Start Your Own Business
You have a strong desire to succeed. You want to help others, build a brand and be in control of your income. You are an entrepreneur, and you have a can-do spirit.
It’s not a surprise you want to start your own business.
Throughout the world, many people feel the need to roll up their sleeves and open the real or virtual doors to a company. But starting a business requires finesse — it also requires a large amount of strategic planning, which is where many start-ups lose steam.
If you have the entrepreneurial itch, you need to know how to start a business. The following tips for starting a business work for most types of organizations, including those in the service, tech, retail and online industries. Use this start-up business advice to move forward systematically, pragmatically and more securely than others in your situation. You’ll discover that doing a bit of research and laying out a map for success really does make a huge difference in the outcome of your start-up’s business planning.
Decide Your Preferred Business Type and Model
What businesses excite you more than others? Do you see yourself conducting business at a brick-and-mortar, retail-based store? Are you considering opening an upscale eatery with a sophisticated menu? Or would you prefer to create an Internet company so you can avoid the costs associated with leasing or owning real estate?
These are all questions you should ask yourself because they get to the heart of starting a business: your passion
Yes, you need other elements to increase your business, but without passion, it can be tough to wallow through the tougher times. Ask yourself these questions to get started and begin the thought process:
• What kind of business will motivate me to get out of bed each day, eager to tackle new challenges?
• What type of business do I personally want to be associated with? What would I feel good about telling people that I do?
• What experience do I already have that would help in certain types of industries?
• Do I know someone who could mentor me on this process?
• Will I be able to quit my current job to work full-time on a business? Or would it be easier on me and my family if I started the business part-time, or hired others to run it for me?
By honestly evaluating your preferences, you’ll be able to quickly narrow down your options. Of course, if you already have a business concept in mind, that’s fine, too. However, it’s recommended you still engage in plenty of reflection before launching the business. You may even want to take a mini-vacation where you can brainstorm all the possibilities before making a final determination.
Should You Piggyback on a Franchise?
This business start-up guide would not be complete without a word on franchises. Franchising can be a faster way to bring an existing brand to potential customers. Many entrepreneurs like the fact that they don’t have to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, when they become franchisees.
If you have the money to invest upfront in a franchise and you like the idea of owning a business without having to do as much groundwork as you otherwise might, check out franchisors open to working in your area. Just remember that there are no guarantees to becoming a franchisee. You’ll still have to work very hard to build your franchise, and you may not have the level of authority you desire.
Figure out Your Financing Situation
All the gumption and dreams in the world won’t come to fruition without financial backing. The money you put into your start-up business can come from any number of funding sources. These may include:
• You or your family members’ personal savings.
• Business partners’ savings.
• Investments from “angels” who like to speculate on up-and-coming businesses.
• Commercial loans offered at an adequate interest rate.
• Sale proceeds from real estate or other transactions.
Ideally, you want to have enough liquid assets to see you through the first two years of your business. It can take quite a while for businesses to become fiscally profitable. Unless you have the “overnight sensation” luck, you can expect to pull from your coffers to keep your company moving forward.
Additionally, you may not be able to withdraw a competitive salary at first. Keep this in mind as you proceed.
Business Start-up Costs to Consider
Money makes the world go ‘round — and it also helps your business stay on track. What are some of the most common business start-up costs you need to know about? They might include:
• Legal and accounting fees.
• Site rental/purchase fees.
• Internet fees.
• Certification fees — For instance, if you’re working with certain materials, you will need to be certified.
• Personnel costs — You are expected to make payroll, even if your business operates at a loss during the initial starting period.
• Inventory and materials.
• Corporate vehicles, such as cars or vans.
• Marketing materials and costs.
• Sales paraphernalia.
• Logo and website design fees.
• Storefront signage fees.
Your situation will have differing start-up costs, particularly if you’re opening an initially cost-heavy operation. As long as you take this into consideration, you won’t be surprised. The goal isn’t to be too strictly frugal, but rather, it’s to spend your money wisely. If you’re thinking about saving money by doing something yourself, or just avoiding it altogether, take a second look. Often, this can be costlier in the long run.
With that being said, it is possible to start a business on a shoestring budget. Many entrepreneurs have successfully done this. Just make sure you’re spending wisely and still creating a business model that will produce excellent service for your customers.
Get Help From Professionals
After you have written a rough outline of the business you want to start and you’ve ensured you have some or most of the financing you need, it’s time to add the help of other professionals onto your business start-up checklist.
Even if you have exceptional expertise in areas such as law or finances, you will absolutely want to contact a lawyer, accountant
and other professionals to ensure you begin your business on the right foot. One of the biggest mistakes that kills start-ups before they get out of the gate is an avoidance to get expert advice.
The experts you choose will ensure your business meets all the legal, ethical, financial and other requirements, such as what type of business you’re registering (e.g., sole proprietorship.) Getting expert advice today means you won’t have to worry later that you’re going to be hammered with problems that could have been avoided.
If you’ve been working for many years already, you may have professionals you trust. Go to them, even if they don’t actively work with start-ups. They will likely be able to refer you to colleagues. Who knows? Your business plan might even excite them enough to invest.
Find a Site for Your Business
The next step on your way to starting a business is to find the right site for your company’s headquarters. Obviously, if your company is going to be online-based, you could avoid renting spaces and simply conduct work from your home. Similarly, you could hire workers to handle business from their homes as well. This eliminates the need to pay rent, although it does lessen your ability to have day-to-day and face-to-face interactions with C-level and support personnel.
In terms of finding a brick-and-mortar location for your business, you would be wise to find a realtor with expertise in working with entrepreneurs. Your site needs to be convenient for your customers’ needs, especially if you expect to have clients or consumers visiting you regularly. There are companies that focus on creating analyses of geographic sites. They can assist you in figuring out if one locale is more likely to be successful than another.
What if your “site” is entirely online? You will need to put extra money into website planning and development to be certain it’s exceptional on all counts.
An online storefront is still a storefront. It may be the only time you have interactions with would-be customers. Never withhold financial backing for your web presence. What you pay today can come back twenty-fold if you work with a design team that understands how to position your company well for increased online exposure.
Amass Your Business Team
You may already have a core business team to steer your business, but unless you’re a one-person shop, you need other players, too.
Amassing your business team takes patience. First, outline all the core personnel you need to get your start-up business moving. Then, determine the ideal educational and experiential backgrounds you want to see in prospective employees.
Upscale, top-line hiring agencies
can assist you in rapidly pinpointing people from all verticals, including assistants, salespeople and financial experts. Rather than having to use a job board to get candidates, you can just rely on your agency to bring you the right talent.
After your team has been mostly or entirely pulled together, it’s time to get closer to opening your doors.
Create a Marketing and Sales Plan
Marketing and sales are essential elements to any business, and too many individuals starting a business fail in this type of planning.
If you’re new to the area, put trust in the marketing/sales personnel you hired. Plus, look at your hottest competition. Remember that you always
have competition. Many start-ups insist that their product or service is so “novel” that there isn’t any competition to worry about, but that’s not true. Every buyer could spend money somewhere else. Figure out where they’re going instead of coming to you, and that’s your competition.
You can expect to spend a lot of time planning marketing and sales goals that will need to be tweaked along the way. That’s completely acceptable, and it shouldn’t surprise you. What seems perfectly reasonable on day one of your business’s grand opening may not work well in the future. Be open to making changes midstream, if necessary, and commit to remaining flexible in your thinking.
Your flexibility should be reflected in your sales and marketing plan. That way, everyone will realize this team effort is fluid and is based not only on predictions, but also on the realities of building a company.
Get the Inventory and Supplies to Open
A service business is going to have vastly different needs than a retail storefront in terms of inventory and supplies. Be certain you have everything you need on hand from day one.
Some inventory and supplies you’ll want to make sure you have are:
• Paper products for the office.
• Computer and tech devices, potentially including business cell phones, tablets and/or laptops.
• Merchandise for resale.
• Food/ingredients for resale, packaging, manufacturing, etc.
• Raw materials to create finished products.
• Office furnishings.
The last thing you want is to forget anything and have to make last-minute purchases, which can often be more expensive than if you spent time planning. Buy in bulk where appropriate, such as with office supplies. This helps reduce the overall cost, and it gives you the peace of mind to know that your team will be fully operational.
Open Your Business to the Public
Although your start-up planning isn’t finished, and you’ll always continue to gather advice and make adjustments, it’s finally time to open your business to public or private operations. At this point, your marketing and sales team members will play huge roles, as they’ll be driving prospective B2B and/or B2C customers to your company.
At first, it can be tempting to check online analytics and sales reports every hour or two. Try not to give in. Allow your business to experience some natural, organic growth. Often, marketing and sales techniques take several weeks to cycle. At that point, you can explore what worked, what didn’t and how to proceed.
Trust Quintessentially People for Hiring Your Team
When you outgrow the ability for your business to function efficiently as a one-person operation, you need to hire the best talent possible to help — and you need the best team to help you hire that talent. That’s where Quintessentially People comes in. Whether you need a personal assistant, an office manager
or a sales executive
, you can trust our pre-screened talent pool to provide you with only top-notch candidates.
Employ these tips for start-ups and give everything a little time. You and your personnel will find a rhythm that works. You’ll also start to get a better idea of seasonality. Expect the unexpected, and enjoy the adventure.