You’ve got a great idea for a business, a real golden goose, and you’re ready to leave the 9-to-5 to be your own boss. While deciding to become an entrepreneur might be easy, the actual execution is a lot more complex.
If you want to launch a successful enterprise, you’ll not only have to figure out logistics like suppliers and production (or alternately, hiring professional service providers), but you’ll also have to consider branding, marketing, and scalability, just for starters. Owning and operating a business requires you to wear many hats, at least in the beginning.
However, you’re not exactly reinventing the wheel. Many business owners have already done the heavy lifting and there is no shortage of available resources to provide you with the guidance needed to get your ducks in a row.
Still, you may not even know where to begin when it comes to finding the help you need. Here are just a few basics to put you on the right path when it comes to starting your new business venture.
A solid business plan is arguably the most important component of launching a new enterprise. If you’ve attended business school, you are likely well aware of how crucial your business plan is for achieving success. This document will outline the viability of your idea, persuade investors to fund your undertaking, and provide a roadmap for the first one to five years of operations.
Those who do not hold an MBA can find online tutorials and templates for creating a business plan. This vital document will not only help you secure funding to launch your business, but the strategies it outlines will also give you the best opportunity to realize success, earn speedy profits, and build a sustainable and profitable business.
If you’re launching your first business you will face a steep learning curve and common blunders could completely derail your progress. For example, do you know how to register a business and ensure that no one else has your name? Do you have any idea how to apply for licenses or permits you need to start and run your business? Do you know what types of insurance you need?
In some cases, you won’t even know what you need to know to get started. For this reason, you should consider hiring a business consulting firm that specializes in advising startups. These experts can offer the guidance you need to avoid the most common pitfalls entrepreneurs face. With their help you will be well prepared for success when you finally open your doors.
There are several legal issues you’ll have to consider when starting your business. These range from setting up your corporate structure, to creating contracts for employees and freelance workers, to obtaining essential liability, workers compensation, and other insurance policies. Unless you have a background in the law, you may be unaware of the many legal elements involved in launching a business.
Hiring an attorney is not without expense, but the last thing you want to deal with when you’re trying to launch a business is legal hassles. An experienced lawyer can set you up not only to launch your business, but to move forward with plans for growth and expansion, putting all of the legal pieces in place in advance.
You’ve no doubt heard the saying “a fool and his money are soon parted”. Unfortunately, lenders and investors are no fools. You’re going to have to wow potential funders if you want them to provide the capital you need to launch your business venture.
There are many avenues to explore when it comes to funding. Most entrepreneurs start with traditional lenders, but you could also consider a variety of different types of investors, as well as the prospect of crowdfunding.
There are benefits and drawbacks to each opportunity, so take the time to understand your options before you seek startup funding. Don’t forget, you’ll need to throw some money in the pot as well. If you’re not willing to take a financial risk on your business, nobody else is likely to, either.
These days there are plenty of businesses that operate solely in the online arena. This may or may not work with your planned undertaking. If you decide to open a brick-and-mortar location and an online store simultaneously, you’ll have to find a suitable location for your real-world storefront.
In addition to complying with zoning laws applicable to your business, there are several other factors to consider when selecting a location. Is it easily accessible? Is it visible to passing traffic (both foot and automotive)?
Of course, you’ll also need to balance the cost of leasing with the other elements listed since you’re probably working with a limited budget and you can’t begin to forecast sales and profits until you’ve been in business for at least several months (likely more than a year). Choosing the right location means taking all of your goals and limitations into account.
It’s not enough to have an appealing and useful product or service that can improve the lives of consumers – you need to make the prospective customers aware of your presence and what you have to offer. This is where a strong marketing and sales strategy will serve you well.
Whether you’re dealing with the consumer public, business clientele, or government contracts, your marketing and sales efforts should increase your visibility, facilitate interaction, engage your audience, and compel action. This is no easy feat, but with a marriage of real-world and online marketing efforts paired with SEO and social media, you should have all your bases covered.
Although you can do a lot on your own these days where online marketing is concerned, you may be better off hiring professional help to ramp up your campaigns early on.
Long gone are the days when business owners had to keep paper ledgers, advertise in newspapers to fill open positions, and call the office of the Secretary of State to register a business. Modern business owners can now do almost everything via computer or even smartphone with the right programs and applications.
For example, you can now register your business in minutes online through LegalZoom. You can also partner with a site such as OneVest to crowdfund your venture or AngelList to find compatible angel investors.
Search freelance websites like Toptal, Freelancer, and Upwork if you are looking to employ qualified contractors in lieu of full time employees. Whether you need engineers, bloggers, or IT specialists, these websites can help you hire new employees without having to offer an expensive annual salary and benefits package.
In addition, you can use a site like Bluehost for web hosting and gain access to affordable stock images through Shutterstock. Quickbooks, or other small business financial software, can not only act as your bookkeeper and help you to manage accounts and pay vendors; it can also be used to keep tax records for easier quarterly or annual filing.
In short, there is a wide variety of programs and applications designed to cut costs and make your life easier. You simply have to choose the tools that are most likely to make your operation more efficient and profitable.
Starting your own business is tough, no doubt about it. With proper planning you can make the road less bumpy, but there will be frustrations and setbacks along the way. Success requires you to be passionate about your undertaking and to commit yourself to persevering no matter what comes your way.
Without these two essential elements, even the best business plan may not see you through. If you don’t love what you’re doing and you lack the stamina to endure, you can’t hope to succeed in the long term.