Starting a business can be exciting for anyone who wants to be the boss, follow their passions, and provide a service or product that people need. Before jumping in, think about your purpose, see what’s out there, and plan how to build a sustainable concept from this idea.
1. Brainstorm Ideas
Brainstorm potential business ideas based on your passions. Artists might want to sell art or take commissions for other projects. Writers can freelance for companies who need website content and blog posts. Organized people may work as personal assistants or event planners. There are plenty of ways to frame your interests as a business.
If you’re unsure how to turn your passion into a business, consider what products or services people need. Maybe you hear parents talk about never having time to cook a healthy dinner, so you start a local meal delivery service. You can also consider buying into a franchise or starting a dropshipping business.
You can also consider starting a business based on something you won’t do yourself but hire employees to do the work. For example, you can start a cleaning company and hire students to clean houses.
Be realistic about every idea. If you don’t like to clean or manage people, the cleaning business probably isn’t the best choice. If you love painting your ideas but have trouble taking orders from someone else, you might not want to commission artwork. Having realistic expectations regarding how much you can put into a business will increase your chances of success.
2. Research the Market
Once you pinpoint your business idea, research the market. No existing businesses may fill one particular niche, which gives you a lot of freedom, though most industries have competition. Check out your competitors’ websites, pricing plans, and general business models to get inspiration. However, remember that you want to stand out.
Using your research as a jumping-off point, you can determine what you need to start and maintain your business. You can also look into potential clients and customers, talking to them and asking what they need and want from a business. This step will also help you find your target market and simplify the process of your launch.
You also need to conduct a SWOT analysis, which gives you a full picture of your business’s potential. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The answers to these questions will help you have plans for anything that comes your way, keeping you flexible and your business profitable.
3. Calculate Startup Costs
Business startup costs vary greatly depending on the industry and if you plan to have a physical presence or solely operate online. You’ll need to set money aside for expenses like a business license, website, and marketing costs. If you sell a product, you need funds for inventory. You might need warehouse space or to partner with a third-party logistics provider.
You might want to jump in and start big to garner attention and boost your profits, but it’s best to scale down and start slow. This approach keeps your startup costs low and helps you meet routine benchmarks as you scale your business in the future.
It’s more sustainable for your business and mental health to roll out your business in steps. You can develop this strategy and the associated costs in your business plan.
4. Create a Business Plan
A business plan is a document that outlines the purpose and goals of your venture. It’s helpful to create this with your startup cost estimates since financial decisions can impact your goals. Once you have a business plan, it can help you secure loans from banks and investors.
Your business plan should include information about the organization, such as if you oversee the entire company, the roles of management and employees, and what input investors may have in the day-to-day issues.
Write about your current mission as you launch the business, but also address goals you want to reach in the future. For example, you might start as an online business without worrying about things like office space or renting a warehouse. However, you can set a goal to have physical offices within three years.
Brainstorm your goals and address related issues that you’ll encounter when you reach them. For example, if you’re going to have a physical presence and hire employees, you’ll need to add a virtual business phone system into your plan. This service will help you handle a high call volume to provide responsive customer service.
Your business plan can also address circumstances regarding the products you sell. You can include information about your suppliers and pricing structure to show how you’ll profit from the venture.
5. Register Your Business
You’ll need to register your business so no one else can use your name and protect your assets. Your name should be catchy and descriptive to ensure potential customers remember you.
If you register as an LLC or Limited Liability Company, you protect your personal assets from any lawsuits people may bring against your business. One or more people can own an LLC, or you can choose to form a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) with a partner.
For people who know they want to run a business alone, a sole proprietorship is the registration method to choose. However, with this approach, you won’t protect your personal assets from business-related dealings.
A corporation is another registration option, though it’s expensive to establish and allows shareholders to have limited liability. It also has some tax issues that you’ll want to discuss with your accountant or attorney before you register.
Depending on your state and industry, you might also need to apply for a business license. Many states have an income threshold that requires a license, while others only request one if you have a physical location in the state. Research your local laws and consult an attorney to ensure you’re going by the book in your area.
6. Develop a Brand Identity
You chose your business name in the last step, and now you’ll flesh that out into a brand identity. The brand identity includes your logo, color scheme, design elements, and overall personality for your business. Do you want to seem professional or laid-back? Choose elements for a brand identity that help you convey this feeling to potential customers.
You’ll use this brand identity on everything relating to your company, from your letterhead and business cards to your social media profiles and website, so ensure it’s something you love.
7. Build a Website
Even if you provide an in-person service in your area, you want to build a website for your business. Even a landing page will help more customers find you when they conduct online searches. Use elements from your brand identity on your website to make it more cohesive. Include contact information so customers can reach you.
Additionally, ensure that your website prominently displays your contact information, making it easy for customers to get in touch with you. Whether you handle software development in-house or opt for a software development outsourcing company, a well-designed and informative website can significantly enhance your business’s visibility and accessibility.
Also read: How to Sell Your eCommerce Business in 2023
8. Market the Business
Marketing can make all the difference in a business’s success. You want to take advantage of all outlets, including local advertisements, if your product or service is in a specific location, along with online marketing.
Some methods are free, like boosting your website’s SEO to push you to the top of the search results, posting on social media to engage with your target audience, or sending email campaigns to your mailing list. However, you might choose to pay for promoted ads across online platforms or send direct mailers to people in your select area.
Develop specific marketing campaigns with measurable outcomes so you can see which methods are most effective for growing your business.
9. Scale the Business
With a detailed business plan, you’ll follow the steps to scale your business. You might have to deal with inflation in the process, so flexibility is an ideal quality to have during this process.
Analytics from your marketing campaigns can give you insight into potential growth. The results may prove that more people engage with your content online, so you can shift your focus to social media and target those users.
You might see that people love specific products to the degree that they sell out while other items stay in stock. Be creative and consider selling bundles of products or offering discounts when customers buy the less popular items. You could also pivot and focus purely on what sells, reframing your business in the process.
In time, you’ll see what moves your business needs to make to stay relevant and profitable. With this knowledge, you can scale the business effectively.
These steps simplify the process of starting a business. It’s important to have the right mindset for this challenge, like being flexible and preparing for failure. You need to understand that you can revise your business as necessary to continue supplying a service or product people want.
Just because you don’t turn a profit in the first year doesn’t mean you should give up. Stick with your purpose and keep finding ways to ensure your business stays innovative and necessary.