Home Advertising Start your own small business in 10 easy steps

Start your own small business in 10 easy steps

A growing number of Americans have become their own bosses by creating a small business. There are 33.2 million small businesses in America, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which account for 99.9% of all U.S. firms.

When it comes to choosing a small business venture for yourself, the options are truly endless. There are so many directions you can go and so many things to consider when making your pick. One of the biggest questions to ask yourself is: “Am I going to make money off this business?” Starting any small business is going to be a risk and require lots of hard work and dedication to meet your goals.

Below are 10 steps to follow when you are at the beginning of your small business journey.

There are so many different options for starting a small business. When choosing the best option for you, think about your interests and your skill set. (iStock / iStock)

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  1. Choose your small business
  2. Conduct research. Know what you’re getting into
  3. Think about funds. What are you going to need financially to get started?
  4. Choose a name for your business
  5. Choose a business structure
  6. Write a business plan
  7. Register your business and get paperwork in order
  8. Open a bank account dedicated to your business
  9. Start marketing your business
  10. Talk to other small business owners

1. Choose your small business

First things first: You’re going to have to choose what small business you want to create. When making this decision, think about your skills and hobbies. What skills can you bring to the business? Are you good at advising others? Do you love to write? Are you a good builder? Do you excel in art? Is web design where your strong suits lie? Are you a great photographer? Jot down all the skills you have and think about how you can apply those to a business.

When choosing a small business idea, also think about what you enjoy. If you love working with animals, maybe you want to create a dog-walking company. If you are very crafty, maybe you’ll choose to sell your creations online through an Etsy shop. If you love taking photos, you can start a photography business.

While it’s important to do something that you enjoy, you also want your business to be profitable. There is a lot of risk involved with small businesses, especially at the start. You won’t have a guaranteed steady income. One month, you could make a lot more than the average, but you could also have a bad month when sales are lower than you were expecting. This fluctuation can be even more prevalent if you have a seasonal business, where you are bound to make more money during certain months than others. That being said, you can also make a lot of money with your small business, and it can quickly grow into something bigger than you ever imagined it would be.

A few examples of small businesses that tend to do well profit-wise are personal training, online teaching/tutoring, cleaning services, mobile app development and real estate investing.

sold with multiple offers sign

Real estate investing is a popular option for people starting a small business. (iStock / iStock)

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2. Conduct research. Know what you’re getting into

Conducting research is an important step to take in order to get a better understanding of your target market, competitors and general information about the business you are getting into.

Think about what competitors you have. Are there a lot of people doing the same thing? Or is there a strong need for the service you are providing? There has to be a balance of being unique and standing out against your competitors while also being practical. Your service or product has to be something that people are going to want to spend their money on.

Also, think about who your target audience is and how you can appeal to them. Conduct as much research as you can in these beginning stages before you get too deep into your business. You’ll want to have a strong understanding of the industry you’re getting into before actually getting into it.

3. Think about funds: What are you going to need financially to get started?

How much money you need to get your business started is going to differ greatly depending on what the business is. For example, there are businesses that require very little to no money at all to get started. These businesses include things like dog walking, freelance writing, web designing, tutoring, babysitting, etc.

On the other hand, there are many small businesses for which you will need considerable start-up capital. These include businesses like owning a food truck or buying real estate properties.

Once you’ve established how much money you need to get started, you’ll need to decide how you are going to raise those funds. Maybe this will be through a family member who is going to loan you the money you need to get started. Maybe you have the money you need put aside already, and you’re going to dig into your personal funds to get it going. You can also look into applying for a small business loan to get started.

Savings jar

When starting a small business, you’re going to need money. The amount of money you need largely depends on the type of business you’re starting. (iStock / iStock)

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4. Choose a name for your business

Your business is going to need a name and a good one. Choosing a name for your business is hard for two reasons. The first is that you’ll have to get creative and think of something that is going to appeal to customers. The second challenge is that once you land on a name you love, you have to make sure no other business already has the name. If they do, it’s back to the drawing board.

When thinking of a name, don’t choose something so abstract that no one knows what your business is by the name alone. Your name should make sense to your customers, and they should know the type of business you’re running by your name.

At the same time, you don’t want to pick a name that is too niche because you want to leave wiggle room for your business to expand in the future under that same entity.

Avoid names that are hard to spell or hard to say and choose something that people are going to remember. Also, keep it short and sweet, especially for the purpose of advertising. Think about how your name would appear on a web page, T-shirt or bumper sticker. If the name is too long, it is going to be really difficult to successfully advertise. Choose something that people are going to remember. Don’t pick a name that has people trying to recall it when they are telling a friend about your business.

5. Choose a business structure

You’ve made it through all the fun steps, and now it’s time for more of the logistics. Once you know what your businesses is going to be, it’s time to choose your business structure.

woman working on computer at home

Choosing a business structure and writing out a business plan are important steps in your small business journey. (iStock / iStock)

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Some of the most common business structures from which to choose are sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs). Conduct careful research on each of these structures and determine what is right for you and your business. Each of these have different requirements, costs and applications involved, so it’s important to look into every one of your options.

6. Write a business plan

When you are starting a business from the ground up, you’ll want to draft a business plan. A business plan serves many purposes, including stating the goals and objectives that you have for your company. Keeping a record of your goals will help you stay on track but also provide potential investors with an idea of what your company is.

In your business plan, you’ll also want to include things like your budget, competition, target audience, marketing strategy and your companies’ mission statement. This document doesn’t have to be perfect, and it can always be adjusted. What it should do is provide a comprehensive overlook of your company and what it does.

7. Register your business and get paperwork in order

The exact steps for registering your business are going to differ depending on the business structure you choose and where you live. For some small businesses, registering may not be necessary, or you may just need to register your business name.

You’ll also want to think about preparing to pay taxes. This includes choosing your tax year and receiving a federal tax ID and Employee Identification Number – or EIN.

This is also a good time to apply for any licenses and permits you may need for your business. Again, this is very dependent on the type of business you are operating, but one example is that you may need a specific license, like a liquor license, if you are selling alcohol. You will likely need a mix of licenses depending on your industry and location, so make sure to find out what exactly you need before getting started.

financial planning

You’ll want to open a bank account dedicated to your business. This will help you stay organized and help make filing taxes an easier process. (iStock / iStock)

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You will also want to look into business insurance. There are several different types of business insurance you can choose from, depending on the industry you’re in. General liability insurance is common for businesses that need minimal insurance coverage. There’s also product liability insurance, professional liability insurance, commercial property insurance, workers’ compensation insurance and auto liability insurance.

8. Open a bank account dedicated to your business

Open a bank account that is dedicated to your business. This is where you will pull from to buy anything that is needed for your business, instead of pulling out of your personal finances. This will especially come in handy when tax season rolls around.

You’ll want to keep your business finances separate from your personal finances to keep things organized and avoid a headache later on.

9. Start marketing your business

Once all your paperwork is in order, it’s back to the fun side of being a business owner. It’s time to unveil your business to the public. One of the best ways to do this is with a website. On your website, make sure to include basic information like your company name, mission statement, services you provide or products you sell and ways to contact you.

You can also market your business through social media and by collaborating with others. If you are selling a product, consider giving your product to people who can advertise the product for you to their social media audience. Also advertise on your own social media and create a separate social media account dedicated to your business.

Another way to advertise is through word of mouth. Tell everyone about your business and be confident in spreading the word. Advertising through clothing, bumper stickers, cups, accessories, etc., is another great way to get the word out. Create a standout logo that you can put on these products that will get people talking about your business. 

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A person holds a phone with social media apps on the screen

Social media is a great way to get the word out about your business. (Matt Cardy / File / Getty Images)

10. Talk to other small business owners

Throughout your whole small business journey, talk with others who are also small business owners. Communicating with others with similar aspirations can be extremely beneficial to your success. You can help each other by talking about successes, failures and ways you hope to grow. The more connections you have, the better.