Still, you might be surprised to realize you’re in the perfect position to spend some time learning how to start your own small business because you have the financial security of your job.
In this post, I’m going to help you figure out how to start your own small business right from where you are. It’s not too late, and you don’t have to quit your job to get started. This is a step-by-step guide of what you need to think about.
How To Start Your Own Small Business
The first and maybe one of the hardest steps is to come up with a good idea. There are several dimensions of what makes an idea a good one. A business idea is good if you like it (or love it!) and can see dedicating yourself to it to the degree you’ll need to in order to make it successful – don’t underestimate how much work that will take. You’ll need a lot of dedication.
That’s why passionate and creative business owners are sometimes the most successful. However, there are drawbacks and things that need to be considered as a creative business owner.
Does Your Small Business Have A Market?
Liking or loving a business is not the only thing that makes business ideas good or bad. Maybe most importantly, it has to have a market. Business ideas that survive are ones which solve problems people are willing to pay to have solved. If no one is willing to pay to have the problem solved, you don’t have a business, no matter how much you love it.
This post will help you figure out if there’s a market for your business. Be as critical as you can of your idea in this stage, and find people to tear holes in your idea. The more you can create a solid plan, the better ground you’ll be on in later stages.
Are you having trouble coming up with an idea? It’s a very common problem, but one that can be solved. Look around you for problems that need solving. Read this post on some places to find business ideas as well as this post to help you find some million dollar ideas.
Step Two: Write A Business Plan
Each and every business is different, and that’s why you must figure out some key elements from the beginning through writing a business plan – even if it sounds boring.
But don’t worry. Unless you’re starting something huge, your plan doesn’t have to be elaborate.
The basics of business are having a product or services that people want and figuring out how to deliver those.
A marketing plan – how you plan to sell your products and services, is critical to your business plan. It answers questions like: How will people find your business? How will they purchase your product or service? What is your unique selling proposition – or what makes you different?
Your marketing plan may include a social media plan as a strategy for reaching your audience, but it’s not the only tactic you should consider. There are plenty of offline ways to reach people, and depending on what your business is, that may be a better way to go.
Your plan and strategy should be in alignment with your business model: your products, services, and your ideal customer and how they buy.
Your basic business plan should help you figure out your direction and priorities.
Step Three: Legal Business Issues
You have to figure out what your business structure is. This is about the way your business is legally set up, and if it’s more than just you in your business. For example, are you a sole proprietor? Is it just you running your business? Do you have your business legally separated from your personal finances and affairs – an LLC? Is it a larger business like a corporation? Do you have a special designation as a corporation, like a B-corp, that is held to certain socially responsible standards?
The type of business you want to run will often dictate the structure of your business.
You’ll have to get the proper licenses and permits in place for your business to run legally, and you can check with a lawyer or the small business administration to see what you need to have in place to be up and running.
Step Four: Start A Business!
So now you know what your business idea is, how you’re going to make it happen – your business and marketing plan, you have set up the legal structures to make it work, what’s next?
The next step is getting to work!
Up until this point there must have been a ton of research to get all of your previous steps right. You need to have researched your ideal client, your marketing plan, your products, services, business idea, everything, to be sure as you can that this isn’t going to fail. You’re ready to succeed!
Assuming your research has been right, and you’re ready to get started, it’s time to get to work and give things a real, live test.
But it’s not time to quit your day job just yet.
I always advocate for testing and growing your business while working so that you can prove it and have an income rather than struggling and being desperate to make your business work.
Desperate business owners don’t make good choices.
It’s easy to go after business you shouldn’t, set your prices too low, or come off as needy in your sales conversations when you really do need the money. So do yourself a favor and keep your day job for a while even after you start a business.
Step Five: Starting A Small Business Is About Customers
It’s tempting, when you think about how to start a small business, to think that you should start with building a website, renting office space, buying a new computer, and even hiring staff. You want to have the infrastructure set up and don’t want to get caught with your pants down, so to speak.
But the truth is you don’t have a business until you have business – that is, customers.
So think about what you need to actually take a customer.
You’ll need some basics, and depending on the type of business, you may need inventory, space and more. However, don’t make the mistake of spending too much before you’ve proven your model.
Businesses can grow over time, and yours will too, if you don’t prevent it by making yourself cash-strapped in the beginning.
Do what you need to in order to take customers and grow from there.
Your Business Is Running! A Cautionary Tale
When your business is running and you’re making money, it’s time to start thinking about quitting your day job.
There are several things to be aware of.
It’s always smart to think about ways to leverage your time (not trade your hours for dollars), and do that as early on in your business as possible. Leveraging your time will allow you to break free of your day job faster than getting paid a fee per hour for your work.
Additionally, having multiple streams of income or product lines is wise, that way if one dries up, your entire business won’t go belly up. You want your business to be sustainable over time.
When you feel your business is truly on solid ground, then it’s time to think about quitting.