary with what licensing and permits are required for operation. Contact your city's business license department. Some licenses and permits that may be required to operate are as follows:
- Fire department permit
- Sign permit
- County permit
- State licenses
- Sales tax license
- Health department permit
7. Establish an Accounting System For Your Business
The accounting system is the backbone of a business's financial health. The #1 reason businesses fail is because they run out of cash, so it's imperative that tracking money in and money out is a top priority in your business. The right accounting system will help you manage the various financial aspects of your business such as invoicing, budgeting, and tax filing.
In the beginning, you may be able to manage the accounting side of your business by yourself, but make sure to keep receipts, make careful notes, check in quarterly or more often, and know the laws and guidelines before taking on this crucial responsibility.
As your business grows or if you want to be extra certain to keep this responsibility in order, hiring an accountant to manage this aspect of the business could very likely be a wise investment and one that will more than pay for the cost. You'll find great tips in this free PDF, 9 Things Smart Entrepreneurs Do from my lessons learned from running a business.
8. Decide The Location Of Your Business
Deciding the location of your business depends on various factors such as what kind of company you are running, what kind of customers you want to target, what part of the city you want your business to be located in.
More and more people are choosing to work from home or from a coworking space, which both come with plenty of advantages.
Be warned, renting an office space may not be necessary to begin your business while you're initially striving to drive revenue. Think seriously about selecting an office space unless you absolutely need it because monthly rent and utilities add up quickly and can quickly drain savings or initial investments unless it produces a solid return on investment.
9. Staff Your Business
Consider whether you'll need staff to run your business. If you are going for the usual hiring process, you should take the help of a Human Resources service so that you can shortlist candidates, legally manage employees with regard to laws, and have someone in your corner if you need help. I love HR Fit for this purpose.
As you prepare to hire, consider which positions are absolutely necessary to get started. What skill sets will you look for? It's very likely you'll need to "work a position" until you can drive enough revenue to step aside long enough to solely manage the operations.
Independent contractors are a great option for getting started, but like anything, be sure to do your research to make sure this option is appropriate for your needs to avoid legal trouble.
If you have found a small business on a shoestring budget, going the "solopreneur" route might be the best option until you have proof of concept and enough revenue to justify hiring.
10. Market Your Business
It's difficult to summarize in just a few paragraphs how impactful marketing will be to your overall success and profitability. Here are three key recommendations for marketing a fresh, new business:
- Plan ahead! Don't wait until you open your doors to begin marketing your business. The benefits of marketing are closely correlated with "seed planting" and repetitive touch points, which take weeks or months, not days.
- All marketing messages should only focus on your target market - their needs, pains, wants, and challenges. We have an easy-to-use spreadsheet to help you develop your Buyer Personas so you can craft a message that resonates deeply with the people best fit for your product or service. Download it and reach out if you have any questions.
- Understand that customers will go through a psychological process of deciding to buy from you. It's important to develop rapport by informing customers about the values your business holds as well as what you do and why before you ask for the sale. For more on this, read our post on 3 Secrets About the Sales Cycle that Increase Conversion.
You can't drive revenue without customers, and marketing will help you do that. Marketing your business involves charting out a plan. As you craft your marketing messages, think about your unique competitive advantage, what sets your business apart from your competition, what customers need to hear at the different stages of The Sales Cycle, and what need, plain, want, or challenge your product or service solves.
Develop a multichannel marketing strategy
Social media is important, but it's only one slice of your "marketing pie." Consider other marketing options, such as search engines like YouTube and Pinterest, email marketing, networking, organic search strategy, and maintaining an active Google My Business listing.
Tools for marketing your business
- 25 Idea for Marketing Your Business (Aside from Social Media)
- Brand Style Guide Template
- Buyer Persona Template
- On-Page SEO Basics
- Tips and Templates for Managing Customer Reviews
You've got this!
Establishing a business takes a lot of grit, commitment, delayed gratification, and determination. Once you've done your research and developed a plan you feel confident in, take one step forward, then another, then another, and go crush your goals!
My goal in every post is to make the most of your precious time and pack these articles with insanely actionable content. Have I done that for you today? I'd love to hear your feedback. Contact me or comment below.
And please do me a little favor and share this post with one other person because there's a good chance it will help them with their business.
Your business matters. Now go do something awesome in the world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, FRANCIE
Hi there and WELCOME! I'm Francie. There's something you should know... When my feet hit the floor every morning, my soul is on fire to help people start, grow, and market the profitable and successful business they dream about.
I started this business, Simply Integrated, in 2015 and have fallen madly in love with teaching small business owners how to run their companies more successfully and marketing to impact bottom line profitability.
My knowledge and experience comes from earning an MBA and from coaching small business entrepreneurs while managing and marketing their projects. I focus solely on business strategy and marketing and created this blog to help others run more successful businesses. If you’re interested, you can read more about me on the About page of Simply Integrated’s website.
THE SIMPLY INTEGRATED TEAM WOULD LOVE TO DESIGN YOUR COMPANY'S MARKETING STRATEGY
If it turns out we’re a good fit to work together, I’d love to help drive customers to your business and positively impact your bottom line. Get in touch for a free consultation. To get in touch, use this contact form, email us at hello@SimplyIntegratedLLC.com, or call/text us at 309-431-2266.
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