How to Start a Business: A Quick Guide for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
There’s no doubt; starting a business requires a great deal of work.
Any entrepreneur or small business owner who’s been in the ringer can tell you about the complex journey ahead. There will be obstacles. But fear not.
The experience will be thrilling and rewarding, too.
Understanding the commitment and challenges when starting your business is the first step to getting off on the right foot.
Ready to turn your big idea into a success? In this helpful guide you’ll learn about the essential components to starting your business.
Elevator Pitch: Define Your Product or Service, and Why It’s Different
If you got something to say, keep it short, and make it memorable. That’s an elevator pitch.
It’s best place to start when defining your product or service and what it can offer your potential customer over competitors.
An elevator pitch is meant to be a brief (one minute or less!) and compelling speech that sparks interest in what your company can provide.
To create an elevator pitch, you’ll need to identify your goal and explain what you do. Define your business by asking yourself:
- Who am I?
- What do I do?
- How do I do it?
- Why do I do it?
- Who do I do it for?
When developing your pitch, remember to keep it simple. Don’t overthink it. It’s meant to grab attention, explain what you do, and create interest in you.
Establish your Brand Strategy
When establishing your brand, keep in mind, it’s a competitive world. Your business model may be competing against huge brands with large marketing budgets and many team members.
Therefore, your brand needs to stand out. Find ways to differentiate your business from others in your market.
Here are a few things to consider:
Choose a Business Name
The business world is filled with endless acronyms. LLC is just one of the many.
An LLC is a “limited liability company” and combines limited liability protection with a pass-through tax structure.
It ensures that your liability to the business’s debts or obligations is no more than the amount of money you initially invested. This is the easiest entity to maintain the least amount of annual formal requirements.
With a corporation, owners and shareholders have limited personal liability for business-related debts. Using a corporation will enable you to sell stock in your company and raise capital.
The biggest difference between an LLC and a Corporation is how they are taxed. Corporations are taxed as a separate legal entity and can earn their income.
Determine License, Permits, and Registration
While getting licenses and permits sounds like the least fun task in starting a business, it could potentially be one of the most important. Failing to obtain the proper licensing, permits, and registration from the beginning can be detrimental to your business.
Contact your local business license department to apply for a business license, which will grant you the right to operate your business in that city.
Depending on the product or service you are offering, you may also need to obtain a fire department permit, health department permit, sign permit, or air and water pollution permit.
Build a Financial Strategy
Whether you have a mountain of venture capital or just what you’ve saved, you need to plan on how you’ll handle your cash flow.
Set Up Accounting and Bookkeeping System
From the very start of creating your business keep a paper trail of your purchases and income. Record all transactions, payments on behalf of the business, and invoices.
Having a healthy and constant assessment of your company’s financial position will give you a clear picture of your business success and will be vital in making business decisions.
Protect Your Intellectual Property
Whatever genius thing you’ve created, make sure you protect it.
Establish a trade secret protection program to secure any formulas, software, processes, devices, or trade secrets. Be sure to check out and apply for the necessary patents, copyrights, trademarks, and domains as well as utilizing non-disclosure agreements (NDA) as necessary.
Beyond Name: It’s All About Brand Identity
For your brand to really stand out, you need stellar messaging and design. Both need to dance well together while effectively distinguishing you from competitors. While there are lots of ways your brand identity can manifest, here are the top ones to consider:
Guide Creative Website Direction
When deciding the direction of your website, you will want to consider the necessary functionalities of the site. What are you wanting the user to do when they visit your site? Will you want to offer products to purchase online?
Keep your brand perception in mind and make sure it resonates with your target audience.
Develop Compelling Collateral
The key goal of your marketing collateral is to share your brand’s story with potential customers. Understanding your brand platform will be the first step in developing your collateral imagery.
Your brand platform should include your core brand messages and values, establish your brand voice, and include a brand or mission statement. Start with the obvious, say a business card, and build your collateral from there.
Your collateral should continue to define your brand voice and image and correlate with your other branded pieces, including your website.
Strengthen Your Message and Voice
Your brand needs to establish a strong voice, something that easily connects with your target audience.
When developing your messaging and voice, sit down with anyone who can help define what your brand offers to the consumer and how the message should reach them.
Think of your brand’s beliefs and how you want the costumer to receive you. Research behaviors customers typically seek from brands, such as honesty, humor, friendliness, approachability, or politically correct and determine where you want your brand to fall and the hierarchy of importance. Outline your brand voice, include it in your brand guide, and share it with your employees.
Master Your Sales and Marketing Plan
Sales and Marketing are vital to your business’s growth. While both have separate functionalities, they share the same vision for success, driving lead generation and revenue. Start by identifying your business’ target market and creating strategies for reaching those customers. Then on the sales side, detail the strategies the business will use to sell products and services and increase revenue.
Add Promotional Value
Your customer needs to be given an incentive to give a positive response to your product. So, you’ll need to motivate people with a reward.
Try promoting your business with a loyalty program, an additional benefit or value, or by launching your product or service with a free sample.
Perform Audience Research
For your business to knock it out of the park, it needs to connect to your target audience.
Dive deep into research and data to determine the demographic of your ideal customer.
Don’t forget to research competitors, too. They’ll easily help you identify the type of user likely to use your product or service.
Once you nail down your target audience, develop a distribution strategy. What technology do they use? Where online can you find them?
Start Your Business with Strategy
As technology is ever-changing, your company’s ability to adapt to new advances is significant to your company’s scalable success. Business is a journey so sit back and enjoy the ride.
And remember, you don’t have to do it alone! At Strategy, we know the challenges of running a business. We’ve been there, too. Which is exactly why we offer businesses scalable marketing and technology solutions to help your business thrive.