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A small business always starts with an idea. Maybe it is something you have been thinking about for a long time while working at your full-time job. Or, perhaps you had a breakthrough “epiphany” moment and came up with a brilliant new business idea. Good business ideas do not have to be unique, either. You can succeed by offering improved versions of available products or services, perhaps with lower price points.
Getting your small business off the ground does not require a boatload of money or years of management experience. All you need is a good business plan and strong business acumen. If you are unsure where to begin, this Balboa Capital blog post can help. It explains how to start a small business in seven steps.
Step 1: Conduct research.
Researching your market, competitors, and future customers will help you plan for success. Market research will help determine your business idea’s immediate and long-term potential. In addition, the information you gather can be used when differentiating your brand and developing your marketing campaign.
You can research on the Internet if you do not have enough capital to hire a research firm. Libraries, industry associations, and state agencies are also good resources.
Step 2: Write a business plan.
A solid business plan is a challenge for many business owners. They are passionate about their ideas and want to start quickly; writing a business plan can slow things down. While creating a business plan is an involved and time-consuming task, it needs to be given your utmost attention.
Your plan will describe your business and the products or services, along with all the details relating to operations, financing, staffing, marketing, and growth. The primary sections of a business plan include an executive summary, business description, financial overview, marketing strategy, and sales objectives.
Step 3: Choose a business structure.
Choosing a structure can be confusing, as corporations, S corporations, partnerships, LLCs, and sole proprietorships have unique benefits. As a result, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney or accountant before deciding. In addition, your legal business structure will depend on liability, tax considerations, and record keeping.
Step 4: Select a name.
The name you choose for your small business is essential. It must convey what your company is about and resonate with potential customers and investors. Catchy, simple, and easily understandable names can grab the attention of your intended audience. Write down your choices and revisit them after a few days or weeks to see if you still like them.
After narrowing down your favorites, conduct an online search to determine if they are already taken. You can also check with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to see if a name is trademarked. Once you decide on a business name, register it with your state or county clerk’s office. Then, hire an intellectual property attorney to trademark your business name for added protection.
Step 5: Get licenses and permits.
Depending on the type of business you are starting and the state in which it is located, you may need to get a variety of licenses and permits. Federal, state, and local governments require these. Consult an attorney to determine which licenses and permits you need to comply with business laws. Not doing this can result in legal problems and hefty fines.
Step 6: Obtain business funding.
Most entrepreneurs are cash-strapped before launching their companies. If you lack start-up funds, there are several small business funding options for you to consider. Credit cards, crowdfunding, small business loans, and raising money from family members and friends are popular to finance start-ups.
Step 7: Launch.
After all your hard work, it is time to make your dream of entrepreneurship a reality and launch your new business. Get the word out on social media and your website to make your launch successful. Also, send an email announcement to your friends, family members, and business contacts. New businesses are newsworthy, so call the editor at your local newspaper to let them know about your business and ask if you can be featured in a story.
Balboa Capital, a Division of Ameris Bank, is not affiliated with nor endorses the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.