By: Solange Lopes
Starting a business is a dream for many working women and men. The prospect of being your own boss and creating a legacy that outlasts us is indeed very attractive. It also means having more control over your hours, more flexibility and the possibility to create the life of your dreams. Most importantly, you are in control of your income, instead of letting someone else decide what you are worth.
However, one of the reasons why so many of us don’t realize this dream is because we may not know how to even get started. If you’re wondering how to put all the pieces together to start and launch your own business, here are 7 things to get you going:
An Idea Targeting a Need in the Market
Great businesses start with great business ideas. But what makes a business idea great? Target a need in the market of your choice. What do your target or ideal clients need that they can’t find in the market? You can start by identifying a need that you may have and know others have as well. If you can fill a need in the market, you’ve identified a potential business.
A Business Plan
After identifying your business idea, having a business plan is the next step. While a business plan may sound like a complicated concept, it’s really about understanding the purpose of your business, as well as your product(s) and how you will promote and market them. You will also need to determine who will be part of your team. Last but not least, clearly understanding how you will make money and achieve a profit is crucial. One of my favorite resources to create a business plan is provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
A Legal Setup
It’s important to ensure that you have the appropriate legal resources and paperwork in place. When setting up your business, you want to have your business properly and legally registered, and ensure that your legal filings are completed accurately and on time. A great resource to use to set up your business structure and complete your required filings is LegalZoom.
Starting a business can be costly. While you may be able to save on a few expenses by working from home and opting for the DIY way, you’ll still have to invest some money into your business.
You may need money to build a website, print out business cards, or even to get some basic materials and tools. However, I always recommend starting as inexpensively as possible. Don’t spend money on an expensive website or fancy working space. Instead, start building your network and business presence first.
As mentioned earlier, you can save by working from home. However, you may want to dedicate a specific and separate area of your home for your business. This is so you can actually focus on your work and not fall victim to distractions around you.
If you must invest in a working space, make sure that it is within your budget in the medium to long-term. You can also opt for co-working spaces if it’s too challenging or impossible to work from home.
In the age of social media, having an online presence for your business is important. However, do not spread yourself too thin by spending too much time online. Pick two to three social media networks you are most comfortable with and that provide you with the most exposure and influence.
You should also focus on building a strong offline presence. One of the best ways to do this is to build an email list to reach out to your followers directly via email. Remember that when social platforms like Facebook or Twitter change their algorithms or disappear entirely, you stand to lose all your following, so act accordingly.
Starting a business is challenging, and it can also be lonely. While few people may understand what you’re trying to do, strive to build a supportive network around you. It may be your family and friends, or other business women and men who understand and share in your mission.
Solange Lopes is an author, CPA and writer/blogger. She blogs about career and lifestyle for professional women in her blog The Corporate Sister. She’s passionate about writing and women’s issues.