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I have started two businesses and worked for many others. As a bookkeeper I work in the background while others maintain the face of the company. Having experience in beginning a new business my husband and I continuously receive questions on how to start a business. Therefore, I’ve come up with a list of objectives that will get a new business owner moving in the right direction.
Before Getting Started
Before starting a business think about what it is you want to do. There are a few questions that you need to ask yourself before starting up a full-fledged business:
- Are you going to sell something handmade?
- Is it beneficial to resell a product?
- Is a blog for you?
- Will you be providing a service?
- Are there plans for opening a brick and mortar location?
The type of business you opt to dive into will conclude what you need to do to get started.
1. Research the Niche
There are a lot of people out there doing and thinking the same thing as you. Whatever niche you have an interest in, be sure to read and research. Research the market’s trends, identify your consumer and study your competition. Assure that the niche you choose to promote is in demand. The niche that you prefer may become a slow-moving business if it is not a fan favorite.
2. Love Your Business
MAKE SURE YOU WILL ENJOY DOING WHAT YOU START OUT TO DO. Don’t start a business based on what you think will sell if you don’t absolutely love it. A business owner that is not passionate about what they are doing will grow bored and tired. Having a business is time consuming and hard work. My husband and I work five days a week and sometimes seven days a week. The company will only grow if you want it to grow so be sure to enjoy the type of business you choose.
3. Business Registration
Pick a business name, register your business name, and decide what type of entity you want your business to be. Most small business owners use a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company. You will need to check with your local business registration office to establish if you need a business license, a re-sellers permit, a gross receipt tax rate, or a federal tax identification number. A useful resource is the Small Business Administration. In the beginning stages of our business, I contacted the Small Business Administration office when I was unsure of local requirements. They were accommodating with information and resources.
4. A Business Plan
A business plan is recommended for businesses owners. Writing a business plan exposes flaws or fresh ideas that a business owner may not recognize before opening the business. A business plan will change as the company grows. Business planning helps to create a strategy when you start a business. Again, the Small Business Administration can assist you with this, or you can find a free template online to help you get started.
5. Business Start-Up Money
After assessing your business plan think about what you need financially to start a business. Small businesses can start with very little money or none at all depending on the business venture. Put together a list of items that you will need to get started. Research the items online, make phone calls and contact vendors for prices. Consider expenses for office supplies, equipment, subscriptions, and materials or cost of goods. Your item list will support you in finalizing an amount you need.
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6. Select a Selling Platform
Elect a place to sell your product or service when you start a business. Etsy is great for homemade products. New and used products sell on eBay. You can sell products or services online through e-commerce platforms like Shopify, Volusion, BigCommerce, and Weebly. I chose Shopify because it was easy to learn, and I was able to add my products and pictures of our business.
Shopify has an excellent customer service department which I’ve used multiple times. Shopify offers a 14 day free trial period before opting for one of their three plans. The basic Shopify plan is only $29. I also use GoDaddy.com for domain names and SiteGround hosting for my blog. Please remember that starting a website will not come easy to everyone and making time can be challenge at first.
7. Pick a Payment System
There are a ton of payment systems available to use. If you are using a program like QuickBooks for bookkeeping and accounting, you might want to incorporate their Intuit go payment app. Online e-commerce companies like Shopify offer their payment system and point of sale options. Etsy provides a payment system for their sellers. Square, PayPal, ShopKeep, and Stripe are some favorites.
8. Track Income and Expenses
Some great bookkeeping and accounting software is QuickBooks Desktop Pro, QuickBooks Online, Wave, and FreshBooks. If you do not feel comfortable using software make sure that you use something that allows you to keep track of revenue, expenses, and materials or cost of goods. Come tax season you will be thankful that you had a way to track your income and expenses.
9. Ask for Help
Not everyone has a background in business and accounting so if you need help don’t be afraid to ask for it. There are classes that you can take and professionals you can hire. I emphasize to all new business owners – make sure that you have a record keeping practice in place.
The research and time that it takes to get started might be a lot lengthier than you think, but if you want to work hard for a service or product that you feel good about there’s no question that it’s the right move for you.