Starting a business can seem like a daunting task to most. However, its much more simple than you would expect. And in most cases, doesn’t require the type of start-up capital that you’d expect. The most difficult step in starting a business is getting started. Once you get started, then the rest, as they say, is academic.
- The Idea - What are you good at, or what can you sell? The basic business idea starts at what can you do at a high level or what can you sell at a high level. Once you have discovered this, you are well on your way.
- The Name - Now that you have an idea of what type of business you will start, now you have to put a name on it. Think of something that represents you or that will make you stand out from the crowd. This is probably the most difficult step other than getting started.
- The Registration - Ok, you have an idea and a name, now you want to register your business. The first and most basic step in this process is getting a business license, or registering a fictitious business name, from your local city or county government. This will add credibility to your business and ensure you will pay taxes, if any owed, when due. If you want to go the extra mile, you can always register your business with your Secretary of State in the state in which you reside in, or in a state that offers tax benefits that better suit your business.
- The Tax ID Number (EIN) - Visit www.irs.gov to apply for an employer identification number so that when you file business taxes, you can keep your filing separate from your personal income tax filing. Now, in some cases, depending on how you want to structure your business (sole proprietor, llc, corporation, partnership, etc.), your EIN will be your social security number or other similar number depending on your nationality and resident status. In other cases, the IRS will issue a completely separate EIN for you to use for your business.
- The Website - Launch your website. A website introduces your business to the worldwide wide web and more specifically, your target market. Today’s website is much more simple to create and market than one created five or ten years ago. Therefore, take advantage of platforms such as WordPress, Shopify and others to build a quality website inexpensively. Actually, WordPress has plenty of high quality free themes that you can use for your business until you have the resources to build out something more to your liking. If you are selling products, Shopify has four different pricing tiers, starting at $14/month, to suit your needs. I prefer HostGator for hosting my websites because its relatively inexpensive and they offer 24 hour customer service.
- The Segmentation - Properly identifying who your target market is can lead to success faster. In the early stages of launching your business, accepting whatever customers you can find is the approach most take. However, with experience, you will see that is not the best approach to take in the vast majority of cases. Take some time to hammer out specific traits, income levels and other demographics to properly segment your target market. Because in the long term, this will be a valuable resource to ensure steady cash flows, especially when it comes to adaptation in varying financial times.
- The Marathon - Commit to the long term. Don’t start a business because you are facing hard times and need some extra cash to pay the bills. Dedicate yourself to your business with the mindset that you will be doing this for the rest of your life and this is something you can pass down to children or other family members when you are gone. Be sure to set clear goals and have a solid plan that will help you get through tough times.