Are you starting a small business – but you don’t know where to start? Don’t worry. Most small business owners were in the same position as you. Launching your own business is a wonderful opportunity. It’s also incredibly nerve-racking if you’re not sure about the proper steps to take.
While some steps like thinking of a business name or creating a brand logo seem obvious (and fun), there are many other important factors that go into launching business startups. If you miss one of these critical steps in the beginning it could cause lots of problems in the long run.
To help new entrepreneurs like yourself set off on the right path, we’ve plotted a simple course for a successful business launch. Follow these five steps to avoid many common mistakes and pave the way for a more successful business launch!
Step 1: Create a Business Plan
Everything works better with a plan. Making snap decisions when it comes to ordering lunch or watching a movie are fine. But if you’re starting a business from scratch, then you’re going to need a foundation for success. That’s your business plan. Your business plan is essentially your company’s blueprint. In this document, you’ll define your company’s core business, activities, objectives and the steps it will take to achieve your business goals.
An effective business plan should include the following information:
- An executive summary (a brief overview of your entire business plan)
- A marketing strategy (how you plan to reach your potential audience and turn them into loyal customers)
- A financial plan and budget (how much money your business will need to perform its daily operations)
Your business plan not only gives you a map for launching your business, it’s also the tool you will use to attract investors and raise the necessary funds to get your business off the ground.
Step 2: Secure Funding
It takes a lot of money to open up a business – even a small one. Most entrepreneurs and start-ups do not have the necessary funds at their disposal to launch their business. If you find yourself without the capital to start your business, you’ll need to acquire the necessary funding.
If you followed step one and created a business plan then you should already know how much money your business will need to open and operate. Using your business plan, you can now set out to find an investor or secure a loan to launch your business.
If you take the investor route, you’ll use your business plan to attract the attention of individual investors or a venture capital firm. The investor or firm will review your business plan to ensure that it meets their standards. If they find your plan lacking, they will pass on it. Then you’ll have to find another potential investor.
However, if the plan appeals to them, you and the investor or investment firm will define the necessary terms and conditions needed to secure their funding. Once those matters are defined, you’ll receive their investment.
In addition to self-funding and investment options, many startups acquire their necessary capital via a small business loan. Instead of using your business plan to attract an investor, you’ll use it to convince a bank officer that your business is worthy of a loan. If the officer agrees, the bank will present you with a loan and their terms of agreement.
Helpful hint: Do not seek a loan from one individual bank or credit union. Inquire with multiple banks or credit unions. That way you can compare the various loan agreements to determine which institution offers the best deal for your business.
Step 3: Take Care of All Legalities
You developed your business plan and employed it to secure your funding. Now it’s time to make your business official. There are lots of legal documents you’ll need to ensure that your business is operating according to state and federal laws.
First, you’ll need to register your business name with both state and local governments (unless you’re conducting business under your own name such as an accountant). Next, you’ll need to secure state and federal tax IDs for your business. Also known as the Employer Identification Number (EIN), these IDs allow your small business to pay all required local, state and federal taxes.
Finally, before you can sell your first product or service, you’ll need to apply for all necessary permits and/or licenses. These documents vary from state-to-state, so it’s best to consult with a business attorney to ensure that your business is operating in compliance with the various local, state and federal laws.
Step 4: Open a Business Bank Account
Once you have your tax IDs, you’re ready to open up your business bank account. You’ll need this account to make sure that all of your business transactions (both profits and expenses) are recorded, protected and legally compliant. A business bank account not only offers you the standard savings and checking accounts, it also provides you with a credit card account and, most importantly, a merchant services account. Without a merchant services account, your business would be unable to accept any debit or credit card payments from your customers.
Step 5: Find the Perfect Office
Finally, the last step in launching your new startup is to find the best location for your business. Out of all of the steps, this one is often the most difficult for startups. Why? Because paying rent on office space is a very costly expense. It’s so costly that most businesses can’t afford it. And although many small business owners are working from home, meeting with coworkers or clients in your spare room or backyard deck is not an ideal way to conduct business.
However, there is a great alternative for small businesses owners like you who may only need occasional access to an office. Coworking or shared office spaces, like those available at HeadRoom, provide affordable solutions for small businesses who only need an office from time-to-time.
Rather than lease office space that you can’t afford (and don’t necessarily need every day), you can save money by renting coworking office space from HeadRoom. Now, you’ll have access to professional office space where you and your staff can work, collaborate, and meet with clients.
If you’re interested in coworking or shared office space in the Philadelphia area or surrounding suburbs, HeadRoom offers multiple options at our Media, Aston and Wayne, PA locations. We’re currently accepting new memberships, so be sure to contact us today to learn how HeadRoom can solve your small business office needs.