I can still remember the night before my first business opened. I layed there in my bed anxious, scared, I didn’t know what to expect. Was I going to be a total failure? Or was my new small business going to take of like a rocket into the unknown -- fighting earths gravity for a short time until it’s in the clear for a smooth, weightless journey? Truth is, I had NO idea.
When I woke up the next morning, I sat up in bed, looked out the window to find a sunny, beautiful summer day, and I said, “I don’t care what happens today. I’m going to succeed.” And you know what? I did.
I put up a mind block from everyone who told me I was going to fail and I decided that morning that literally nothing could stand in my way. So, I’m here today to get you excited. To get you ready to start your first small business. And you know what? You’re going to love every minute of it! Let’s dive right in.
Step 1: Do Your Research
Here’s where you really get to have fun. Why? Think of doing research like when you go to Costco -- you get to sample all those tasty foods and see what you like best. So, get out there and start to “sample” different businesses.
In other words, you should already have an idea for a business, along with a product or service, and all you need to do now is find out what other successful businesses are doing. Once you have “sampled” all of them, it’s your time to come up with a better way to do what they’re doing. Take good notes, and write down everything that comes to mind because it will prove useful as you write your business plan.
Step 2: The Business Plan
Think of Christopher Columbus. Do you think he stocked up his ship, got funding from the monarch, and rounded up a crew without some sort of plan? No. He certainly had a plan. And though he set out to find a westward route to asia by sea and found the Americas, the important thing is that he started with a plan.
Similarly, think of your business plan as your map to a new world -- and if you end up in a different spot than you anticipated, it’s okay, so long as it’s successful. Make sure your business plan goes through scenarios of finance, HR, unexpected hurdles, federal compliance, etc. Your business plan should be anywhere from 20 to 50 pages.
Tip: You can easily find business plan templates online, in Microsoft Word, or take an inexpensive class to write a top-notch plan.
Step 3: Choose a Location
You know what they say, “location, location, location!” Right? Actually, nowadays, location isn’t everything. It’s a combination of location and your ability to get found through social media and the web. However, if you’re not so fond of social media and the internet in general, location is your fighting chance. But remember, I don’t recommend this as the world will expect to find you online, rather than driving down the street.
Knowing this, choose a location that is perfect for what you’re going to do. There’s no need to find a building or space that is over the top. Simply find something to go with what you do -- something you can grow into and not out of in the first few years.
Tip: Find more than one location in the case one location option falls through.
Step 4: Fundraising and Financing
You have a plan, location, and determination, what’s next? The part you may not feel so comfortable with -- but that’s what I’m here for. You’re going to have to step out of your comfort zone and do a couple things. First, come up with a killer presentation of your business, and second, ask for money.
So, get your excited, energetic, outgoing personality on and set up a few appointment to present to potential investors for your new small business. You may start with family and then work your way up to bigger companies. Either way, raise as much as you can before you go to a financial institution for a loan.
Once you have money raised, you can go to a local bank or credit union for a small business loan. Having a good amount to put down on the loan will work in your favor and they’ll be more likely to grant you the fund and take the “risk” on you.
Step 5: Register and Get Licenses
I cannot stress how important this step is. Your state and local city government will have various regulations you much follow -- get to know them very well. Start by registering your business name with the state and what type of business you’re going to be (i.e. LLC, DBA, etc.), then go to your city office and find out what other regulations you must adhere to in order to be compliant. Different types of businesses require different licenses, so make sure you’ve done your research here because you don’t want to be caught red-handed without an important license.
Also important is getting your EIN (employee identification number) or tax identification number from the IRS and your state revenue agency. You’ll need this number in order to do taxes and can’t open without it. If you do open without it, you’ll get a nasty letter in the mail -- you don’t want that. Also, don’t forget to register for workers’ compensation, unemployment, and disability insurance.
Step 6: Deciding Benefits
Before you hire your team, check out health benefit options (i.e., a Health Reimbursement Plan or group health insurance) and decide what you want to offer. Why? If you offer amazing health benefits, you can recruit the best employees and keep them around a long time. Offer affordable health benefits that save money for both you and your employees.
Step 7: Hiring
You’ve gone through the thick of starting your business and now it’s time for the exciting part, hiring your first employee. But, don’t forget, while hiring is absolutely exciting and fun, you do need to follow certain legal steps as you hire.
In order to hire, you’ll need to decide now what kind of employees you want. Are you going to take anyone that applies, or do you want to find the employees yourself? Whatever the case may be, just remember these are going to be your team, your blood. Your small business’s success will fall on the employees you hire: whether that’s one, two, or five employees it doesn’t matter. Choose wisely, but have fun with it.
Step 8: Marketing
You know how we talked about location and how it’s not everything? That’s where your marketing will come in.
So, if you really want to be successful, remember this: marketing is your number one tool to find new customers and for them to find you. Don’t forget this, okay?
Now that I’ve got that cleared up and we see eye to eye on it, I want to mention a couple ways you can successfully market your new small business. They are:
Blogging - Blogging is a huge tool for you. If you’re writing even one to two posts a week which address your customers’ concerns and provide them with solutions, along with showing them how and why your business is that solution, you’ll see a lot of new customers will find you. Never underestimate the power of blogging.
Social Media - You’ve got to admit, social media has not just been on the rise in the past five years, it has completely, single-handedly taken over the world as we know it. What does that mean for your and your new small business? Jump on the bandwagon. Use social media often to advertise, promote, and keep up with your beloved customers.
Step 9: Fight ‘til the Bitter End
Listen, I’ll be straightforward with you. Eight out of ten businesses fail. But, I am here to tell you that if you follow these steps religiously, as well as never take no for an answer, you’re not going to be part of the 80 percent that fail.
Think of it this way, some of the largest corporations out there started out exactly where you are right now. They looked up how to start a business, and they did it. The difference between a small business that fails and one that succeeds is the determination of the owner. If you’re determined, humble, and care deeply about what you’re doing, there’s no reason for you to fail.
You’ll have days you aren’t sure what to do, but what matters is that you press on and never give up. That, my friend, is the secret to your success.
Use it. Live it. Remember it.
I want you to remember the advice in this article. I want you to envision your success and accomplish it. The only thing holding you back from starting a small business is you. If you follow these nine steps, your success is ready for the taking.
What questions do you have to start your first business? Comment below, I’d love to answer any questions you might have.