How to Start a Business: A Step-by-Step Guide. In order to build a successful company, you’ll need to create and fine-tune a business plan, assess your finances, complete all the legal paperwork, pick your partners, research for startups growth, choose the best tools and systems to help you get your marketing and sales off the ground … and a whole lot more.
START A BUSINESS ## Conduct market research
One of the first questions to ask yourself when you’re testing your business idea is whether it has a place in the market. The market will ultimately dictate how successful your business will be. What’s your target market, and why would they be interested in buying from you?
Market research will tell you if there’s an opportunity to turn your idea into a successful business. It’s a way to gather information about potential customers and businesses already operating in your area. Use that information to find a competitive advantage for your business.
Conducting thorough market research on your field and demographics of potential clientele is an important part of crafting a business plan. This involves conducting surveys, holding focus groups, and researching SEO and public data.
Market research helps you understand your target customer – their needs, preferences, and behavior – as well as your industry and competitors. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends gathering demographic information to better understand opportunities and limitations within your market.
START A BUSINESS ## Write your business plan
Your business plan is the foundation of your business. It’s a roadmap for how to structure, run, and grow your new business. You’ll use it to convince people that working with you — or investing in your company — is a smart choice.
You need a plan in order to make your business idea a reality. A business plan is a blueprint that will guide your business from the start-up phase through establishment and eventually business growth, and it is a must-have for all new businesses.
START A BUSINESS ## Fund your business
Starting a small business doesn’t have to require a lot of money, but it will involve some initial investment as well as the ability to cover ongoing expenses before you are turning a profit.
Your business plan will help you figure out how much money you’ll need to start your business. If you don’t have that amount on hand, you’ll need to either raise or borrow the capital. Fortunately, there are more ways than ever to find the capital you need.
START A BUSINESS ## Pick your business location
Your business location is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Whether you’re setting up a brick-and-mortar business or launching an online store, the choices you make could affect your taxes, legal requirements, and revenue.
Factors to consider include:
- Overhead and living costs
- Access to talent
- Networking opportunities
- Business and investor friendliness
- Proximity and appeal to investors
START A BUSINESS ## Choose a business structure
The legal structure you choose for your business will impact your business registration requirements, how much you pay in taxes, and your personal liability.
Your small business can be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation. The business entity you choose will impact many factors from your business name, to your liability, to how you file your taxes.
Depending on the complexity of your business, it may be worth investing in a consultation from an attorney or CPA to ensure you are making the right structure choice for your business.
START A BUSINESS ## Choose your business name
It’s not easy to pick the perfect name. You’ll want one that reflects your brand and captures your spirit. You’ll also want to make sure your business name isn’t already being used by someone else.
Selecting the right name for your startup can have a significant impact on your business success. The wrong name could result in insurmountable legal and business hurdles. Here are some basic tips on how to name your startup:
- Avoid hard-to-spell names.
- Don’t pick a name that could be limiting as your business grows.
- Conduct a thorough Internet search on a proposed name.
- Get a “.com” domain name (as opposed to “.net” or another variant).
START A BUSINESS ## Register your business
Once you’ve picked the perfect business name, it’s time to make it legal and protect your brand. If you’re doing business under a name different than your own, you’ll need to register with the federal government, and maybe your state government, too.
To become an officially recognized business entity, you must register with the government. Corporations will need an “articles of incorporation” document, which includes your business name, business purpose, corporate structure, stock details, and other information about your company.
Get federal and state tax IDs
You’ll use your employer identification number (EIN) for important steps to start and grow your business, like opening a bank account and paying taxes. It’s like a social security number for your business. Some — but not all — states require you to get a tax ID as well.
Apply for licenses and permits
Keep your business running smoothly by staying legally compliant. The licenses and permits you need for your business will vary by industry, state, location, and other factors.
Open a business bank account
A small business checking account can help you handle legal, tax, and day-to-day issues. The good news is it’s easy to set one up if you have the right registrations and paperwork ready.
START A BUSINESS ## Grow your business.
Your launch and first sales are only the beginning of your task as an entrepreneur. To make a profit and stay afloat, you always need to be growing your business. It’s going to take time and effort, but you’ll get out of your business what you put into it.