Starting a Business – A Basic How-To Guide

You’ve made the decision, you’re tired of working for “the man” and you’re going to start a business, but where do you start?  Do you set up a DBA and get a bank account? Do you create a LLC, LLP or Corporation? What about an operating agreement or your business plan? What’s your online presence going to look like? What variations of products or services are you going to sell? Are you going to hire employees or are you going solo? What effect will this have on your family? How will you balance work and life? How are you going to fund your Start-up? For that matter, how much is it going to cost to get started?

A little overwhelming, huh? But these are all pertinent questions that need to be addressed when opening a business. My advice is this: First, make sure you’re ALL in, then go to work! Do your research and put together a solid, realistic, non-biased business plan after you’ve considered the personal impact of your decision. A Start-up business plan (when done correctly) should show you your start-up expenses, operational expenses, profit margins, break-even points, competition, target market, niche and much more. Use this to guide the decisions you make on everything from what legal entity you create, to what purchasing needs to be done.

The next step is to determine which parts of the start-up process you can do yourself and which parts you need to pay professional help. For example, do you need a consulting bookkeeper, are you going to hire one full time, or are you going to do it yourself? Do you need a lawyer, accountant, graphic designer or web designer, or are you going to do those things yourself too? If you’re not comfortable tackling the whole project by yourself maybe you need a management advisor to walk you through the whole process. Remember, it’s ok to not know how to do everything, but be humble enough to seek the help where you need it!

From there, strategically plan your moves and set a timeline of when things need to happen. If a website is going to take 30 days to complete and you plan on opening for business in two weeks, there’s a problem. Set your priorities, but be flexible. Things are going to come up, obstacles are going to arise, be prepared to deal with them. If you set incremental goals and celebrate small victories you’re more likely to realize that you’re going in the right direction. If you don’t, it’s easy to get bogged down in the daily grind.

You should also take the time to set up as many systems and processes from the beginning as you can. It will make training and managing future employees much easier and give you a basis for your hiring needs. The idea is that you should be set up as much as possible BEFORE you open for business. Of course, you will have to make adjustments once you open and things become reality instead of concepts, but that’s ok too.

Fact of the matter is, each entrepreneur is going to have a different experience when opening their first business. Be ready to embrace the process and take the good with the bad. Most importantly, never forget what drove you to start your business and never stop working hard to make it successful!

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