Want to start a business but not sure where to go from here? We’re here to help!
Below you’ll find all you need to know about starting a business including Marketing Strategy, Financing, Government registering, Funding, and all the other details you need to know.
And how do we know all these things? You guessed it.
We’ve been in your shoes and have had to learn the ropes to starting up a business ourselves.
We’d love for you to learn from our failures so you don’t end up making the same ones.
How to Start a Business:
- Discern if you’re a good fit
- Establish your Business Goals
- Write a Plan
- Assess your Finances
- Leadership Team
- Register your Business with the Government & IRS
- Tools & Software
- Grow your Team
- Branding & Marketing
- Plan for Growth
Discern if you’re a Good Fit
Before you do anything drastic, we encourage anyone before starting a business to evaluate if they’re a good fit. Being a business owner isn’t for everyone, we all have our gifts and skills and the last thing we want is for you to try to make yourself someone you’re just not.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, there are 31 million entrepreneurs in the U.S. which is about 16% of the adult workforce. However, about 55% of adults have started a business at some point in their lives.
Starting a business just isn’t for everyone, for most people enjoy life the best employed. And that’s not a bad thing, we encourage each person to discern and then freely live in their talents and skills!
So you may be wondering where to even start in discerning if you’re a natural-born entrepreneur. There’s no need to stress it, it’s rather quite simple.
Think about it, is there something you’re passionate about? A reason why you want to start a business? A product or service you’ve been longing to give others so they can live richer lives?
If you’ve answered yes to any of the above questions you’re one step toward entrepreneurship.
Another great way to discern is by thinking about your childhood. Were you one who was always trying to sell and make money, whether that was something like selling lemonade to your neighbors, doing yard work for others, or perhaps you were always the first kid on the block ready to shovel off the snow from your neighbors’ homes during every single storm?
Friends and family who have known you for years are wonderful resources. People who have known you since you were young and know you well can discern your personality and giftings, sometimes even better than yourself.
So if you find yourself passionate about something you’ve been wanting to sell whether that’s a service or product and your family and friends support you, then what are you waiting for?
Well, that’s not the only thing to think through when starting a business.
Starting your own business isn’t easy. We get it.
You’re setting yourself in a vulnerable position, if it doesn’t work out you’ll be back at point A. And most likely you’ll be left with less money and without a stable job.
You’ll be facing the risk of failure and failure is never easy. About 90% of startups fail. Shocking? I agree.
So make sure you evaluate your personality, ask your close friends and family, and don’t jump into anything too fast!
Looking for a resource to hear the highs, lows, and in-betweens of a start-up business?
The following podcast is a fantastic place to start, you’ll hear the pain and difficulty of starting a business as well as the joys!
They’re incredibly authentic and honest in their journey. Listening will help you evaluate whether this is something you want to jump into or not.
You’ll get to hear from someone who started his business from the ground up!
Discern if you’re a Good Fit
So starting off, what’s the first step towards a successful business?
Why are you even starting a business?
What are your goals and vision for the future of your business?
To know where you want to be in 10 years you have to set goals.
Create a vision for the future of your business to know what you’re working toward.
Without a vision, you’ll be wandering. Just like a ship without a destination, you’ll go nowhere.
Goals will help you know where you’re heading and how to get there. When writing your goals the more specific you can be the better!
Stick to it. Commit to keeping with your goals even when it’s difficult.
If you’re not going to stick with your goals then it’s not even worth it. Regularly evaluating your goals will help you keep on track and stay focused.
And remember, celebrate! Even the small things.
It’s worth it and will encourage you on your journey!
How do you come up with business goals?
A few tips for making goals!
- Specific: Keep your goals specific. Creating specific goals will allow you to know what you’re working towards, and you’ll be able to accomplish them.
- Measurable: If your goals are measurable you’ll be much quicker to determine if you’re following through with your goals.
- Achievable: Without achievable goals, you’ll become discouraged and will slow down your process. Setting goals that are way too high and unattainable will be discouraging and you’ll probably stop writing these goals and lose sight of your vision.
- Realistic: Make sure your goals are in check with reality. Setting your goals so high that you’ll never be able to attain them is discouraging. Keep in mind who your goals will affect, will this specific goal mean your employees will need to work overtime for the next three weeks. If so then this goal probably isn’t realistic.
- Time-Bound: Creating goals with a clear timetable is super helpful! It’ll give you clarity when you need to reevaluate or complete them, instead of having goals going on forever and never accomplishing them.
Once you’ve created these goals it’s incredibly important that you evaluate them regularly.
Without checking in on your progress it’s not even worth coming up with them in the first place.
Keep up with them. Regularly evaluate. Celebrate accomplished goals and press on to creating new ones that will take your company to the next level.
Write your Plan
- Market Research
- Clarify your target customers
- Determine your product/service
- Business Name and Domain
So to start you want to do some market research.
What is market research?
Good question, market research is analyzing what sets you and your product apart from your competitors.
Determine who your competitors are based on your product/service and ways you can be better than they are and what makes you different from them.
Clarify your target customers
Who are you targeting?
Who are your ideal customers?
Determine the group of people whom you are creating your product/service for.
Clarifying this will help you in more than one way.
When you know who you’re marketing for you’ll be able to create the product that is best fit for them and most appealing.
This will allow you to increase your customers and finalize sales.
Once you’ve determined your ideal market you’ll be able to create the ideal marketing campaign specific to the people you’re focusing on.
Determine your product/service
If you’re this far along in starting a business, you most likely have an idea or plan for what product or service you’re wanting to sell.
If not, you at least know what market you want to enter.
Researching the current companies already in that market can help you determine what your competition and competitive pricing are.
It’ll help you see how many people are already in the market and how competitive it’s going to be.
To enter a market, you need to have something that sets you apart.
So think about how you can either deliver the product or service faster or cheaper than your competitors.
Business Name and Domain
Determining your business’s Name and Domain is highly important for the success of your business.
And this is where getting outside help such as a marketing company that specializes in this can be super helpful.
If you’re on a tight budget and unable to do so, many online resources will help you determine a business name.
Ask your family and close friends what they think and get their ideas.
This is where your brainstorming can go to the hilt and come up with unique ways to portray your company.
Assess your finances
Perhaps the least favorite topic to discuss when starting a business yet one that is highly important is your finances.
The most common way to determine whether your product or service is going to be profitable is the following formula. It’s super simple:
- Fixed Costs divided by (Average Price – Variable Costs) = Break-Even Point
This helpful tool will help you determine the minimum performance that your business must achieve to avoid losing money.
It’ll give you a better understanding of exactly where your profits come from and help you set goals of production accordingly.
This is a huge aspect you as the business owner is thinking about.
You most likely aren’t out there just to help people while your money goes down the drain.
Keep track of your revenue and determine which products or services will bring in a profit and which ones you’re selling that is a loss.
Price Product or Service
You must assess how much you need to generate to cover all your expenses.
Keep track of data so you know if you will need to raise your price or change rates.
Determine your competitors’ pricing and how much it will cost to create your product/service.
All these will help you determine what you need to be paying.
Keep detailed records and determine what you need to sell in order to make a profit.
Determine what costs you can reduce and how you can improve sales.
Keeping meticulous records will help you, in the long run, to know what’s profitable, and what isn’t so you can have a successful business.
Starting your business but need financial assistance?
Seeing if a commercial loan is an option through a bank is the best place to start.
If you find this doesn’t work, you can apply for a small business loan through the U.S. Small Business Administration or see if you have any other alternative lender possibilities.
If you find you need assistance at the start, this can be a good way to get your business up and going!
Grants are similar to loans except for the fact that you don’t need to pay these back!
Grants are incredibly competitive and come with a lot of stipulations that need to be considered before being accepted.
If you choose to go down this route, look for grants that are uniquely specific to your situation.
You’ll need to do your research, but this can be a fantastic way to help your business without a loan hanging over your head.
As a new business, you’ll need a significant amount of money all up front.
Some small businesses choose to bring on Investors to back them up.
They can often provide you with several million dollars to help you get your business up and going.
However, keep in mind that these investors will then have a hands-on role in running your business.
Yet for some small businesses, this is a good option.
We’ve found that using InvestorScout is a fantastic place to connect with investors! Below you’ll find the link and you’ll be on your way to starting up your very own business.
Another way to start a business financially is something called Bootstrapping.
A unique way to start a business, yet a fun way to get family and friends involved in your new venture, as well as a way to feel more independent than when you’re dependent upon the government for loans and funding, etc.
So what is bootstrapping?
It’s a way to fund your business start-up using your own personal savings account as well as borrowed or invested money from either friend and/or family.
If you enjoy being independent and have the resources needed to do this, it can be a fun way to jump-start your business.
If you chose to be the sole proprietor you choose to own the business on your own without any other partners.
This can be one of the simplest ways to start a business.
It’s fairly easy and inexpensive to go this route with your business.
You’ll then have complete control of your business and the decisions all come back to you and you alone.
However, it can also be a heavy load to carry.
And if you’re not one who likes to figure things out all on your own this might not be the best fit for you.
Evaluating your personality and vision for your business will help establish whether this is a good fit for you or not.
There are over 23 million sole proprietorships currently operating in the United States.
If you decide sole proprietorship isn’t right for you this can be a good second option.
There are many different advantages to bringing on a business partner.
You’ll have all your resources, ideas, and skill sets as well as another one!
You’ll have another person to help lead the business and bounce ideas off of.
Around 8% of all businesses are partnerships.
However, before jumping into anything too quickly, make sure you share similar values and have clear expectations regarding this business from the start.
This will keep you from unnecessary stress or complications later.
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
This is probably one of the most common types of small business entities in the U.S. An LLC can be created either by one or multiple owners.
It allows you to have liable protection as the business owner, allowing you to not be financially responsible for legal claims that are brought against your business.
It also allows you to have the tax benefits of a partnership while at the same time providing you with legal protection as a corporation
In 2021, the number of small businesses in the US reached 32.5 million, making up nearly all (99.9
Register with the Government and IRS
Articles of Incorporation and Operating Agreements
In order for you to become an officially recognized business entity, you’ll need to register with the government.
An article of incorporation is a legal document that legally documents the creation of a company.
An operating agreement is another document that’s important for the financial side of your business. It outlines your financial plan, rules, regulations, and provisions.
Doing Business As (DBA)
A DBA is used for a company when the name they choose to use to operate under is different from its legal and registered name.
A DBA will tell people who the real owner of their business is.
Another term in place of DBA is either a “fictitious business name” or “assumed business name”.
DBA is a simple, easy way to register your name.
Employer Identification Number (EIN)
An EIN is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number used to identify a business entity.
It can be used for many different business functions such as opening a bank account, keeping track of invoicing, hiring employees, or paying taxes and complying with tax law.
Obtaining an EIN is fairly simple, the easiest way is to apply for it online, and takes about a day to complete.
State, and local licenses and permits
State and local licenses and permits all depend on your state, county, or city.
You’ll need to do your research based on where you’re setting up your industry.
Permits will vary depending on your business’s activities whether it’s construction, agriculture, restaurants, plumbing, cleaning, or anything else.
It’s good to keep in mind that permits need to be renewed and it’s much easier getting a renewal versus applying for a new one.
So keep track of when you need to renew them and you’ll save yourself time, money, and stress!
Tools & Software
Software and other tools for your business will be incredibly helpful for the success and productivity of your business.
We like to look at software as your silent business partner.
Software tools can be used for a wide variety of things including but not limited to accounting, project management, communication, and so much more!
Research from Gartner estimated that enterprise software spending rose 8.5% in 2019 to $453 billion even as total IT spending rose a paltry 0.5% to $3.74 trillion.
We highly recommend you get QuickBooks.
One of the tops used accounting software for companies of all sizes.
They provide you with an easy-to-use platform where you can have organized systems and streamline all your accounting processes into one.
Trust me, this will make your small business accounting easier than ever before.
The importance of communicating with your employees can’t be overstated!
That’s why having an app where all communication happens and is easily accessible will save everyone both time and energy.
You’ll be able to easily access past communications and always know where to communicate with team members or employees.
Need somewhere to start? We highly recommend Slack. More than 600,000 companies use slack!
An easy-to-use, highly customizable app to make your business communication easier than ever before.
Slack enables you to create channels for specific work projects or tasks. And will make your life easier by having all your work communication all on one app.
Choosing to have a project management app for your small business will set you up for success!
This will allow all your team members to see where each project is in the process, and provide a space where everyone can leave notes and necessary communication about each project.
There are many different project management software in today’s day and age, and it can take time to find the one best fit for your company.
Thankfully, most allow you to try free trials. This allows you to test out different types of software until you find the one best fit for you.
Build your Team
Building a successful team is detrimental to any business.
However, as a new business owner, you may never have had to go through the hiring process. So where do you start?
There are a few things that can be super helpful in onboarding employees into your business.
Describing your plans and vision to potential team players helps you see if they align with your visions.
And enables you to make sure you’re all on the same page and moving in the right direction together.
Define your employees’ roles clearly so they know what’s expected of them and you know your bases are covered.
It can be easy to be drawn to people who are of the same culture and thought processes, yet diversity has incredible value!
Having diverse people with different opinions and values is incredibly helpful and can challenge you to think outside of the box.
Keeping your team onboarded is important.
Making sure they know the value they bring to the team, showing them you care, and investing in your employees is super impactful for the future of your business.
Don’t be afraid to address problems, or issues head-on, it’s far better to address those small issues before they become bigger problems.
Ultimately, have fun working together as a team! Learn to enjoy each other’s company and work together.
When you get to this point your job will be so much more enjoyable!
Once you’ve established your business plan, registered your business with the government, and built a solid team, the next step is branding your product/service and starting down the tracks to marketing your service.
It’s time to get the word out!
Creating a website for your business will increase sales, grow brand awareness, and provide a platform for you to reach your target audience.
Don’t know where to start?
First choose a website host, a place where all your data is stored for the public to access at all times.
Different website hosts include WordPress, Bluehost, Dreamhost, and many more.
Pick the one that fits you, and then comes the fun part!
Building your pages and being creative with how to market your product.
When doing this be sure each page supports your goal, creating a clear purpose, and a simple call to action will dramatically impact the future of your business.
We’re StoryBrand certified which enables us to come alongside you and create a website fit for your company.
Social Media is a huge role in the marketing of your business.
It increases brand awareness and keeps current customers up to date and aware of your newest products or services.
It’s a fantastic platform to generate leads and increase traffic to your website.
Set up goals and objectives, and create creative diverse topics for your audience!
Plan for Growth
We believe you can do it! Plan for growth. We get it, growth isn’t guaranteed.
And we want to be realistic in the fact that sometimes businesses take longer to get off the ground than others.
Most times taking twice as long and costing twice as much as planned.
We also know there are times when business isn’t successful at all and you find you have to try another path.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t plan for growth!
Prepare and look forward to the possibility of a thriving growing business due to the risks you’ve taken and the time you’ve spent pouring blood, sweat, and tears into this business.
Now comes the fun part!
Open shop and hope and pray business goes as planned!
Advertise, increase brand awareness, and ultimately have fun while you watch your dreams become reality.
You no longer have to wonder if the day will ever come when you’re an entrepreneur because here you have it, you’ve made it!
It’s not over, but here’s to living every moment of life to the hilt.
So to Sum it all Up
It’s good to learn ahead of time, establish goals, create a business plan, and decide how you’ll fund your business.
But sometimes you just have to dive in and figure it out.
It’s okay if you don’t have everything figured out. Sometimes the best way to learn is simply by taking the plunge and getting started.
So if you’re passionate about starting up your own business and know it’s a good fit for you then dive in!
Making your dream of owning your own business become a reality is exciting.
So don’t forget to have fun along the way.
I’m cheering you on!