According to Forbes, 2021 is a good time to start a business because many companies shut down in 2020, hence there is less competition now. If you need employees, many talented people who lost their jobs are now seeking employment. E-commerce is booming and consumers are ordering almost everything online.
Even more than any venture, though, starting a company requires thorough preparation. You need a solid foundation from which to build your business to increase your chances of success.
Streamline Your Business Idea
You must start with your business idea or what you want to sell, whether this is a product or a service. Research to check if there is a market for this, or if you will be selling something that fills a need or solves a problem for people. If the market is already saturated, is there something different in what you will offer that will make you stand out from what is currently available?
If your unique selling point will be attractive to a niche market, is that niche large enough to be profitable? Will your target market need your product or service for the long-term, ensuring a stable and growing market? You must adjust your business idea until you arrive at the best possible configuration that you believe you can successfully sell.
One tip is to choose a business idea with yourself as the target market. This way, you will know exactly what your target market needs and wants, and what it can afford. You will also know exactly how to communicate and engage with this market to sell your product or service.
Research on regulations covering your business idea. You must know this early what you can or cannot do so your planning will put all these into consideration.
Figure out Your Costs
If you are to sell a service that you will be providing by yourself from home, such as graphic design or writing and editorial services, your business will not entail high costs. If you are to sell a product, though, you must compute how much you will spend producing it. For instance, the cost of making organic soaps and packaging them by yourself at home will be far different from the cost of having a complete line of products that you will hire a skincare manufacturer to produce and package for you. Do not forget to include the costs of marketing and distribution or shipping.
The pricing for your product or service will be dependent on your costs. More important, though, your costs will determine how much capital you will need.
Fund Your Business
If you start small by yourself from home, there is a higher chance that you can fund your business startup from your savings. If your savings are not enough, it is time to write a business plan that you will present to potential investors.
The business plan must concretely define your product or service and what problem or need it solves, highlighting the unique selling point that sets it apart from others. Define your target market and your marketing plans and strategies. Include a financial plan that covers your costs and how you will be making a profit. Based on these, make financial projections by quarter for the first year of the business. Make a SWOT analysis listing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the business.
Seek help from the Small Business Administration (SBA) because they have partner organizations locally that offer training and mentorship for small entrepreneurs. Search for those that are available in your area and have them check your business plan before you approach possible investors.
These days you can also do crowdfunding online, as many have successfully done. If your product or service gains the support of many people who are willing to pay in advance for their order, you can start producing immediately.
You must also explore all types of government programs with grants and loans for small businesses and see what you qualify for. If you qualify, it is worth going through a large amount of paperwork to receive the funds.
Business Registration, Taxes, and Insurance
Register your company to ensure that you get personal liability protection, legal benefits, and tax benefits. File with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to trademark your business name, brand, or product name.
There are state, federal, and local business tax laws you must comply with. Get the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) checklist to ensure that you will not miss anything. There are also energy tax incentives that can benefit you.
Check out the various types of business insurance and choose what suits your business best. Compare terms and prices of various insurance companies before committing to one.
Now you are ready to get your business rolling. Make sure you hire a competent website building and maintenance service because products and services are being sold mostly online these days. Any visitor to your website must be able to buy and pay easily and quickly. There must also be someone available around the clock to reply to a visitor’s queries. Unlike physical stores, online stores must be open 24 hours a day year-round.
Drive people to your website through social media marketing. People congregate on social media these days and that is where they get ideas on what to purchase. Learn the nuances of each social media platform to be able to project your brand appropriately.
Many businesses are flourishing online even as brick-and-mortar stores are closing. You can be one of the success stories if you build your business right.