Businesses are easy to start, especially in today's market. All it takes is an idea, a website, and product or service, and you can get it done! With the ease of entering this business market, it is also easy to fail. Don't let a lack of planning close your doors before you see success.
Here are 22 steps to get you started on your business venture and outline your success.
1. Start with a great idea
There are tons of business ideas you can come up with. From selling a product to providing a service, there's a market for everything imaginable. Make sure your idea is fresh, though. Don't drown in a sea of product and services that are similar to yours. If you sell cell phone cases, make sure you have a unique design or strategy so you won't get overlooked.
Also, make sure the idea is something you can be passionate about. Don't sell a product or service that will cause burnout for you and your team. You can guarantee you will be more successful if you are willing to sacrifice and put in the work for your idea.
2. SWOT Anyone?
Create a SWOT Analysis for your idea. This will help you identify early on any weaknesses or obstacles you may need to overcome in this industry. Identify these areas and make preparation for them. So, What's SWOT Analysis?
3. Do Your Research
Research the overall industry and your competition. Understand the cost, overhead, and training involved in making your product and/or service a success.
There's no harm in watching your competition. Watch their trends and information to get inspired! Don't copy their work, but instead, use the information to start your own plans.
Here's some things to consider:
- Do you need help? Employees? A Team? A Partner?
- Do you need equipment or materials?
- Do you need education or training?
- Do you need a location?
- Do you need a patent?
- How much does it cost to make or distribute the product?
4. How much is this going to cost?
Calculate your start up cost. Consider equipment, materials, the cost of your product to manufacture, the cost of marketing, etc. Every possible cost to consider...write it down! This will give you an idea of when and how long it will take to get you started on your business.
FINANCE YOUR DREAMS
5. How will you finance the start up?
Are you self-funding your venture? Applying for a business or franchise loan? Determine how you will fund the business in the beginning. Of course, it may be wise to keep your "day job" until you are fully self-funded. Any money that comes in from the business can go to re-investing in the business.
6. The Business Plan
The Business Plan is essential to small business. A lot of businesses fail because they skip this step. Even if it's a small idea map on a napkin, a business plan is essential to identifying key concepts in your business. If you are unfamiliar with creating a business plan, there are free resources available to you from The Small Business Administration sba.gov. Also, ID Virtual Assistant can aid in helping you write your plan.
7. The Executive Summary
This is a condensed version of your business plan. It outlines what the plan is, who are your customers and investors, and how much your product or service cost and will cost the consumer. Usually, this is written after your full business plan is established. Think of it like, an "elevator speech". In a limited amount of words, you will express your whole business idea.
8. What's in a Name?
I know, you have this seven steps ago.
Make sure the name of your business is relevant. Some come up with a name based on their own name or items they like. For example, look at the fictional company Julie's Butterfly Homes. I would think Julie is marketing homes for butterflies when in fact this is probably a real estate or interior design company; maybe even a cleaning business.
The name needs to to tell the story of your business. Integrated Designs of Houston gives an idea of what we are into, design, and where we are located, Houston. It doesn't have to tell your entire business plan, but give us a glimpse of your idea.
After you come up with a name search SiteGround.com, Namecheap.com, or GoDaddy.com to find out if there is already a dot com associated with your name. Depending on your state, you can also search county and state records to find out if it is registered. For Texas, The Secretary of State and your county tax office will have this information.
9. Secure Your Domain
Why wait? Secure your awesome name by getting your domain. Domains can range from $4 - $Thousands, depending on how Google sees it. Some names are Prime Real Estate and take a few extra dollars to secure. For example, designs.com, if available, maybe thousands to secure, but myawesomecompanyname_iamonline.com would be a mouthful and a cheap domain! :)
10. Get Social
This can be an overwhelming task. Most know how to create a Facebook page, but a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, etc. Brand is a different story! Your message should be clear across every area of social media. Your logo, colors, and general conversation should match in every post. Even your personal page should match your business page.
To get started with social media marketing, you can contact us and we can create a plan and help you with posting, etc. You can also learn a lot of marketing tips on YouTube and Lynda.com.
11. File for Corporate Status
You are well on your way. Now's the time to file for corporate status. For most, this means filing as a limited liability company. But there are other filings to consider. Get with your local state government for details on the different filings available. For Texas, you can go to Secretary of State website and find what business filings are available to you.
In some states, a DBA is required. In Texas, it is your choice. For example, we are Integrated Designs of Houston, but our DBA may be ID Houston since that's what we are branded as. If you have a separate entity or brand your are "Doing Buisiness As", like ID Virtual Assistants, another DBA may be useful. All names are registered under your corporation, but are listed as "aliases" of your business.
13. Get a Tax ID
Get an EIN from the IRS. I know what you're thinking..."Do I have to?" Yes! From the beginning, make sure you are set up properly for tax purposes so that it doesn't come back and "bite" you later. The employer identification number establishes you as a tax-paying agency with the US Government. The rules and responsibilities regarding EIN numbers can be found here.
14. More Tax Stuff? Yes!
Next step, register for local and state taxes. For Texas, you will need to complete the Sales and Use Permit. This is necessary if you sell or lease tangible property/products, or if you sell taxable services. If you pay taxes as part of the cost of your product/services, then you will need to apply for this permit. After applying, the Texas Comptroller will walk you through how to report your quarterly return and report your taxable income. You can find the application here. Hire and accountant to find about more about your tax responsibility and set up a way to keep up with your recipes and tax information.
15. Money in the Bank!
Get a separate account, even if your are a sole-proprietor. A separate bank account keeps your business finances separate from the your home finances. Also, you can keep an eye on how your business money is allocated to different things.
16. Does your Business Need a License?
It depends on your niche. Some businesses need licenses to operate, like counseling and some contractor services. Find out from your local government if a license for your particular area is required. Even if not required, if available, it may be a plus for the consumer to see you as a licensed professional!
Do you need one? It is quite a lengthy process and requires hiring a patent or trademark attorney. Find out here the pros to trademarking your business from the US Patent Office. Whether or not you do it, has to be a personal decision. If you have the resources, we definitely reccommend going the extra step, just to legally protect your business name, logo, and any intellectual property attached to your brand.
18. Now the fun part, create a Logo!
These are fun to fantasize about! You always have a cool idea you want to implement when it comes to your logo. A few words of advice...keep it simple and your message clear. A simple design is always appreciated by your consumer and easlily communicated in all of your avenues. The design you have for your logo should easily transfer from websites, business cards, t-shirts, and product packaging. Of course, ID Houston, always takes a creative, in-depth approach to creating a design that fits your business and makes a clear statement.
19. build a website
Social media keeps you in constant conversation with your consumer. Your social sites should lead your consumer to your website. Your website should show off your brand, your products, your message in a more in-depth way. It should be the hub where your customers visit often to be updated on your services and products. It will work while you'r not.
Now, you could go with a simple design from a hosting site like Wix or Weebly, if you are serious about business, however, we suggest you speak with us about creating a website, even one-page websites, that stand out from among an over-crowded internet highway!
20. set up an accounting system
Quickbooks is the industry standard for all business, no matter what you do. It is a robust system of accounts, payroll, tax reporting, etc. for all companies. If you aren't familiar with it, a bookkeeper, like ID Virtual Assistants can get you started and maintain your accounts.
If you are familiar with bookkeeping, you can use systems like Wave Accounting. Some CRMs, or Client Relationship Management systems, have built-in accounting features, such as the one we use, Dubsado.
21. Grow your network
Find social media groups, conventions, trade shows, and/or meetup groups where your target marketing audience are.
Facebook groups are a great free resource for networking. Add value to the group by commenting, making reactions, and giving advice. This boosts your online presence and builds necessary relationships in your industry.
For conventions and events, I suggest investing in ones that have the most value to your niche. However, be mindful when registering for events over $500. A lot of times, these events are simply for-profit and add little value to your training, skill, or network.
22. Teamwork makes the dream work
Build a group of individuals that can help make your dream reality. From delegating tasks to motivating you to keep going - make sure your team balance your weaknesses and compliment your strengths.
If you are hiring help or employees, make your mission clear in the interview process so there is no misunderstanding. Also, don't skimp on personality. A resume can have every skill you're looking for, but the candidate can lack the character to carry out your vision.
Don't forget about personal development. When you're happy, you can put more into your business. Take time to relax, enjoy your hobbies, family, or learn a new skill. Don't get overwhelmed in the process of beginning your business. Take your time and be patient. Lastly, let ID Virtual Assistants help you in the process. Delegate tasks to us so you can focus on building the vision!