Are you toying with the idea of starting your own business? The idea can be very tempting, especially if you’re sitting in your car in traffic and wondering if you’ll make it home in time for your daughter’s ballet performance. Taking the first step can be scary but exhilarating, but once you’ve stepped off the cliff, you need to focus on making your vision of your own business a reality. There are many elements and moving parts to consider. It helps to have an outline to follow, so take a look at the following ten basic steps that are necessary to starting your own successful business.
To begin, you need an idea. All businesses started with someone’s idea. Perhaps you’ve dreamed of selling your Mom’s toffee or painting every house in your neighborhood. Whatever it is, your business idea will be the foundation of your business.
Once you’ve got your idea, the next step is to create a solid business plan. This can seem like a chore, but it is critical to your success. The business plan doesn’t need to be anything formal and certainly doesn’t have to be long, but it should cover some basics. There should be an overview of the business, some background on the industry, the service or product, the business model, and the strategy for making it all come together.
It is important to do some basic research to see if your idea can get traction with potential customers. Your research should determine if there is a need for your service or product. If so, who is your customer and who are your competitors? Where do you see your business fitting in the market?
The answers to these questions can help you write your business plan. Once your plan is written, then run it by other business owners and a few lenders, if possible. Ask them for feedback and where you need to strengthen or improve the plan.
Once your business plan is finalized, you need to determine how you will finance your start-up costs. There are several options for funding your business. These include personal savings or help from family or friends, small business grants, small business loans, and investors. No matter what funding strategy you choose, try and keep any debt to a minimum.
You will also need to choose a business structure, register your business name and obtain any necessary licenses or permits. A business attorney can be helpful during this process to ensure you don’t’ miss anything important.
You will also need to choose a location. Of course, the easiest choice is to work from home, at least in the beginning. This also helps keep overhead costs low. You will also need to consider equipment, the internet and phone service requirements. It is also important to choose a good accounting system.
Once you’ve got all of the above in place, you are ready to promote your business. Create a unique selling proposition and use this to develop your marketing plan. This may include your web presence, memberships in local professional organizations and marketing materials.
Starting your own business can be one of the most exciting and frustrating things you’ll ever do. Follow these steps as your prepare to open your business and you’ll be on your way to success.