If you’ve been wondering how to start a business, then congratulations, you already have the right mindset for entrepreneurship. Becoming an entrepreneur allows you to do your own thing and experience incredible joys when your business takes off. That being said, starting a business is a big decision, and there are several processes involved, which is why you want to be able to approach it strategically. In this article, we’ll break down the steps of how to start your own business so you can set yourself up for success.
How to Start a Business
Starting a business requires juggling many moving parts, but the procedure becomes more manageable when broken down. If you’re curious about how to start a business, we’ve created a 10-step guide to help you through the process. While there’s no one size fits all approach to launching a new company, these steps will help you start on the right foot.
Step 1: Assess Your Situation
Starting a new business is a challenging and exciting endeavor, but it can also be a period of uncertainty and risk. Are you strong enough to endure hardships and motivated enough to work long hours if need be? Will you still be there, giving your best when you have not seen a profit in 3 months? If you didn’t answer yes to both of these questions, you might need to re-evaluate if entrepreneurship is the right option for you.
You see, learning how to start a business is on the bucket-list of almost everyone I know. Everyone wants to be their own boss, build a growing team, and be the next million-dollar success story. But what everyone fails to do is assess their situation. For some going on this path could mean working on weekends, while for others, it could mean taking out a loan to cover startup costs. Not everyone is mentally prepared to do these things.
So ask yourself, “Am I ready to do whatever it takes to succeed?” If you commit to the journey, learn what it takes to get a business off the ground, and work smartly, you’re probably going to end up building something great.
Step 2: Identify a Business Idea
Choosing an idea is perhaps the most essential part of the journey. If you’re going to put time and money into a venture, you want that investment to pay off. You should first explore the viability of a niche that you’re passionate about. Is there a significant demand for the products and services that you’re going to sell? Is there enough space in the market for you to establish a presence? These are just a few questions you need to ask yourself before starting a business.
If your business idea isn’t feasible, you can always go with a proven, less-competitive business instead. From flipping websites to taking valet parking bookings on the internet, from opening a vegan restaurant to offering wait-in-line services, there’s no shortage of business ideas you could execute. Use a tool like Keywords Everywhere to determine which ideas are worthy of further work and which ones should be dismissed. The tool shows how many people are searching for a specific business model online, which should give you a fair understanding of how competitive an idea is.
Whatever idea you choose, make sure it has enough potential to last for the foreseeable future. This way, you can be sure that your decision to start your own business will not backfire, even when times get tough.
Step 3: Conduct Market Research
The purpose of this step is to find the answers to the following important questions:
- What do people like and dislike about the existing market for your niche?
- Who are your competitors, and what do people think of them?
- What are the similarities between your products and existing products on the market?
- How can you stand out and meet customer expectations?
Some companies specialize in conducting market research for new businesses, but you can do this yourself to save money for other core areas of your business. Here are some easy ways to test the market:
Use Google Trends
Google Trends will help you see what the trend is when consumers search for a solution that your business will generate for them. For example, if you’re looking to start a website flipping business, this is an excellent time to launch as people’s interest in buying websites is on the rise.
Research social media conversations
Join Facebook groups related to your niche and identify what companies and products people are discussing. You can also ask for feedback through polls and posts. We also suggest using hashtags and researching the profiles of people who use them frequently to learn more about the market.
Analyze the competition with the help of tools
Anyone learning how to start a business shouldn’t forget the importance of competitor analysis. Fortunately, you can get an idea of your main competitors, their website traffic, and the demographic they cater to with the help of SEMrush and other similar tools. Just write your niche or product name in the tool’s search bar, and it will do the rest.
Step 4: Write a Business Plan
Many entrepreneurs cringe at the thought of it, but writing a business plan is a must for anyone serious about launching their own company. Here’s the good news: you can write one on a piece of paper and carry it around you to remind yourself of your goals. Primarily, the business plan will serve as a blueprint of your business, covering things like:
- The purpose of your business (the elevator pitch)
- Main product or service and the problem it solves
- A description of your target market (e.g., people who buy plants, people who buy plants online, etc.)
- Details of your competitors and what traits will enable your business to stand out (SWOT analysis)
- The platforms and techniques you will use to promote your business (the marketing plan)
- What will your costs be and how you will finance your startup and ongoing expenses (the financial plan)
- Expected timeline to achieve profitability (financial projections for 1-5 years)
Never write a business plan in a hurry. Spend some time drafting a layout (you can do this on your computer or another paper) and then write down your plan – this will enable you to jot down the information in an organized manner.
Step 5: Get Feedback
Getting feedback is an integral part of validating your business idea. It helps you to identify gaps in your offerings, integrate additional features, and discover the best way to market. To garner unbiased feedback on new business ideas, consider the following resources.
Whether you’re planning to sell a product or a service, you can set up a landing page on your website where people can sign up as beta testers. You can then provide registered testers with exclusive access to your product in exchange for honest feedback.
Many cities have business centers where in-house entrepreneurs offer advice on how to start a business. You can find one by searching for a business center + (your city’s name) on Google.
Step 6: Arrange Financing
As you gain knowledge of how to start a business, you’ll realize the importance of financing. Some businesses like freelance writing have very minimal costs as they just require a computer and internet, which you may already have. In case you have to spend a few hundred dollars in the startup phase, you can set aside some amount from your monthly payback to cover the costs. If this isn’t an option, then you need to think about getting financing from outside.
There are numerous ways to secure outside funding for your business. For example, you can reach out to your friends and family and ask for a small loan. You can also list your business on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter where you may gain investment from multiple backers. Angel investors and commercial banks are also good options, but you’ll need to have some operating history to obtain financing from these sources. If you’re willing to pair up with a partner, he or she will likely contribute the extra cash your business needs to start operating.
Step 7: Create Your Brand
One of the most exciting parts of learning how to start a business is creating a brand. The first thing you want to do when you are building a brand is to choose a business name. Your company’s name should be catchy, memorable, have an available .com domain, and easy to spell when heard. See if there is a combination of phrases that you could put together or use a free business name generator to come up with potential names.
Once you’ve figured out a name, you’ll want to work on other branding assets. If you decide to go for a new color scheme, font, or logo, you might want to obtain the services of a designer. There are several websites where you can find freelance designers at an affordable price. This might be worth the investment as you may not have the skills or time to create branding materials yourself. Pro tip: Make sure to display your business name and branding assets on all of your social media profiles in a consistent manner. This means having the same username, logo, and color scheme on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platforms.
Step 8: Register Your Business
The first step to making your business official is to choose a business structure. The registration process and legal requirements for sole proprietors, partnerships, and corporations may vary in different countries. Visit your country’s business registration website for more information.
Depending on your state or city, you may not need to register your company until you’ve made a set amount of profit or income, so do your due diligence to learn what laws apply to businesses in your locality.
Step 9: Build Your Product or Service
The product or service you develop for your business will depend on your business type and expertise. If you’re a graphic designer, you can create digital illustrators, logo concepts, social media covers, or industry infographics to sell to others. You can make money online by listing your products for sale on your website and in freelance marketplaces.
Some businesses also enable you to order products that you can sell to an audience. In website flipping, you can buy a ready-made website or online store, improve its design and content, and then sell your business on a marketplace like Exchange for a profit. So, you don’t necessarily need to create a product from scratch.
Sole proprietorship and partnerships are the most popular business structures for new entrepreneurs. Some entrepreneurs, however, will outright register an LLC to gain liability benefits that can protect their personal assets. When researching how to start a business, make sure to thoroughly research business structures to determine which option is right for you.
Entrepreneurs can also outsource product development to a specialist. If you want an app but you don’t have development skills, you can recruit a technical person from Upwork or Fiverr. Whether you’re starting a small business or planning to launch a big company, start exploring your options so you can optimize the product development process.
Step 10: Start Promoting!
No matter your product or industry, the success of your business will ultimately depend on revenue and profits. That’s why it’s so important to try and get your business in front of people so that your ideas turn into sales. Here are a few ways you can find new customers:
- Facebook: If your target audience is present on Facebook or Instagram, it can be a good idea to run Facebook ads. You can use Facebook’s audience targeting features to serve ads to people who have already shown interest in your business.
- SEO: By using the relevant keywords on your webpages and building backlinks, you can improve your online presence in search engines.
- Marketplace listing: List products on Amazon or eBay to get more eyeballs on your business. Use a website marketplace to reach potential buyers for your site. Marketplace listings work well because they have internal marketing systems and processes that help promote listed businesses.
- Quora: Become a regular contributor on Quora to promote your business. Use the space on your Quora profile to mention your company. Once your content starts getting views, expect people to research what you and your business are all about.
Now that you know how to start a business, it’s time to fulfill that long-awaited entrepreneurial dream. Once you have a solid idea and financing and channels to promote your company, you’ll be on the path to launching your new venture. All you need to do now is take that first step, and you’re in the running for a healthy and successful business that’s all yours to own.