Figuring out how to start your own business can be overwhelming, even when you have a great idea. How do you figure out if people will buy your product? Where do you get funding? What do you need to know to register your business? Fortunately, a combination of research, planning and adaptability can help you get started. Here’s how:
It all Begins with Research
When it comes to starting your own business, the first thing to do is research. If your business idea is producing CBD oils for pets, that means figuring out if there’s a demand for your business—there’s no point in starting it if no one’s going to buy from you. Start by thinking about who your customers would be, what they need and how you solve that need. There are a lot of different ways you can do this – from Google searches to talking to people in your industry to reading up on industry news and magazines for insight.
You’ll want to make sure you’re doing a market analysis, which means that you’re looking at the market size of interested customers, how much they pay for similar services, what their economic position is, where they live, and who your competitors are in the market. If you see a lot of competitors, don’t panic! That usually means there’s a demand for the good you’re supplying. Take a look at the competition and think about what makes you different from it – what do you supply to customers that they don’t?
Plan, Plan, Plan
Okay, you’ve done your research and you’ve figured out what your customers want and what you can offer them. Now what? It’s time to plan! A strong business plan sets the foundation for your business, guiding you from the start-up phase to establishment and business growth. Your business plan can be detailed, or it can be a summary, depending on who you’re preparing it for. If you’re trying to get funding from an investor or financial institution, you’ll need a traditional, detailed business plan. If you’re not looking for funding, a brief business plan can work just fine, providing you with the guidance you need to get started. In general, your business plan should include what you intend to name your business and what it will do, your marketing strategy, competitive analysis, how you’ll design and develop your product or service, how you plan to run the business on a day-to-day basis and how you intend to finance your business.
Let’s Talk Funding
You’ve done your research and you’ve built a strong business plan, now it’s time to tackle funding. At this point, you should have a clear idea of what your start-up costs are likely to be. These are the expenses that usually come with setting up a business, including licensing and permits, insurance, setting up the business space and purchasing equipment, utilities, setting up inventory, advertising and marketing costs, employee salaries, and hiring a lawyer and accountant. Calculating the start-up costs of your business lets you estimate profits and determine when the breakeven point is reached. It’s also important to have these costs prepared for attracting investors and securing loans, if needed.
There are different ways you can fund your business. Funding your business yourself gives you independence but you run the risk of losing your personal finances. One option is to fund your business through loans–whether from family or friends or a bank loan. You can also apply for a small-business grant or local angel investor groups or join a start-up incubator or accelerator. This can be a great way to get funding but keep in mind that when it comes to investing, you give up some control of the business to investors in exchange for funding. If you’re eager to stay in full control of your business, you may want to explore crowdfunding. Crowdfunding allows you to ask many people who are interested in your product or service to place a small investment in the business in exchange for a gift of thanks.
You’re ready to make your business real, which means registering it with the government. If you can, it’s a good idea to work with an attorney or CPA here to ensure you’re making the right decisions for your business. First things first – decide on the kind of business entity you are. Do you own the business by yourself? Then sole proprietorship might be the way to go. Alternatively, a partnership could be the right choice if you’ve got a business partner. If you want to separate your personal assets from potential liabilities, you’ll want to incorporate your business. The three choices you will have for that are S Corp, LLC, and C Corp—the best choice for you depends on your tax and liability needs. Once you’ve made that decision you should obtain any federal, state or local licenses or permits that you need to operate.
Let’s Get Set Up
Okay you’ve done your research, written your plan, got your funding, handled the paperwork – now it’s time to get set up! This can vary depending on your needs – if you’re an online business, your focus is building a website but even if your business is not online based, it is still a good idea to get a website so local customers can find you online. If you are from Liverpool, check out Web Design Liverpool which creates amazing websites for clients.
If you’re working out of an office or a storefront though, you’ll want to think carefully about the location –where can you afford to be? Are your customers likely to be there? Where are your competitors located? How do you want to display your products or services?
At this point you may also be hiring employees. Make sure to be clear in the goals you set for your employees and the kind of company culture you want to build. This will heavily influence your brand.
Congratulations! You’ve set up shop and you’re ready to fly. As you launch your business, it’s important to stay flexible. Listen to your employees and customers and be prepared to make tweaks or even large changes as you learn what brings customers in and what keeps them away. Being flexible makes sure that you meet your customers’ needs and leads your business to success.