Are you ready to start your small business? If you already have an idea for a small business, you’ve taken the first step towards seizing control of your future and being your own boss. Still, you might be wondering what steps you need to take to transform your company from idea to fully-functional enterprise. Our guide is designed to go over every step of the process. Check out these 5 key steps to getting a small business idea off the ground. #1. Stress-Test Your Small Business Idea Coming up with an idea for a small business is the first step to becoming your own boss, but before you dive too deep into the entrepreneurial spirit you need to make sure your idea is sound for your market. First, you need to find out if anyone else is operating similar small businesses, or if your idea is brand new. If you have competition, you need to find out what they offer and what you might bring to the table to snag their customers. Can you: · Adjust Something That Bothers Current Customers? · Perform a Task Cheaper or Faster? · Offer Better Service Than Current Companies? If you plan to start offering a product or service that no one else provides, take a moment to ask yourself why. It could be possible that your market doesn’t have a demand for the service or good you’d like to offer. You should speak to potential clients directly to find out if you’d have a place in the market. You could use: · Surveys · Questionnaires · Interviews Try to avoid only speaking with people you know or only performing online research, as this can give you a skewed view of your market. Take all the feedback you receive seriously, especially if you start hearing the same information repeated multiple times. #2. Set Up Your Business Plan If you’ve made it this far, you’ve discovered that your business idea is strong and viable. That means it’s time for you to create a business plan. A solid business plan details how your business will operate by: · Describing Your Business and Industry · Detailing Your Strategies for Selling to Your Target Market · Going Over Strategies for Handling Competition · Budgeting for the Development of Your Product or Service · Focusing on the Daily Operation of Your Business Your business plan won’t be set in stone when you complete it, but it offers you a road map to how your business should operate as you get it off the ground. #3. Take Charge of the Legalities Opening a small business can involve a lot of legal red tape that you need to take care of. It’s a good idea to ensure your business is official early on, as this can stop other people from jumping on your idea before you can get operational. You’ll need to: · Come Up with a Business Name and Register It · Get Your Federal and State Tax IDs · Obtain Any Necessary Permits and Licenses You also need to decide on the structure you’re using for your new business. Are you planning to open an LLC, a partnership, or a sole proprietorship? All of these structures are unique and you can only pick one for your company. Additionally, you may need to apply for: · Trademarks · Patents · Copyrights The legality of opening a small business can feel overwhelming. You can work on all the paperwork on your own, but don’t be shy about contacting a lawyer to double-check your legal work. #4. Focus on Financing Getting a small business off of the ground typically requires some form of financial backing. You have a number of options for funding your new business. You may: Work with Investors Investors put their money into a new business with the promise of getting funds back once the business takes off. Depending on your situation, you could get the funds you need from: · Venture Capital Investors. These investors typically look to back business owners with a track record of success who need large investments – sometimes upwards of $1 million. · Angel Investors. Angel investors are more likely to back small projects that other investors pass over. · Crowdfunding Investors. A relatively new investment option involves crowdfunding campaigns, where many investors make small donations to fund your business. Take Out a Loan Many small business owners take out a loan to get their company started. You may be able to seek a loan from a bank or credit union. You also have options for taking out a loan if your credit isn’t in perfect condition. For example, you can get cash to put into your business with an online title loan. Keep Financing Personal Depending on your financial situation, you may be able to finance your new company on your own. You could also request the funds you need from family members or friends. #5. Deal with Details Setting up a business plan, handling legalities, and getting financing is important. You also need to think about other practical matters when setting up a small business. You need to decide on: · The Location for Your Business · The Number of Employees You Need · The Type of Advertising You Want All of these issues must be addressed before your small business can be ready for success. You also need to make sure that your product or service is ready to be offered to the public. Make sure that your products or services are quality tested and ready for sale before you open your doors. Get Your Small Business Idea Off the Ground Today Running a small business can offer you control over your future. You get to be your own boss, call the shots, and fully embrace the entrepreneurial spirit of the U.S. Starting your small business takes hard work and dedication as you work on: · Testing Your Business Idea · Setting Up Your Business Plan · Handling All Legalities · Financing Your New Company · Sorting Out All Technical Details Handling these key steps can ensure that your small business idea is ready to get off the ground.