Starting your own business is both frightening and exhilarating. There’s a world of opportunity waiting for you, but it can feel like you’re entering uncharted territory. How do you even get started?
All businesses need a few key elements to get off the ground. By following these basic steps for starting a business, you’ll be well on your way to success.
If you’re starting a business, you probably want to offer a product or service. Now is the time to decide what that product or service will be, and how you can deliver it. Ask yourself a few questions to get your creative juices flowing, such as:
- How can I best leverage my skills and passions?
- Is there a problem that I want to solve for myself and others?
- Can I make a current product or service better?
- Is there a developing technology or trend that can open up new opportunities?
2. Market research
The next step is to define and study your market.
Define your ideal customer: Outline in detail the type of person you want to serve. Who will your business benefit?
Study your competition: How is your competition serving your ideal customer? Take note of any positive things to imitate, and ways you could serve that customer better.
Go where your ideal customer hangs out: Read online forums or blogs where your ideal customers spend their time. Becoming familiar with their problems will help you meet their needs better.
3. Test your idea
Now that your idea is solidified, put it to the test.
A few examples: if you’re selling a product, create a prototype and ask people for feedback. If you’re starting a service like consulting, offer a few free sessions to get feedback on your methods. Or if you’re opening a restaurant, invite small groups of people to taste test the menu before you officially open.
4. Make a business plan
If your initial trial was successful, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty details of your business. Make a business plan that explains how your business will come to life. Include the following information:
An overview that describes your business’s purpose and mission statement.
A description of what product or service your business will provide.
A description of your target market.
A plan for marketing your business.
An employee management plan (if applicable).
Your budget and financial projections.
5. Get funding
Unless you’re going to be a self-funded business, you’ll need to collect money through bank loans, angel investors, or crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter to get off the ground. Bank loans are better for small brick-and-mortar businesses, while crowdfunding can be great solutions for those offering innovative products.
6. Register your business
Find a lawyer and determine the legal structure of your business. With a lawyer’s guidance, make sure you complete the necessary steps to register your business, pay for any permits or licenses, understand your tax requirements, and open a business banking account if necessary.
7. Find a location
If your business is local, find the best location for your shop or office. Consider how accessible it will be for customers and if the neighborhood aligns with your business image (as well as the infrastructure, costs of remodeling, and ordinances).
8. Find your team
Finding freelancers or full-time employees who are qualified and passionate about working with you can feel daunting at first, but it’s completely doable.
Post on online job boards, ask people you know for references, and make it known that you’re hiring.
9. Establish your online presence
Having a strong online presence is crucial for any successful business, whether physical or digital.
Create a beautiful and clean business website with the necessary features to communicate your message (whether you’re a hair salon, bakery, or photography studio).
Use Google listings to literally put your business on the map. This allows local customers find your business easily and to leave positive reviews.
Set up your social media channels so that you can interact with customers online.
You’re almost there! After developing a plan and getting your website and location set up, you’re ready to open your doors. Don’t hesitate as you wait for every little thing to fall into place; if you followed the previous nine steps, then you’re prepared.
When you break starting a business down into ten basic steps, the process won’t feel as overwhelming. Take everything one step at a time, and you can start to get the business ball rolling today.
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