start a business guide and workbook

How to start your own Small Business?

Are you looking for the key steps how to start your own small business? Then this step by step guide will help you to get your small business off the ground.

Starting a business of your own is the easiest thing in the world.

All you need is:

  • a corporate job,
  • a faulty fire alarm,
  • a commuter bus and
  • a 9am conference call.


 

Although I didn’t know it quite yet, that’s how my entrepreneurial journey started. And here comes the good news: If I could do it, anyone can!

But joking aside:

Launching or planning the business of your dreams is filled with excitement and joy. But the struggle is real, too. I know it, I’ve been there not so long ago myself.

I was secretly daydreaming of quitting the 9-to-5. Of leaving the daily commuting behind, and starting my own small business. I didn’t have any solid business ideas yet, but I knew that I wanted to

  • have a better work-life balance (who doesn’t?),
  • work differently, that is at hours when I’m most in flow and productive, and most of all, I wanted to
  • have the flexibility of working location independently.


 

While a lot of us arrive to this point, but then many start to hesitate. Uncertain about how to proceed, how to get things into motion:

  • where do I need to even start?
  • what do I need to do?
  • when do I need to do it?


 

And it can be overwhelming to keep track of everything. At least that’s what happened to me.

If you’re in a similar situation and need a little nudge and the key pieces of information about how to start a small business, then stick along.

I’ll go through those main steps that you need to consider and think about when you plan to become an entrepreneur. For me it worked.

Following these steps I could get my small business off the ground.

Before jumping right into the middle of it, read this disclaimer

Please note that I cannot guarantee you’ll have a successful business by following the steps in this blog post and guide. That solely depends on you and your resolve. Also, there are certain country specific regulations that you need to comply with when registering a business. This guide is intended as general information only. Always check with a professional for advice: your lawyer, your accountant and your bookkeeper should be regularly consulted.

Let’s start at the beginning. To start a business, first of all you need to:

1. Find a good business idea

As simple as that.

Life is simple. It’s just not easy.

If you haven’t come up with anything yet, and you just started brainstorming, do not only think about profits.

They are important, I won’t argue with that, but assuming you intend to be in business for a long time – and why shouldn’t you? – you should pursue something that’s a good fit for you personally. It should be something you are passionate about.

For some of us it’s easier to define our true passions, for others it may take some time and reflection. And that’s OK. You shouldn’t rush this step. You want to get clear about your ideas.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

Identify your strengths and weaknesses

Grab a piece of paper, or open up a blank document on your laptop and write down:

  • all the things you know you are good at,
  • that you were praised about at your workplace,
  • that your family and friends see as your strong suit.


Be honest and also jot down a few things you don’t excel at. And that you definitely want to do less in future when running your business.

When fine-tuning your business idea, focus on your strengths.

Let’s say you have good presentation skills and you’ve acted as a mentor at your workplace for junior colleagues. You could capitalize on this as an online coach in a field you feel expert in.

There are thousands of online courses out there. Creating an evergreen product could immediately bring in some revenue streams from your new business and you could offer 1:1 sessions as next step.

In this article you can read about 17 examples of businesses that you can launch for less than $100

Also, think about what success means to you. What is important for you? Based on your own definition you can narrow down your business ideas to the ONE that best fulfills your own criteria.

  • Do you want to be insanely rich?
  • Do you want to be your own boss?
  • Do you want to spend more time with your family?
  • Do you want to leave the endless daily commute behind?
  • Do you want to help and serve others?
  • … (add your own priorities here)


 

Once you have your business idea, it’s important that you define what makes your business different to the competition

The bad news is there will be competition. The good news is, no one is you, no one has the exact same experiences and knowledge as you. That is your own secret superpower that you should take advantage of.

And this bring us to the next step, which is to:

2. Define your unique selling point (USP)

It sounds rather fancy but it’s straightforward: As there are millions of entrepreneurs out there globally, you need to offer something unique, something valuable to make your business viable. And to stand out somehow from the crowd:

In order to have a unique selling proposition, you can’t attempt to be known for everything. You have to make a stand for something. You have to choose what your business will stand for and what you’ll be known for. By making a stand and choosing something that makes your business unique, you’ll become known for that unique quality and stand out from the crowd.

Your Unique Selling Point needs to answer such fundamental questions, like:

  • Why would customers buy from you?
  • Why would clients book your services?
  • What do you bring to the table that is uniquely you?


 

And don’t worry. It doesn’t need to be a lengthy document. Try to sum it up in two-three sentences. You can find some examples how to develop a USP here.

You’ll use it in future every time you pitch to investors and potential customers. And you should have it as part of your website copy as well.

And while we’re talking about investors, if you consider starting your own small business, it’s always a good idea to

3. Find a business mentor and a lawyer

There are many people out there running a successful business. You’re not alone and you shouldn’t walk this journey alone. Reach out to a business/legal advisor or an accountant. Find someone who will give you an honest feedback about your business (idea).

You could search for Small Business Associations in your area and join their networking events. Use the opportunity and learn from others!

Also, it’s worth looking for a solicitor who is familiar with your industry and small business issues in general. They can help you with key decisions and contracts. You can ask your friends and colleagues for referrals.

Starting a Small Business

starting-a-business-freebie-guide-and-workbook
Download this free step-by-step guide & checklist
to help you plan and start your own small business in no time.

4. Create a business plan - if you need funding

If you need a loan to start your small business, you need to write a business plan, too. Banks will ask for it before they would consider giving you a business loan.

At its core, a business plan helps you prove to yourself and others whether or not your business idea is worth pursuing. It's the best way to take a step back, look at your idea holistically, and solve for issues years down the road before you start getting into the weeds.

When writing your business plan focus on the following areas:

  • Summarise your business as it is now.
  • Provide a company overview.
  • List your products and services and the problems they are solving.
  • Present your target market.
  • Share your marketing and sales plans. 
  • Map your vision for how it will be in the future.

 

HubSpot has a free business plan template if you prefer working with one.

5. Choose your business structure

Once you’ve tackled the business plan, focus on the legal activities. Depending on your business venture, choose a legal structure that works best for you. For small businesses these below three are the most common business forms:

Sole proprietorship: is the simplest way. A lot of freelancers opt for this business form. You can either use your personal name, or give it its own distinctive name.

Partnership: If your business will be owned and operated by several individuals, then consider a partnership. The two most common are general and limited partnerships.

LLC: stands for Limited Liability Company.

LLCs are a hybrid type of entity that has characteristics of a corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship. A key benefit is that owners have limited liability when it comes to the debts and obligations of the organization.

Each has tax and cost ramifications. An accountant can help you with those.

6. Register your business name

If you haven’t thought about it yet, carefully consider your business name. Even if you want to use your personal name as the name of the business, it should be:

  • catchy,
  • memorable,
  • easy to say and spell.

 

Don’t forget to check that the name you want is available in your country.

If you want to have the same domain name as your business name, do your research to see if it’s still available. You can use services like Namech_k to see if your dream domain is still available.

7. Register web domains and trademarks

In today’s digital world if you run or plan to run a successful business, you’ll need a website where your prospective clients can

  • learn about your services and can
  • find your products. 


 

Once you’ve settled on a business name, register it as your web domain.

Depending on your business idea, you may need to think about trademarks too. The trademarking process and fees vary country by country. The best is to talk to your lawyer about this.

Some advantages to trademarking your business name and/or logo – says Marc Misthal at Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman- include:

Trademark registrations are very helpful to enforcing your trademark rights.
A) They provide nationwide rights (simply using a mark gives rights only in the area in which the mark is used).
B) Once a mark is registered, you can use the ® symbol to show that it is registered.
C) Registrations prevent third parties from registered the same or similar marks for use in connection with the same or similar goods or services.
D) Trademark registrations can be recorded with U.S. Customs and Border protection to prevent the importation of counterfeit products.
E) Some online platforms will only take action against infringers if you can provide evidence of your rights, such as a trademark registration.

Marc Misthal

8. Get your business licenses and permits &
9. Register for taxes

This doesn’t apply to everyone, but you may need permission for certain types of business activities, such as

  • retail,
  • manufacturing, or
  • handling particular types of products.


 

Consult your lawyer if you think you may need help. And organise tax IDs and register with the tax office. It’s best to get this paperwork done right at the start.

Starting a Small Business

checklist listing key items of how to start a small business
Download this free step-by-step guide & checklist
to help you plan and start your own small business in no time.

10. Find an accountant

If not yet done, find an accountant. They not only can advise you on the items that can be tax deductible expenses, like:

  • office rent,
  • equipment costs,
  • internet costs;

but can help in many other ways.

A reliable accountant is an expense that’s worth every penny. Also aim to get a computerised accounting system from the very start.

11. Set up a business bank account &
12. Arrange business insurance

Don’t use your personal account. It’s always wise to keep your business finances separate.

Check the major banks in your area and compare their business account offers to find the best package for your individual circumstances.

And even the smallest companies need insurance. You never know what happens and when. Be on the safe side and talk to a broker to find the best package for you.

13. Look for a physical location

If you start as a solopreneur, let’s say as an online business mentor, this can be a dedicated room in your house aka your home office. Or you can join a shared workspace at a co-working facility.

Otherwise you need to find a suitable brick-and-mortar location to sell your products or offer your services. Explore rental and lease costs in your area and assess the pros and cons.

When looking for the ideal location think about the following:

  • If you need people to come into your store, is it easy to find? Is it in the proximity of public transportation routes?
  • Is the building accessible? If customers arrives by car, would they find parking spaces nearby?
  • Sometimes having competitors nearby is a good thing. Other times, it’s not. Do a thorough research of the neighborhood!
  • What other businesses and services are there in the vicinity. Look at how nearby businesses can enrich the quality of your business as a workplace, too.
  • Carefully check the building’s infrastructure, too. If you’re starting an online business, make sure the space can support your high-tech needs. 


14. Hire employees

If you won’t run solo, you need to consider hiring.

While you may only be able to hire one or two employees to start with, it’s still vital that you hire well and choose the right ones.

Be prepared with job descriptions and for interviews and the selection process. This in-depth guide summarizes the legal requirements of hiring staff so you don’t hit any rough waters down the line.

15. Think about how you’ll use technology

Beyond employees you also should determine what equipment you’ll need. This usually includes a certain combination of:

  • computers,
  • laptops,
  • tablets,
  • smartphones,
  • printers,
  • card readers.

 

Depending on the size of your employee base, also calculate how many of these items you’d need. Talk to your business mentor and local IT firms if you’re not sure.

And you may need to invest into industry-specific tools as well.

16. Choose your business applications

Software is getting more powerful and intuitive.
Where possible, choose online applications for your work. That way you can access your valuable data from anywhere at any time.

Research suitable

  • billing and payment systems,
  • accounting software,
  • emailing solutions.

 

Compare their offers and read the testimonials. You want to chose a product that has a good customer support system. Just in case something happens and you need to reach out to them.

17. Keep your business data safe

Even the smallest business can have masses of data, which if lost would at the very least be inconvenient, or at the worst, disastrous. You need to ensure you back up your data, so that you don’t lose it if things go wrong.

Data can be stored on:

  • computer hard drives,
  • memory sticks,
  • DVDs,
  • portable hard drives,
  • network storage devices,
  • cloud storage.


 

In recent years, cloud services have taken off as one of the top choices for business data storage due to their cost and convenience levels.

If like others business owners you’re worried how you can keep your business data safe, this article lists 8 ways to keep your company data safe in the cloud.

Starting a Small Business

starting-a-business-freebie-guide-and-workbook
Download this free step-by-step guide & checklist
to help you plan and start your own small business in no time.

18. Set your prices

The price you charge for your product or service is one of the most important business decisions you make. You’ll need to figure out your costs, including overhead, materials and time, for making your product or providing your service.

Setting a price that is too high or too low will – at best – limit your business growth. At worst, it could cause serious problems for your sales and cash flow.

If you’re also struggling with how to set your prices, check out Christy Wright’s pricing strategy guide. She lists several different strategies you can use. These will help you determine the price point where you’ll attract the right customers and make the most profit.

19. Design a Logo and Create your website

Use the website domain name you’ve already registered if possible. Services like WordPress, Squarespace can get your site up and running in no time.

If you do not want to DIY your website and logo, as you rather focus on your own business and customers instead, check out our service packages at ARRA design studio.

We design unique logos and brand identities and create eye-catching, responsive SMART WordPress websites for your small business.

20. Create social network accounts

Different businesses have different social media needs. You might need a Facebook page and a LinkedIn profile – or you may only need a Twitter account. Do some research on competitors or ask your mentor to see what will work for your business.

When creating your social network accounts, you might want to use the same social media handles for consistency. Also your customers would find you easier if you use the same name across the different platforms.

If your business name is already taken, you can chose a different approach, like having your core values as the handle name or your tagline, if it’s sweet and short.

21. Launch your business

Now that you’ve made all the preparations to start your small business, let people know when you’re opening and about your grand opening offers.

Contact members of your social networks. Tell them about your new business and ask them to share the link to your website with the people in their networks.

Create marketing materials as needed: stationery, brochures, flyers, invitations.

At ARRA design studio we can set you up with branded collaterals

Send us a message to book your web design project with us!

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also enjoy these articles:

promotional image for post 5 steps to a successful social media strategy with laptop, notebook and alarm clock on a desk

5 Steps to a Successful Social Media Strategy

Once your small business website is up and running your next task is to ensure you get regular targeted traffic. A well implemented social media strategy can be a big boost for your business. In this guest post Danielle Kelehan, social media specialist shares the key steps to follow if you want to up your social media game.