How to Start a Business: A Step-by-Step Guide

Starting a business entails understanding and dealing with many issues—legal, financing, sales and marketing, intellectual property protection, liability protection, human resources, and more. But interest in entrepreneurship is at an all-time high. And there have been spectacular success stories of early-stage startups growing to be multi-billion-dollar companies, such as Uber, Facebook, WhatsApp, Airbnb, and many others. 

Before you start a business, you’ll need to research, plan and execute some important pre-launch activities if you want to set yourself up for success. You’ll also need to think carefully about your business plan and model to determine how it will fare today and in the post-COVID world. 

Rather than spinning your wheels and guessing where to start, follow this 10-step checklist to transform your business from a lightbulb above your head to a real, successful story!  

1. Ask Yourself if You’re Ready

There will never be a right time to start a business. When it comes down to deciding if you’re ready to start a business, it’s more about mindset than timing. Are you in the frame of mind right now to win? If not, you can look at the things that hold you back from starting and use that to push you to start today. 

The reality is that saying you’re going to start a business is easy. But doing it, turning nothing into something that makes money, that can be a whole lot tougher. And you need to be mentally prepared to take something on. Why? Well, there are going to be challenges like creating ads that generate sales, hiring the right people, finding your audience etc. And if your mindset isn’t in the right place, any failure could devastate you. But if you’re in the right mindset, you’ll learn from failures until you finally start hitting your big wins.   

2. Determine what type of Business to start & refine your idea

If you’re thinking about starting a business, you likely already have an idea of what you want to sell, or at least the market you want to enter. 

Is there a niche that you’re particularly passionate about? Are you looking for a business that you actively work on or just own? Are you looking to turn your hobby into a business? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself before starting a business.  

Do a thorough research for existing companies in your chosen industry. Learn what current brand leaders are doing and figure out how you can do it better. If you think your business can deliver something other companies don’t (or deliver the same thing, only faster and cheaper), or you’ve got a solid idea, then you are halfway there. 

3. Brainstorm your business name

Regardless of which option you choose, it’s vital to understand the reasoning behind your idea. Stephanie Desaulniers, owner of Business by Dezign and former director of operations and women’s business programs at Covation Center, cautions entrepreneurs against writing a business plan or brainstorming a business name before nailing down the idea’s value. 

You should start by brainstorming at least 4-5 potential names. The goal is to come up with at least a few catchy and creative names. It might help to close your eyes and picture yourself as a consumer in the type of business you want to start. What are the words that you would use to describe the product, the services, and the atmosphere? Think of adjectives you would use to convey that kind of environment. 

You should also search your home country’s database of registered businesses. Be sure to search for similar names (not just your exact name) to avoid confusion in your market. 

4. Calculate Your Costs

You are going to need to address your financial situation to start a business. There are two areas where start-up funds come into play: 

– Start-up expenses: These are the costs of simply getting your business up and running. 

– Living expenses for the first 3 to 6 months: Make sure you have your living expenses covered. When starting a business, you will not have much money coming in during the first few months. So, make sure to have a minimum of three months’ expenses set aside. But six months is recommended. 

You may need even more than six months of living expenses. For example, if your business model involves a long sales cycle, such as selling consulting services to large corporations, you will probably need more living expenses set aside.  And you should think about some other smaller offerings you can sell that bring in money more quickly.  

The point is, run the numbers and see what it takes to get to profitability within a reasonable time, without outside money to start with. 

5. Set Realistic Goals and Expectations

One of the biggest reasons for failure in business comes from naive expectations. For example, we constantly hear stories of people pouring all their savings into ads thinking they’ll triple or quadruple their money only to end up with nothing. 

So, let’s try to paint what a realistic scenario looks like. Your first year in business is all about failure. Why? Because it’s your first business. Most people approach their first business with a sense of false optimism. “If that guy can do it, so can I”, you casually think to yourself. But what you casually ignore is the fact that “that guy” is on his fourth business or he’s been running it for seven years.  

We love how excited people are as they begin learning how to start a business. But if you go into it thinking you’re going to dominate the world on day one, you’ll be failing in a matter of months due to drastic disappointment. The difference between a successful business and a failed one is perseverance. Do you have what it takes to keep promoting your business even when you have no customers or website visitors after a month? Are you savvy enough to know when a strategy just isn’t going to work? And are you patient enough to play the slow and steady game – meaning that you might not see sales right away but will see bigger returns down the road? 

Maybe instead of focusing on your first sale, you might focus on creating content to drive relevant traffic. Or maybe before you start a business, you choose to build a following on Instagram so that you have an audience when the time to launch comes.  

You can use a checklist to guide your goal setting, but ultimately the goals you set for yourself based on your experience and business type, will be very personal to you. 

6. Write a business plan

Once you have your idea in place, you need to ask yourself a few important questions: What is the purpose of your business? Who are you selling to? What are your end goals? How will you finance your startup costs? These questions can be answered in a well-written business plan.  

A lot of mistakes are made by new businesses rushing into things without pondering these aspects of the business. You need to find your target customer base. Who is going to buy your product or service? If you can’t find evidence that there’s a demand for your idea, then what would be the point?  

Unless you’re going to the bank to get a loan, you don’t need to overspend time on your business plan. On a piece of paper, handwrite a plan for your business. Make sure to include the following: 

 – Problem your business solves 

– A one-sentence elevator pitch (what does your business do) 

– A list of your target audiences (e.g. people who own dogs, people who follow dog accounts on social media) 

– SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats to your business) 

– Marketing plan (list of ideas on how you’ll promote your business) 

– Financial plan (list of business costs, how you’ll make money to pay for the business in the beginning and how your business will make money) 

– Financial projections for each quarter (e.g. January to March, April to June, etc.) 

7. Pick a Business Structure

What is the right business structure for you? The structure you choose will have a great bearing on taxes, financing, compensation, and insurance. Not to mention the risk and liabilities of your personal assets. Therefore, choosing the right structure is critically important before you start a business. 

Another point to remember when choosing your structure is the variations from state to state. Make sure to find out how the different structures are applied in your country to protect yourself from legal and tax liabilities. Based on your startup business, you need to find out: 

  • Your financing needs and options. 
  • How you want to pay taxes. 
  • The kind of liability protection you need. 
  • What kind of administrative complexity can you handle?

8. Get Feedback

So now that you’ve got the idea, you’ve set some goals, and you’ve created a plan, it’s time to get feedback on your idea. This stage has been known to kill many ideas (and sometimes even good ones). 

The point of the feedback stage is to get a second opinion on how you can improve your idea. Instead of asking for feedback on the business idea, ask for feedback on a certain component of it. And whatever you do, don’t ask someone you love. Trust us. 

Most cities have business centers where you can speak with an in-house entrepreneur who will give you feedback on how to start a business. Some cities even have programs for younger adults that allow you to be mentored by an entrepreneur in your field. Whether you’re planning to work on tried-and-tested or unusual business ideas, be sure to get feedback from the right people to help you inch closer to business success.  

9. Build your team

Unless you’re planning to be your only employee, you’re going to need to recruit and hire a great team to get your business off the ground. Joe Zawadzki, CEO and founder of MediaMath, said entrepreneurs need to give the “people” element of their businesses the same attention they give their products.  

“Your product is built by people,” Zawadzki said. “Identifying your founding team, understanding what gaps exist, and determining how and when you will address them should be top priority. Figuring out how the team will work together is equally important. Defining roles and responsibility, division of labor, how to give feedback, or how to work together when not everyone is in the same room will save you a lot of headaches down the line.” 

10. Hire a Coach or a Business Consultant

When we say “business coach,” you might immediately picture cheesy motivational speakers, a cold hotel conference room, and equally dismal coffee. But business coaching can be the single most significant investment you make in your career or business because it can teach you the ins and outs of the business world firsthand. 

Pursuing a business or entrepreneurship coach can act as a great resource for all types of industries. Whether you’re a business professional struggling to earn a promotion or an entrepreneur unsure of your next move, the right business coach can set you on a lucrative path to success. 

Running a business can often feel like a very solitary pursuit. However, as with most things in life, having an experienced mentor that you can rely on is one of the most valuable resources available to business owners. Most business owners looking for advice on how to grow their company have a limited number of resources to turn to. 

Sure, there are countless online articles and eBooks on how to build and grow a business, but, at the end of the day, every business is unique and generic advice is hardly a suitable substitute for personalized guidance. 

 Thankfully, there’s now a service where business owners can receive the personalized guidance and the answer to their difficult questions in order to make their organization a success. At MY NU WAYS! Business we help Small Business Owners, Start-Ups, Entrepreneurs, Freelancer & Sole Traders to achieve what they want in their business and personal lives! Our unique combination of Coaching, Consulting and Enablement can work wonders for your Business and your Life. We help you push to achieve your greatest goals and meet your personal or your organization’s specific needs. And…you can do it ALL online, from anywhere you want in the world, starting at just 39€ a month. Click here to learn more! Now that you know how to start a business, there’s an exciting adventure of creating one that awaits you. Pushing yourself to finally take life by the horns and take that first step can be a bit scary. But once you get started you realize that the process of starting a business can be pretty fun.  

There will be challenges and roadblocks along the way, but as long as you push ahead and learn from mistakes, there’s nothing that’ll block your success. All you need to do now is take that first step and you’re well on your way to starting a business. 

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