10 Steps to Start a Business
A guide to building your business from a simple idea into a successful enterprise…
We previously wrote about how to come up with the perfect business idea, and now we’re taking it one step further – we’ve put together a 10-step guide to establishing a business. If you make sure to follow these steps, you’ll be on the right track to becoming the founder of a successful company.
1. Assess Yourself
Before you take the plunge into business ownership, you need to take some time to evaluate yourself. You need to ask yourself questions and really pay attention to the answers, so you can decide if you’re truly ready to start a business.
Ask yourself the following: what skills and experiences do you have that will benefit owning a business? Are you passionate about your business idea? How much can you afford to spend on your business? Is your personal situation one where you have the ability to dedicate time and resources to putting a new business together? Do you understand the commitment?
This should help you get an idea of what you may need to work on or ask for assistance with before you begin putting the pieces of your business together. Make sure you have the dedication it takes to start a business – it’s not supposed to be easy.
2. Fine-Tune Your Idea
If you feel you’re ready to be a business owner and you have your idea selected, sit down and mull over your idea a little while longer. Think about your target audience and how practical your idea is. Will it make a difference? Be beneficial? Contribute something that is needed?
Ensure that all the kinks are worked out of your idea by asking for opinions from others (like potential future customers or honest friends and family). Once you’ve polished up your idea, you’ll be ready for step three.
3. Research the Market
With your idea solidified, you need to figure out who else is doing what you want to do – your competition. And if nobody is using the same idea you have, why not? Is there something you should look out for?
Gather information on customers and businesses like yours that are in your area. Make phone calls, conduct surveys, take notes – find out what people are saying and spending for products and services that are close to or the same as your idea. What can you make better or change to put yourself ahead and make your business the best?
4. Create a Business Plan
You also need to map out how you want your business to be structured and how you want it to run, both now and in the years to come. A business plan is a blueprint for the future and success of your business.
This plan should include what the purpose of your business is, what your industry looks like, what you expect your growth to be, your target market, finances, and the design and operation plans for your idea and your business. Your business plan should touch on:
• Your idea and why that idea is creative and/or necessary
• How your competition is doing and what you will be doing to go against them
• What you expect your business to look like in 5-10 years
• Who your customers are most likely to be and how you’ll reach them
• How you will acquire and maintain funding
• An overview of your product or service
• How you will manage your business and employees
A business plan is an overview and will be used to describe to and convince others that your business is a good and smart decision. Additionally, creating a business plan helps clarify what you need to work on what you should anticipate the growth of your business to be, so you can make adjustments as time passes.
5. Secure Funding
You should know, with the help of your business plan, how much money you’ll need to get your business up off the ground and running. There are a few things you can do to accumulate the necessary funds for your business:
• Fund it yourself
• Take out a bank loan
• Request a business grant
• Start a crowdfunding campaign
• Ask for assistance from friends and family
You can try any or all of these ways to acquire your finances. You might even have a few tricks of your own to collecting the funds you need. This is one of the most important steps, so get going with this as soon as possible.
6. Take Care of the Legal Aspects
To make your business official, there are legal attributes you must take care of. Here’s a list of what you’ll need to accomplish to have a legitimate business:
• Determine business structure
• Select a business name
• Register your business
• Acquire tax IDs, licenses, and permits relevant to your business
• Set up a business bank account
• Get trademarks, copyrights, or patents
You may find it easier to consult with a small business lawyer to get your legal needs taken care of. Along with financing, this is another important step to take care of early on when starting your business.
7. Find a Location
If you’re looking to build an office or storefront, you’ll need to find a location suitable for your business. You need to discover the perfect area to match with your business style and demographic, as well as making your business accessible and in a good spot to compete with businesses like yours. You’ll also need to determine the rent and utilities cost of your location to ensure you can afford to run your business in the area you choose. In addition, be aware of ordinance and infrastructure to avoid issues later on.
If you’re operating your business online, you may need to enlist technical help to create a smooth-operating, well-designed website. You may also need to purchase your domain name and find online payment service providers.
Plenty of small businesses operate from homes, so if that’s the best option for you, you likely won’t need to stress about where your business is located – just keep it right there with you!
8. Put Together a Team
If you’re hiring employees, start putting out ads for positions you’re hiring for. Remember to clearly state and determine what you’re looking for in each position, as well as including a list of requirements and experiences. Posting ads on job sites or in the newspaper are good places to start.
Host interviews and do thorough background checks to make sure the team you put together is an ideal fit for your business. Remember that hard work and a good personality can sometimes be more beneficial than experience!
You will also need a support system. This could be in the form of a spouse, friend, family member, business coach, or all of the above, but it’s important to have more support to keep your spirits and commitment to your business high and in good condition.
Once your business is established and your product or service is ready for selling, it’s time to start promoting. Look at how competitors are marketing themselves and determine what seems to be the most beneficial to success. Place more ads or aim high with a commercial. Pass out brochures and hang posters. Word of mouth also goes a long way!
The goal is to figure out what works for marketing your brand and then capitalizing on that. Take advantage of using deals to entice customers into checking out your business. Be patient – great success won’t come immediately, but that doesn’t need to be discouraging!
With your business up and running and sales being made, don’t assume your work is done. Now you need to step back and monitor how it’s functioning. Can anything be improved or changed? The answer is always yes.
Remember to continuously get feedback from your customers, as they will be the most resourceful in helping you figure out what needs fixing. Your marketing strategies may also change with growth, as you find new audiences or markets to reach out to.
Your business may expand or morph into something that wasn’t your original idea, and that’s okay. As the opportunity arises for success, it’s in your best interest to make the decisions that impact your business in the most positive way – like exchanging one product for a more popular one or getting rid of something that isn’t making profit.
As you grow, you may also change locations, acquire an entire other business, or even sell your existing business to start fresh! Make sure you can adapt to the needs of your business as they arise, and keep your mind open to possibilities.
Starting a business may seem complex and tortuous, but with the help of this guide and a little bit of research, you should find that it isn’t as intricate as it seems. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or try something new – every business owner was once right where you are, too.