The steps to starting a business may not be the same for everyone, but no matter what your ideas are for a venture, it’s important to use a basic framework to guide you through the process. From figuring out which type of business structure will work best to finding funding for the first year, there are several tasks to complete within a certain amount of time, so creating a plan will ensure that nothing gets overlooked.
Most entrepreneurs begin with a business plan, which encompasses things like the number of employees you plan to have, where your business will be located, and any market research you’ve done to target an audience and seek out competitors. You can work out a set of guidelines in one day using this schedule, courtesy of The Black Market Creatives Showcase.
1. Choose the right structure
A business structure defines the way your company pays taxes and runs daily operations, so it’s a pretty important step. There are a few different options, but only one will make sense for your particular needs, so read up on the regulations and requirements. Most small business owners choose between a sole proprietorship and a limited liability company; forming an LLC is typically the best way to go, since it offers tax benefits as well as some flexibility for the owner.
2. Research funding opportunities
With a completed business plan and structure in hand, you can now start looking for funding opportunities. Depending on the type of business you’re in, you might look for small business loans in your area, federal grants, or crowdfunding campaigns that are right for your needs. Before applying for a loan, consider your current liabilities and calculate our debt-to-income ratio.
At this point, it can also be helpful to talk to other small business owners to find out which direction they went in and whether it was successful.
3. Open a bank account
Whether you want to start a business checking account or a savings plan that will give you some emergency padding, this part of the process won’t take long and will give you some flexibility and peace of mind. Look for a financial institution that offers easy banking access via an app along with low-interest rate business credit cards.
4. Set some goals
With some financial details in place, you can start planning for the future. What are your ultimate goals with this business? What would you like to accomplish within the next few months, and how can you get there on your proposed budget? Write down a loose timeframe that will help you stay on track.
5. Plan your marketing strategy
Marketing is a key element of any business, and it requires quite a bit of research and planning. Not only does it involve figuring out how to advertise and draw in customers, it also means you have to do some homework on your competitors. What can you offer that they can’t? How will you set your business apart from everyone else? How will your customers find you? All of these questions need to have answers before you can put an advertising strategy into motion, so look for online tools that will make this process a smooth one.
The good news is that you don’t need a ton of funding when it comes to advertising – especially at first. In fact, you can start by using this free banner maker to help spread the word. That way, you can save your marketing funds for larger promotions you can plan down the road. Either way, take advantage of social media, as well! Posting on Instagram and Facebook is especially effective and can take the place of a lot of traditional marketing strategies.
Starting a business takes time, so having a plan like this will be a key component to your success because it will act as a guidebook of sorts to keep you on track. Network with other small business owners to find out what worked for them and to learn from the things that didn’t work so well.
The Black Market Creatives Showcase is an annual marketplace and digital directory centered around showcasing work, products and services offered and produced by Black creatives and entrepreneurs. If you have any questions, feel free to click the chat button!