10 Steps to Starting a Small Business
Small businesses are the backbone of most communities. The Small Business Administration (SBA) estimates that there are 28 million small businesses in the United States, accounting for over 99 percent of all U.S. businesses. It isn’t easy to position your business for success. The SBA reports that only two-thirds of small businesses with employees survive at least two years, while only half will survive five years. Being your own boss might be the American dream, but reaching that dream takes a lot of drive, motivation and knowledge. Starting a small business can be rewarding, but make sure you set the stage for success early on in the creation of your new business. The SBA recommends taking these steps:
Having a great idea is only half the battle. Will people buy your product or service? If you’re thinking about making the plunge, make sure to do your homework and learn the market.
Create a business plan
Whether or not you plan on getting investors, you need a business plan. A working plan can help you find your focus and give you structure for your new business. Put it in writing for it to be most effective.
Work out your finances
You may not need a lot of money to start, but you will have business expenses over the course of the next year. List the startup expenses and operating costs that you anticipate to know how much money you need to bring in to be viable.
Choose your business structure
Your business entity is a factor in paying taxes, liability and banking. It might be a good idea to check with a business attorney to make sure you’re choosing the right structure from the start.
Choosing a business name
The right business name is essential to your success. Make sure the name you are using isn’t already trademarked or in use. Don’t forget to check domain names. Register your business name with the state and reserve your business domain name.
Get licenses and permits
Depending on your industry and local laws, you may need special permits or licenses. Make sure to have the correct paperwork before you open your doors.
Set up an accounting system
Even if you haven’t made any money, get your accounting system in place early. Create a budget, set up prices and get your taxes in order for the future. An accountant can help you get a solid start with your system.
Set up your location
Even if you are an online business, you want an office space to keep work and home separate. Choose a room in your home for a private office or consider a retail location.
Create a support team
If you’re a solopreneur, you may want to have a mentor, a small business coach or other person who provides advice, motivation and support when things get rocky. If you are hiring employees or independent contractors, work with an attorney to make sure you have contracts in order before taking on help.
Once you’ve got your business up and going, you need customers. Create a marketing plan to maintain your brand’s image across multiple platforms. Use different marketing avenues to discover what works and where you customers are.
If you need answers to the question, “how to start a small business,” check with your local SBA office. Having a good insurance portfolio can provide peace of mind when you’re getting started. Starting a small business isn’t easy, but when you have a plan and work on your business, you can find success.