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So You Finally Did It (Part 1 of 2)

 

You’ve been thinking about it for years. You’ve dreamt about it. Talked about it. Written about it. And now you’re doing it. You’re finally starting your own business. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! This is a huge step in a BIG direction. But have you thought of everything? Those are the things that keep small business owners awake at night. And what are the next steps? You’ve thought it up and you’ve made the decision to move forward. But now what?

Creating a list of steps, starting at the decision to move forward and ending with a successful business, will help keep you focused during this initial stage of starting a business. Planning, and actually opening, your business can be some of the most frantic times in the life of a small business owner and having a solid plan will assist in keeping you on the right path.

Brainstorming

You’ve already done this, right? But now let’s take it a step further. You’ve decided on what you will offer, but do you know who you are offering it to? What potential problems will arise and what are the solutions to those problems? Do you have ideas on how to grow your business? Right now that may feel like something you don’t need to worry about, but you should. You need to have a direction to grow your business into. Having answers to these questions will help you when dealing with Investors, should you need them, with your company. But it will also help you to remain focused on the right direction.

A Business Plan

Seems like a given, right? You would be amazed at how many people open a business and have no business plan. Business plans do not need to be huge and involved. You can keep it simple and add to it as you discover new offerings, or new areas you want to move into. A business plan can take weeks or months to write. There are hundreds of resources out there for creating business plans. And if you are looking for financing from a bank or a small business association, you will need to have a solid business plan. A basic business plan will include things such as what makes your company unique, what type of marketing will you use, what will your sales strategy be, who your demographic will be. In other words, the grown up version of your brainstorming sessions.

Begin Gathering Your Resources

What are your resources? What does your business need? Is it an online business? Is it a brick and mortar business? If it’s an online business, you may just need to upgrade your computer and find some desk space. Or you may need to outsource some warehouse space. Who will design the website? What platform will you use for purchases, or billing? Tracking customers?

If it’s a brick and mortar business there will be much larger expenses. A building, décor, equipment, inventory, do you need employees? A separate sales force? Do you need a website? A storage unit?

Make a list of what you will need, where you can source it from (give yourself several options), and the pricing. Get written quotes from vendors and contractors. Keep accurate records of anything purchased. You will need these records when tax time comes around.

Marketing and Branding

I’m sure you have an idea of what you want the image of your company to be. Do you need to work with a professional to finalize your branding? Branding includes things like your logo and colors, the message you want to convey, the look of your company.

The look of your company covers everything from your social media presence, to your website, to your building. It includes things like your uniforms, your stationary, your signature on your email, your colors, your business cards. Every single item that represents your company should convey the same, cohesive message. That’s your Brand.

Now that you’ve finalized your Logo and your Brand, it’s time to start marketing. Don’t wait until opening day. You want to create excitement and interest before opening day. You can do things such as create your social media accounts; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn. Not all of these will be appropriate for your business. Decide which ones will give you the most traction with your marketing and start a social media campaign. Are TV ads or radio ads appropriate for your business? You may want to sit down with a marketing expert and create a solid plan that covers the upcoming year.

{{Stay tuned next week to find out the final steps you should take when opening your own business.}}

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