Business

7 Essential First Steps To Starting A Small Business

At least half a million new businesses opened within the last year in the US. Some of these are brick-and-mortar businesses; some are online, and some are one-person ventures.

No matter what your plan is, taking the first steps to starting a small business can be daunting and overwhelming. What if your idea doesn’t work out? What if you don’t have the experience to be a small business owner?

But nothing ventured, nothing gained. It could be a great learning experience for your next entrepreneurial effort or it could be a huge success.

To make sure you give your business startup your best attempt, follow these tips to get organized and clear on your goals.

1. Develop Your Idea

If you’ve always dreamt about starting a business, you likely already have an idea. You might long to own a small vegan cafe, beauty salon, or an online jewelry store. Whatever it is, you need to flesh your idea out and get the details on paper.

Here are the very first steps to starting a small business that you need to figure out:

  • Name
  • Branding
  • Structure
  • Size
  • Location
  • Values
  • Stock or service

Your business’s name is important, but don’t let it get in the way of moving forward with your business idea. Make sure it is short, snappy, and describes what the business is about.

Check your ideas on Namechk to ensure they are available across all the main social media sites and that the domain name is available. Even if you are opening a brick-and-mortar business, you will also need an online presence.

Researching your competitors and performing market research is also essential. You will then be able to get a better understanding of the demand for your business and demographics.

And you can figure out how you can deliver a better service than your competitors, too!

2. Secure Funding

Money makes the world go round and it is one of the very first things you need if you want to start running a small business.

If you are starting an online business, you may need very little capital. You will need funds for the website hosting, stock, and packaging but not much else. It might be a good idea to work at your day job until you save enough startup money so you don’t have to take out a loan.

But if you want to open a physical business or one with lots of upfront expenses, you will likely need a helping hand. This could be in the form of a startup loan, grant, angel investor, or business partner.

Either way, it is better to start those applications and book those meetings sooner rather than later.

3. Write a Business Plan

No aspiring small business owner wants to write a business plan, but you almost always need to for funding applications. Plus, it can help you solidify your vision, goals, and timeline.

Depending on your business, most plans need to include this information:

  • Business concept
  • Plans for growth with a timeline
  • Unique selling point (USP)
  • Target market and research results
  • Pricing strategy and predicted finances
  • Marketing and advertising plans
  • Objectives and goals
  • Any relevant analytics and data

Creating a business plan will help you be realistic. It’s also a good idea to keep checking in every quarter so you can keep track of and create new goals.

4. Find a Location

If you are starting a physical business, finding a location is vital. You will know from your business plan and the funding you secured what you can afford. Don’t overspend on rent, utilities, and other expenses because you will soon dry out your resources.

Make a list of “must-haves” in a location and a list of “nice-to-haves.” Ensure your choice of location meets all your must-haves first. Don’t forget to consider your demographic, foot traffic, and the neighborhood, too.

5. Organize Permits and Licenses

No matter what type of small business you are starting, registering your business is essential. Whether you are a sole proprietor or starting an LLC, you need to sort out the paperwork.

Some businesses need more permits than others. For example, if you are starting a bar you will also need a license to serve alcohol.

Start applying for permits as soon as you have a location as it could affect when you can open your business. Click for more information on how long it takes to open a business.

6. Create an Online Presence

Being active on social media and having a website is non-negotiable for all small businesses these days. Websites are a great place for you to promote your business via a blog and display your contact details. It’s also ideal for posting other useful information like menus and prices.

You should also open social media accounts to market and promote your business there, too. Which ones you should be active on depends on your audience.

If you sell clothing aimed at teens and young people, you need to be active on TikTok. But, if you make knitting patterns and sell them on your website, then Facebook might be a better bet.

Do marketing and social media not play to your strengths? You could always hire an outside company to take care of that side of your business.

7. Never Stop Learning and Improving

Once you’ve started your small business and are almost up-and-running, you may think that most of the hard work is over. But it’s not even begun!

As you continue on your journey as a business owner, you need to keep improving and growing. Listen to business podcasts, read business books, take courses, and attend conferences. Look for a mentor or business coach if you are unsure how to progress or take the next steps.

Taking Those First Steps to Starting a Small Business

If it’s your dream to be your own boss and do something you are passionate about, start working towards your goals today. You only need to take the first steps to starting a small business and you will work the rest out as you go.

Beginning your entrepreneurial journey and need more helpful tips? Browse our website for tons of useful financial, marketing, and business advice!

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