When most of us think about starting a small business, we think it is a fairly straightforward process. We believe that we go from idea to bestbusinesscommunity in a blur of activity, and that we suddenly wake up owning our own company. That is not strictly true however, and no matter what type of business you plan to start, there are several steps to starting a small business that you should bear in mind.
The very first step, for most, is the idea. Whether your small business will be a completely new and innovative venture, or a franchise, you still have to have the idea to start it before anything else can happen.
Next, usually, there is a period of weighing the pros and cons. This is a critical step, as it allows you to decide whether you are truly passionate about your business, and if you are, gives you the reason to carry on with what is sometimes an arduous process.
The next step in starting a small business is to learn. Even if you know the business you are starting intimately as an employee, there is still a lot to learn about running a business, and it is usually a good idea to get some sort of training.
Next, as you are working through the steps to starting a small business, you will have to craft a business plan. This need not be a complicated or difficult to create document, but it helps you to collect your thoughts, and get them all on paper, so that you have a clear plan to get from where you are now, to where you want to be. It also helps you to figure out how much money you will need to start your business, and during the first months of your start up phase, when you are unlikely to be earning a large amount.
This brings us to the next of the steps in starting a small business – finding funding. Unless you have the money to invest in your business yourself, you will have to find financing somewhere, whether it is a bank loan or an angel investor who funds your start up.
There are several other things you will have to do before you can open your small business’s doors. You will need to legally register the business, if you need to. You will need bank accounts and other administrative registrations and facilities. You will need to find premises if you need them, and secure deals with your suppliers. You will also need to register for tax, and if you are going to need to have specific permits, you will need to apply for them. Then there are things like interviewing and hiring staff, if you will need them, buying furniture and equipment, setting up your company website and developing marketing materials.
All in all, when you consider the steps to starting a small business, you will probably find that you are as busy during the pre start up phase as you would be once your company is running, and this is a good thing! It helps you to get a feel for your business, and builds the excitement you are undoubtedly feeling at the prospect of being your own boss! It also helps to ensure that you are really ready for business – this can be a somewhat thankless phase of your business, and if you are willing to put the effort into your company now, you are far more likely to have the staying power you will need during the gruelling first months of your business!
It is clear, when you look at the steps to starting a small business in this context, that there is a lot that happens between your big idea, and the day that your doors first open for business!
The good news is that this process is one of the most valuable assets to a small business owner. Working through the process steps to starting a small business gives you the time and the hands on experience, to switch from an employee mindset to that of a business owner.
Writing down your plans, and indeed, working through the red tape and other hurdles that often face the small business owner also allows you to clarify what it means to be a business owner in your mind, and to realise that while business is rewarding, it’s often not as simple as you’d like to think.
Some of the most successful businesses I know of did not happen overnight. Their owners took time and energy to make sure that when they did open their doors, they had a clear plan to succeed, and the tools, capital and systems they needed to get to that point of success.
So if you are ready to take the leap, and go from employee to business owner, remember that the steps to starting a small business are not something that should frustrate you, or cause you to ‘throw in the towel.’ Think of them as a challenge – they will test your resolve, but they will also ensure that you are ready to hit the ground running when you do open your doors for the first time. Do not cut corners. Address everything that needs to be addressed now, before you’re so busy running your business that you don’t have the time and energy, and give yourself the very best chance of success!