You have a great idea, the passion to build a reputable company and the drive to see it through. But how do you turn a concept into a popular brand?
Starting a business isn’t easy and it involves endless hours of hard work, running on a few hours of sleep and investing your lifetime savings into something that could end up failing. But if your company survives, the rewards of entrepreneurship are well worth the complications you'll potentially face on the road to success.
Launching a business from scratch can be challenging, but with the right amount of drive, you can begin to build your empire. This step-by-step guide will help you turn your big idea into a thriving organisation.
Want some video inspiration? Here are some steps to follow to start your own business:
1. Evaluate your ideas
It’s easy to get side-tracked when you have hundreds of great ideas running through your head – which one should you roll with? Will you end up making a ground-breaking invention or are you setting yourself up for failure?
By evaluating your idea, you can assess if it is indeed a good one and if you have the right knowledge to follow it through. It’s also ideal if you have previous experience in the field before becoming a solopreneur. Many startups are unsuccessful due to their business owners not having any prior experience and failing to research their target industry – things that could have helped with their success rate.
Additionally, you’ll need research whether there’s a genuine need for your business and analyze your competition. If it’s stiff, how will you break through the market?
2. Conduct market research
This brings us to our next point; by conducting market research you can identify whether your idea is worth pursuing or not. It’s a way to gather information from potential customers, so you can refine your thoughts and improve your products. In addition, it helps you reduce any risks before investing a lot of capital to ensure that you’re on the right track.
To conduct your research, you can use existing findings on demographics and trends or go directly to consumers using questionnaires and samplings of your existing products. This can be time-consuming and expensive, but it can save you a lot of profit loss in the long run.
3. Devise a plan
Now that you have your idea in place, you need to put pen to paper and create a business plan. In this plan, you will need to identify the purpose of your organisation, who your target audience is, the product that you’re selling, what your end goals are and how you will finance the startup costs.
This plan is essential when opening any type of organisation, whether it’s online, a small store or even a home business. It will help you put into perspective what is essentially needed for your company to make a profitable turnover. You don’t have to perfect the plan when you are first starting out as it will most likely change over the course of your business launch but having structure will make the world of difference.
4. Make it official
In order to actually have a legitimate business, you need to register your establishment. Company formation websites can help you get started by first checking if the registered name you want is available, and provide added services after your organisation has been incorporated.
Before you register your company, though, you need to decide what kind of entity it is. Your business structure legally affects everything from how you file your taxes to your personal liability if something goes wrong. The different structures are listed below to help you determine which type of entity is best for your needs and goals:
- Sole proprietorship: This option is suitable for solopreneurs who plan to run the business entirely by themselves and are responsible for all debts and obligations.
- Partnership: This is ideal for two or more business partners that want to be held personally liable as business owners.
- Limited liability corporation (LLC): This the most common type of business entity. It separates personal liability from the company’s, meaning that the company can own property, pay taxes, enter into contracts and generally offers legal protection.
5. Get licenses and permits
After registering your business, you need to ensure you have the correct licenses and permits to operate. These can vary depending on the industry you’re tapping into, so you will need to dig a little deeper to find out what is necessary in your area.
You will need to ensure you have an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS in the US. You can then use this number when completing your federal and state tax forms. While most legal requirements can be done on your own, it’s best to consult with a lawyer to ensure you’ve covered everything you need to avoid any unexpected legal run-ins further down the line.
6. Find your suppliers
Now it’s time to source your vendors. When doing so, it’s best to go with local suppliers to avoid any shipping delays or other mishaps that happen when you work with anyone abroad.
It’s wise to screen as many options as you can before settling on a vendor that offers the best price along with the best quality products.
7. Select your tools and software
Before opening your business, you will also need to decide on what business tools you’re going to use. How will you streamline projects? What inventory system will you use? What type of online presence will you have? What marketing platforms will you engage in? These are all questions that you should ask yourself to determine which type of tools you should invest in.
A few common areas include:
- Project management
- Email marketing
- Social media
8. Get your finances in order
Starting a new business doesn’t necessarily require heaps of money but it will involve some initial investment to cover your expenses until you begin to turn over a profit. Your first step would be to put together a spreadsheet with estimated costs on expenses needed to keep the business running for a year.
If you don’t have the funds to finance your organisation yourself (which will be the most likely scenario), you can consider obtaining a small business loan, pitching to your friends and family for some money, or you can begin an online crowdfunding campaign.
Regardless of you manage to get your investment, be sure to note every penny that’s spent so you don’t end up blowing your budget in the first couple of months. If you see that you’re running off track, go back to your spreadsheet and see where you can make a few cutbacks – that fancy espresso machine in the reception area isn’t going to make you any money, so it might be time to get rid of it!
9. Open a business bank account
A business bank account is essential when it comes to managing your finances; you need to be able to track all expenses as well as any profits. You will also need clear statements for audits and taxes.
In addition, you will most likely need a business credit card for any ad-hoc expenses. By having a business bank account, you will receive a much higher limit on your card than a standard current account.
10. Purchase an insurance policy
Business insurance protects your company and assets from anything that could go wrong. If you have a physical store/workplace, you will need liability insurance to prevent your business from legal action for things like accidents and injuries. Whereas commercial property insurance is required for the repair of property or equipment due to natural disasters. Business interruption insurance, on the other hand, covers operations and relocation costs if the business must shut down or move due to natural disasters.
There are plenty more types of insurances that your business may need, so it’s best to talk to an insurance broker before you get started to get the best insurance deal for your business.
11. Set up your business location
Setting up the place of operation of your business is essential for carrying out day-to-day tasks. This could be from your home, a shared office space or a retail location. While doing so, you need to think of the equipment that’s necessary, including desks, chairs, computers and any other machinery. Make sure the location is practical for the company and easy to get to!
12. Build your team
If you’re planning on hiring employees, now would be the time to begin your search. Figure out where there are gaps in your knowledge and identify what workers you will need to help push your brand forward. Will you be outsourcing your marketing efforts, or will you need in-house assistance? Do you want freelancers or full-time employees?
You will need to prepare job descriptions, carry out interviews and establish a solid company culture to build the team needed for your company to succeed.
13. Develop your product
After setting up the essentials, it’s time to finally develop your product with the help of your new employees. Although you’ll be eager to get it completed as soon as possible, it’s important to reach out to different manufacturers and companies; do your research and make sure you get quotes to compare.
14. Build your brand
Before you begin selling your product or service, you need to build your brand and advertise what you’re offering. You will need to pay special attention to your logo choice and marketing resources.
Is your website portraying your product correctly? Is it captivating your target audience? Have you built a strong following on social media? If so, launching with offers on these platforms can help build enthusiasm around your services.
15. Promote your business
As an entrepreneur, you need to continue expanding and growing your business. You’ll need creative marketing strategies and a strong online presence to get the exposure you need to make your desired turnover.
Once you’ve established yourself as a brand in the industry, you can look into getting endorsements and forming collaborations with other companies, depending on the field that you’re in.
Building your own business won’t happen overnight; it will take a lot of time, money and effort to bring your vision to light. Yet, armed with the proper tools, you can put yourself on the path to success, achieving all your career goals, and more.
Have you turned your idea into a business? If so, join in on the conversation below to share your story.
This article was originally published on March 20, 2018.