Career Advice - A Community Blog

Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice

A Guide to Starting a Small Business

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Sep 12, 2017 5:53 PM

The new American dream is being your own boss. It's what everyone seems to be working towards as there are so many success stories. After all, what could be better than working for yourself, setting your own hours, and living the dream? 

With so many success stories, however, there are even more failures. This is simply because a lot of people don't know what they are doing before they get started. Below are some steps you need to take in order to be successful in starting your own small business. 

A Guide to Starting a Small Business

1. Develop a business plan. In order to be successful, you need to develop a solid business plan. The plan needs to be well thought out, including knowing your target and ideal client, the purpose and mission behind your business, and what services and products you are going to offer. Make sure you think thoroughly through your business name and what your branding will look like. Having a well thought through plan means you will be prepared when actually starting and marketing your business. 

2. Develop a marketing plan. This is integral to the success of a small business as it is how you will drive customers to your business. In this day and age, you will most likely need an online presence. Think through the cost of a website, if you will do it yourself or hire someone, and how you will drive traffic to that website. How will people hear about you? You can't succeed as a business if you aren't getting customers, so you need a strong marketing plan and the tools to execute that plan. 

3. Determine a budget. You need to know what the start up cost will be. Consider the cost of your website, office space, if needed, marketing materials such as business cards, and the cost of producing products. The chances are that you will need to spend money before you are making any. In this instance, it may be necessary to seek small business advice to determine if you will need a loan or not. There are many different loan options available to potential small business owners, so make sure you talk to a professional to pick the one that is the best fit for your needs. 

4. Decide what legal coverage you will need. Once you have your business name and a strong marketing plan, you will need to decide what legal coverage you need. You need to decide if you are going to open your business as an LLC or a corporation. You will most likely need some sort of contract in place or disclaimer to your customers to protect you and your business from any potential legal action.

5. Set up accounts in your business name. It is imperative you set up accounts in the name of your new business so you aren't putting your personal accounts at risk. This includes a business banking account. Especially for tax purposes, it is important that all money received for your business goes into your business bank account, not your personal account. You will also need to think through how you will pay yourself. Will it be weekly or bi-weekly? Will it be the same amount each week or varying? You need to have a solid plan in place so that you can ensure a paycheck during the slow times of business, as well as leaving enough margin for growth in your business account.

6. Decide what other people will need to be involved in your business. This includes researching and choosing an accountant. You want to make sure that all taxes are filed correctly when the time comes. You will also need to decide if you will have any investors or partners in order to help get your company off of the ground. Determine who will be able to help your company reach success and work to create relationships with those people. 

7. Execute! You're ready to get started! With a solid business plan in place and the right marketing strategy, you should be ready to start driving customers to your business. Begin executing the strategy you created and watch your business grow!

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