If you’re thinking about starting a business in 2014, you need to start your planning right now. After all, you’ve got a long list of to-dos to take care of in the remaining weeks of the year.
#1. Decide What Your Business Will Be
If you haven’t gotten past simply wanting to start a business or maybe a sketch of an idea, now’s the time to dive into the details. Will this be a brick-and-mortar location, or a home-based business? What products or services will you sell?
#2. Look at Your Finances
If you’ve got money set aside to start your business, kudos. But make sure you have a realistic view of how much you need. Factor in startup costs, overhead, and staffing expenses, as well as enough to cover your personal expenses for the first 6-12 months.
If you need to apply for a business loan, get that process started. First make sure your financial house is in order (no history of late bill payments, decent credit score), then start shopping banks with good SBA loan offers.
#3. Choose a Business Structure
Even if you haven’t started operating your business yet, you should still look at how you want your business to be set up. Choosing an LLC or corporation can protect your personal assets, so get off on the right foot.
#4. Set Up Your Website
Now’s a good time to get the designing of your website started. Even if you don’t want to have the site fully functional just yet, you can entice visitors by encouraging them to sign up to get updates for your new business.
#5. Create a Marketing Plan
Decide how you will reach new customers through marketing. Social media, blogging, and content marketing are all cost-effective ways to establish yourself as a leader in your industry.
#6. Look for Help
If you want to hit the ground running, you’ll need employees who have already been trained and know how to help your customers. Start now posting job listings online or networking to find qualified candidates. Train them so that they’re ready to roll.
#7. Find Resources
Look to your local community for small business organizations like SCORE or SBA. There, you can find free access to business mentors, templates to use, and workshops to make you a smarter business owner.
#8. Set Your Goals
This time of year, I always like to set goals for the upcoming year for my business. What do you want to achieve in 2014 when you launch your company? Make a list and keep it close so that you can check in on your progress.
#9. Buy Inventory
Don’t wait until you open your doors to start shopping for the best priced materials or inventory. Start your research now and find vendors who will cut you a break if you buy in bulk. Placing your first order now, during the busiest time of the year, can give you a sense for how prompt a vendor is at fulfilling and shipping an order. Better to learn if a vendor is unreliable now than when you really need the products!
#10. Give Yourself a Pep Talk
You’ve got a long and arduous journey ahead of you, but one that’s full of promise and prosperity. Remember that it takes a lot of dedication to become a business owner, but you can do it! Just cut yourself some slack when times get tough, and keep on chugging away.
Images: ”Opened personal organizer with a to do list/Shutterstock.com“
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