9 Essential Steps to Start a Small Business

Thinking of Starting a Small Business? Here's Where to Start.

Small business owner
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Starting a small business requires determination, motivation, and know-how. Here are nine critical steps to provide you with the know-how to have a successful small business startup:

1​. Identify Your Business Opportunity:

Choosing what kind of business to start can be an immobilizing task when confronted with the multitude of opportunities. It's important to determine where your passions lie and to understand your personality type.

Yet, equally important is what skills you bring to the table and whether you are entering a dying industry or a fast growing emerging business.

2​. Build a Business Plan:

For any start-ups, a business plan allows you to gain a better understanding of your industry structure, competitive landscape, and the capital requirements of starting a small business. A study mentioned in "Business Plans For Dummies" by Paul Tiffany states that companies with a business plan have 50% more profits and revenue than non-planning businesses. Writing a business plan just makes good business sense.

3​. Find Start-up Money:

To start a business, you must invest in the business. The journey of finding start-up funds will be different for each individual. Some start-ups such as consulting require a few thousand to get a website and business cards whereas a retail store could need $100,000 or more. Finding the money you need may come from a source you never thought of or may just end up being the frugal bootstrap method.

4​. Name Your Business:

What's in a business name? Everything and nothing. The right business name will help distinguish you from a sea of bland competitors, provide your customers with a reason to hire you and aid in the branding of your company. Learn what you need to know to find a name for your business.

5​. Choose a Business Structure:

Deciding on the structure of your business is not a decision to be taken lightly. Whether you choose the popular LLC, a sole proprietorship or form a corporation; your choice will have an impact on your business liability, fund-ability as well as taxes due. Don't fret over your ultimate business structure, because as your business evolves, so too, may your structure.

6​. Get Your Business License and Permits:

Starting a small business requires the mundane, yet necessary, paperwork and regulations. Depending on your chosen business structure, may need to register your business with the state authorities. Setting up your small business may require an employer identification number (EIN) which is also used by state taxing authorities to identify businesses. Additional paperwork can entail sales tax licenses, zoning permits and more.

7​. Set Up & Determine Your Business Location:

One of the multitudes of tasks in starting a business is the setting up of your office. There are many steps in office set up including where to locate your office (home or office space), buying the necessary office equipment, designing your work space and getting supplies.

8​. Get Business Insurance:

As a new small business owner, you have the responsibility to manage the risks associated with your business.

Don't put your new start-up at risk without getting the proper small business insurance to protect your company in the event of disaster or litigation.

9​. Create an Accounting System:

Unless you're a number person, the accounting and bookkeeping aspect of running your business can't be avoided. Setting up your accounting will help you understand the financials of running a business and help you avert failure.