Friday, June 1, 2007

Start Your Own Business in 10 Easy Steps

If you are ready to venture out on your own and be your own boss, there are 10 essential steps you need to follow to be set up for success. I will list these steps then go into detail about each step. These steps apply to all small, home-based businesses.

  • Determine what area you would like to do business in
  • Write a business plan
  • Come up with a business name
  • Get a business phone number, Address and Checking Account
  • Register Your business
  • Get Insurance and Bonding
  • Get office/business supplies
  • Build a Website
  • Start Advertising
  • Meet with your first customer
  1. The first and most important step is to determine what you would like to do. What areas interest you? Do you like pets? Do you like people? Do you want to work on the computer or out in the fresh air? A great place to get an idea of all that is available is IVillage and About.com. Make sure you research the business you are interested in getting into to determine if it is a right fit for you. Join discussion forums and read up on what others in the business experience and ask questions. You can also go to the local library and read books written on the subject. You don't want to invest your money into something you find is not right for you.
  2. A business plan is essential for your success and growth as an entrepenuer. You can get a free template at SCORE. A business plan will outline the steps you need to take, how much to spend, and your goals.
  3. Once you have decided and researched the business you want to start, you can come up with a business name. Keep it simple and easy for your customers to remember. Your business name should have in it a reflection of what you do. For example, if you are a house cleaner, your business can be something like Perfect Touch Cleaning. If you are a landscaper, you can be called Trimmers Landscaping. You just want to be sure your customers can figure out what you do from your name. Also, make the name easy to pronounce and spell. Ask the people on the discussion groups you belong to which they like best and get some valuable feedback.
  4. The next step is to set up your business identity. Your phone number should not be your home number. You can use a cell phone or set up a second dedicated line. You should have a professional voice mail message and should always answer the phone professionally. Next is to set up your mailing address. You can use a PO Box or a private box through UPS. The UPS boxes sound more like you have an actual business address, but either is fine. A PO Box is much cheaper if you want to be cost effective. Your checking account should then be acquired after your phone and mailing address are established. You can get a free business checking account.
  5. Once your identity is in place, you can get a business license or register with the state if a license is not required. To find out what is needed for your business, click here.
  6. Next you will need a general liability policy. The type of policy coverage will depend on the type of business you are starting. The price will range from $200-$1500 depending on amount of coverage. You can get a price quote at netquote.com or call your local agents such as Nationwide or State Farm. If you are going to have employees, you may also want to get a bond. This will cover your business against employee theft. Your local agents can also help you with this.
  7. Next you will need to get your business cards, business forms and other office supplies. You can get your business cards at Vista Print and your business forms at Home Business Forms.
  8. Next you will need to start building your website. You can start off with just a basic, free website and move to bigger and better things when you are ready, but I suggest you at least get a domain name ($8/year) to point to the site that way when you are ready to get a better website you won't lose your search engine rankings and have to start over. The purpose of a website is to provide your potential customers with a way to find you over the internet. It doesn't have to be fancy. You mainly just need your name, what you offer and contact info. You can do a very easy, simple website for a great price at Homestead.
  9. A website is your first form of advertising, but you are now ready to hit the pavement. Put ads in the paper, inquire about the yellow pages, put up some flyers and starting spreading the word that your business is up and running. During the first year you will be doing a lot of advertising. Make sure you track how much, when and what your return was on advertising so you know where you will need to focus your money next time. You have to determine which form of advertising worked best at getting paying clients.
  10. Now that you have reached the last step, your phone should be ringing with your first customer ready to schedule an appointment!

Good luck!

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