Starting a business can be a stressful experience, no matter how confidently or self-assured you enter the project. It can feel like there are a million things to get done at the same time, and not enough time in the world to do them all efficiently. As an ambitious entrepreneur, you likely know these feelings all too well and find yourself feeling frequently discouraged by the immense amount of work on your plate. While there is no avoiding this reality for new business owners, but a little planning goes a long, long way.
While it may seem overwhelming at first, the level of success you reach in building your business is largely determined by your preparedness. If you’re ready to take the plunge, we’re here to give you the lowdown on the seven things you need to do before starting your own business.
So, you’ve got a brilliant idea, but do you understand the market for it? First and foremost, you should complete painstaking research on the industry you’re aiming to dive into. Diligent research can reveal key need-to-know details about your target audience, competitors, and the elements that might make your product or services unique to the existing scope of the industry.
Ultimately, doing your research better sets you up for success because you can gain better insight into what your goals should be and how your service or product should be tweaked to dominate the market. If you can’t offer something better or more affordable than your competitors, you may need to rethink the very basis of your business idea.
2. Create a business plan
What’s a business without a comprehensive business plan? Let’s be real, going into business blindly is a sure recipe for disaster, so it’s well worth your while to take as much time as you need to develop a thorough business plan that covers as many nitty-gritty details as possible. At its very core, an outstanding business plan enumerates each of your goals, the methods you’ll employ to achieve these goals, and how you plan to manage the inevitable bumps in the road ahead.
No need to start from scratch—the Small Business Administration offers a business plan template that can help you get your idea off the ground. The components of a good business plan include:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Market analysis
- Organization and management
- Service or product line
- Marketing and sales
- Funding request
3. Figure out your finances
Once you’ve squared away your business plan, you need to figure out how you’re going to fund it. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that starting a business requires capital—and in most cases, that’s capital that you likely won’t have right away. You’re going to need enough money to cover a variety of expenses, such as licenses, rent, inventory, equipment, technology, payroll—the list goes on.
Fortunately, there are a number of viable avenues for seeking capital. Some ways you can raise money for your small business include:
- Online crowdsourcing
- A small business loan
- Angel investors and venture capitalists
- From friends, family, and colleagues
- Self-funding with your own money
Additionally, having someone that knows business tax like the back of their hand can be instrumental in keeping your business on the right track and saving money too. Make sure you hire a well-recommended tax professional to ensure your taxes don’t end up costing you thousands more than they should.
4. Plan your marketing strategy
Now comes the big question: how are you going to attract and build a clientele? Your marketing plan is the most crucial piece to this puzzle, and your strategy should be creative, clever, and masterful. Color schemes, branding, and consistent copy make for a cohesive marketing strategy.
Take Objective Wellness for example. They sell several types of supplements, including blood circulation supplements. As you can see, they use greens and whites to draw the eye, as well as a ton of information regarding their products. They promote healthy living through natural supplements, and this is easily understood through a solid marketing and branding strategy.
To create an effective marketing plan, follow these steps:
- Develop a meaningful mission statement to determine what sets you apart from the competition.
- Create a detailed budget and timeline.
- Conduct market research to identify and understand your target audience.
- Devise a plan on how you will reach your audience, be it influencer marketing, advertising, internet marketing, etc.
- Create social media accounts—Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Create a business website along with the essentials: landing pages, a blog, and most importantly—interactive forms to easily collect and decipher potential customer information.
5. Establish your legal entity
On the legal side of things, there are plenty of new responsibilities and paperwork you’ll need to tackle as a small business owner. Most importantly, you will need to incorporate your business as an LLC or S-Corp. Don’t make the mistake of starting your business as a sole proprietor using your personal social security number as you’ll open yourself up to personal legal liability which can be risky and unprofessional.
6. Identify and secure a location
Whether it’s a home office or the entire floor of an industrial park building, the logistics of your proposed business location should be set-in-stone before your business takes flight. It may even be helpful to determine the type of building you’ll need during the early stages of planning your new business. Check out this convenient office space calculator to get a better idea on how much space you’ll need. Also, should you tackle location early on, be sure to also consider ancillary costs like choosing an internet service provider, utilities, insurance, and more.
You’ll want to make sure you secure an office space with not only a good property management company, but also good neighboring businesses. Ensure your business will fit in by doing a walkthrough of the property and getting to know some of the other businesses in the building. Landlords know that keeping good tenants can save them several thousand dollars, so making sure you are in good company is a mutually beneficial thing to consider for both you and the property manager.
7. Grow your team
Though it can often feel like one, starting a business should not be an independent journey. No one person can harness all the knowledge, experience, or perspective needed to achieve their personalized pinnacle of success. As a new business owner, you won’t believe just how much there is to gain from others’ skills and experiences. Hiring help toward the middle or tail-end of your business planning will better set you up for success. Any good business is backed by a supportive team of like minded individuals who collectively band together to meet the goals you’ve set together.
Hiring the right employees is absolutely essential to the success of your business as you likely don’t have too much leftover capital to be wasting on wishy-washy employees. Take your time during the hiring process, and screen every prospective employee thoroughly before making any big decisions.
Pro-tip: Hire a legal partner. Even if you can’t afford to hire them on as a full-time employee, having them part-time or contracted can make a world of difference in your earliest phases of running your business. It’s immeasurably important to ensure that you are legally protected and going about the process the right way in the eyes of the law. A legal associate can offer both preventative and proactive legal preparation.
Starting a business is a big deal, and with so much invested into your big idea, it pays to make sure you’re taking every necessary step to ensure your future success. With these seven tasks, you’ll be well on your way!
Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is the managing editor for 365businesstips.com. She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.