The idea of starting your own business is an exciting one, especially with all of the potential ideas you can turn into reality and become your own boss. However, you need to lay a solid foundation for your business before you start operations. The six tips that follow are ones that are vital to your plans to become a successful business owner and weather just about any challenge that may come your way. Read on to learn about what you need to launch your new business.
1. Research The Existing Market For Your Business
It’s a wise idea to research the market for your business prior to its formation. You may already be involved in the industry that you’re planning to operate in, but can you be certain that you know everything about it?
The purpose of research is to learn more about the general market for your industry, earnings potential, future growth, and market stability. What you learn will inform you of the viability of your business, what you need to do to raise awareness of what you’re offering, and how adaptable you’ll be to change. You’ll also learn more about areas of the industry you may not have been aware of beforehand, and this information can help you find success or give you a competitive edge.
2. Name Your Business And Create A Logo
The name of your business is going to become the overarching identity for your endeavor, while your logo provides a visual identity for the business. That way, when someone refers to your business, they use the business name as opposed to “John’s company that does XYZ.” Make sure that you pick a name that you’re comfortable using as it’s going to be used for as long as the business is in operation. The same goes for the logo, but it’s a visual cue that enables the viewer to identify and associate the business with its name.
Creating a logo gives your company a symbol that’s associated exclusively with your business. There are plenty of layouts, fonts, graphics, and colors that you can employ in its creation. As you work out your logo design, focus on using design styles that represent your business. For example, if your business involves selling jewelry, you want to consider using a logo that has a graphic that refers to the types of jewelry you sell, a font that represents you as a jewelry vendor, and use neutral or metallic colors to drive home the visual concept of jewelry.
You always have the right to change the name of your business through the assumption of a name known as a doing business as (DBA) and change your logo. In fact, many major companies change their logos over time, although they tend to keep their public-facing names due to brand recognition. If major businesses with long track records of success can do this, so can you.
3. Determine How Much Capital Is Needed For Your Startup
You’re going to need money to get your business off the ground, but do you know how much? If you don’t have an answer to that question, now is the time to start working out the amounts you need to execute each step of your business plan.
Ask yourself what kind of equipment and services you’ll need during the early stages of your business operation. You can use your personal items (computers, tools, materials) in the beginning to save a little money, but you should prepare to put aside money or find funding to buy the items needed for the operation of the business. You need to keep your personal assets separate from business assets for various reasons.
If you’re planning on selling physical goods, you’ll need to have stock on hand, a place to sell them in person or online, shipping materials, money for postage, and other related expenses. As you work out how much you need, add an extra 10% on top of the amount and create a financial buffer in case something changes at the last minute.
4. Create A Business Plan
The business plan is your roadmap for the operation of the business, and it’s one of the earliest tasks you need to accomplish during the formation of your company. It gives you something to refer to when there are questions about how you intend to run the business over time. It could be argued that you should write your business plan before figuring out how much money you need, but both of these tasks can be done simultaneously. If you’re not sure how to write it, you can use a template to help you get started.
The main purpose of a business plan is to help you keep on track as you start the business and get it off the ground. It contains your plans for marketing, hiring employees, how the business is managed, defines responsibilities for those who are involved in its operation, and the direction the business should take as it grows. You’ll refer back to the plan as time passes and the business starts to gain traction with sales, profits, adding new services or goods, and what you plan to do with the income.
Another reason why you need a business plan is to help gain access to funding. Lenders like to see that there’s a purpose and a focus for the business, and there’s a plan for growth. They’re more likely to offer funds when they can see that you’re intent on making the business a success and can repay the loan.
The business plan is a dynamic document that can be changed to accommodate shifts in the operation of the business. Sometimes, things don’t go as you planned, and you have to change the business plan to reflect the need to go in a different direction.
5. Choose A Corporate Structure
Many people start their business as a sole proprietorship, but it’s not the most ideal corporate structure, especially if you have plans for growth. The sole proprietorship offers no personal protection against lawsuits, putting your assets at risk. Consider forming a limited liability company (LLC) at the very least to protect your personal assets from being taken to pay a judgment in a civil case. It’s also worth noting that incorporation does more than create a barrier between your assets and a lawsuit.
Incorporation makes your business look more professional to the world at large, helps you gain access to financial products, and enables you to set up accounts with suppliers and other businesses. It also helps you reduce your overall tax liability, especially when compared to the amount of tax you have to pay as a sole proprietor. If you’re not sure about what type of corporate structure works best for you, contact an accountant or lawyer for help in this area.
6. Organize Finances
This is separate from figuring out the funding for your business. This is the point where you start separating your business capital from your personal income. You may have used your personal funds and bank accounts to start your business, but you can’t do that once you’ve incorporated and obtained the capital to run your business. It’s important that you separate the two in order to keep your personal finances from commingling with business finances. If an accusation of improper use of funds ever arises, you can show that you kept your finances separate to the point where you can track where the money went to.
The first step to organizing your finances consists of getting business bank accounts and making sure that there is a barrier between the business accounts and your personal accounts. If you’ve formed an LLC or other corporation type, you’ll have obtained an EIN from the IRS which allows you to open up a business account. You can use this account for payables and receivables related to the business and show clear tracking of the funds if it’s ever questioned.
These tips cover the basic requirements of starting your own business. On the surface, it looks like it’s a lot of work that gets in the way of being able to open your doors. However, taking the time to name your business, design a logo, create a business plan and incorporate are fundamental to positioning yourself for success. You can always get help in areas that you don’t feel that you’re capable of completing on your own and save time. You’ll be glad you did in the long run as you won’t have to backtrack or think twice about your business identity and operation.