→ Learning how to start a business is no small task, but it’s necessary if you want to successfully get your venture off the ground. To help, I've put together a complete guide that walks you through the steps of starting a business.
What Do You Need to Start a Business?
Business Plan: Your plan is a document that provides in-depth detail about your business and its short- and long-term strategies.
Business Name: Your name is what you’ll call your company on all official documentation and licenses.
Business Structure: Your structure refers to the type of leadership and ownership your business will operate under.
Business Registration: Your registration is a credential with state authorities that allows your business to operate legally.
Legal Requirements: Your other legal requirements include business licenses and permits beyond the initial registration.
Funding: Your sources of funding refer to business grants, loans, and personal savings.
→ Every budding entrepreneur wants more visitors, more qualified leads, and more revenue. But starting a business isn't one of those "if you build it, they will come" situations. So much of getting a startup off the ground has to do with timing, planning, and the market, so consider if the economic conditions are right to start a company and whether you can successfully penetrate the market with your solution.
→ In order to build and run a successful company, you'll also need to create and fine-tune a business plan, assess your finances, complete all the legal paperwork, pick your partners, research apps for startups growth, choose the best tools and systems to help you get your marketing and sales off the ground … and a whole lot more.
→ At this point, you may be wondering where to start. Should you work on your business name and logo or tackle your business structure? Does it make sense to already start applying for loans or focus on product development?
→ It can be difficult to know the right steps to take. But that’s ok. Starting your own venture is all about trial and error. Working through the process to find what works for you and what resonates with potential customers.
But rather than being overwhelmed by all the decisions and tasks you have at hand, there are steps you can take to kickstart the development of your business. Let’s get started.
1. Determine if entrepreneurship is what you want
Before diving into the details of your potential business, it’s best to take stock of yourself and your situation.
Why do you want to start a business? Is it money, freedom, and flexibility, to solve a problem or some other reason?
→ What are your skills?
→ What industries do you know about?
→ Do you want to provide a service or a product?
→ What do you like to do?
→ How much capital do you have to risk?
→ Will it be a full-time or a part-time venture?
→ Your answers to these types of questions will help you narrow your focus.
→ This step is not supposed to dissuade you from starting your own business. Rather, it’s here to get you thinking and planning. In order to start a successful business, passion alone isn’t enough.
→ “Know yourself, and work in a job that caters to your strengths. This knowledge will make you happier.”
→ — Sabrina Parsons | CEO of Palo Alto Software
Conduct a self-assessment
→ You need to plan, set goals, and above all, know yourself. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? How will these affect day-to-day operations? You could conduct a SWOT analysis on yourself to figure this out.
→ As you get started, your business will likely dominate your life so make sure that what you’re doing is stimulating and challenging, but not completely outside of your expertise. You’re going to be in it for the long-haul. Use what you learn from the SWOT analysis to think through what you want your life to be like, not just what you want from your business.
Some good questions to ask yourself include:
What would you do if money wasn’t an issue?
→ Is money really important? Or rather, is making a lot of it really important? If it is, you’re probably going to be cutting out a number of options.
What really matters to you?
→ Do you have the support of your family, especially your immediate family? They may have to make sacrifices at the beginning, so it’s important to have them behind you.
→ Who do you admire in business? Maybe there’s even someone in the industry you’d like to go into. Why do you admire them? What are their likable traits?
→ What can you learn from them?
→ Answering these questions (and many more) about yourself and your abilities isn’t necessarily going to ensure you’re successful, but it will get you thinking about your goals and about what motivates and inspires you. Use this time to make sure that you are matching the business you want to start to your personal aspirations.
→ Be sure to take our quiz to find out if you’re entrepreneur material, too.
2. Refine your idea
→ Once you know why you want to start a business, it’s time to find and develop your idea. More than likely, you already have something in mind after going through your self-assessment. But if you need inspiration, you can check out our sample plan library to explore different industries, or read up on trending start-up ideas.
→ Now it’s not enough to just think you have a good idea and run with it. You need to validate that there is a need. You also need to start addressing whether this idea is sustainable or not.