Starting a Business
Planning to start a business? Overwhelmed or confused about how and where to start? Starting a business involves planning, making key financial decisions, and completing a series of legal activities. But first of all, you need to be clear about the following in order to make your business plan work.
- Define your vision: Determine what end results you are expecting from your business? Where and what do you want your business to be in the future?
- Define your mission: Your mission should clearly explain the reason why your company exists, what you purpose to do now to realize your vision.
- Define your objectives: What are your goals? What are you going to do to achieve your vision and mission?
- Outline your basic strategies: Keep it clear in your mind about how you are going to accomplish the goals you have identified.
- Write down a simple action plan: Bullet out the shorter task-oriented steps needed to complete the stated objectives.
Do Your Research
Research is the most important foundation on which to start a business. It helps gather information about customer behavior and economic trends to validate and refine your business idea. It’s important to learn about your consumer base from the get-go. Market research lets you lessen risks, even when the business is still just a gleam in your eye.
There are a few methods to gather the information:
1. Direct Research
It includes research about your customers:
- Focus groups
- In-depth interviews
2. Competitive Analysis
It helps you to identify your competition by product line or service and market segment. It includes researching about:
- Market share
- Your window of opportunity to enter the market
- Your strengths and weaknesses
- Any obstacles that may limit you as you enter the market
- The consequence of your target market to your competitors
- Secondary or indirect competitors who may impact your success
3. Free Business Data and Trends
There are many credible resources that can provide you with customer and market information at no cost. Free statistics are easily available to help prospective business owners.
After your research answer these questions to sense your market in a better way:
- Demand: How much is your product or service desired in the market?
- Market size: How many customers would be interested in your offering?
- Location: What would be the suitable location to target your products and services? Where can your business reach? Where are most of your customers from?
- Market saturation: What is the ratio your competition? How many comparable options are already available to consumers?
- Pricing: What are your potential customers paying for already existing alternatives?
For Example, If you are planning to set up an Online Marketing Business, what would be your strategies and plan to move forward?
- Determine your target market. Know about your ideal client, how to reach them, and which services are mostly in demand for the market you’re deciding to attract. Know which group of people you will target specifically such as realtors or authors?
- Develop your list of services that you are going to provide to your target market. For example, what will you focus on? Social media or SEO? or you will have an integrated services plan that uses a variety of online marketing techniques.
- It is necessary to have a business license and other permits as required by your state. You can even hire a registered agent who can help you with incorporating your business as LLC or Inc.
Make a Plan
An ideal business plan leads you through each stage of forming a company. You need to use your business plan as a roadmap to structure, run, and develop your new business. It’s a gateway to think through the essential components of your business. Business plans can also assist you in getting funds or bringing new business partners. Your business plan acts as a tool to convince investors. If the investors are impressed with your plan and see a return on their investment, they would definitely invest.
You can pick a business plan that works for you. It can be either a traditional plan, where you need to explain every aspect in detail or a new startup plan, which is high-focused, contains essential elements and is fast to write.
Set up Your Company
The next step is to set up your company and organize it as a legal entity. There are various choices to account for, and all have different financial, legal, and tax considerations. The appropriate legal configuration for your company relies on many things. These involve the level of control you want to have on your business, your company’s exposure to financial and lawsuits threats. The legal structure that you choose will define extra registration requirements. After that, you need to file registration forms with your state or local government. The firms that need to be registered with state government are:
- A corporation
- A limited-liability company or partnership
- A nonprofit organization
If you set up your business as a sole proprietorship, you won’t need to register it with the state government. It is also referred as Doing Business As (DBA) name or a fictitious name.
Your initial choice of business is not permanent. You can initially set up your company as a sole proprietorship. After that, if your business grows and you are worried about your personal liabilities, you can change your business either to Inc or LLC.
Should I open LLC or Inc?
Your choice of the business structure directly influences your ability to raise money, how much you pay in taxes, your personal liability and the paperwork you need to file. You’ll need to determine a business structure before registering your business with the state.
If you are confused about choosing between the various business structures, read our article on Company Types.
Get Your Business License if Needed
When you start a business, it requires being licensed to operate legally. Since regulations vary, so it’s essential to know the licensing rules where your business is located. Luckily, acquiring a business license is neither expensive nor time-consuming. Follow these steps to get your business license:
- Determine where to get your business license
- Know your business code
- Find the forms you’ll need to fill out
- Fill out the forms
- File your forms
- Pay the filing fee
- Wait to receive your license
- Follow the ordinances that are concerned to your business
Get Your Product Ready
After setting up and registering your company, all your focus needs to move towards getting the product ready for your customers. To help you, here are a few tips:
1. Establish your terms: It includes thinking about:
- What would be your minimum opening order? Minimum reorder?
- What would be your turnaround time?
- What are your payment terms?
- How do you ship? Do you offer insurance?
- Exchanges and returns?
2. Creating the first impression with your customers: You need to be the best with:
- Company overview
- Terms of services
- Order instructions
- Product catalog
3. Optimize your website
4. Reach out to local buyers
5. Attend trade shows
Plan Your Finances
Not planning your accounting, bookkeeping and tax records properly during the initial stages of your business can prove to be dangerous and expensive in the long run.
Set up the business as an Inc or LLC Corp or whatever structure suits you best to protect your personal assets. Consider using bookkeeping software that makes it easy to export records when preparing taxes.
You can even hire an accountant for your business whose responsibility would be to make sure that the taxes are done accurately. Consult with a professional to make sure you’re clear about your taxes and get your finances in shape.
Pick and Register Your Business Name
While forming a company, you’ll want to pick a business name that exhibits your brand identity. Once you are done with deciding the name of your business that is unique and matches your services, you need to protect it. There are four different ways to protect it, depending on your business structure and location.
- The Entity name protects you at the state level
- A Trademark protects you at a federal level
- The Domain name protects your business website address
- Doing Business As (DBA) doesn’t give legal protection, but might be legally required
Each of these name registrations is legally independent. Most of the start up businesses attempts to use the same name for each registration, but you’re not usually required to do so.
Choose Your Accounting System
Are you wondering why you need an accounting system for your business? Accounting system makes it simpler for you to track your business’s finances and control the money flowing in and out of your accounts. It helps in creating invoices, tracking expenses and generating quality reports that can assist you in analyzing your business’s performance from multiple angles. They also help you in tracking your bills and managing your projects or inventories.
How to choose a perfect accounting system?
Here are some of the factors to keep in mind when choosing an accounting system for your business:
- Features: What do you expect from your accounting system? Which reports do you want it to generate? Do you need both accounts payable and receivable tools? Do you need it to incorporate ancillary services, like project management, time tracking, and payroll? Do you need it to track inventory?
- Costs: What are your preferences? Do you need a basic accounting system or an accounting system with all the extra features in it?
- Usability: How many users would access the software? Do you prefer a cloud-based system? Do you need a desktop software? Do you want it to have a mobile application to access anywhere?
Set Up Your Business Address and Registered Address
You need to set up your business address because:
- Details are stored on public record to build corporate transparency
- Official mailing address for statutory correspondence is required
- Statutory registers and records must be kept and made available for inspection at the registered office
You can even use our registered address. For more info about it, contact us today!
Build Your Team and responsibilities,
Unless you are planning to run the business yourself, you need to hire a great team to get your business off the ground. You need to give the same attention to your employees as you give to your products.
Identifying your founding team, guiding them towards your goals, eliminating the existing gap, addressing them regularly, figuring out how the teams would coordinate, defining the roles and responsibilities, as well as giving them the proper feedback should be your top priority if you are determined to take your business to the next level.
Advertising is the heart of your business. For your business to persist, it needs a strong marketing. The stronger the advertising will be, the healthier your business will be.
Before you start selling your service or product, you need to have the potential customers to jump when you open your figurative doors for business.
You need to follow the best strategies to advertise your business. Some of these are as follows:
- Create a logo to identify your brand easily
- Be regular in using it across all of your platforms
- Don’t just sell – engage your customers
- Carve a niche and build your industry credibility
- Help people discover your content
- Co-sponsor an event within your niche market
- Social Media Exposure