Business 101 Part I – A Step By Step To Start Your Business

Are you thinking about starting your own business? Starting a business involves planning, making important financial decisions, and completing a series of legal activities. Not everyone is cut out for the entrepreneurial lifestyle. You should take time to consider whether you have what it takes to be successful as a business owner. Most successful entrepreneurs share the same key personality traits including discipline, frugality, self-confidence, good communication skills, humility, honesty, integrity, superb record-keeping skills, motivation, optimism and more. A business takes careful planning and decisions that will affect your whole life. Before you invest yourself into your new business it is important to have a conversation with your spouse and/or children. If you will be working from home, your decision will affect your family both financially and psychologically. With any new business venture it is important to consider the financial implications for your family as you will likely not be making a strong income for the first year. Take time to address any concerns your family might have and make sure you have their full support. Starting a business is not an easy task, but with these 21 easy steps, you will be able to set yourself up for success. You will be ready to plan, prepare and manage your business. Here are my 21 steps to help you start your own business:

Write a Business Plan: A business plan allows you to define what you will need to launch your business. The document will summarize what services your business will provide, what your goals are, and set a time frame for meeting them. It is necessary to create a business plan for your investors or bankers; it will allow them determine how they can best help you and help them to evaluate whether your business is viable. The first time business owner should consider purchasing a book on writing business plans as it will be such an important document for your business success. Docstoc and SBA Business Plan are two good resources for starting your business plan. When writing your business plan it is a very important to ask yourself these questions: What sets my business apart from other business? What makes my products and services unique from other businesses? How will I differentiate my company from others?

• Get Business Assistance and Help: A number of resources are available to help first time entrepreneurs get off to a great start. Free information and assistance is available from your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and SCORE offices. Both are associated with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The IRS can even provide free assistance, including accounting and record-keeping, through the Small Business Tax Education Program. • Business Branding and Name: One of the most important decisions you will have to make for your company is selecting your business name. It’s important to select a name that reflects the spirit of your product or services, is easy to remember, and has potential for marketing opportunities. My advice is to spend the extra money and hire a web designer/marketing professional to make sure you have a professional logo, a catchy slogan, a well branded product, and a clean, easy to use and professional looking website. (Tip: Use your GI BIll to start your business if you’re a vetera).

• Marketing Analysis: Before you launch your business, it is essential for you to research your business industry, market and competitors. Knowing who your competitors are and what they are offering their clients will be crucial to breaking into your chosen market. If you know what others are already doing, you can figure out how to set yourself apart. Knowing what the current market price for similar products or services are will also help you set your prices.

• Marketing and Sales: You will have to decide how you are going to market your business. Hiring a marketing professional will be of great help, but you can also tackle some of it on your own. Two of the most cost effective forms of marketing are building a social media presence and creating a website.

• Product or Service: First you will need to decide if you are selling a product or a service. You will then need to consider how your product benefits your customers, what niche it fits in, and what its life cycle is. If you are selling a service, you should ask yourself what problem your service is solving, how it makes your customer’s life easier, and what sets your service apart from those offered by other companies.

Choose a Business Location: Will you be working from home, in an office, a retail space, or maybe you need a warehouse? If you will need more space than your garage or spare bedroom, now is the time to purchase or rent the space you need. If you only need an occasional meeting or office space to bring your clients to, consider a shared office space which will cost you less in rent. (Tip: No matter what space you decide to use, make sure you have a dedicated, private work area that is free of noise and distraction).

Finance Your Business: Money makes the world go round and you won’t be able to start your business until you have your finances in order. There are many options to consider, including government backed loans, university grants, venture capital and research grants. You can also try crowdfunding sites such as or Tip: Try to avoid racking up costly credit card debt that could cost you 20% or more in yearly interest fees. You should also avoid borrowing against your 401(k) or other savings plans as this could adversely affect your retirement.

Budget: Now that you have figured out where your start-up capital is coming from, you need to finalize your budget. Without a budget, a business runs the risk of spending more money than it is taking in, or not spending enough money to grow the business. When planning your budget it is important to do a few basic things: research industry standards, give yourself a cushion, review your budget periodically, and shop around for services and suppliers.

Legal: I can’t over sell the importance of having an attorney or other legal adviser. You will soon find that you have a stack of documents with rules and regulations that you will need to understand and comply with. The things you will need to know about range from building covenants to city ordinances, county permits, state requirements, taxes, fees, contracts, shares, partnerships, and more. Having somebody you can call when the need arises will not only give you peace of mind, it could save you from heavy

Determine the Legal Structure of Your Business: You will need to decide which form of ownership is best for you: sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), corporation, S corporation, non-profit or cooperative. A sole proprietorship is generally the simplest type of business to set up, but provides the lowest amount of personal protection from liability. Setting up a corporation can be more legally complicated but your personal assets will be protected if your business encounters legal or financial problems.

• Register a Business Name and Trademarks: Register your business name with your state government. Go to SBA to get more information on registering your business and go to for more information on trademarks. is a good resource to make sure another company hasn’t already registered an identical or similar mark for the same category of goods or services that you offer.

To continue read Part II: Business 101 Part II – A Step By Step TO Start Your Business

Carpe Diem~