There are many options and different steps you can take as an entrepreneur to launch your business on the right foot, but for many starting out, the plethora of options available can become overwhelming. But there’s no need to start from scratch – learn from the small business owners who have paved the way with easy-to-accomplish steps that will get your business off the ground.
Step One: Research
“If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research, would it?” – Albert Einstein
If you have a business idea, the first thing you probably did was spend time researching your goals and creating an industry analysis.
During this stage, the first thing you should ask yourself is “Is there a true market need?” If the answer is yes, logical follow up questions will follow: How big is the market? What kind of competition do you have? How do you stand out from the crowd?
There are lots of ways to gather this data, the easiest being a quick Google search. But the most valuable resource is people already operating businesses. Speak with them!
It is important to network with other business owners who you can candidly speak with about ideas, concerns, and pain points of growing a business.
Another key step is to conduct informal research with your potential customer base to find out how they view your idea. How are they using your competitors? What is a need that your product can fill?
Step Two: A Business Plan
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” -Ben Franklin
Your eighth-grade history teacher probably used to say that. But it is true.
A business plan is a roadmap to help you start your business and keep you on track through each step of growth.
Your plan can be whatever fits your needs but to make it easier, you can choose a template to create a solid foundation.
Step Three: Pick a Business Structure
“I am a sort of tea addict. I structure my day by cups of tea.” -S.T. Joshi
Business types include limited liability company (LLC), sole proprietorship, partnership or a corporation. Sites like LegalZoom also have great comprehensive and intuitive guides and resources to help you decide on the best business structure for you too.
…Okay, now Register Your Business
A milestone, congrats! When you register, there are a few key considerations you need to closely examine. One of them is where your small business is located and how that will impact what you will need to register your business.
Oftentimes, small businesses simply need to register their business name with the local and state governments. There are sites you can use like BizFilings or LawDepot, which can assist in trademarking your business name.
For more information, you can read the Small Business Administration’s guide for registering your business here.
Step Four: Get Licenses & Permits
“I don’t license everywhere, I take care of my name.” -Gianni Versace
Small businesses usually need to have a variety of federal and state licenses and permits to function. Businesses in industries regulated by federal agencies also need federal licenses. (You can check out some of the types of businesses that would need a federal permit and who they report to here.) It is best to simply check out your state, county, and city regulations. Don’t forget to keep track of license and permit expirations!
Step Five: Get Your Software – Nobody ever mentions this step, but it is just as important as all the others.
How will you do your taxes, keep track of scheduling, manage your digital marketing, or hire a team? Most small businesses need five to seven different types of software just to get going.
Write a list of the operation functions you will be managing within your business. HR, accounting, marketing, analytics? This short list of essential functions will hopefully get your wheels turning and get you to begin thinking further about the appropriate software and tools you will need.