Have you always dreamed of owning your own business? As we approach the new year, it’s a fantastic time to make your dreams a reality and pursue your professional goals.
We know you’re excited, but before you dive into website themes and logo designs, hold your horses! In order to run a successful company, you need to be prepared for the commitments and processes involved. To help you achieve your aspirations, we created a list of five basic steps to set your business in motion.
So, grab a coffee, sit in a comfy chair, and let’s get started.
#1 Do Market Research
Chances are, you probably already have ideas about your product or service. In order to make your dreams a reality, it’s important to identify your target demographic. Start by researching similar products, and then outline a customer base.
It’s also helpful to ask yourself: what does my product offer that is unique? With so many small businesses vying for customers, your product should ideally offer benefits that are distinct in the market. If you have a strong vision and understand your company’s value, then you’ll be better equipped to create a compelling and desirable product.
#2 Draw Up a Business Plan
Your business plan is like a roadmap for your company. It’s up to you to decide which goals to prioritize, and how to divide your time. A business plan doesn’t need to be a lengthy document, in fact, try to fit the whole thing on one page!
Among other aspects, a thorough business plan should include:
- An “elevator pitch” of your product or service (try to sum it up in a couple sentences)
- A description of your target clients (and why your product will appeal to consumers)
- A loose financial plan indicating estimated costs and profits
- Initial marketing strategies to increase visibility
#3 Take Stock of Your Finances
Starting a business involves shelling out some investments up front. While it doesn’t need to be an exorbitant amount of money (remember, Amazon.com began operations in a garage) you should be prepared to put down an initial sum to get the ball rolling.
As you estimate your investment, take into account:
- One-Time Expenses – Expenses like business registration, office equipment, and trademarking, are one-time investments only necessary when you start out (hopefully you won’t need to pay for these services again!)
- Operational Costs – Operating expenses include supplies, marketing, salaries, etc. and are ongoing costs necessary to keep business running. To keep costs low, use online resources like bookkeeping services for small business instead of hiring an accountant.
If you aren’t able to finance your business out-of-pocket, explore options for small business loans and grants. There are a multitude of options available to help entrepreneurs succeed!
#4 Decide on Your Company’s Structure
We know we’re getting into the nitty-gritty, but in order to register your business you need to decide on a legal structure. Are you planning on being the sole proprietor of the business? Do you want to go into business with a partner? Does forming a corporation or LLC make the most sense?
Research options for legal structures and determine the best fit for your business model. There are pros and cons to all business structures, so it may be wise to seek professional advice to guide your decision.
#5 Make a Marketing Plan
When you have a good thing going, people need to know about it! Ask yourself: how will I market my business to potential clients?
Here are a few low-cost ideas for marketing services for small businesses:
- Social Media Marketing – Imparts a casual tone and connects personally to clients
- Email Marketing – Generates website traffic and keeps customers informed
- Marketing Events – Offers an in-person opportunity to connect with clients
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
Remember, every new business owner makes mistakes. It’s okay if things don’t go perfectly the first time around. Keep your chin up and maintain a positive attitude! With plenty of research and careful planning, you’ll be ready to tackle new challenges and scale your business!