10 Steps to Starting a Business

Starting a new business? Here are 10 basic steps you must take to get your business up and running.

1. Are you meant to run a small business?

Running a business is hard work. There is no way we can fool ourselves into thinking otherwise. It takes the right kind of personality and dedication to run a successful small business, as well as a certain amount of business skills.

There are many self-evaluation surveys on the internet a person can take to assess your skills and also your business idea. I believe the first thing you have to do is believe in yourself and your product. You must be passionate about what you are doing before you can succeed.

2. Business Structure

Sole Proprietorship: you are the only employee as a self employed individual and as such as responsible for all aspects of the business including insurances, taxes, responsibility, etc.

General Partnership: you have one or more partners and share all responsibilities either equally or as pre-agreed upon prior to creating the partnership.

Corporation or limited company: this may be beneficial if you want to expand your business within your own country or internationally. Legal advice is advised prior to determining if this is beneficial.

3. Research your Market

Has the market been saturated with the same type of business? Is there a need for your service or product? Who will your competition be? What are the current and future trends that can impact your business?

By researching your business idea and potential market you will have an excellent understanding of who your customers will be, who your competitors are and what the industry trends are. This information will be needed when writing your business plan.

4. Business Plan

This very important written document shows the details of what your business is, what you will do, how you will operate it and what your business goals are.

This document can be used to arrange for financing. In fact you probably will not receive any financing if you do not have a business plan.

I struggle with writing a business plan myself but I know it is necessary and work my way through it and I use it as a guideline to follow, making changes as necessary. It is like a blueprint of your business.

5. Financing

You will not be able to operate your business if you do not have enough money to develop your business and operate it daily during its early start up days. You will also need to have enough money for your personal expenses until you are able to draw a wage from your new business. Be prepared – this could take up to 2 years before you see any extra money come your way.

Obtaining financing can be through your bank, personal lines of credit, loans, family or other sources of funds. You will need to provide your business plan to your potential lender so they will see how you have planned for your business – development, growth, etc.

6. Choosing a business name and registration

This isn’t as easy as it seems. If you are using your personal name you probably don’t need approval but if you choose something else you will need to have it approved and registered. Check on your local business laws as to the requirements for registering and how to protect your business name.

For example: In British Columbia, Canada, sole proprietorships and general partnership names are not protected and can be used by anyone who chooses to. The only way of protecting your business name is by incorporating it.

Please do some checking prior to requesting your business name to ensure it isn’t already being used. Also give some serious thought as to a name that will fit your product or service. It can be very expensive to change after your business is up and running and you decide you don’t like the name.

Register your business following your local legal guidelines whether you are a sole proprietor, partnership or limited company.

7. Domain name

It doesn’t matter whether you are a traditional “bricks and mortar” type business or an online business you will need a domain name to identify your internet website. By choosing your domain name, researching whether it is available and buying the rights to that name you can sell or market your products or services online.

8. Taxation

Check with your provincial, state or federal taxation agencies to ensure you are charging and paying the appropriate taxes.

9. Research for other Legalities related to your business

This will depend upon the type of business you are operating. Considerations regarding the applicable laws, taxes or restrictions you should be aware of if you plan to export goods to another country, sell products or services to other businesses, manufacture good, or hire employees. Do you need to purchase a business licence for the location you are operating from? Even home based businesses must have an operating licence and work within the legal guidelines.

10. Receiving Advice

You can’t do it all. No one can. It’s important to know that not everyone can take care of every detail relating to your business. Get advice from a lawyer to ensure your business is operating legally within the laws of your area. Hire an accountant to help you establish a book keeping system or to take care of your accounting for you. If you are not experienced or sure of yourself in different areas of your business – get advice! That’s the best advice I can give you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.




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