It takes more than a great idea to run a successful business. Starting your own company requires hard work, entrepreneurial spirit, and, most of all, discipline. Moreover, it takes experience or a knowledgeable advisor who can assist you during the process. Unfortunately, not everyone has this sort of backup system.
If your goal is to become an entrepreneur and run your own business, this step by step guide is an excellent place to start. It will give you a clear idea of what you should be doing, both in the preparation and the execution phase. Not only that, but it will also point you to the best resources regarding legal matters so that you have all the necessary info to get things right from the very beginning.
Before you get into the legal and administrative requirements of running a business, you’ll need to come up with a business idea. For some people, this will come easy. Others, however, will need to do a lot more brainstorming if they want to think of something completely original.
Once you’ve got a concept, you’ll need to start doing some research. This means several things:
1. Conducting market research
2. Defining your target audience
3. Determining the things that will set you apart from your competition
You’ll want to be thorough, relying on both online and offline resources. Skipping this step would be foolish. Investing your energy and capital into something that already exists could be considered a waste of time.
Your next step will be to put together a business plan, which will serve a dual purpose. On the one hand, it will be a map for your upcoming journey, giving you clear guidelines on how to conduct your business. On the other hand, it will prepare you for both good and bad outcomes, and point to all possible challenges you might encounter. Furthermore, a solid business plan can help you secure the financial means needed to get started.
Don’t forget about an exit strategy. Most entrepreneurs start their businesses with a larger picture in mind. This can be selling, or it can be building up a stable source of income that will allow you to take a step back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. An effective exit strategy will act as a set of guidelines on what to do when things get tough. Seeing that a large number of startups never succeed, it’s good to prepare for the worst. It can save you a lot of trouble later on.
Taking Care of the Legalities
Once you’ve got a clear idea of what you will be doing (and how you’ll achieve your entrepreneurial goals), you’ll need to register your business. Choose the legal structure that will work best for you. Choosing an LLC or an S Corp will determine the amount of personal liability protection you’ll get. If you’re not sure what’s the right choice for you, it’s best to consult with a business advisor or experienced accountant. Keep in mind that different legal structures will entail different procedures and requirements, depending on location.
The next thing to do is to register your business with the government and IRS. You’ll need to come up with (and register) a business name and apply for a Taxpayer Identification Number. It’s also a good idea to open a separate bank account for your business, as well as to apply for a credit card to cover expenses such as business purchases and trips.
If your new business activity includes agriculture, transportation, media broadcasting, or selling alcoholic beverages, you’ll also need to apply for licenses and permits with the issuing authorities.
Setting Up an Office & Hiring a Team
Once you’ve thoroughly prepared and taken care of all administrative requirements, you can start setting up your business. This will consist of two steps:
1. Equipping your office space
2. Hiring the right talent
The way you set up your space will largely influence your operations. If you opt for a home office, make sure it’s a space you’ll only use for work. This way, you’ll effectively avoid unnecessary distractions that could cause a dip in productivity. If your company employs more people, you’ll need to dedicate more time to this task. Try to design your office in a way that encourages focus but still allows for effective cooperation. Software solutions can also go a long way in helping you manage your team, with both free and paid apps you can use to get things done.
When it comes to bringing in the right talent, this will greatly depend on your line of work. For those opening up a coffee shop, having approachable employees who can multitask will be a priority. If, however, you plan to offer digital services, you can look for IT, design, and SEO experts from all over the world, setting up a remote team of people. If you do opt to work remotely, or even outsource, keep in mind that a well-written NDA can help prevent a great deal of trouble down the line.
Employ the Right Marketing Strategies
Finally, once you’re ready to start working, you’ll need to make sure you’re taking all the necessary steps to reach your potential customers.
One of the most important strategies here is creating a strong online presence. This should include a well-made website, active social media profiles, as well as SEO and content marketing strategies that will expose your business to a large number of people. Once you’ve established initial contact with any of your potential customers, make sure that you engage with them and keep the conversation going. This will help build loyalty and will have a profound effect on your bottom line.
Last but not least, don’t forget to let your business grow. There will be two things you’ll want to keep an eye on simultaneously.
The first is the feedback you get from clients. Listening to your customers will give you a clear idea of which aspects of your business you need to improve.
The second thing to plan for is an increase in demand. This doesn’t mean creating unnecessary stock or hiring more people than you can pay. Rather, it’s about creating strategies that will allow you to remain in charge, even in unplanned positive situations.
As you can see, starting a business isn’t easy, and neither is making sure that it runs smoothly. Fortunately, however, you can plan for almost any event, as long as you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and take an objective approach. Being an entrepreneur can be a hugely rewarding experience. And it will definitely be much easier if you’re prepared for what’s ahead.
Sarah Kaminski is a freelance writer and social media marketer. She works with a number of small businesses to build their brands through more engaging marketing and content.