By Sheereen Charles
Running your own business is an exhilarating yet challenging experience. It is easy to become discouraged in the early stages of starting a business, but the key to success is persevering despite the challenges. Here is a simple to guide to help you on the journey.
- A Creative Idea
Before you start your business, you must have a good, solid idea of what your business is going to focus on and how you’re going to run your business. You need to have a very detailed and thought out idea, and you need to have a good sense of how you’re going to “sell” your business to potential investors. Consider your target market, potential issues your business may face, safeguards you will establish to avert those issues, and your business’s main goal.
- A Business Plan
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, a business plan is a guide to success. The plan should include the:
- Executive summary: a preview of your business plan as a whole
- Company description: what makes your company unique
- Market analysis: the competition and target demographics
- Service or product line: a description or story behind your product or service
- Marketing and sales strategy: how you plan to market and sell your idea
- Financial projections: your funding plans
- Determine Legal Structure
Before you start your business, you need to determine the legal structure of your business. What is the best type of ownership for you: sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), corporation, S corporation, nonprofit or cooperative? Research and rule out all options before choosing the right fit.
- Register and Fill Out All Necessary Paperwork
Once you’ve made sure your business name is available, you can register it with the state government. Be sure to also find out your state identification number. Obtain a list of all federal, state, and local licenses or permits you might need to complete for your business.
- Gather Resources
You will need certain essentials when opening a business. Create a list of all the physical items you need – i.e. computers, a warehouse, office supplies, etc. – and the cost to purchase those items. Also, create a list of the intangible resources you need like supporters, mentors, and information. If you do purchase something that is solely for your business, check with the IRS to find out if it’s tax deductible.
- Organize Finances
You should discuss how you plan to fund your business in your business plan. Once you get your business up and running, you need to get a handle on your finances. Hire an accountant or bookkeeper to keep track of your business’s funds and record your taxes. If you do not wish to hire anyone, there are multiple programs like GoDaddy Bookkeeping and Quickbooks that allow you to do your own taxes
- Introduce Marketing and Brand Awareness Promotions
You should have already discussed your marketing and sales strategy in your business plan. Now it is time to put it in to place. Consider using social media to your advantage, which is key in our technological age. Most companies grow popularity globally by having a heavy online presence.
- Keep Track
Business is good and you have been operating for some time now! Don’t forget to keep track of inventory logs, update the website, and work on the payroll. Create a list of these necessary tasks and schedule a due date for each of them. If you want reminders, ToDoit is a program that lists a company’s daily tasks.
- Set Future Objectives
It doesn’t matter how old your business is – never stop creating goals for yourself. Evaluate the competition, the industry, technology, investors, etc. to determine what new objectives need to be made. Being able to constantly reach your goals will always keep your business moving forward.
If you’ve gotten this far, congratulations! Your achievement is something to be very, very proud of – not many people can call themselves business owners!