So you are thinking about starting your own business. Many people will ask you “why now?” I say the best time to start a new business is now. There are good opportunities for start-ups: small business loans at low interest rates, government grants for certain industries and support from communities for small, local business growth.
Starting your own business is a huge decision and the process varies based on the type of business, locality, and other various factors. Focusing on retail based business there are various paths you might take, here is one of those paths.
The first thing to do is to write up a business plan. Doing this early in the process gives you the building blocks needed to succeed. Without a plan in place at the beginning you might stray from the core principles of your venture. The initial business plan keeps you focused on the goals you want to achieve with your organization and should be amended as needed when the time comes to moving forward with finances, legal and accounting matters, and leasing or buying a location for the business.
A great resource for launching a small business is the Small Business Association. You should contact the SBA in your area to get valuable information on how to write a business plan, how to apply for grants to help start the business, where to get help with accounting and legal issues, or just to do a bit of networking. Having a large network of business contacts can only be a good thing for a business.
Another very important task is market research. The SBA can probably help with this task as well. You need to look at other businesses in the area not only offering the same product but also those offering goods that are complementary to ones you are selling. A wine shop next to a hardware store might not benefit as much as one next to a hip restaurant. You also need to see if your venture is even needed in your area. If not, a new location might be a better idea. Just like buying a home, one of the most important factors in the success of a business is location. I can’t stress that enough—choose location wisely. The best store in the world, struggles in a bad location.
Once you have the location picked out you need to move forward with legal and accounting setup of your organization. Applying for business permits, setting up utilities, filing business plans with the city and state, and applying for other various permits and licenses is a tedious task that is vital in assuring a smooth opening when the time comes.
The time is approaching and now you need to rally the troops. Host a “soft opening” for family, friends, employees, business contacts, and city leaders. This allows you to work out any kinks that might exist and also gives you an opportunity to get constructive feedback from people who care about your success. It also gives you some free advertising as these customers will spread the good word about your new business. If they are excited, the community will be excited. If the community is excited you will have a successful grand opening.
Now open the doors and start selling!
By Tracy Young, Guest Blogger for Little Black Dog Social Media & More
About Tracy Young
Tracy is a former small business owner, currently enjoying life as a stay-at-home dad. He holds a degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina. His education and experience inform a unique perspective on the challenges of building a small business today. If, like many clients of Little Black Dog Social Media and More, you are still in the start-up phase, and need help with your marketing and social media strategy, we hope you will call us. We focus on helping small businesses.