9 Steps to Start a Small Business

When you consider some of the most popular reasons to start a business, including having a unique business idea, designing a career that has the flexibility to grow with you, working toward financial independence, and investing in yourself — it's no wonder that small businesses are everywhere

But not every small business is positioned for success. In fact, only about two-thirds of businesses with employees survive at least two years , and about half survive five years. So you may be in for a real challenge when you decide to take the plunge, ditch your day job, and become a business owner. The stage is often set in the beginning, so making sure you follow all of the necessary steps when starting your business can set the foundation for success.

Here are 10 steps that are required to start a business successfully. Take one step at a time, and you'll be on your way to successful small business ownership.

Step 1: Do Your Research

In order for a small business to be successful, it must solve a problem, fulfill a need or offer something the market wants.so you have to ask yourself some questions like:

  • Is there a need for your anticipated products/services?

  • Who needs it?

  • Are there other companies offering similar products/services now?

  • What is the competition like?

  • How will your business fit into the market?

Step 2: Make a Plan

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. The good news is that there are different types of business plans for different types of businesses.

If you intend to seek financial support from an investor or financial institution, a traditional business plan is a must. This type of business plan is generally long and thorough and has a common set of sections that investors and banks look for when they are validating your idea.

If you don't anticipate seeking financial support, a simple one-page business plan can give you clarity about what you hope to achieve and how you plan to do it. In fact, you can even create a working business plan on the back of a napkin, and improve it over time. Some kind of plan in writing is always better than nothing.

Step 3: Plan Your Finances

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. Put together a spreadsheet that estimates the one-time startup costs for your business (licenses and permits, equipment, legal fees, insurance, branding, market research, inventory, trademarking, grand opening events, property leases, etc.), as well as what you anticipate you will need to keep your business running for at least 12 months (rent, utilities, marketing and advertising, production, supplies, travel expenses, employee salaries, your own salary, etc.). Those numbers combined is the initial investment you will need.

 

Step 4: Choose a Business Structure

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.You may choose an initial business structure, and then reevaluate and change your structure as your business grows and needs change.


Step 5: Pick and Register Your Business Name

Your business name plays a role in almost every aspect of your business, so you want it to be a good one. Make sure you think through all of the potential implications as you explore your options and choose your business name.

Once you have chosen a name for your business, you will need to check if it's trademarked or currently in use. Then, you will need to register it.

 

Step 6: Choose Your Accounting System

Your accounting system is necessary in order to create and manage your budget, set your rates and prices, conduct business with others, and file your taxes. You can set up your accounting system yourself, or hire an accountant to take away some of the guesswork. If you decide to get started on your own, make sure you consider these questions that are vital when choosing accounting software.


Step 7: Set Up Your Business Location

You will need to think about your location, equipment, and overall setup, and make sure your business location works for the type of business you will be doing. You will also need to consider if it makes more sense to buy or lease your commercial space.


Step 8: Get Your Team Ready

If you will be hiring employees, now is the time to start the process. Make sure you take the time to outline the positions you need to fill, and the job responsibilities that are part of each position. The Small Business Administration has an excellent guide to hiring your first employee that is useful for new small business owners.


Step 9: Promote Your Small Business

Once your business is up and running, you need to start attracting clients and customers. You'll want to start with the basics by writing a unique selling proposition (USP) and creating a marketing plan. Then, explore as many small business marketing ideas as possible so you can decide how to promote your business most effectively.

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