Great idea, check. Motivation, check. Now what? If you’re planning to start a business in 2020, you’re not alone. Over 85,000 new businesses are likely to start in the first quarter of this year. In fact, the first quarter of each year sees 25% more new businesses start compared to each of the rest of the year.1
The first steps to getting your business off the ground can be a challenge. In this article, we’ll cover the basic essentials you need to start your business and begin serving customers!
Your business plan is the key to your success, and a necessary first step for any entrepreneur. This will not only serve as your road map, but will also demonstrate to potential lenders that you’ve thought through the risks and earning potential that will come with your new venture — a requirement to finding funding.
Startup costs for a new business can vary drastically (that’s where your business plan comes in), but every new venture requires capital. Luckily, you have plenty of options to come up with the cash you’ll need: applying for a small business loan, crowdfunding, cashing in a 401(k), taking out a second mortgage, and getting assistance from friends and family are a few of the routes you could take.
Whether or not you intend to have a physical storefront for your business, you will need an address for it — to receive mail, to be listed on Google, and to file your paperwork. If you don’t have a physical mailing address, renting a mailbox helps establish legitimacy for your business, and makes it easier for you to manage mail.
Ready to get creative? It’s time to brand your business! Your brand will help make you memorable to your clientele and set you apart from the competition. It’s a good idea to work with a professional graphic designer so that you can make a polished impression from the start — and to save you the hassle and expense of re-branding later.
Registering your business name is essential to protect your intellectual property. Depending on how large you intend to grow your business, what industry you’re in, and whether you’ll be hiring employees, you’ll likely also need to file for tax IDs from the federal and state governments. You may also need to apply for licenses and permits specific to your industry.
When you’re first starting out, the easiest way to spread the word about your business is word of mouth. But no one will remember you (or how to find you) without a physical reminder. Handing someone a business card when you deliver your elevator pitch ensures that they’ll be able to look you up later when they want to purchase your products or services.
You may or may not need a physical storefront or location right away, but you definitely need to establish a home on the internet for your business if you want customers to be able to find out about you. This includes creating a website and setting up listings on Yelp, Google My Business, and Facebook.
Word of mouth will only get you so far. You need to cast a wider net to find prospective customers! Putting ads in local publications, handing out flyers, and even placing yard signs around your community are great ways to get noticed.
The best way to get attention from members of your community is to hold an event like a grand opening. Offering free refreshments, holding a raffle, and inviting important members of your community will help attract guests to come and learn more about your products and services. Order branded promotional products to hand out and stay top of mind with your guests!
At this point, you’ve done all you can to set up your business for success! If you’re making money, put it right back into your business to keep momentum and growth up. If you’re not making money, ask for honest feedback from customers, friends, and family. Are people disappointed in your customer service or the quality of your product? Are your marketing efforts not paying off? If so, you’ll need to rethink a little. Being flexible and willing to adapt is crucial at this stage, and necessary to eventually achieve all your goals.
Starting a business is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. Having a knowledgeable partner to turn to along the way makes it all much easier. Stop by your local PostNet center to see how we can bring your ideas to life and support you in your new venture!
1According to the US Census Bureau.