March 8, 2024

How to Start a Small Business

By Geraldine

How to Start a Small Business

Launching a business takes a lot of time, energy and careful planning. It requires identifying a viable business idea, researching the market to find out what competitors are doing and how you can set yourself apart.

It’s also important to separate your personal and business finances early on by opening a business bank account. This can help you manage legal, tax and day-to-day issues.

1. Develop a Business Plan

A business plan is a key tool for ensuring that your startup is successful. It guides how you’ll structure, run and grow your new company and convinces people that working with or investing in your business is a smart idea.

Your business plan should include a title page and outline the key points of your plan. It should also include a section that describes your company’s legal structure, such as whether you plan to incorporate as an S or C corporation, form a partnership or operate as an LLC or sole proprietorship.

You should also include a detailed description of your product or service, including its unique features, how much it will cost and your sales plan. Finally, you should identify any competition and describe how you’ll differentiate yourself from them.

2. Get a Business License

The amount of paperwork and licensing required for a small business to operate will vary by industry, state and location. At a minimum, you’ll need a federal tax ID number — also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN), which is like a Social Security number for your business.

You may also need special permits from your city or county for zoning, building, parking and signs. And select industries, such as salons, electrical, childcare and medicine, require additional state-level licensing. You’ll also need to research any license requirements at the local and state level, as well as any taxes you’ll be liable for. A good resource is New York Business Express’s Business Wizard, which will help you determine which licenses and permits you need to start your business.

3. Create a Website

Many small businesses don’t have websites, but a well-designed website is an essential part of any business today. Creating a website is not difficult, expensive or time-consuming and can help your business grow.

You’ll need to choose a domain name (your website’s web address) and find a provider that hosts your site. You’ll also need to decide how you want your site structured. For example, if you are selling products, you’ll need a shop or gallery and product pages.

Once you’ve decided how your site will look, you can begin the process of building it. Download this handy website function checklist to help you stay on track as you build and maintain your site. It’s also helpful to review the websites of businesses similar to your own for inspiration and best practices.

5. Start Marketing

Whether you’re an experienced entrepreneur or just starting your business, marketing is an important part of any success plan. It’s a specialized field that many larger businesses have dedicated departments to, but even the smallest startups can and should engage in marketing strategies that align with their goals.

Start by building a company website. It will help customers find you, and it is a digital proof that your business exists. Next, create social media accounts to reach your audience and promote your business.

Finally, start blogging to express your brand’s personality and generate awareness for your products or services. As your business grows, you can expand your outreach to include other methods like direct messaging and paid advertising.