Looking to start a new business?
Build a solid foundation for success as a new business owner.
Starting your own business can be a daunting task. As a new business owner, you need to focus on several important aspects including, finances, management, marketing and legal issues. Here are some considerations as you make your plans.
Develop a business plan with a clear vision and objective on how to obtain your goals. Retain an accountant to set up your bookkeeping properly from the beginning, even if you plan to use an accounting package for ongoing management.
Set up a business checking account to keep your personal and business finances separate. If you plan to sell your products or services online, or accept credit cards/debit cards, you will need to establish a merchant account to process these payments.
If you have the resources, using your personal assets is by far the easiest way to fund your business; however, many new businesses must seek outside investors, borrow, or do both to meet their initial funding needs. Weigh the potential risks and rewards of each approach carefully before you put up your own capital, issue equity, or take on debt. Getting a loan from a financial institution as a new business can be difficult, so talk with your banker about how to establish business credit, particularly if this is your first venture.
Seek guidance from experienced peers on how to manage your new business. You can find advisors as well as potential clients by joining business associations or going to your local business development center or chamber of commerce.
The next key step is to start lining up your employees and vendors. You may want to consider independent contractors or part-time employees if hiring full-time employees is too expensive or if your needs vary seasonally.
Create a brand for your company. Develop business cards and letterhead at the outset, so you can quickly distribute them and begin developing your business relationships. It can also be relatively quick and easy to create a basic website to promote your company. When marketing your business, focus on your skills, services/products and what you can do better than your competition, and where you provide differentiated value.
Get applicable licenses — even home-based businesses must obtain licenses to operate in many municipalities. Depending on your industry and location, you may need certain federal, state and local licenses or permits. You may also need to apply with the IRS for an Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Your business's legal structure affects everything from the taxes you pay to the people who make decisions and assume liability for your company. Before you start out, talk to legal or accounting experts to decide what form of business entity to establish and whether or not to trademark/service mark your business name.
Lastly, it is important to prepare your family, your schedule, and yourself for the long hours and stresses that will inevitably come with the new venture. Running a small business can be a rewarding experience, but it's wise to do your research and prepare properly before launching out on your own.