If you’re thinking of starting a small business, you are not alone — there are almost 28 million small businesses in the United States alone. However, if you don’t properly prepare to start a small business, there’s a chance that your business could go under, and all of your hard work could go to waste. Before you start your business, consider these tips to help create a sustainable and long-lasting small business.
Create a Business Plan
To start a successful business, you’ll have to have a good business plan. It’s okay to start with something simple, but having a written out business plan will help you create a plan that can grow with you. Aim for a business plan that is about two double-spaced pages and focus on what you’re selling, who you’re selling to, how you’re marketing, your pricing, and your expenses. As you get more into your business, you can add to your business plan and make it more complex and detailed.
Know Your Market
If you’re starting a business in a market that already has someone who does the exact thing that you do, you are going to have a lot of trouble starting. In order to fill in gaps in the market and have a successful business, you have to know enough about the market to know where the gaps are. Also, you’ll know where to start with your marketing and customer base if you know the market. For example, if you’re starting a limousine rental business, knowing that 40% of your business will come on the weekends when there are the majority of weddings, proms, and parties will help you know to market to people attending those type of events.
Know Your Customers
If you don’t know who you’re selling to, it’s much harder to sell to them. Knowing your potential customer base means knowing how you can tell them about your product most effectively. For example, if you’re marketing clothing towards Gen Z, using a platform like TikTok would make sense for marketing, but if your clothing is better suited to women in their 40s and 50s, Facebook would make more sense for a bulk of your content. Also, if you know what else your typical customer is interested in, you can know how to best appeal to them.
Know the Expenses
Starting a business means investing money into that business. You probably will not turn a profit right away, and knowing exactly what you have to spend money on better will help you budget better so that you can plan for any potential losses.
Don’t Quit Your Day Job
The odds that your business making you enough money to sustain a full-time occupation at the beginning of your business are pretty low. Keeping your normal day job means that you will have a steady source of income if your business goes under or if you have a month when you barely stay green. Once your business consistently makes enough money that you can quit your job you can do so, but don’t quit your job and sink all of your savings into a new venture that has the ability to fail. Though doing that seems like an epic story to tell, realistically it isn’t a good choice and isn’t in your best interest.
Create an Online Presence
With the popularity of social media and the internet, having an online presence for your business is very important. Make social media accounts on all of the big sites: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. You don’t have to make content that is tailored to each site, but having a presence of any kind on all of these sites will make your business easier to find and therefore easier to buy from.
Make sure that you also have a website for your business. Including a blog on your website can be good for SEO purposes, but the real key is to have pages explaining what your business is, what you’re selling, and space to be contacted by potential clients. If you’re starting a retail business, even if you’re an in-person store having an online store as a supplement can help drive up your sales.
Be Aware of Your Strengths and Weaknesses
You are not going to have a perfect business from the get-go. You will make mistakes that could be avoided, but the process of starting and running a small business is a learning experience. However, if you acknowledge your weaknesses as you progress through your business, you can begin working on them. Being able to fix issues as they come up can help stop them from becoming larger issues that are harder to deal with down the road, so be progressive about fixing your mistakes. If you are wanting to start an online business only, search out resources to help you get started.
It is also important to know and play up your strengths. Are you great at running your Instagram? Are your products ridiculously high quality compared to others on the market? Play it up! These are the things that can help your business really stand out from your competitors. As long as you play up your strengths, you can give yourself some breathing room to fix your weaknesses.
Think About Taxes and Legalities
Making sure that you go about creating and running your small business completely legally is extremely important. If you don’t make take into account how you’ll file your taxes or pass inspections required in your field, you’re going to run into trouble eventually. Even if it seems like you’re getting along fine without properly filing taxes, the IRS can audit you up to three years after you file, and they can collect any back taxes for ten years. Make sure that you hire an accountant if taxes seem like a foreign language to you, and check out the legalities of running your kind of business in your specific county, state, and country.
What Will Happen If It Fails?
Obviously you are not creating a business believing that it will fail. However, it is a possibility that you should consider. That’s why you shouldn’t quit your day job and sink all of your life into your business at first. When you’re starting your business, you should think of the worst-case scenario: what if my business fails? If you can’t deal with the repercussions of your business’s failure, you probably are not ready to take the risk of starting one in the first place. If you know a failed business means that you could go into life-ruining debt, it may be smart to wait until you’re in a better place financially before committing fully to opening a business.
If you’re interested in starting a small business, you are not alone, and you have many tools available to you online to help you succeed. Make sure that you are smart about starting your business and don’t plunge into the water headfirst with your eyes closed because there may be rocks just under the surface. Keep in mind these tips and you should be in a better place to begin running your small business soon.
“Devin is a writer and an avid reader. When she isn’t lost in a book or writing, she’s busy in the kitchen trying to perfect her slow cooker recipes. You can find her poetry published in The Adirondack Review and Cartridge Lit.”