All it takes to start your own company is a good idea, a great business plan, relentless execution, and reliable financiers. But getting started can be an intimidating and daunting task for most freshly-minted entrepreneurs. So, if you are interested in establishing your own startup, but unsure where to begin, jump start it with these basic tips.
Visualize Your Idea and Set Goals
Once you have established a sound business idea, the first step is ironing out the kinks. Visualize your ideas by writing out a list of the business goals you wish to achieve and the logistics that will make it possible. Ask yourself if you have the time to devote to your new business, where you can find the space to house this business, and where you can find the funding to get it off the ground. Answering these three questions will help you set realistic startup goals focused on finding a space, finding a staff if necessary, and finding interested investors.
Create a Business Plan
Writing a clear and concise business plan is the best way to visualize your ideas and prioritize tasks. Your plan should include an executive summary of what your business is, your anticipated future plans (which will likely change, but directionally is important), and how it will be monetized. Within this summary should be a list of your goals with clearly defined deadlines. These deadlines will be extremely helpful in the future. Give yourself a list of 6-month, 1-year, and 3-year goals to stay on task and maintain a visual representation of the business’ future. A detailed timeline of goals will also help you find investors. Knowing where your business could be in 3 years will help build confidence in your investors and in yourself.
Seek Legal Advice
In order to understand the tax laws and legal standing of your new company, schedule a consultation with a business lawyer. You will have to decide what type of business entity to establish, etc. Understanding the differences between proprietorships, partnerships, and LLCs can be very confusing, so it is best to seek advice early on in order to avoid legal issues later. The same goes for business taxes. Seeking legal advice on national and local business taxes will help you earn the most money without having to pay too much back out of pocket during tax season.
Conduct Industry Research
With your startup goals in hand, it’s time to do some research. Find out which local and national competitors are offering the same goods and services you intend on providing and how you can make your brand stand out. More importantly, research your audience and potential customer base. You don’t want to create a product no one wants, so find out what people need and what they are looking for by asking them directly. Pinpoint your customer niche and visit them at trade shows, at competitors’ stores, or even online forums and ask them what they are looking for from the service you intend to provide with your new start-up company.
While researching your competition and customers, start networking with like-minded business owners and investors. Knowing the right people can influence how successful you will be in any endeavor, and starting a new company is no different. Established business owners can offer you advice on the current economic scene, introduce you to lawyers, investors, and other business owners, and offer you assistance when it comes to marketing, hiring, and sales. Trade shows and conventions are great places to meet people, so attend as many as possible. Carry copies of your business plan with you, as well as business cards to stay in contact, and share it with friends, family, and new people you meet along the way.
Once you have a business plan and a working knowledge of your legal and fiscal standing as a new startup, your next step is to raise money. You can always request a loan from a bank, but a clearly defined business plan can get you a long way with investors looking to trade capital for future stocks in your business. Equity crowdfunding is one of the most popular and successful ways new startups are meeting their fiscal needs. Posting your business plan on equity crowdfunding sites and offering stocks or rewards (such as free product or services) in exchange for investment capital can help you meet your goals much faster than asking individual investors in person. Crowdfunding also lets you know what your customers are looking for. If no one chooses to donate money to your business, you will know to change up your business plan and try again.
Once you have raised enough money, put your business plan to action. It takes a lot of time and energy before your marketing efforts pay off, so as you are starting out, remember to be patient. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, most startups don’t gain instant popularity overnight. However, staying on top of the latest industry and marketing trends and analyzing your business performance will help you improve your strategy and increase your sales.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Samantha Pena is a business blogger writing on behalf of Hudson Horizons. Her main focus and passion is creating amazing content that is accurate, up-to-date, and (most importantly) interesting. Her main obsessions are social media, trending topics, and anything web-related. You can check out her latest posts on her Google+ page. Connect with @hudsonhorizons on Twitter.
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