You came up with an excellent business idea, now you’re wondering how to launch a successful small business. First of all, congratulations on the decision to start a small business. It’s an exciting undertaking for you. You’ve made the decision, but now you might be wondering how to start a successful small business. You’ll soon feel the exhilaration of making your first sale or delighting your first client.
But I’m going to be a bit of a spoil-sport here. Before you dive right in and open your doors, there’s a lot of groundwork which must be laid. Setting up the proper infrastructure for your business is crucial for sustainable growth and long-term success.
I’m laying out for you some of the basic steps that you need to get started. Bear in mind that there are volumes of information on new business start-ups, so this is a brief outline of the minimal groundwork you must lay. Some of the steps I’m going to lay out for you are free and some have a cost associated with them. All of them, however, will ensure that once you’ve hung up your shingle, you can focus on making money.
Choose a Name Wisely
I’m going to assume that you’ve already chosen what kind of business you want to operate. Now give some thought to a name. Select a name that reflects what your business does so that it’s clear to your customers. Research the availability of that name, or a close variation, as a domain name and social media handles. While domain names are usually quite inexpensive, premium names come with a premium price tag.
In addition, make sure that it’s unique enough that you aren’t infringing on any copyrighted or trademarked names. That’s a lawsuit that could close your doors before you even open!
Seek Legal Counsel
All joking aside, you need legal advice on large matters such as business structure, tax implications, and zoning matters. While you are working on the boring legal stuff, also seek assistance with drafting terms and conditions, sales and service agreement, and employment contracts.
When you seek legal counsel, you will have peace of mind that you are compliant with all laws and have mitigated the possibility of a lawsuit.
Write a Business Plan
An entrepreneur may feel like a deer in the headlights at the mere mention of the term “business plan.” But a business plan is great for business. Planning makes you consider all angles from finances and budget to marketing to a growth plan for your business.
Consider it your roadmap. It will give you turn by turn directions that will get your from Point A (start-up) to Point B (a growing company) to Point C (a wildly successful business).
A business plan doesn’t need to be a long a boring document in triplicate. It can be a concise, one-page guide that will prove to potential investors or lenders that you have, indeed, crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s.
Small Business and Location, Location, Location
Whether you are looking for a physical address or a virtual one, consider the old real estate adage: location, location, location.
If you’re looking to rent office or storefront space, ask vital questions. What’s the budget for monthly rent? Where will you get good walk-in traffic? Is the neighborhood you’re considering safe for you and your clients?
If you’re running an online business, such as an e-commerce site or blog, you also need to look at the location. Where in your home will offer the quiet workspace that you need? Do you even have room to run a business? Can you add on to your home to make an office?
Be realistic and honest when looking at locations for your business. A bad location has been the demise of many great businesses.
Determine Staffing Needs
You may be starting a physical business, like a bakery or a retail storefront. You can’t do it alone! You will need staff to service customers, stock shelves, cook, maintain cleanliness, and any other number of tasks.
If you’re starting a single-person business such as an online boutique, you may also need help from time to time. If you get a large lot of items to list, who will help you? Consider having a friend or relative on hand as a backup or plan to hire a freelancer.
You are one person, and you can’t do it alone. Without reliable staff, you can’t expect to scale your business.
Establish an Online Presence
Today’s consumers no longer flip through the phone book to the yellow pages to find you. They look for referrals on social media or find you on Google. This makes establishing an online presence crucial from the start.
You can use social media or your website to count down to Grand Opening and create a buzz. Encourage your friends to share your links so word spreads like wildfire that you’re opening soon.
After you open, you can use your web presence to grow email marketing opportunities, sell merchandise online, and get positive reviews on social media to continue to drive growth. The internet is on 24/7 and has the power to expose thousands of people to your business if it’s used from early on and managed correctly.
Launch with a Grand Opening Event
Set a Grand Opening date and celebrate your successful launch! Spread the word through your family, friends, website, and those social media accounts you’ve set up. Make it festive and treat guests to a free sample, a valuable coupon to return, or a discounted service.
Create a buzz on social media during the launch event. Set up selfie stations and hashtags to make your place become “the place” to go for your particular service. In the end, people will see it, share it, and want to come back again.
If you have an “online” business, create the same atmosphere online and even invite your friends, family, and neighbors over to your new “home office” to celebrate your new business venture.
Mark the occasion by making a big splash!
A small business is like a child. They take care, nurturing, and a good game plan. Also like children, they sometimes take an unexpected turn. This can be both delightful and frustrating. But one thing is for sure, there’s never a dull moment. But when you’ve laid a firm foundation for your small business, you’ll be able to withstand the twists and turns that will happen as your business grows.
Author Bio: Deborah Tayloe is a freelance web content writer. She’s a consulting writer with EmailMeForm and loves learning about technology. She’s a native of Erie, Pennsylvania who now lives in Bertie County, NC with her husband and an energetic toy fox terrier.