By Anthony Hanson
When you are starting a business for the first time, it is crucial to get everything right the first time around. Everyone makes mistakes, but in order to give your new business the best chance of growing and succeeding for years to come, you need to make sure you are prepared from the very start with a small business plan.
From fine-tuning your business plan to investing in a strategy for growth, there are many steps to consider when setting up a small business for the first time. Follow the steps below and get ahead of the curve to increase your opportunities for success.
Step 1: Administrative
Before you can move on to all of the other components and working parts of a business, you need to ensure that you have a solid foundation to build off of. This is time to hash out the details. Use these early days of your business development as an opportunity to refine your business plan. This means you should do a few different things:
1. Conduct Research
Market research is the only information that can give you an idea of how well your niche market is doing and what chances you have of establishing yourself as a unique brand to your target audience. It is also a good way to measure the demand and capacity for whatever it is that you bring to the table. Market research is a good thing to include in your business plan to justify consumer demand and validation for your company.
2. Create a Business Name
Before you go any further, you need to come up with a business name. You should also determine the type and structure of your business (sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, etc.). Then, you need to register that business name with your local government. There are specific forms you need to submit as well as different legal requirements you need to get together in order to make your business name official.
If you are in the United States, part of that process includes registering for an EIN with the IRS. Make sure you also have the right permits and licenses before starting to sell. If you’re in the UK that will mean checking a few things with Companies House.
3. Open a Bank Account
Once your business and business name has been properly registered, it’s time to make a bank account in your company’s name. A business bank account is the best way to legally conduct business as well as manage sales and expenses. You need to carefully measure your finances from the start; hiring an accountant may be a wise idea to help you get things sorted.
Step 2: Marketing
Once you have established your business, it’s time to start being visible to the public eye. It’s time to start seeing the efforts of all of your hard work as customers come pouring in and testimonies go through the roof. But unfortunately, you’re going to have to do a little more work to get there.
1. Build a Brand
Every company has a brand. This doesn’t just mean a unique logo; this means your business has developed a personality, tone, style, visual theme, and characteristic that draws customers to your products and services. Your brand should be something that consumers are able to easily identify. The more visible your brand is, the easier it is to attract new leads.
2. Build a Website
In this day and age, no company – no company at all – can survive without having a website. Your company website is arguably the most important front-facing component of your entire business.
Almost as important as your website is your social media presence. Social media is the new most powerful marketing tool, not only because you can advertise your company and services completely for free, but also because it is the fastest way to reach the most people. Not to mention, consumers love seeing companies that actually engage and interact with audiences.
3. Develop a Marketing Strategy
Once you have spent some time building up your brand and creating your own spaces online, you need a full marketing strategy to continue your marketing efforts into the future. To be truly successful for this one, you’re going to have to ask your loyal customers to be involved.
It’s important to consider what channels you want to start with as well. Your budgets won’t be endless, so you need to ensure a cost-effective strategy. Consider channels such as SEO, PPC or Paid Social Advertising. The later of the two will ensure you quickly get in front of potential customers. But with 92% of business owners believing that having a website is the most effective digital marketing strategy, that should probably be your first step.
After you’ve made a few sales and had some good experiences with your customers, ask them to opt-in to your email subscriptions or make them a part of your marketing efforts. Ask them to leave a review of you online, as research shows that 93% of consumers read reviews before committing to a purchase.
Step 3: Growth
Once you have finished the basics of your small business planning, from refining the details of your plan to creating a website and engaging with customers to develop your brand, you are finally on your way to establishing yourself as a growing company. But how exactly can you assure growth? Here are some steps to take to keep your brand bigger and better than ever.
1. Team Organization
Depending on the nature of your business, it may not be something you can do alone. Most small businesses need at least one or two team members to help you keep things running smoothly and effectively. Once you have the bases established, it is the perfect time to go about finding that dream team. It is essential to hire an accountant to help you keep track of finances (and help you navigate tricky legal waters come tax season), as well as a marketing expert to keep track of metrics and campaigns.
Again, running a business is not something you will be able to do on your own. This is especially true if you sell specific products that require purchasing in bulk or manufacturing through a different company. It’s time to establish a relationship with some vendors with whom you can have long-term business dealings.
3. Five-Year Goals
When your business is off the ground, it’s steady as she goes. Keep your eye on your goals and your mission without losing sight of your company’s foundation. It might help to set a five-year plan to help you stay true to your course in order to achieve your goals.
Start Your Business the Right Way!
Building a company from the ground up can be overwhelming, especially if you are acting alone. Use this guide to establish the basics of your business needs the right way. Start out with a detailed business plan and a set of goals to follow.
Then, you can expand on your marketing and branding efforts and build a team to help your company lift off into success. It is a step-by-step process, but one that you will ultimately be happy that you followed.