Steps to Starting a Business
Young entrepreneurs who are just getting started can be quickly overwhelmed with all the work that’s involved in starting a business. Here are the five key steps to starting a business:
Step #1: Business Plan, Name and Legal Structure
No matter how much you read about starting a business, the steps to starting a business always start with planning. Your business plan should include your mission, goals, what will differentiate your company from competitors, how you’ll market and sell your products or services, and how you plan to fund it.
There are lots of resources on how to write a business plan. I’d suggest first starting with the SBA.gov site and going from there.
Next, you’ll need to determine the legal structure of your business, whether it’s to be a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, S corporation, cooperative or non-profit.
The fun part is picking the business name, but make sure it’s a name that you can trademark and there’s a domain name that’s available. Register it with your state government and get a tax identification number from the IRS and your state revenue agency. You’ll also need to get a list of federal, state and local licenses and the permits required for your business.
Step #2: Get a Mentor
There’s lots of free training and counseling services for young entrepreneurs who want to take the first steps to starting a business. They can help you with everything from preparing a business plan to securing financing for your business.
But I’d suggest going beyond the free stuff and getting a business mentor – someone who is already working in your industry, who would be willing to coach and mentor you in your business start-up and stick with you as your business grows.
Being successful in business isn’t about how many hours you work or what hurdles you have to overcome. Being successful in your own business is about getting your business up and running and making sales while maintaining product quality and healthy margins.
In other words, it’s about working smarter, not harder. That’s why working with a mentor is so important. Young entrepreneurs will often focus on the “fun” things like making T-shirts with their company logo on them, rather than the things that they really need to be spending their time on.
Step #3: Determine Your Key Differentiators
The key question you need to answer before you start your business in earnest is: how is your product or service different from what’s out there already? If you’re offering a service and are an expert at what you do, your expertise and services can be key differentiators. You could also differentiate yourself on price, by pricing yourself slightly under the market. You can always raise your prices later, once you have a healthy client base.
In a product-based business, you’ll need to determine what makes your product better than your competitors. All of the most profitable businesses such as Amazon or Costco compete on price, but not while sacrificing quality.
Does your product do a better job of solving your customers’ problems? Are there key features that your competitors don’t offer? Do you offer a better price? Better customer service?
Step #4: Market, Market, Market
These days, you MUST put up a website, whether you’re selling a product or simply your consulting services. Make sure you understand the basics about how to create a website that will get found, using the best practices in SEO (search engine optimization) and content creation.
Depending on your market, social media can be an effective way to identify your audience, and you could also use PPC (pay per click advertising, such as Google Adwords) to rank highly on keywords that your customers are doing to find your products or services.
Don’t forget to listen to your audience and let them guide you in making key business decisions. Trust is built by listening and responding to your customers’ needs. Sometimes, the difference between the average and wealthy entrepreneur is simply their ability to gain their customers’ trust.
Step #5: Be Patient!
Remember that building a business takes time – several months at least – so you’re going to have to be patient, and you will want to plan accordingly. When it comes to budgeting, make sure you have several months of cushion, because it could very well take longer than you expected to open your business doors and start making money.
The good news is that I’m here as your resource to take your business from start-up to success. I hope these steps to starting a business have helped you. Be sure to sign up for my blog, Rylee’s Revelations , where you’ll get much more advice on the steps to starting a business and what you need to do to create the business success and life that you deserve.