Opening your own business doesn’t necessarily need a college degree or business experience; it’s generally a learn-as-you-go process.
But what you really need is a smart business plan and the knack to make smart decisions early on.
When you decide to take the plunge, make sure you set a solid foundation for a good beginning.
Here are 11 steps you need to take to start your business successfully. One step at a time and you will be on your way to success.
1. Be brutally honest with yourself
That’s your first step. Ask yourself the basic question: why do you want to start a business?
Is it because you want to earn money on the side?
Is it because you want to get rid of your 9 to 5 job?
Once you know your purpose, then find out whether you have what it takes to start a business. The answers to these questions will create a foundation to get you moving.
- What skills do you have?
- What are you passionate about?
- Where are your areas of expertise?
- How much can you spend on your business?
- How much capital do you need?
- Are you mentally prepared to be an entrepreneur?
2. Come up with a business idea
Do you have a brilliant idea and want to build on it to make it commercially viable?
If yes, that’s great. You can move on to the next step in starting your business.
If not, start brainstorming and come up with potential business ideas. Seek advice from other entrepreneurs, ask questions to people you meet or look for ideas online.
3. Do market research
So, now you have your business idea, the next step is to check whether it has the potential to succeed. It’s time now to validate your idea before you go any further with it.
The best place to validate your idea is the market. Does your idea solve a problem, fulfill a need or offer something new?
Start your research. Conduct surveys hold focus groups and research online. As your research deepens, you’ll have answers to these questions:
- Does the market need your products/services?
- Who is your target audience?
- Do you have competitors?
- How big is the competition?
- How will you make your business fit into the market?
4. Write your business plan
A business plan is your blueprint to success. From the startup phase through establishment and eventually business growth and exit strategies, your business plan must have it all.
If your business needs financial support from financial institutions and banks, an elaborate business plan is a must. The plan must include all the checkpoints that investors or banks use to validate your business idea.
If your business doesn’t need financial support, your business plan can be a simple one-page document that can guide you to achieve clarity on how to go ahead with your business.
5. Access your finances
You don’t require a lot of money to start a business. Having money for an initial investment and for covering the ongoing expenses is a good start.
- Create a spreadsheet to estimate the startup costs for your business that include legal fees, insurance, licenses and permits, insurance, equipment, inventory, property lease, branding, etc.
- Then estimate how much you’ll need to run your business for at least 1 year. Your ongoing expenses may include rent, employee salaries, salary, promotion, etc.
The total of both the estimated figure is your initial investment. With this figure in mind, you can look for financing options in the market. Some options are:
- Angel investors
- Small business loans
- Personal loans for business
Through one or a combination of these options, you can get the finance needed to get your business off the ground.
6. Choose your business structure
Your business can be a partnership, sole proprietorship, an LLC or a corporation. Whatever structure you choose, it will impact your liability, your business name and, also how you file your taxes.
7. Give a name to your business and register it
Your business name is important for your business, so choose a good one. Once you have a name, then check if it’s in use or trademarked. Register it as per your business structure. Don’t forget to register a domain in your business name too.
8. Apply for all relevant licenses and permits
Research to find out what licenses and permits are applicable to you depending on the location and type of your business. Apply for the relevant permits and licenses.
9. Choose a location for your business
A place for business is important to run its operation.
Whether you want to set it up at home, buy or lease an office space, make sure that you choose a location that works for your type of business.
10. Hire employees to get your business moving
Make sure you hire strategically.
Outline the positions you need to fill along with their job responsibilities and then reach out to your potential employees.
11. Get the promotion game on
Once you start attracting clients, it’s time to market your business.
Create a marketing plan with your unique selling proposition. Explore marketing ideas and then promote your business.
The steps mentioned above will help you to start your business.
However, success doesn’t happen overnight. You need to consistently work on your business, refine ideas, improvise plans and then you’ll increase your chances of success.