Starting A Small Business
Make no mistake, it takes a lot of hard work to get a new business off the ground. But, it's worth every hour of effort as the rewards can be huge.
When I decided to start my first business in the restaurant trade, I tried hard to find a good startup guide. I couldn't find any that had all the steps. So, I decided to write one.
Before you spend so much as a dollar, talk to a few experts. Go to the library or get on the internet and research, research, research. Take a little time to make sure entrepreneurship is right for you.
Make a pros and cons list of business ownership, and evaluate yourself honestly. How many characteristics do you have in common with successful entrepreneurs? Is your financial position strong enough? Do you have the necessary technical and management skills?
You’re not going to be the perfect entrepreneur. Nobody is. But in order to make yourself the best entrepreneur you can be, consider ways to compensate for any weaknesses you might have.
These steps to starting a business are in reasonably good order, but you might find yourself varying from it under your particular circumstances. That really isn’t a big deal, as long as you get most of it done. There are some steps you’ll be able to skip as well, but please don’t skip any of the “big ones”, which I’m sure you’ll pretty much figure out from taking a look at the list.
So, assuming you’ve done your evaluation and you still want to start a business, take a deep breath, and let's get started.
1. Conduct a feasibility study of your business. Describe your typical customer, your product and your competitors. Who will your suppliers be? What will you charge for your product? How will you market your product? These are just a few of the questions you need to answer.
2. Write a complete business plan for your company, using the information you gathered from your feasibility study. This vitally important, often overlooked step needs to include a description of your company, its goals, competitors, market, financial information, and of course, how you intend to meet your goals.
3. Get your financing in place. There are many ways to finance your business, from your own savings to personal credit cards to bank loans. If you need credit, know your business plan from front to back and maybe even sideways.
4. Decide what kind of structure your company will have. From a legal standpoint, there are three basic choices, sole proprietorship, partnership and incorporation, each with advantages and disadvantages.
5. Choose a business name for your company and check on name availability. Naming your company is highly individual, but it’s the first thing associated with your business, so choose your name carefully.
6. Decide whether you want to register federally or provincially and register your company. If you register federally, you’ll also have to register provincially, which almost doubles the cost. You don’t have to have a lawyer process them for you, but it might be a good idea to at least consult with one. You can get the forms from your local government office, have them faxed to you or download them. You can fax or email printed copies, or complete the forms online
7. Contact your local secretary of state's office for your business number, and to register for payroll, corporate income tax and import/export (if applicable).
8. Determine whether there are special permits or licenses in your state. It’s highly unlikely that your stats does not have special permits or licenses.
9. Develop the marketing materials you decided on in your business plan. They should include at least a company identity package, press kit and website. Your identity package is your logo, business card and letterhead. A press kit can include letters of introduction, biography sheets, press releases, articles and a brochure. In today’s electronic age, printed materials aren’t enough. You need a website that looks professional, matches your printed material and has great copy. You’ll also want to make sure it’s optimized for search engines.
10. Set up your business bank account and record-keeping system. Your banker will need to see your incorporation documents, and you should probably set up more than one account so you can keep track of your finances better. Record-keeping is required, and can be done manually or with a computer program.
11. Purchase insurance. There are many different types of insurance, but most probably your company will need at least one. For example, if you’re going to have employees, you need to contact the Worker’s Compensation Board. Depending on your type of business, you might want to contact them even if you don’t have employees to insure yourself.
12. Contact potential creditors and set up credit terms. You should have researched suppliers when you were doing your feasibility study. Now is the time to contact them.
13. Decide where your business will be located. Lease your business’ space. Alternatively, you could choose to start your business from home if it’s feasible. There are advantages and disadvantages to starting your business from home. You have tax write-offs for example, but sometimes your image suffers.
14. Purchase supplies and office equipment. You’ll need too many things to list here, and of course, each business has different needs. You might need a fax machine and printer. You’ll probably need a computer. You’ll definitely need paper, pens, pencils and a calculator.
15. Get prepared for working long hours initially with few rewards or sleep!
It's important that you complete all of the steps up front to minimise problems further along the line. A lot of the administrative tasks above are mundane but need to be done.
The "Start Your Own Business Kit" on the left is currently available for just $19.95, that's incredible value and we highly recommend it.
Getting Free Small Business Advice * BONUS!
Choosing a Business
Defining Your Products & Services
Analyzing Your Market
Selecting a Business Name
Bookkeeping & Accounting Basics
Protecting Your Intellectual Property
Determining Your Contact Information
Structuring Your Business
Obtaining Your Business Licenses
Opening a Business Bank Account
Setting Up Your Office
Pricing Your Products/Services
Developing Your Image & Brand
Building a Web Site
Creating Marketing Materials
Marketing Your Business
Providing Effective Customer Service
Closing a Sale
Hiring Help for Your Business
Knowing Your Tax Responsibilities
Writing Your Business Plan
Financing Your Business
and whole lot more!