You want to start your own business but you don’t know anything about business.
You don’t know whether to start an online business or a physical one, or what to sell or what services to offer; you have no idea whether you will need a lot or a little capital to start it, or how to attract customers and promote yourself to increase your profits.
You’re in luck: here I’m going to show you the 8 steps you need to take to start a business, from what type of venture is best for you, to how to get funding, to how to register your business and create a marketing plan to have a good customer base.
How to start your business in 8 steps
1. Think about what your business will be
This step is clear to you: if you want to start a business, you must have an idea of what it is going to be. However, there are many people who, although they are clear that they want to start an activity of this type, they do not know what to do.
I can’t tell you what the ideal business is for you even if you tell me what you are passionate about or what you have good knowledge of. That is your decision alone.
But what I can do is give you some advice to clarify your ideas.
To create a successful business, you must combine 3 important factors: something you like, something you know or have skills in, and something that is interesting to others.
You can decide to create a craft business because you like that activity and it is a fashionable sector; but if you do not know how to make crafts, your project will fail.
Or you can think about selling templates for blogs and web designs because you know how to do it and it is a business that now leaves a lot of money. But if you don’t like it enough, or you have little interest in it, it will be noticed and you will end up having to close your company.
So think about those 3 factors and make a list to decide on one venture or another.
With our article 6 steps that will help you to know which business to put in you will be able to discover what your interests and skills are.
And with the post How to know if your business idea will be profitable you will be able to find out if there is a market that is willing to buy what you sell.
2. Make your business plan
Do you know what business you’re going to put in? If so, before you start going crazy looking for ways to attract customers or where to get the money you need, it is imperative that you make your business plan.
A business plan is a kind of “guide” where you will see the most important ideas of your project to guide you throughout the process.
Although the name may seem a bit complicated to prepare, do not worry, it is not as difficult as you think, and will be very useful both to take the first step to set up your business, as to solve future problems once you have opened your doors to your customers.
It is not necessary that your business plan is long (10-15 pages is enough), and it should answer the following basic questions:
- What is your business going to be
- What are you going to sell in your business (products, services, etc.)
- Who your customers will be (men, women, what ages they are, what interests them, how much they earn?)
- How will you reach them (social networks, magazine advertising, brochures in their mailboxes)
- Who your competitors are and how you can differentiate yourself from them
- Where are you going to put your business (Internet, a physical location…)
- What equipment, materials, and expenses you will have (to create a budget of the necessary capital)
- How you will manage to finance your project if you need capital (investors, your savings, your family)
- What risks are there?
Read the following article to learn how to make your business plan: How to design your business model step by step.
3. Seek financing if you need it
The next step is to find the money you need to start your business, if you need it.
For example: if you want to create an online store where you sell your crafts or offer services such as consulting, you may only need very little savings for a website that will cost you very little each month, and just under $50 for materials.
On the other hand, if your dream is to open a restaurant, a gym, or even an online clothing store, the investment will be higher and you probably won’t have enough money.
Read the following article to find out what options you have to raise capital: How to get money to start your own business.
4. Create your ideal customer profile
Sure, for you your ideal customer is anyone who comes into your business and spends $500 at once; but when we talk about the ideal customer profile, we mean the people who are going to buy what you offer.
If you’re going to sell women’s dresses that cost $150, chances are a man is not your ideal customer, and a woman with a very low salary is not your ideal customer either because she can’t afford it.
Just like if you offer online guitar courses not all men, women and children will be interested in that, only those who like it and want to learn how to play this instrument.
That’s why it’s very important to identify your ideal client by making his profile.
Ask yourself if they are a man, a woman or children, what their ages are, what their tastes are, what things they buy and where they buy them (online or in physical stores), what their needs are and what problems they have and how your product or service can solve them.
5. Choose the location of your business
Once you know who your customer is, where they are buying, and have secured the necessary financing, you must choose the location of your business.
If you have verified that your customers tend to buy more through the Internet, this step will be very easy for you because you will only have to buy a domain and a hosting to make your website and open your business online.
But if your buyers are more traditional – they like to go to a physical store to buy your products or services – or your company needs a physical place like a warehouse or a building, you will have to choose a location and a venue.
In case you are going to set up a store, make sure it is located in a good place where people interested in what you sell pass by, that it is accessible (public transport arrives, there is parking for cars) and that it has a good size for what you need.
6. Look for suppliers if you offer products
If you provide services in your business or create your own products, you can skip this step and go to the next point.
But if you’re going to sell products that you didn’t make yourself, it’s important to find good suppliers who will serve your goods.
The first thing to think about is what you need from your supplier: do you want your goods to be good, but a little more expensive, or do you prefer a lower quality but a lower cost?
Once you have thought about this, look for several distributors with the characteristics you have. You can start your search on the Internet, talking to other entrepreneurs in the same sector, going to trade associations to see if they have lists of suppliers…
When you have found some providers, talk to ALL of them and select the ones you are most interested in, and then try to negotiate prices to see which one provides you with a better service at a cheaper price.
Remember that it is important that you try their services by making a small first order and, if you like the way they work with you, stick with it.
7. Register your business
At this point, before you start operating your business, you will need to register it and apply for the necessary licenses and permits.
I can’t tell you exactly what you will need to do because this is different for each type of company and each country.
For example, if you want to open a bar, apart from registering your business you will also need licenses and permits to sell alcohol, while if you want to set up a mobile phone shop this will not be necessary, but you may have to deal with other documentation.
So it’s best to go to your local council or your local authority and ask them for all the information you need.
8. Create your marketing plan to attract customers
This is the last step to start your business: create a marketing plan to know what message to convey and through which channel to attract customers to your company.
The customer profile you created in point 4 will also be very useful for this, because with it you will know where your customers are and what they are most interested in.
Your marketing plan should include:
- What objectives you want to achieve (attract customers, build customer loyalty, achieve X percentage more sales, etc.)
- What strategies are you going to use (advertising, publications in social networks, discounts, organization of events, contests…)
- What means will you use to put your plan into action (traditional advertising, digital marketing)
With this data, you must put your marketing plan into action to start making your business known and thus build your customer portfolio.
For example: if you sell sportswear and your customers are men and women between 18 and 26 years old, who like to exercise and use daily Facebook and Twitter, it would be logical to promote yourself on this social network by publishing ads about sports, with images related to this sector, etc.
Starting a business may seem complicated, but if you take it step by step, thinking through what you need to do, it’s easier than you think.
And the best thing of all: once your project starts working, if you’ve done everything right, the benefits will be a great reward for all your efforts.