Becoming an entrepreneur is a worthwhile endeavor. The desire to start your own small business is both admirable and terrifying simultaneously. If you don’t know what you are getting yourself into, you could be looking at a lot of disappointment in the future. However, if you are willing to take the risks and steps necessary to learn how to start a small business, there is the potential for great personal satisfaction.
Before you choose to go on this journey you should ensure that your business idea is solid. You cannot start a small business based on what you see everyone else doing. When the market is flooded with people selling baseball caps, opening up another hat shop is not a good idea. Planning a small business takes both knowledge and common sense. You will need to research how viable your idea will be in the marketplace.
Adam Khafif offers some phenomenal advice. He says, “Whatever you choose to pursue, make sure your customers and supporters feel valued at the end of the exchange.” Your business has to add value to the community if you want it to be successful. And, if you are truly serious about this endeavor, you will need to follow these 20 steps to starting a successful small business.
We are not trying to make the list a simple procedure because running your own business is anything but easy. However, we do want you to go at this endeavor as well informed and prepared as possible. Do not skip any of the steps we have laid out for you here:
- Understand the market. The truth is, the “next big thing” is probably not what you are going to create. Instead, understand the type of job you want to do and then research the market to see if your career desire can fill a need in your area. Don’t try to chase money. Instead, choose to sell the things you love.
- Write a business plan. These can be elaborate or simple. Just be certain that you answer some invaluable questions when you create the plan. The questions include:
- What’s your vision?
- What’s your mission?
- What are your objectives?
- What strategies will you employ to reach them?
- What’s the action plan?
- Get some business training and advice. There are government entities that are willing to provide free training and counseling services to help you prepare your business plan and achieve all the other steps on this list. Take advantage of their offer.
- Pick your location. Find a spot that is customer friendly.
- Acquire necessary financing. If you are shouldering the brunt of the monetary investment, more power to you. However, you will certainly benefit from financial assistance if it is available. Seek out the options and offer potential investors access to your previously prepared business plan.
- Figure out the legal structure. There are a few legal choices for potential business owners. You can choose to incorporate, act as a sole proprietorship, limited liability Corporation, or even a non-profit. Pick the structure that best suits your business endeavors.
- Register the business. The government will require you to register your business name as well as to set up the proper means in which to be taxed for your state and the IRS.
- Get your licenses and permits. Each county and state has its own rules about this. So you will need to do all the necessary research prior to opening day.
- Know your responsibilities as an employer. If you are going to be the only one working at the business then this is less important. However, if you ever intend to hire employees, you will need to understand all the legalities attached to that position.
- Utilize the local SBA. The Small Business Administration in your area will offer you a lot of resources if you will take the time to reach out to them.
- Get your EIN. This is achieved by contacting the IRS. It will enable you to get your business bank account and separate your personal assets from your business based ones.
- Get a business bank account. You absolutely must have a bank account for the business. Every state has its own laws about this, but if you want to do proper bookkeeping, this is a necessity.
- Create an accounting spreadsheet. If you can’t hire your own accountant there’s always Excel.
- Know how to price your goods/services. This is infinitely important as it will determine your business’ financial success. Don’t overprice your goods and services, but more importantly, do not under price them. Many a business owner has put him/herself out of business simply because he/she didn’t charge enough for products.
- Ascertain when your first sale will occur. You will need to know when sales will ensue as that will help you establish the business’ budgetary needs.
- Know what makes your business different. If you are not the only gift store in town, you need to know what your niche is. What makes your business different from all the other local options?
- Get a website. Websites are essential to success. They allow potential customers to peruse your inventory prior to driving to your brick and mortar establishment. They also provide contact information and business hours for those who have questions.
- Prepare to advertise. If people don’t know you exist, they cannot frequent your establishment. Advertising is not something to cheap out on.
- Learn how to sell. There are some great pieces of advice about learning how to sell.