Going into a new business
For millions of Americans the dream is to have their own business where you make the decisions and call the shots. At SCORE we are all about making those dreams come true. Small business in America accounts for more than 80 percent of all business and employ the greatest number of people. The best way to test the water is to take our Going Into Business Workshop.
Here are 10 steps you should consider when planning to start your own business:
Step 1: Inspiration
Every business starts with a concept or idea. The most successful business concepts come from recognizing a niche or need in the market that is not being filled. There are millions of success stories of individual entrepreneurs that started out in their kitchen or garage and went on to create multi-million dollar companies. Inspiration comes from your own creativity and desire to build something of your own. You may already have an idea but need help in turning your idea into a profitable enterprise. This is where SCORE comes in.
Step 2: Research, Research, Research
You have the next big idea and it is time to do a reality check. Take a moment to answer a few questions to determine if you are ready. Are You Ready?
The Internet has brought the library to your computer. Research you idea to see who is already doing it then compare what you plan to offer with your future competition. If no one else is doing it than you may want to consider if there is a market. Frequently finding a new twist on an old idea is a surefire way to win new customers. Let the evidence lead you in this discovery phase and objectively evaluate the potential for your idea. Large companies invest millions in research before launching a new product or idea. There is no guarantee that your due diligence in performing this step will yield success. What is certain is that not doing research will greatly increase your odds of failing.
Step 3: Make a Business Plan
There is an old saying that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. At SCORE we understand the importance of having a comprehensive business plan. Our Preparing Your Business Plan workshop will give you everything you need to develop a plan that will serve as your road map going forward. We have templates to male it easy and ensure that all the elements are covered.
Your plan should include your goals and the best way to reach them. Marketing and funding are key considerations as well and should be detailed.
Step 4: Get Your Finances in Order
Perhaps the greatest challenge in starting a new business is making a living and paying the bills until your new venture gets off the ground. few of us are independently wealthy and can afford to devote all of our time to a new business. You may have to work at a job and use your free time in your business. Starting a business can be done with very little money if you are willing to do most of it yourself. This requires learning new skills and inventive ways to do things economically. The more you can do without outside loans, investors or partners the better your profitability. There are many other sources for funding you SCORE mentor can discuss with you.
Step 5: Structure Your Business
From a tax and legal perspective you will want to form your new company in a way that will limit your personal liability and provide you with maximum tax advantages. Sole proprietorship is the most common followed by an LLC, limited liability company. Your SCORE representative will help you decide which is best for you.
Step: 6: Select a Business Name
What is in a name. The name you give your business will become part of your brand and will become synonymous with your business. It must be unique and if possible descriptive of what you do. The right name can make you look bigger that you actually are attracting larger customers. In business perception is reality. Once you have a name you must check to see it it is trademarked and then register it. A good starting point in Florida is www.sunbiz.com.
Step 7: Licenses and Permits
Increasingly, business owners are required to have permits and licenses to conduct business in their local area. Many professionals in real estate, financial, or personal services must be licensed. You must check first to see what is required for your business. This should be done in the start-up process.
Step 8: Business Location
If you are starting a retail business that demands high traffic your consideration of a location will be key to your success. If you are a service provider working our of your truck, your truck becomes your office as well as a traveling billboard. Many businesses are run from home. Whatever your business the cost of build-out as well as meeting local building codes should be considered as part of your plan. Look at alternatives such as business incubators and office suites that provide a conference room, reception and mailing address for very little money. Your SCORE Mentor can help you find a solution.
Step 9: Bookkeeping and Accounting
Keeping track of the flow of money through your business is critical. It is the one area where most businesses fail. At SCORE we can help you better understand bookkeeping and how best to track your business to know if you are profitable. Explore our live workshops to learn more about finance and bookkeeping. Live Workshops to Build Your Business
Step 10: Marketing Your Business
Marketing is frequently lumped with sales. it is important to understand the difference. Marketing is what you do every day that leads to sales. It is important to have a Marketing Plan that details how you plan to promote your business to attract new customers. This should include a budget for both time and money you will devote to marketing your company. Our Sales and Marketing Workshop will help you get started.