In 2015 the idea of becoming your own boss is not uncommon. Going into business for your-self requires a huge responsibility! Take some time and really think about exactly what it is that you want to do. Make sure it is something that you can (and want to) fully dedicate yourself to because believe me- that’s part of your new job description!
Step 1: Have An Idea. Believe In It.
· Define the idea for your business.
o Figure out if you want to offer a product or a service.
o Is this something that you are passionate about?
· Is there a need for this product/service?
o Is there a high demand for it?
o Is there a market for it?
o How does what you are selling differentiate from what is already available?
· Do you have experience in this industry?
o Work history, certification, professional memberships, training, and education all position you as an expert, proving your qualifications in your industry.
o If you don’t have any background in your industry, now is a good time to get some. The more experience you have the less mistakes you are likely to make.
Example: If you want to open and clothing boutique, try working part time at a clothing retailer to get a feel of how to do inventory, stockroom, tags, customer service, etc.
Step 2: Write Your Business Plan
Time to elaborate on your vision. A business plan is extremely important because it’s just that, your plan.
When your plan is completely finished you should be able to answer the following questions:
o Company background and description?
o What kind of products and services will you provide?
o Who is your target market?
o How will you sell your products/ services?
o What will be your business structure?
o How much funding do you need?
Step 3: Create Brand Identity
This is the fun part! Now it’s time to decide on things like your company’s name, colors, and logo.
Get business branding essentials like business cards, labels, letterhead, and (or) stationary. I like to use affordable sites like Vistaprint or Staples because they frequently give out discount offers.
Step 4: Location, Location, and Location
Are you going to have a brick-and-mortar location or only operate online?
- For storefronts and offices first determine how much space you will need and start scouting locations
- For online businesses start with purchasing your domain name. Get your first domain for $3.99 a year with Bluehost. Bluehost is a great hosting server because it is SO user friendly!
- Typically web designers can charge anywhere from a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars for a custom website. As a new start up with little to no money it may be a better option for you to use an online platform with customizable templates. Some fan favorites are BigCommerce, Shopify, Squarespace, and (for the really advanced) WordPress.
- Etsy, Ebay, and Amazon are also great platforms if your only interested in selling your items without the hassle of designing your own site.
Step 5: Establish an Online Presence
In this day and age your online presence is crucial to growing your business.
Whether your selling music, services, soap, or clothing in a boutique your company needs a website. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but at least have a landing page with information about your company and how to contact you.
Social media is another one of those things that is crucial to your business in 2016. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube are a few social media platforms that can help market and grow your business.
Step 6: Assess Your Resources
Every business needs resources. You need to build a team that’s going to help you get your business off the ground and running, think about who you know that can help you in anyway and reach out to them.
If you are selling a product, think about what vendors you will need to produce, package, and ship your items.
If you are offering a service, dig deep into your phonebook and think of who may could be potential clients
Step 7: Get Licensed
This is a VERY important step to make sure that you are doing legitimate business.
You could incorporate your business as Corporation, Limited Liability Corporation, Partnership, or Sole Proprietorship.
Know the laws and follow them. Taxes are nothing to play with. If you have the funding, hire an accountant and a lawyer. If not, do your research and document EVERYTHING.
It is a good idea to look into insurance, which can really protect you in the event of an emergency, especially if you have a physical location.
Step 8: Develop a Marketing Plan
Decide how you are going to tell people about your business. This all really depends on your target market.
If your marketing your resume writing service you may want to market to the unemployed or to college students, or both. Some strategies in your marketing plan may include handing out flyers to students on campus or offering a free interview workshop at the local community center.
Step 9: Figure Out Financing
You should probably have a good idea of how much your overhead and startup costs will be by now, time to decide how you are going to pay for it all.
Are you going to try to find investors? Do you have money saved? Are you going to do a fundraiser?
Making sure you have enough to cover at least your startup and overhead costs is crucial BEFORE you open your doors.
Step 10: Go Live and Make Money!
Now that you have taken all the necessary steps to build a solid foundation for your business out your plan into action! Running your own business won’t be easy but then neither is anything worth having!