Starting a business is exciting, but it can also be stressful and time-consuming. There are a lot of steps to take, from figuring out your business idea and how you’ll approach it, coming up with a business plan, researching competitors, and hiring employees. Some tools can help make the process easier by automating or simplifying steps, saving time and making the entire process easier.
This article will walk you through the essential steps and tools that will help you start your dream business with minimal stress, helping you get past the first few hurdles in the most efficient way possible.
1. Write a business plan
It doesn’t matter what your business is about or what your product or service is – without a plan, you will inevitably fail. Make sure your business idea is viable by conducting research and coming up with a business plan.
You can use a tool like LivePlan to draw out your business plan and the financial forecasting you need to keep in mind when you start your business. This tool will help you create a basic business plan, factoring in your forecasts and budgets, in order to present investors with a solid plan. The cost for LivePlan starts at $15 per month on an annual plan.
2. Register your business
As a small business owner, it can be advantageous to register your business as a limited liability company (LLC). This will protect your personal assets if something goes wrong.
Tailor Brands is an online tool that lets you register your business online, get a local tax ID, and create an LLC in minutes, all online.
- Design your company’s name and logo.
- Create your own company profile, including a brief biography.
- Submit your completed business documents.
To register an LLC, state filing fees range between $50-$500, depending on the state. Additional fees may apply if you choose to hire a professional service like Tailor Brands to submit your LLC application.
3. Apply for licenses and permits
You’ll need to apply for licenses and permits depending on where you will do business. The city, county, or state typically handles these, so it’s important to check out the relevant laws for your chosen business and location.
While you may not need a state license in some states, you will most likely need one in others. Having a state license only means that certain requirements of your business are the same as the requirements of other businesses doing the same type of business in your state.
In some states, you’ll need a permit just to open and operate your business. In others, you will need a license; still in others, you’ll need both. Be sure to check with the relevant location to find out what you need.
4. Open a business bank account
One of the first steps to running a successful business is to set up a bank account for your business. This will put you in the mind frame that you’re running a legitimate business, and it shows your peers that you’re serious.
It’s also important that you secure all business-related money in this account and avoid using your personal checking account.
5. Set up a bookkeeping system
Every company needs an accounting system which must be set up properly from day one. By choosing the most appropriate software for your business, you’ll set yourself up for success with invoicing, bookkeeping, and tax payments.
For this, QuickBooks is a brilliant choice for small business owners. It’s reasonably priced, easy to learn, and easy to use. The cost is $25 per month on the Simple Start package for small businesses, which includes a 30-day free trial. There are also deals to be had if you sign up without a free trial.
6. Look professional with a business email address
Your business needs a virtual address and a physical one. Therefore, choose an email address that makes sense for your business and potential clients. Your business email should be professional, so it’s not overlooked as spam – and so you can include it in your marketing profile.
A branded business email address, including the option to set up several email addresses for your employees and freelancers.
An online calendar so you can see your team members’ availability and set up meetings with ease.
Google Docs for creating documents, spreadsheets, presentations and drawings.
Google Workspace costs $6 per user per month for the Business Starter plan, which includes 30 GB cloud storage per user and access to standard support.
7. Outsource your work
While the business tools we’ve mentioned so far will set you up with a firm foundation for success, you still need to focus on growing your business and finding clients.
There are many benefits of outsourcing work, including saving time and money. It also saves you from having to hire an employee to work in your office full-time. The goal is to find the right person who can do the job efficiently and at a reasonable cost.
Upwork is the largest online workplace in the world and enables freelancers and businesses to work together. As a client, Upwork will cost you 5% in fees on top of the hourly or project rate you pay your freelancer. And don’t forget to factor in the time spent searching for the right person for the job!
8. Build a website
An online presence is a crucial part of running a business online. Your website is the place where you can showcase your business, products, or services in the most convenient and efficient way. Your website is also an opportunity to create a professional overall appearance that sets you apart from your competitors, which you can use as a marketing tool to attract new clients.
On top of this, a linked blog is a great way to attract customers through search engine optimization (SEO). You should update your business blog frequently, so having one allows you to post new information when it’s available, such as special offers or new product releases.
Squarespace is a tool that offers drag-and-drop templates to help create a great-looking website for your business. It’s easy to update, manage and edit through Squarespace’s visual editor. The cost starts at $33 per month for a basic business website including e-commerce features for sales processing and management – but by paying annually, you can save up to 30% of the cost and also get a free custom domain name.
9. Pay attention to your business contracts
A contract represents an agreement between businesses or individuals. This can be a non-disclosure agreement, a confidentiality agreement, or anything else that outlines the details. Make sure your contracts have everything in them you need to protect yourself and your business in case something goes wrong.
PandaDoc offers a library of at least 750 templates for various types of contracts, including:
- Data sharing and partnership agreements.
- Product distribution agreements.
- Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).
You can use the free, unlimited version of PandaDoc for basic signature services or upgrade to PandaDoc’s Essentials plan at $29 per month, which includes all the templates, document audit trails, and access to 24/7 support. The cost decreases slightly if you pay monthly instead of annually.
Having a lawyer draw up your contracts can cost around $250-$450 per hour – so this is definitely worth it!
10. Create a social media presence
Last but not least: don’t forget to create a social media presence that works for your business. Whether that’s through a Facebook business page, a company LinkedIn page, or a Twitter account, you need to be seen online in order to help you promote your business to the public.
Edgar is a social media scheduling app that allows you to post to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn from one place and have your content posted at optimal times. Edgar will give you an idea of the most impactful times to post on each platform so that you get your message out there without having it buried in the feed of other posts.
For a monthly fee starting from $29.99 per month, with discounts available for annual commitments, you can access Edgar through your browser or download the mobile application for iOS or Android devices.
Your business needs to be managed properly in order to succeed. That means creating a business plan, a budget, setting up a bookkeeping system and working on developing your social media presence. There are many tools that can help you, such as Squarespace for your website, QuickBooks for your accounting, and Edgar for your social media management.
With these tips in mind, you should have everything you need to start your small business. If you do these things from the very beginning of your business, you’ll be well-prepared for all that lies ahead!