It may seem like a daunting task to start your own business, but there are many steps that you can take to make it easier on yourself. This blog post will walk you through the 10 most important steps of how to start a small business from getting organized and finding funding to all of the legal documentation required.
-Step One: Get Organized. This step includes coming up with a business idea, identifying your market and determining what paperwork you need to get started. This includes getting an Employer Identification Number (something you need even if you don’t have employees – this is essentially the social security number for your business and you’ll need it to file taxes, legal paperwork and to open bank accounts or get loans), and filing the proper paperwork with your state.
–Step Two: Create A Business Plan. Once you have an idea, it is time to create a detailed plan of action for your business that will include services or products offered as well as the costs involved in getting started and marketing plans. I have a free download with everything you need to get your business plan in order — and how to write one that positions you for success.
–Step Three: Come Up With A Name And Logo For Your Company. Choosing a name is difficult – you want something both simple – which clearly tells consumers what your business is about – and interesting. Come up with a few names and then get feedback from friends and family. Logos are also important – while you can use tools like Canva and others to create a logo yourself, if you aren’t strong in the design area and don’t have a huge budget for branding, I recommend 99Designs.com which is a great way to get a logo designed on a budget. Watch my video on how you can get many logo options from 99Designs.
–Step Four: Get A Domain Name And Set Up Your Website. Similar to coming up with your business name, finding the right domain name can be tough — so it’s best to start with the end in mind. Your company name may not be available, so you might have to work with something that incorporates your business name. Questions to ask yourself: What is your business going to do for customers? Why would people want to buy from you (or hire you)? How will your product or service make their lives better? These considerations should help narrow down what kind of domain name makes sense for your company, as well as look at how easy it is to remember and spell!
Setting up your website can be simple using platforms that make it easy for you to do it yourself like Shopify, Wix or SquareSpace. These cost-effective and user-friendly sites will allow you to build a professional, customized website in minutes.
–Step Five: Setup Your Social Media Presences. Once your business is online, it’s important to start building an audience on social media so people can find out about your company when they’re looking for businesses like yours. Add links back to your site on Facebook posts and pin them into groups that are relevant. You should also consider setting up Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles as well – the more places people can see information about what you do, how great you are at it and where they can buy from you or hire you — the better! Once your website starts getting traffic–you’ll be able to measure which of these channels work best for your business.
–Step Six: Get Your Finances in Order. You’ll need to figure out your business finances before you can invest any time or money into making your idea a reality! Make sure you know how much it will cost to start, operate and maintain the company for at least six months. This includes everything from what kind of supplies, equipment or services are needed; to office expenses like furniture and decorations; salaries for employees if you have them; advertising costs (like public relations) as well as other overhead items like travel and training that may be necessary. It’s important not only so you don’t end up running out of cash but also because this is one indicator potential lenders will look at when deciding whether they want to give loans to startup businesses.
–Step Seven: Build your team. Find the right people (or hire them) to help you with all aspects of running a business, including financial management and legal tasks. This includes finding an accountant or bookkeeper who is knowledgeable about tax laws for small businesses as well as someone experienced in handling administrative matters like payroll taxes and benefits administration if you have employees; plus hiring at least one person to handle customer service issues. You may need more than one employee depending on how many products or services your company offers – but it pays off because that means less time is spent doing tedious work by just one person while also giving other members of the team experience so they can move up within the organization later on down the road. Thanks to today’s remote workforce, there are many resources to find help – from Upwork.com for freelancers for various tasks and I personally love Quickbooks as my accounting platform and they have access to great bookkeepers to help keep finances in order.
-Step Eight: Generate Leads. Once you have the above basics in place, it’s time to take the next step to start bringing in sales. Depending on the type of business, using social media and working with influencers might be the right strategy if you have a product to sell. Or, you may want to setup landing pages if you offer a service and place ads on Facebook and Google.
–Step Nine: Work on Retention and Repeat Business. No matter what kind of business you are starting, customer service and encouraging those who buy from you to come back over and over again is critical. Think about how to best encourage repeat business and MORE business through word of mouth from the first customers — whether it’s a referral program or discount codes, or a smart email campaign that announces new products or services to your customer.
–Step Ten: Determine the next steps. Now that you have successfully completed all of the previous nine steps, it’s time to figure out what your next steps are going to be. One option is keep doing more on each and make things happen while taking each day as it comes; another would be to take a break for a few days or weeks then come back with fresh eyes – this may help you see new opportunities or changes in the market.
My program, Ready for Launch, covers all of the above and more in detail and provides you with one-on-one insight and advice from me to get you setup for success.