9 of the Most Important Steps for Starting a Business
By: Keith Krach
When asked, any entrepreneur can likely recall the moment when their big idea struck, or when they finally decided to chase a dream, or when they realized a business model might actually work. If not these exact memories, then they can surely remember the time when they felt dissatisfied with their career or knew there was simply something better out there for them. Different motivations drive different people.
At some point, all entrepreneurs have to make a plan. While some businesses require a few months — even years — to find their stride, some smaller ones can take shape in a matter of hours. Aspiring startup owners will navigate various nuances depending on the scale of their soon-to-be business, but the process of launching a new company will, by and large, follow these important steps.
1. Narrow down the brainstorm list
A surprising number of entrepreneurs set out to claim their stake in the market without a clearly developed idea. The brainstorming process is great for generating concepts, but sometimes those appear more connected in theory than they are in practice. This can lead to all sorts of complications. Instead, startup leaders should simplify the road ahead by narrowing down the options early on and starting out with a specific idea.
2. Understand the commitment
Going into businesses requires a unique kind of motivation. Is it to be your own boss or to create employment opportunities for others? Incentives will vary, but entrepreneurs need to recognize the necessary commitment — and then actually commit. When people view a startup as a backup plan or something to pursue at leisure, walking away becomes much easier. Business leaders will find it less challenging to commit when their idea aligns with their passions.
3. Determine the long-term vision
After arriving at a specific idea and recognizing the commitment, the next step in starting a business involves deciding who will work with and around you. Some people may prefer a solo operation, and their model may allow for a one-person show. Business leaders with larger-scale dreams will have to calculate the amount of support needed to position the venture for long-term success. In any circumstance, entrepreneurs should seek out a mentor to help them see the process through.
4. Conduct initial market research
As early on as possible, startup owners should take time to become familiar with their market. Leaders often launch their business in an industry where they already have experience, but market research is a must for anyone, no matter how versed they may be. Obtain a sense for the competition and what a newcomer will need to lay claim on space. Perhaps the business will operate better by setting up headquarters in a certain state. Only studying the market will tell.
5. Draft a formal business plan
Think of the next milestone as a compilation of all the notes taken to this point into a clear, concise document. A formal business plan will include an executive summary followed by detailed descriptions of the entity, the goods and services it will produce, and how it will produce them. Market analysis and financial projection will also appear in the plan. Entrepreneurs should dedicate the time and energy their business plan requires to attenuate any potential future issues.
6. Deploy the marketing strategy
The business plan will feature a marketing strategy that entrepreneurs should put into action as soon as they have a brand to work with. Building up a brand can take time, but building anticipation by keeping the public waiting for opening day will merit the investment. Consumers that already have an idea of what sets your business apart from the rest can help the company hit the ground running from the very beginning.
7. Secure online domain names
In the digital age, websites serve as the face of a business. Entrepreneurs need to secure a domain name that consumers can remember and access with ease. They also need to build social media profiles with account names and handles that match or reflect the website URL. With the number of businesses and users already on these platforms, many names are already taken, but a little creativity can lead to a winning solution.
8. Officially form the business
With the business plan in hand, the remaining step is to register with the government and the IRS for all the requisite licenses and permits. The business will assume one of several legal structures, such as a sole proprietorship, a limited liability company (LLC), or a nonprofit. Entrepreneurs will want to select an attorney and accountant to assist with these important finalizing tasks.
9. Make an early habit of setting goals
Goal setting should happen early and often. Striving for a high bar and evaluating progress at regular intervals is a tried and true method for growth, and in many ways, it’s merely repeating the process of starting a business.