How to Start a Business
Are you ready to join the entrepreneurial world?
Or looking to grow your business to the next level?
There’s a few common sense business principles you need to follow. These aren’t groundbreaking rules, but things you’ll need to implement consistently:
1. Have an idea
It all starts with a great idea. And sometimes it starts with an okay idea. It doesn’t need to be as innovative as the self-driving car. It just needs to be something that’s missing in the marketplace. Like pantyhose without feet (Spanx) or STEM products for girls (GoldieBlox) or designer dresses for rent (Rent the Runway).
When you start focusing on what’s missing in the market on a daily basis, you’ll come up with hundreds of ideas. You’ll find ideas when you’re eating breakfast, getting ready, driving to work, or walking your dogs.
Tip: Try using a journal to remember all your business ideas.
2. Research your market
Once you decide on an idea, you’ll need to do the research. This is so important because you’ll need an informed strategy to grow your business in the market and you can’t create that strategy if you don’t know about your market. Consider:
Is this idea viable?
Is it something people actually want?
Is it something people will actually buy?
Are there enough customers in the market for you to be profitable?
Who’s already in that space?
What can you do to stand out?
You can definitely find this information with some online research. It’s also a good idea to go out and talk to your customers. Ask your target customers if they’re interested or if they’d buy your idea. Ask what competitors they use.
Tip: Test their answers. Start with a pop up or a beta launch and see if people will actually buy it. There’s your proof of concept!
3. Create a business plan
A business plan may seem outdated and it does take some time to create. But it’s hard to reach your goal when you don’t know exactly what it is. As an entrepreneur, you’ll make a hundred decisions a day and a well-crafted business plan helps you make the right decisions.
You’ll need to be clear about your short + long term goals. You’ll need to create a strategy for reaching those goals. And you’ll need to be clear about the numbers on the way.
Tip: Head to the Small Business Association for expert tips on creating a business plan
4. Register your company
You’ve probably heard about something called Limited Liability. It’s what you get for registering your company with the state and following certain formalities. It's a big deal because without it, your personal assets (like your car, house, and bank account) are considered company property. That means they can be taken by creditors to pay your business debts. With limited liability, only your company assets are at risk.
Youʼll start by completing the state paperwork to register your entity. First, you'll need to decide what kind of entity is the best fit for you. If you haven't decided yet, check out our guides to Sole Proprietorship, Partnerships, LLCs, C Corporations, and S Corporations.
Now you're ready to register. If you are registering an LLC, the form is usually called Articles of Organization. If youʼre forming a Corporation, the form is called Articles of Incorporation. You can find these on your stateʼs corporation agency website. Youʼll also need to choose a registered agent, principal place of business, and business purpose. Keep in mind that all of this information, including your address, will be public.
Tip: Call in your business attorney if you’re not sure which entity is the right fit for your company.