Anne-Marie Saint-John, Alva, Long Island City, NY >

Starting a Small Business 101

When you consider the most popular reasons for starting a business, including a unique business idea, shaping a career flexible enough to grow, and working toward financial independence, it’s no wonder that small businesses are everywhere.

According to a recent report, there are more than 30 million small businesses in the U.S., proving that many Americans are catching the entrepreneurial spirit by starting a small business that sells their products or offers their services, and chances are, if you’ve arrived here today, then you’re thinking of doing it too.

Getting Started with a New Business

The best way to finance and start your small business will depend on which business model you would be best suited to, and whether or not you plan to start a small business without a storefront or lease physical premises, there are some fundamentals of starting a small business that we wanted to share with you today. Nowadays, there are business ideas aplenty, and there is usually a great business opportunity out there for almost any sector or service.

Starting a small business doesn’t require a lot of money (well, not in all cases), but you will need to be able to cover any ongoing costs until you make a profit. If you are an entrepreneur, then you might be brimming with money-making ideas and unsure of how to pick the best one. The reality of choosing which business is best for you is a process of working out which one can realistically turn a profit the quickest and balancing that with a personal passion or area of experience or interest.

Sure, you can look online to see a range of things to consider before starting a business, but the most enjoyable projects are typically those that you are personally passionate about or have a deep level of expertise with.

Once you’re clear on what type of business you are going to set up, you can start to take a serious look at the steps to starting a new business.

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What do you need to start a business?

The resources required to start a small business can vary greatly depending on your individual business plan. If you plan to apply for a small business loan, the SBA will take into account the industry you want to enter when assessing any application for financing a small business. There are a number of licenses and permits for small businesses that apply to your situation depending on what type of business you are starting, where you are located, and other factors. It’s always best to check any local and state guidelines and seek professional advice to understand which permits and licenses will apply.

  • The legalities of starting a new business

The Small Business Administration has a list outlining the joint federal business licenses that are required based on your industry, which is a good starting point for research. You can also search here on this list of the most profitable small businesses in the U.S. in recent years. While it might not deter you from your original plan, it could serve to inspire your new business idea even further.

  • Planning and budgeting

Writing a business plan is an essential starting point for anyone looking to start a new small business. When you go through the process of business planning, you will be forced to consider all essential activities and expenses, so it is an exceptionally rewarding process to undertake. Don’t expect to be able to rush through this task, as it can take time to gather all the necessary data. However, once you have completed it, you should have an idea of how to budget for your start-up, along with a rough idea of any marketing activities for your small business.

  • Will your business have a storefront or not?     

Whether you are an e-commerce business or a brick-and-mortar business, knowing what is happening in the world of small businesses can help you better manage risks and opportunities. Regardless of which idea you choose, a strong business plan is crucial to successfully start a small business. When it comes to a checklist of how to start a smaller business, it’s about getting started. By understanding America’s fastest-growing small and business industries, you can prepare for success. [Sources: 5, 6, 8]

  • How will you structure the company?

Will you be forming a partnership, an LLC, or will you be self-employed? There are many important considerations for this process, and it’s often best to seek professional guidance if you are at all uncertain about which legal structure is best for your small business. Once you have decided on the legal structure, the next step discussed in our guide to starting a small business is registering your business. Make sure you create a financial plan so you can focus on what you do best to grow your business.

  • Do you need to register a trademark as well as your company name?

Although this is not the case for everyone starting a small business, it is worth considering whether you need to register a trademark or patent. Aside from this, when choosing a new name for your business, you need to make sure it’s not being used elsewhere. If you have something that you deem to be unique or you want to see whether your tagline or slow can be protected, then you should check with the USPTO to see if a mark is registered; you can also check company names to ensure you can choose and proceed with registering your new business.

As trademark law experts suggest, knowing the right time to apply for a trademark for your start-up is key. Readily available cash isn’t always there, and there could be reservations about whether or not the new business will be a success. If you are close to launching your new business, then getting a trademark secured could be a wise investment. However, you can always consult with a trademark lawyer to verify whether or not this is needed.

  • Do you have the right systems and support in place?

As a final but prudent point to mention, technology and systems always need to be given due care and attention. While it may seem easy to opt for free or “light” versions of software to run and manage your business, you need to ascertain the pros and cons of buying the right technology to support your operations. For instance, if you plan to hold, store, or collect personal or financial information, then you have a legal obligation to handle that data in a specific way. The linked article gives you a little more information about the current data privacy laws in the U.S. and beyond. While you don’t need to know the intricacies of the policy, you do need to make sure the software you use is compliant and secure.

Similarly, if you have a website, you need to make sure you keep it up to date, and that includes having adequate security on the site, particularly if you take payments online.

If anything were to go wrong with one of your key business systems, having a single, paid-for license often means you get support from the company providing that service or software. However, with “freemium” versions, support can be limited to email or not available to you at all, and for any mission-critical platforms, it’s always reassuring to know that you can get help in the event something were to go wrong.

Final Notes

There are so many things to consider when starting a business. Having a great idea is just the beginning of a long and constant list of things to do. That said, starting a new business can be incredibly rewarding and often is very fulfilling to those who enjoy working for themselves and making a success of their entrepreneurship.

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