People tend to think that starting a business is extremely challenging, thus talking themselves out of pursuit of business ownership before even trying. Too many aspiring entrepreneurs stagnate early in the process because they assume a only certain type of person has what it takes to create and sustain a successful business. The reality is, we all have what it takes. But few actually recognize and acquire the tools to make it happen.
Here are eight key first steps to starting your own business:
1. Apply method to your madness by organizing your brainstorm sessions.
Amazing ideas are nothing if you don’t give them legs. Your job as a new entrepreneur and is to fully conceptualize every facet of your business so that almost any question your potential future consumers or investors ask will be answered:
Who is the target market for the product? What’s the key demographic you’d like to reach?
What are your potential missteps and how will you solve it?
Are there additional products or services that could tie into your main offering?
How do you want your customers to view your company? How do you want them to feel after interacting with your business?
By preparing responses to these extremely important questions ahead of time, confidence will follow and your business will hopefully become more attractive to the right stakeholders.
2. Write your business plan.
After the aforementioned questions are answered, create a map for them, i.e. a business plan. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, the structure of the plan should include the executive summary, a company description (company brand), a market analysis (foreseeable competition and target demographics), the company make-up, detailed overview of the service or product, the marketing and sales strategy and financial projections.
Reach out to existing business owners or financial advisors to look over the plan and identify areas of improvement before moving forward.
3. Utilize your network as a resource base.
If you’re planning to be a team of one, normal interoffice hiring practices wouldn’t necessarily apply. But it might be helpful to create a blueprint for the future when you want to scale the business.
No matter what the size of your company is, you’ll need a few essential tools to be fully operational. Create a detailed list of your necessities and its approximate cost, be it an office space with a new desktop and printer or a warehouse to hold the products.
If you are purchasing something that will solely be used for business, then likely it’s tax deductible. Be sure to check with the IRS, an accountant or a tax attorney to be sure you are properly deducting expenses.
4. Identify your brand and create a marketing campaign.
Before the official launch, start planning the ideas for marketing and sales, specifically a strong social media presence. Create a Facebook page, Twitter profile, Google+, and LinkedIn page for your business, depending on the appropriate social media channel for your company. Be sure all your web pages are streamlined and are updated regularly. A social media content calendar is a useful tool that makes consistency much easier. Hootsuite, for instance, not only allows for schedules postings, but also has free content calendar templates available for download.
All other communications with your clients should have a cohesive feel as well. Use the company’s brand colors and logo to create business cards, letterhead and email signatures to demonstrate to customers a professional operation.
5. Money, money, money!
Not setting up proper accounting and tax records in the infancy stage of the business can be detrimental in the long run. By setting up your business as an limited liability company or an S Corp, that option usually works best to protect personal assets. Also, using bookkeeping software like GoDaddy Bookkeeping or Quickbooks makes it easy to export records when doing taxes and keep track of expenses.
Hiring a financial advisor or an accountant for your business who can ensure that taxes are done correctly is imperative. While taking care of your business’s taxes can be relatively easy when running it solo, laws and regulations vary by state. Consult with an expert to make sure you’re in the clear.
6. Have lists for your lists.
When you finally have your business up and running, keep track of regular tasks that keep a business running, namely doing payroll, keeping up with inventory, updating the website and regularly blogging and using social media. Create a list of these regular tasks and schedule them on a project management dashboard or an online to-do list like ToDoist or utilize Google Calendar’s ‘Goals’ feature. Both options allow someone for reminders to be set on a regular basis, then regularly appears on a daily task list.
This ensures you will continue the regular housekeeping tasks of the business so it runs smoothly.
7. Create a professional environment.
Even if you run an online business, there is still the possibility of having to meet potential clients in person down the line. Having a professional work space to get things done does not require huge overhead, just a little ingenuity. Usually every major city has shared office spaces available for usage at a small cost, and even offer pay-as-you-go options. For example, private membership clubs like the SOHO House offer usage of their board rooms upon becoming a member.
8. Keep your goals close.
ALWAYS have a growth plan in mind for your business by constantly setting long and short term goals. Remember, success is not stagnant. Now go get yours!
MADE by Jasmine Browley