Planning & Knowing Your Audience
With any new venture, planning is always the first stage. There are essential questions you need to ask yourself such as:
• What is your business and how would you describe it? No matter how great your idea is, you have to be able to describe it to your investors and your audience in simple terms.
• Who is your target audience? You want to know your market and know their likes and dislikes. Social media is great for this! You can even use social media to glean information from your competition and gain valuable research data.
Cost & Options
Nothing makes a business close faster than underestimating the cost of starting up and running a business. As part of your process, you want to research similar businesses and find out what you need for the long and short term. Whenever possible use whatever money you have on hand first or what you can borrow privately before seeking loans. Remember to consider software that your business may need and research what may make your life easier as a small business. Many programs can assist in helping you get started. There are also companies that can help you keep costs lower in the end and help you stay focused on building your business rather than focusing on the tiny details.
Formal Business Plan
Creating a formal business plan helps you to stay on task and lets lenders know you are professional. Some lenders require a business plan before they will trust their money to you.
You may want to check and see if you can get a free or 30-minute consult with a business lawyer to see what would fit you best. Your business structure is important for when it comes to taxes.
Would you consider yourself in a Partnership, LLC, Incorporated, Sole Proprietor, etc.?
Is Your Name Really Yours?
You will need to do a search and find out your state and possibly your county's Fictitious Business Name Search website and your state's business name search. You will need to make sure no one else has secured your name. This could land you in some hot water if it's found that you have been operating under someone else's name.
A lawsuit in your first year could close your doors forever!
Software & Hardware
You want to make sure you have a safe and secure way to keep track of all your records. Paper is not secure; you are going to need accounting software and project management software and possibly more depending on your business. You also need to set up business accounts that are separate from your personal financial accounts.
Taxes and Credits
Understand your rights and responsibilities. There are obligations, but there are also places where you can save yourself a lot of trouble and money. Look into local classes where you can learn more about small business taxes and avoiding common mistakes. You can receive many credits as a small business too! You do not want to miss those opportunities either. Many libraries offer classes and often you can call to find out.
Protect Your Investments & Risk Management
Never be afraid to obtain insurance! Insurance comes in many forms and risk management sometimes comes as simply as passing responsibility to someone else. Using an accounting firm and maybe a company to handle payroll takes that pressure off your shoulders. Liability insurance never hurts either.
Finding Your Space & Marketing
The final two tips are researching your space and marketing to your audience. Whether it's an actual physical location where you will want to research your actual location and consider zoning, permits, parking, etc. or a virtual space; Research is still a must. There are many hosting possibilities out there for websites and many ways to promote yourself.
The best advice is to find out where your people are. You have already done the research. If you are knowledgeable in building your website, then you won't need all the bells and whistles. If you don't know how to build a business website, then don't be afraid of hiring someone or finding a hosting site that offers a little more and offers a way for you to learn. And don't be afraid to turn to social media – Go where your people are!
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