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The Ultimate Guide to Starting Your Own Small Business

StrategyDriven Starting Your Business Article |Starting a Small Business|The Ultimate Guide to Starting Your Own Small BusinessStarting your own small business can be daunting. This is why we bring you a step-by-step guide to help you get started.

While naming your business and creating a logo is important, ever wondered how determining your business structure or crafting a detailed marketing strategy might affect your business?

It’s easy to get confused and lose motivation because there’s so much to consider. Rather than guessing where to start, follow our checklist to start your own small business.

1. Refine the idea

If you’re thinking of starting your own small business, you’re likely to have an idea of what you wish to sell or at least what your target market is.

Research your competitors to understand how they work and figure out ways how you can do it better.

If you think your business will be able to bridge a gap that your competitors can’t, then you’ve got a solid business idea.

If you’re hesitant to start a business, you can consider opening a franchise. The business model, brand following and concept are already taken care of; all you need is funding and a good location.

Brainstorm your company name

Your business name should be memorable, short and should be able to nail down your idea’s value. Brainstorm ideas with your team or search business name ideas on the web.

Determine your target market

The excitement of starting your own small business can easily make you forget your target market.

Identify how you’ll provide value to your customers, how you’ll communicate with them and how much they’re willing to pay. Iron out all these seemingly small details during the ideation phase to achieve success.

2. Design a Business Plan

You have a business idea in place and now it’s time to consider answering a few important questions such as:

  • What’s the purpose of my business?
  • What’s my product’s USP?
  • How will I finance my business?

These answers will help you create a business plan.

A well-thought-out business plan will help you avoid the most common mistakes new business owners make.

Conduct a Thorough Market Research

Invest in focus groups, conduct surveys with your target audience, research public data and SEO in order to make a full-proof business plan.

Market research will help you understand the behaviour, needs and preferences of your target audience as well as your competitors, both of which have the power to transform your business.

Conduct competitive analysis and collect demographic information to understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and limitations of your market.

Craft an Exit Strategy

It’s wise to consider an exit strategy when drafting your business plan. You need to have a few exit routes to help you look at the future.

When you go to a movie hall (or board an aeroplane), what’s the first thing they show you? Where the exits are.

A good business plan will help you understand where your business is going, how will it overcome any obstacles and how will it sustain itself.

3. Focus on Your Finances

Determine how you’re going to fund your business. Do you have the funds or will you borrow money?

A whopping 29% of startups fail because they run out of money. Overestimate the costs a little to ensure that you have enough to cover up for unexpected expenses.

Understand your funding options. Do you have sufficient means to start the business? If not, will you be taking a business loan or a grant? Would it be better to bring in an investor or opt for crowdfunding?

Conduct a break-even analysis to help you determine profitability, price your products and analyse data properly.

Contrary to popular belief, refrain from overspending when starting your own small business.

Monitor your expenses to ensure that you stay within the pre-decided budget.

4. Determine the Business Structure

You should have a clear idea of the kind of entity your business will be in order to register your company.

Would it be a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or limited liability company?

The structure of your business affects everything from your personal liability to how you file taxes therefore, understanding different business structures is crucial.

5. Build a Great Team

Starting your own small business can mean you running your business on your own or hiring a small team to help you get started.

Companies that have a good company culture have a 4X higher revenue.

Clearly define the responsibilities and roles of each employee, consider their feedback and figure out ways to work together early on will help you save a lot of headaches later on.

6. Branding and Advertising

According to 77% of B2B marketers, building a strong brand is the key to a company’s growth.

Understand how you can build your brand and the cost-effective marketing strategies you can invest in to help you establish yourself in the minds of your target audience.

A few places to get started are:

  • Logo: Should be easily identifiable, relevant and easy to recall.
  • CRM: Use CRM software to understand the market demographics. A killer email marketing campaign will do wonders for your new business.
  • Social Media: Are an excellent means to spread the word about your business.
  • Website: 85% of customers conduct online research before making a purchase. Create a clean, minimal, mobile-friendly website that has the capacity to convince your potential customers into long-term customers.

Update your website and social media accounts with interesting and informative content to help you build a rapport with your customers.

The Wrap Up

Starting your own small business is so much more than the launch and first sales are just the beginning of the business.

You need to stay afloat and start making profits to help you grow your business. It’s going to take a lot of time and effort.

Understand that the success of your business depends on the decisions you made before you launched your business. So, invest in research, craft a detailed business plan, keep a track of your finances and create a marketing strategy to take your business to new heights!


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Shristi PatniShristi Patni is a content writer and owner of F and B Recipes. She enjoys writing about Intuitive Counseling and Spiritual Mind Treatment. Formerly the Chief Content Officer at Raletta, she is currently working on her second cookbook.

 

15 Essentials for Your Startup to Succeed

StrategyDriven Starting Your Business Article |Startup|15 Essentials for Your Startup to SucceedBuilding your startup is life-changing and can enable you to fulfill your dreams. It can free you from an unfulfilling job and give you more flexibility in life both at work and with your family. However, it is no walk in the park. Starting a business and growing it is even more challenging. You need the courage, determination, and enthusiasm to overcome obstacles, persevere during hard times, and stick it out in the long run. The following essentials can help you drive your startup to success.

Be committed

If you’re a jack of all trades, you will be a master of none, and you are likely to set yourself out for failure. For your startup to be successful in the long term, it needs your undivided attention. You can start other businesses in your lifetime, but do it one at a time. Prepare to sacrifice a lot of your time, money, and energy for the success of your business. Choose a business idea that you’re ready to devote your time to.

Join organizations

Starting a business can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. Instead of isolating yourself, join the right organizations and associations in your industry. Here, you can make new connections and partnerships with like-minded business people through networking. The right organizations aim at empowering entrepreneurs like you by giving you skills that provide a stable footing in the business world. Be sure to attend seminars, conferences, networking events, and workshops. Since there are many organizations out there, choose the best fit that will be beneficial to you.

Create an outstanding team

No matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to build a successful business alone. Consider working with friends and family for a start as you increase capital to invest in a professional team. Employees bring something new to the table, like their skills and ideas, which are essential to the success of your startup. They also take a lot of work off your hands, giving you ample time to concentrate on core business functions. Consider outsourcing for repetitive tasks, form a board of directors to advise you, and create a remote team if you don’t have enough office space.

Set up a professional website

Having an engaging online presence is one of the business’s unspoken rites of passage today. Research shows that most consumers first go online searching for the products/services they need before purchasing offline. Work with a professional web design company to create a user-friendly business website. Ensure you include the necessary information to attract the right customers and ultimately boost conversion rates. Additionally, create optimized content that engages with your target audience and helps them find you easily. A highly-rated website signals to consumers that you are trustworthy and builds confidence in your brand.

Timing is everything

Timing is essential when picking the optimal moment to launch your startup and deciding to make exceptional moves such as expansion. Determine when it’s best to launch your start-up by looking into what’s going on in your personal life; if you’re going to move places or get a baby, it might not be the best time. Ensure you understand the flows and ebbs of your industry and determine if the odds are to your advantage with things like competition and demand for your product.

Have a clean budget

One of the common mistakes that could set you up for failure real quick is failing to plan for your capital. Even though you have a lot of savings and additional funds from financial institutions, the expenses of a startup can drain them fast. Create a detailed budget that ensures your capital is sustainable until your startup is stable and bringing in a substantial profit. Remember that you have personal needs that need to be taken care of other than the startup. Keep aside funds for your basic needs and an emergency fund in case of unexpected business expenses.

Know your competition

Every type of business has competition, and you need to launch your startup knowing how to satisfy your consumers’ needs. Understanding how your competitors operate can help you create a more competitive business by filling a niche and coming up with better strategies. If you don’t have competition, then the business idea may not be a real need in the market. Research on your competition even as you grow your business to stay ahead in the industry.

Business plan

A business is not only essential when you’re seeking investors, but also gives you a blueprint of your goals, strategies, and destination. A business plan is the one thing you shouldn’t miss when building a startup; it’s where you go back to measure your progress and compare your outcomes with initial goals. When you don’t meet those goals, you can determine where there’s a problem and change strategies. It also motivates and keeps you and your team on the same page by specifying objectives and timelines to achieve particular goals.

Be curious and creative

When you’re an entrepreneur, curiosity and creativity are as essential as intelligence. Curiosity enables you to discover niches in the market that aren’t being satisfied and consumers’ sentiments regarding changes they’d like and their thoughts on particular products. Curiosity also enables you to learn from your competition and be better. Creativity helps you develop ideas that can provide solutions to problems in the market and boost success for your startup.

Effective communication

Without effective communication, your startup can’t be successful; a communication breakdown can cause your business to go under. As an entrepreneur, you have a responsibility to communicate clearly and effectively with employees, investors, potential, and existing customers. However, if one side isn’t listening or loses interest, this is the beginning of failure.

Communicate in a way that makes the other party listen by being confident, informative, and attentive. Effective communication, apart from motivating employees, can earn you long-term connections with the networks you build.

Have a daring vision

A vision gives you the much-needed energy you need to embark on your entrepreneurship journey. Not everyone who builds a startup becomes successful, but defining and selling your business’s vision can get you there. The same way you present other ideas is the same way you should share your vision. Be daring, realistic, and enthusiastic about it. A daring vision signals your passion for what you do and pushes you to explore, challenge, insist, and have the willpower to succeed even when the road gets bumpy.

Flexibility

One problem that many entrepreneurs face when launching a startup is the lack of flexibility to modify or rebuild the entire business plan. When you’ve been consistent, put in a lot of effort, and time into your startup, it can be challenging to accept that your idea just isn’t working, and it’s time to make changes.

As you begin this venture, keep an eye out for processes such as marketing, production, operations, and branding that need tweaks and alterations to make your business successful. It’s okay to immerse your energy in one business model, but be flexible enough to make changes in the strategies and methods you use to achieve success.

Be resilient

Even with a well-thought-out business plan, research, capital, creativity, and capital, a startup will fail if you aren’t resilient in the face of adversity. Be ready to put in the work, do the heavy lifting, and get your hands dirty instead of waiting on employees to do it for you. Every business experiences setbacks. But to be successful, you must adapt, pick yourself up, and dust off the frustration. Build resilience by staying calm when there are unforeseen challenges, treating yourself kindly, and seeing this as an opportunity for growth.

Be knowledgeable about the law

One of the things that can lead to failure or immediate closure of your business startup is going contrary to the law. Even while working with a lawyer or attorney, make a point of researching laws that affect your business. Avoid lawsuits that can cost your livelihood by keeping up with taxes, insurance, business registrations, permits, and inspections. Take care of your customers by giving quality service and legit products. Remember to treat your employees as assets to the business; ensure their safety by securing the place and insure them in case of any accidents.

Exercise discipline

Being disciplined isn’t all about using funds as you should. Exercising discipline has to do with many parts of your business, such as being timely and following through with plans that propel you to success. Being an entrepreneur comes with freedom from strict deadlines from bosses; you can clock in and leave as you please or consume products meant for sale. However, failure to exercise discipline is setting yourself up on a fast road to failure. Be an example to your employees to run a successful startup.

Bottom line

Launching your startup can be full of exciting highs and frustrating lows, but you need to be resilient and follow through with your business plan. However, avoid startup failure by being flexible enough to make necessary changes when necessary. Go into this venture with enough information from research, know your competition, and stay committed to your goals. Build an effective team, know the laws in business, exercise discipline, and most importantly, have a daring vision.

Creating My Own Business

StrategyDriven Starting Your Business Article |Creating a Business|Creating My Own BusinessStarting your own business means the beginning of an incredible journey. Creating your company can bring joy and satisfaction from many points of view. So, you saved some money, gathered motivation, and you’re ready to take the first steps in creating your own business. Good financial and legal decisions are essential. However, passion and determination are the most important things in the long run. It would be best to realize that you’ll face many problems and hiccups along the way. That’s why the strength of character is fundamental in pushing through issues and adapting along the way. The world of business is a dynamic arena in which only the fittest survive.

The following piece will provide you with a basic planning framework to start your firm from scratch:

Research the market and examine your competition

First of all, you’ll have to understand your target market. Ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • Who are my clients? What’s their age, gender, social status, etc.?
  • Who’s my competition? What’s their business plan, and what can I learn from them?

Understanding the market is necessary if you want to get straight into business once you open. Consider the level of demand for your product/service. Also, gauge the market size, the location in which you operate, pricing ranges, and other economic indicators such as population income and employment rate. In other words, market research means analyzing the conditions in which you’ll work. It’s a way of observing and adapting to fit the needs of the market.

Create a business plan

The business plan helps you understand your business’s structure, operation, and future needs. This document will also help persuade collaborators and investors into working with you. There are a few free templates and guides available online. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to start. Download the sample that represents your company type the most and start filling it up.

There are two main styles: traditional or lean start-up. The traditional style is more extensive and detailed. On the other hand, the second kind allows a brief summarizing of the vital points.

Invest capital in your company

The next move is to calculate how much money your business needs to take off. This way, you can figure out how much capital you need to raise through personal funds, investments, or bank loans.

Self-funding is everybody’s dream. Unfortunately, that’s not possible in most cases. So, you’ll need to think about a few options:

  • Crowdfunding is an excellent outside-the-box choice that can work wonders for certain types of businesses.
  • Small business loans through banks are classic ways of starting and are safe.
  • Other programs to consider are Small Business Investment (SBA) loans through Lender Match.

Decide on your business location

Location, location, location. The area in which you operate establishes the tax range, zoning laws, and business regulations. You’ll have to analyze various states, cities, and even neighborhoods. When calculating start-up expenses, make sure to:

  • Include area-specific expenses such as minimum wage, property value, rental value, insurance rate, utilities, and government licenses/fees.
  • Include zoning laws regarding buying, renting, building, and operating out of a physical building.
  • Include local and governmental incentives such as tax cuts, utility cost reductions, urban redevelopment motivations, and technological support.

Choose your firm’s legal structure

Your business’s legal format determines day-to-day activity, license requirements, tax ranges, and personal liability. Selecting the proper structure means efficiency, legal protections, and benefits.

First, you’ll have to review, compare, and understand the main business structures:

  • Sole proprietor;
  • Partnership;
  • Limited liability company (LLC);
  • Corporation;
  • Cooperative.

Next, you must decide if you’re going to combine various structures for tax benefits. Although somewhat uncommon, combining different legal designs can yield tremendous advantages but are generally harder to set up.

Select your brand name

Choosing your company’s name seems the easiest point of the list, but that’s not entirely true. You must decide on a captivating title that echoes your brand spirit. Also, you’ll have to make sure the name isn’t already registered.
Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to register your brand name under:

  • State-level entity names, which offer protection within state borders.
  • Federal-level trademarks, which offer protection within national borders.
  • Doing Business As (DBA); it’s not always required, but some legal structures need it to open a bank account.
  • Website domain name.

Register your company

Once you’ve decided on the business name, it’s time to register it legally. Registration is especially required if you’re conducting business without using your legal name. In this case, you’ll need to register federally and even locally.
Suppose your company plans to conduct business in more than one state. In that case, you’ll need a foreign qualification from the Certificate of Authority.

Obtain federal and state tax ID

Alias Employer Identification Number (EIN), the tax ID works as a private social security number. It allows businesses to pay taxes, pay employees, file tax returns, etc. Once you’ve set up your tax ID, don’t forget to update it in case of changes in names, addresses, ownership, management, or tax status. This IRS digital assistance tool will help you apply for an EIN.

Get your license and permit

To grow your business into a success story, you need to stay legally compliant. Obtaining all the licenses and permits is an obligatory step to remain legally protected and do business. They vary by industry and are slightly different from state to state.

Generally, the more “dangerous” a business is, the more permits it needs to function. For instance, a firearms shop will encounter more scrutiny than a TV company. Likewise, fisheries or agricultural firms need more permits compared to a clothing shop.

Open your business bank account

A company bank account is almost mandatory for most sectors. A checking account helps handle transactions, taxes, and much more. Additionally, it’s a protection method against fraud or other malicious activities. Having a bank account means transparency, professionalism, and purchasing power.

Opening a bank account is pretty easy with the right paperwork. Just make sure you compare different institutions to get maximum benefits for you and your business.

Conclusion

Creating your own business is the ultimate capitalistic dream. Building a company means hard work and personal sacrifices, but the potential rewards are well worth it. Let’s recap the main points of starting a firm:

  1. Market and competition researching;
  2. Creating a business plan;
  3. Gathering and investing money;
  4. Picking a location;
  5. Choosing the legal structure;
  6. Naming your brand;
  7. Registering the company;
  8. Obtaining federal/state tax ID;
  9. Getting licenses and permits;
  10. Opening a bank account.

About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Tiffany HarperTiffany Harper is an experienced corporate sector writer, who sometimes helps as an expert to ninjaessay. She specializes in entrepreneurial development and start-up strategies. If you need essay help or business advice, don’t hesitate to contact her. When Tiffany is not working she is writing her book about self-growth and self-motivation.

Mistakes That Can Trip Up Your Small Business

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article |Small Business Mistakes|Mistakes That Can Trip Up Your Small BusinessWhen you’re starting a business, it’s easy to start running under your own momentum without really having an opportunity to stop and think things through as well as you should. While having that enthusiasm and energy is crucial for getting things lifted off the ground, you should make sure that you’re not making any of the following mistakes that can trip you up before you even get started.

Forgetting the business plan

You might have a basic plan of what, exactly, you need to do, but a business plan takes things into a lot more depth. It plots out the internal organization of the business, how you carry out work, and what targets you need to reach in order to grow. It can help you set a direction from the business from day one, meaning that decision-making from that point on has a path to follow, making some choices much clearer.

Not separating yourself from your business

You may be the proud owner and operator of your business, including its sole staff member at the start, but you shouldn’t be the business. Look at this Infile LLC Service review and learn about how starting a limited liability company can make sure that you’re both legally and financially protected from any consequences of running your business. Otherwise, you can be found legally liable as an individual in the event of the lawsuit, for instance.

Not knowing your place in the market

Before you start pumping money into marketing and outreach, you need to know where, exactly, in the market your business fits in. This Inbox Insight review can help you find a team that can help you learn more about the market, its availability, and the competition that might be out there waiting for you. As such, if you find a niche that’s uncovered, you can find a place for your business, or you might have to start off more competitive, offering what the others in the market do not.

Not understanding the customer perspective

It’s easy to know what services and products you are selling from your own perspective. However, in order to market and sell it effectively, you also need to see what your customers see in it. As such, you need to think about what basic needs or wants your products and services fulfill, what pain points they hit, and what kind of lifestyle of future they help your customers and clients see, as a result.

Doing everything yourself

At some point, you’re going to need help to deal with the sheer amount of responsibilities you acquire as your business gets up and running and you grow. Employing some team members to work alongside you might be preferable but, if you’re not at the stage of hiring just yet, you might also want to consider outsourcing some of your admin work to a virtual assistant.

Your small business needs every advantage it can get when it first starts off. Consider the potential mistakes above and what you’re doing to combat them, making sure you got your bases covered before you rocket off to stardom and success.

How To Make A Profit As A Small Business

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Small Business|How To Make A Profit As A Small BusinessStarting a small business is a fun and exciting, but an overwhelming, task. It takes a lot of patience and practice to get the business right. From the get-go, you will encounter some mistakes or delays due to lack of understanding or not enough time. For those setting up a new business, one thing that will be on your mind is how to make a profit. In this guide, you will discover the best ways to ensure your small business can make a profit.

Ask For Help

Asking for help as a small business is key to ensure you do not do everything by yourself. You will need the advice to expand your knowledge and facilitate further development of your business. Without help, you may suffer a loss by not being able to meet customer needs or know how to market your business correctly.

There are several businesses out there that focus on helping small businesses accelerate and create revenue, such as Stephen Hourigan of Elevate Ventures. Asking for help and advice is not something to be ashamed of. There are experts out there whose job it is to offer support in order to help businesses secure a financial profit.

Make A Business Plan

Market research is the core of a business plan and a business plan is your best protection against business heartbreak.

Of the many reasons to work through a business plan, the main one is this; when you’re done, you’ll know whether or not your proposed business idea can be turned into a profitable small business. When you get your business idea right and know you can stick to the plan, you will more likely stick to targets and be on track for making a profit.

Track Your Finances Regularly

Once you have systems in place for tracking things like time, expenses, and earnings, you need to keep an eye on those things regularly. Analyzing any changes can help you determine what’s working for your business and what isn’t.

Finance tracking is a startup essential that shouldn’t be overlooked. Without accounting for your incomings and outgoings, you will not know how much your business has made or spent. You will also lose track of how much more you need to earn to make a profit.

Ensure You Offer Good Service

A small business can gain a lot from spending time serving customers and meeting their needs. No matter what type of product or service you offer, providing a great experience to customers should always be a top priority. Doing so can help you build repeat business and even gain referrals, which essentially serve as free marketing.

Do everything in your power to absolutely delight your customer. Going above and beyond to deliver an amazing customer experience increases the chance of repeat bookings, and might inspire your customer to recommend your business. These are both positive levers on the unit economic model of a business.