Small Business Guide: Starting and Running Your Own Business

So you’ve decided to start a small business. Great move! First thing’s first, you have to figure out the idea behind that business, then, of course, there are several crucial steps you have to follow/implement to get that business up and running. The key to starting a small business is to ensure that you plan properly. Plan out every and any aspect of the business that you can think of. The more prepared you are, the better chance you will have of making it.

In this brief guide, we will review some of the key steps involved with starting a small business. The first step, of course, is coming up with that killer business idea. Not every business idea is going to be brand new or something that has never been done before, but it at least has to have a unique spin. And you are a part of that uniqueness. What you bring to the table, your energy, your skills, your passion, your knowledge—this will all go into why your idea works and why consequently, you will be able to get your business off the ground. Ready to find out more about how to start your new business venture? Keep reading.

Planning Your Business: What you need to know

Did you know that just over thirty percent of all new small businesses will survive beyond the ten-year mark? Not exactly the most encouraging odds. This is why it is absolutely critical to plan and to approach opening your new business in a thoughtful and methodical manner. Creating a blueprint to follow and sticking to that blueprint will help you as you launch and begin to run your company. So what steps should you take as you embark upon this new business endeavor:

Step 1: Create a Plan

Once you’ve developed the idea that is going to make an impact and allow your business to thrive, now it is time to create a plan for your future company. Developing an actual business plan to this end is a good idea. If you do decide to pitch your idea to investors or even go for funding, you will likely need a business plan to help enhance your position and create an aura of credibility around your company. Among the components of your business plan will be the business name and basic information, an executive summary that outlines the skills and qualifications of the company principles, a financial plan component as well as future financial projections, and marketing insights to include information on competitors. Your plan can, of course, be more comprehensive, but these items should always be at the core of any business plan.

Step 2: Find a Location

Some newer companies may use the owner’s home as the headquarters as money can be tight initially. And if it works for your particular business, then this is perfectly fine. However, in some situations, you will need an actual physical location separate from your home. In that case, you will need to find a suitable location that you can afford. Renting office space in the early phase of your business may be the best way to go. Numerous online sites offer commercial lease postings; you might also enlist the aid of a real estate agent.

Step 3: Form Your Business

In order to officially create and launch your company, you need to form and register that company. Decide which type of business entity you are going to be. So, for instance, will you initially start as a sole proprietorship, an LLC, or a corporation? There are pros and cons to each of the business entity options. For example, with an LLC you get liability protection, but it can be more expensive and require more paperwork to start an LLC versus a sole proprietorship. If you are confused or need help navigating the various business structures, you should hire an attorney to help guide you through the process.
Upon choosing a business structure, you next need to name the business, choose a registered agent for the company, get an employer identification number and then also fill out the requisite documents as mandated by your state or local government agency that will enable you to register the business.

Step 4: Open a Business Bank Account

Even if you are a sole proprietor, creating a separate bank account for your business is a smart move. Otherwise, the lines between personal finances and business finances can become blurred quite easily. This can lead to problems when it comes to taxes, not to mention certain compliance issues. Once your business is registered, you can take this paperwork to a bank and open an account in your business name. This will give you access to a business checking account as well as a business credit and/or debit card which can make handling bills and other expenses a great deal easier.

Step 5: Get Any Permits or Licenses Needed

No small business guide would be complete without stressing the need for compliance every step of the way. You want to make sure that you are compliant with all federal, state, and local regulations, otherwise you could find your company penalized or, worse, forced to close down before it even had a chance to get going. For example, if you are opening a restaurant, you will need to obtain all necessary health and food safety permits before launching. This is key! And if you do decide to go for business funding, the lender will want to see that you have all of your required permits and licenses in place.

Step 6: Hire Employees

If you are a business that requires employees—meaning, you are not a one-person show—then the recruiting and hiring part is going to be essential to get your business off the ground in the right way. A strong team is crucial for success, there is no way around this. Which means you have to look for and hire the right people. Once you do hire staff, you have to make sure everything is in order as far as employment taxes, the various insurances required as well as establishing a payroll system.

Step 7: Procure Funding

For many small businesses, getting funding to help launch a company is imperative. While you may have some money in savings, or you might consider pulling from either your home equity or a retirement account, odds are this will not be enough for what you need to start a small business. Again, here is where a solid business plan will come into play. As a new company, you have no track record of which to speak; a lender will be taking a chance on you and your idea. While many lenders may be hesitant to loan to newer businesses, some alternative online lenders work with companies that have been in business for a year. It is worth doing some research to see what options may be available to you.

Step 8: Promote Your Business

You’ve gone through all of the steps, followed any number of small business guides in getting to this point, and now it is time to promote your brand. How will you get customers if no one knows you exist? Creating a company and following the proper steps is very important, but so is marketing that business. A good way to start your marketing campaign is to avail yourself of the numerous social media channels out there. Social media is a free way to get the word out about your brand. Create a Facebook page, start tweeting, and begin to accrue followers who might just become customers.

First Union is Here For You

We work with small businesses across the US getting them the cash they need when they need it. If you require additional working capital, we can help. Call today and let’s get started together!

Published in Small Business

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