Congratulations! You have decided to take a huge career step towards something great in your life.
You should know that when you start a business, your life changes. Things become fun, exciting, scary at times, but also fulfilling and rewarding.
Considering that you are approaching the initial, and the more difficult phase, it’s wise to prepare well before you actually start making moves and spending your initial budget.
However, you should know that you are not alone in this endeavor. In the US alone, small businesses (yours will be small in the first few years too) make up more than 99% of all US businesses.
So, it is safe to say that many have found their luck and success in this entrepreneurial venture where you are your own boss.
In order to ease you into this challenging but exciting journey of entrepreneurship, below you will find some important steps you should take if you want a good start.
Evaluate your idea
Before you do anything else, it’s important to sit down, and do some thinking and digging.
Considering that you are reading this article, you most certainly have a business idea that you feel good about. You believe that it will reap nice results and that people will like it. However, if you haven’t spent at least two hours thinking about whether it will work, you should.
Think about your idea.
- Does it really have the necessary potential to succeed?
- Will it really help you achieve your goals?
These are only some of the questions you need to ask yourself. However, the most important question is whether your business can solve a problem.
To be precise, when you want to start something new, you need to know if your products or services will help people.
- Can you actually help people?
- How can you do that?
- What will make people want to do business with you?
- How is your offer different from the rest?
Let this sink in for a minute. These questions are not easy, there is no doubt about that. So, take your time and think about it.
Once you have answers to these questions, the answers you would like to hear, you should go ahead with the idea.
Devise a good business plan
Great things rarely come to life without a good plan. That’s why you need a plan if you want to make your business idea a reality.
No business plan consultant will tell you not to prioritize a good plan in the initial stages. This is due to the fact that your business has to be built according to certain guidelines.
Think about it this way. If your business was a building, your business plan would be its blueprint.
This blueprint will help you guide your business from the start-up phase through establishment and eventually business growth. Therefore, it is obvious that this plan is a must-have.
Now, it is important to denote that there are different types of business plans for different types of businesses.
For example, if you are looking for financial support from an investor or financial institution, you most likely need a traditional business plan. In this case, you need a long and thorough plan that has common sections that investors and banks look at when they are validating your idea.
On the other hand, if you don’t want financial support from a third party, you will make use of a simple business plan (usually a one-page plan) that defines what you hope to achieve and how you plan to do that.
You may even want some other kind of plan, but the point is that a plan is absolutely necessary. Even if you write it on the back of a napkin.
Choose your business structure
You shouldn’t rush with this decision since each structure bears its own propositions.
You should know that your business can be a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation.
What you choose now will impact many factors. Some of them include your business name, your liability, and the way you file your taxes.
Fortunately, when you choose your initial business structure, you don’t have to stick with it to the end. Instead, you can change it as your business grows.
Finally, if you are not so sure about the business structure, it is always wise to consult an attorney or someone who specializes in this field of work. Making sure that you choose the right structure at the beginning is really important.
Pick a name
If you think that your business’s name is not important, you are very wrong. In reality, your name plays a role in almost every aspect of your business. So, you better make it a good one.
However, before you start brainstorming, also think about the potential implications. Once you get a clear idea of how you would like your business to be called, check if the name you want is in use or trademarked. This is really important because you don’t want legal trouble, especially not now at the very start.
Once you get everything cleared, once you see that the name you want is available, you can go and register it. Bear in mind that a sole proprietor has to register their business name with either their state or county clerk.
On the other hand, corporations, LLCs, or partnerships usually have to register their business names when the formation papers are filed.
Also, register your domain name once you have sorted out your business name. You have to think about your online presence too.
Marketing from the beginning
Not many people realize how important it is to have some kind of marketing strategy in place from the very beginning.
Judging by the present situation, you have many rivals no matter where you are located. An effective way to separate yourself from them in the initial phases of your business is to think of your unique marketing strategy.
You shouldn’t splash out right away. Instead, try to be different. Try to win their smiles and that will be good for a start.
The marketing strategy can come in many forms. So, consider content marketing, video marketing, paid ads, and social media marketing. These mainly belong to the digital marketing realm, and they are quite powerful.
These marketing channels are really popular nowadays and you could take advantage of them even in the starting stages. Just remember that you need to be honest, find a way to be as unique as possible, and never copy someone else’s methods or campaigns.
You don’t want to be remembered as someone who plagiarizes other people’s work. Especially not before customers hear positive things about you.
Good luck! Now is the time to shine and put your mind to work. Materializing a good idea is a difficult task. But, once you get these essentials out of the way, things will become considerably easier.
And if you don’t want to deal with many troublesome technicalities and burdens that appear in the starting phase, you can also think about taking out a SBA small business loan (or another kind of loan) to buy an already established company.
That is the easier way and it is also a valid option.
This blog post was written by a guest contributor. The views within this blog post do not necessarily reflect those of AMA Triangle.
Dave Schneider is the marketing manager at Albacross,the free B2B lead generation platform. In 2012 he quit his job to travel the world, and has visited over 65 countries. In his spare time, he writes about SaaS and business at DaveSchneider.me.