Starting your own business can be exhilarating and terrifying all at once. With so much freedom comes incredible responsibility. It is intoxicating to think you can control your own income and build a brand or offer a service on your own terms. However, many who dream of being small business owners struggle with where exactly to begin.
In my opinion, the two most important tools in any business owners tool kit are research and planning. Knowing who your competitors are and how to price your services in comparison are very important to continuing to grow and thrive as a business owner. Remember, this is not a race so take your time and pace yourself. Set realistic goals for yourself and your business. Doing so just may prevent future disasters and heartache. In order to grow successfully you must first plan strategically. Take a look at these five basic steps you need to solidify your business foundation.
Five Fundamental Steps to Starting a Business
1) Have a Business Plan
Knowing what you want your business to be is always the first step. Start simple and build up and out from there. Far too often, I see businesses struggle because they are trying to do too much without putting a firm foundation in place first. Establish the core of your business to start. Take your time and remember we all learned to crawl before we could walk.
I highly recommend having a business plan because it truly outlines the entirety of your business. Once you compile your business plan, you will be equipped to begin your business with realistic goals. Do not be afraid to alter your business plan as you grow. Who knows where your small business will take you, opportunities come from all directions. If you are wondering what all should be included in a business plan, check out my post Creating Your Business Plan 101.
2) Permits and Licensing
Permits and licensing are essential to properly and legally operating your business. There are various fees you must pay to obtain the required permits/licenses. There are several variables that will affect the license and permits you are required to obtain. Variables such as, the exact type of business you plan to operate, and the state in which you will be working in will affect that. Please always remember to do your homework and if you are unsure ask questions. Anyone at your local county clerk's office should be able to assist you. Also, you can always utilize the SBA website to help you better understand the legal requirements of your particular business.
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3) Understand How to Fund Your Small Business
All business’ require capital to start and thrive, do you know where to find yours? I am VERY against taking out loans to finance your business endeavor. Instead of a loan consider crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, or Indiegogo. Not only can you raise the working capital you need, but you can also build a fan base for your product. Have your supporters sign up for your newsletter so you can keep them abreast of your progress.
Another creative way to increase your income would be through affiliate links.
This is an unorthodox approach to helping to fund your business. If your business will utilize a website, blog, or e-commerce store than affiliate income can be used to help bring in additional streams of income. This can be very slow to start but can be a form of income that will help your cash flow. With affiliate income, you are required to either post a link or banner on your website. Once visitors click on that link and either sign-up for something or make a purchase on the affiliate site, you will receive a small commission. You are not paid for up to 120 days after the transaction has occurred. Therefore, this is not a way to earn money overnight. However, this can be an alternative source of revenue that will help your business.
There are a plethora of ways to market your business, create a marketing plan that will work best for your business and your personality. Trying to market in such a way that you are uncomfortable with will simply come across as awkward and potentially harm your business.
Are you an outgoing and social person? Great! Maybe cold-calling or networking won't be so challenging for you. Are you more hesitant and shy? Start with an online campaign that will allow you to build your confidence while establishing your online presence.
5) Establish Your Community Ties
Every new business struggles to earn its place within the community. Remember that adage 'respect is earned not given?' It's true! One way to earn some respect is to focus on building strong community ties. These ties are essential to enabling your business to continue to grow and succeed with the support of your community.
Providing excellent customer service is a great way to establish a community presence. Regardless of operating a brick-and-mortar storefront or a digital company customer service will make or break your business. Always invest in your customer and do what you can to ensure they have a wonderful experience with your brand.
If you haven't already completed the five tasks above, take the time now and jot down a few ideas for each objective. Remember to take baby steps, do not be afraid to start with your ultimate objective and then break it down from there. For example, you want to purchase a brick-and-mortar location for your business. However, you have only just begun. Reflecting on the five objectives outlined above how can each of those steps help you on your way to that brick-and-mortar location you desire? Skipping baby steps now may cause your business to fail. Spend some time truly reflecting on each element and speak to both your short-term and long-term goals. Are your ready to level up your business? Enroll in my E-course Building Your Business click here to sign up.