Your business

March 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

balloons let loose in a blue sky

Many of my clients and friends are business owners and I have a cozy place in my heart for those willing to take the risk and go forward with their vision to change the world, and their own futures, by stepping out in business. In fact, according to the Small Business Administration, 99.7 percent of US firms are small ones and they are responsible for 64 percent of new jobs in our country. In times of changing employment markets, many folks begin their own business and make their dreams a reality.

So what do you need to know to start YOUR business? Here are some tips.

Your plan – A business plan may seem like a big hurdle to begin your start-up, but it is an essential tool for you to evaluate your competition, clearly understand YOUR value proposition and what sets you part from the others in the competitive market, and makes you face the prospect of the real success or failure of the firm. In a business plan is a SWOT analysis, which stands for: Strengths, what are the strengths of your firm? Weaknesses? What are firm’s weaknesses? Opportunities? What markets are you hoping to capture that have not yet been absorbed by competitors? And what are the threats that you will need to overcome?

A business plan also includes your marketing plan. Who is your target market? Not everybody. Everyone is really not your target market. You don’t want folks who can’t [pay for your services, or folks who think they can do a better job. You want folks who appreciate you and think you are professional and capable and who have the funds to support you in business. So you really have to be critical in your marketing plan. What are the tactics to put your plan in place? Are you going to advertise, do social media? It will become easier when you hone in on your target market.

Choose a location– This is a more critical decision than you may have realized: where are you going to operate your business? Can you operate at home? Do you have the space? What will clients think with a home occupation? Do you have parking? Is working from your residential location a permitted use for the zoning in your town?

Is your location near the customers? Is it visible? Can you put adequate signage on the exterior space?

If you can meet clients elsewhere or you are conducting business online, the location may not be as critical. But for most businesses, where you do locate your business may have significant ramifications.

Funding – Where’s the money coming from to start this enterprise? Do you need to buy equipment or inventory? What money will you use to pay the bills? Is it a credit card? Savings? A business loan?

Business type – What will be the legal type of business for your start-up? LLC? DBA? An S-corporation? A C-corporation? Talk to a tax advisor or an attorney to figure out the best way to help protect yourself from liability and for taxes.

Business name – Your business name is really important. It speaks to your credibility. It addresses what you do so new folks don’t need to guess. Make sure as you are choosing a name, that a web site domain name is also available. You will want to check to make sure that you are not infringing on any registered trademarks when you pick a name.  You do the best you can. There are experts in marketing who excel at helping you come up with a great business name. You may want to consult an expert.

Licenses and permits – I mentioned above that you may not be able to run an enterprise like yours in your town or even in the residential neighborhood in which you live. In addition to town ordinances and zoning  you need to consider any permits required because of the type of business you’re starting. For those of you in Maine, the State of Maine has helpful information on their web site:

http://www.maine.gov/portal/business/starting.html

Tax ID – Paying taxes is part of owning a business. Your business will need a tax ID. The IRS has information on their web site to help you understand what a tax ID is and how to file for your company’s number:

http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Starting-a-Business

Rules for employers – As your business grows and you need to hire, there are other considerations. You’ve worked hard to set your firm apart from the competition and you will want to keep the vision and the culture of your business. You will want to have folks dress a certain way, greet customers a certain way, answer the phone and take orders in a particular way. You will want to excel in great service, in personal care, in doing the best job so folks come back time after time. How are you going to pass that information on to new hires?

This is just some of the information needed to run a great business. Lots of things to think through even before you open your doors to have the best shot at success. Having a excellent skill or talent isn’t all you’ll need. But getting some of these things done well will save you a lot of on-the-job education in your business start-up. (CR9882)

 

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