So you want to start your own business? Having your own business offers flexibility and independence. It allows you to indulge your greatest creativity and challenges your intellect to the 9th degree. However, it is a major undertaking and can involve significant risk. Below we have summarized 10 basic steps for starting your own business. If, after reviewing the list below, you wish to proceed, we would recommend that you make use of all available resources. For example, if you are a Canadian citizen, check out the website Starting a Business in Canada Step by Step, which will provide significant information on different aspects of a start-up, for example, the elements of a business plan.
7 Steps to Starting your Own Business
- Select your business concept. If you have a hobby or a particular interest that you wish to capitalize upon, think it through! Consider whether you can make money from it. Do the necessary research to ascertain if there is a demand for the product or service that you wish to provide. You will also have to conduct research on every other aspect of your proposed business, for example, you will have to invest time and thought into a marketing plan. You will have to start gathering information regarding your capital outlay. How much money will you need to launch your business?
- Write a Business Plan. A Plan is essential if you are intending on applying for a loan. However, even if you do not require a business loan, a Plan will help you to crystallize your ideas, and it will form a blueprint for the steps required to make your business become a reality. It will also provide you with clear benchmarks of success, for example, financial goals within one year from start-up, 2 years, and forward.
- Consult with all the necessary experts. For example, you may wish to consult with a lawyer to review privacy policies, joint venture agreements (if you have a partner), your proposed contracts that you wish to utilize with customers, etc. You may wish to consult with an accountant regarding the appropriate form of business ownership (detailed below), and your business plan. You will also need to set up an accounting format/package that is appropriate in the context. You may also want to consult with an insurance expert. You should be consulting, if possible, with colleagues/consultant experts in your select field to ensure that no important details in your Plan have been omitted. Finally, if you have a business coach, go back to your coach with the information that you’ve gleaned to discuss and assimilate. Engage your social support in all of this! For example, bounce ideas off persons around you, particularly if they have unique technical expertise or knowledge. Take advantage of free resources, such as business mentor programs and business networking opportunities.
- Choose your form of business ownership. For example, you may wish to choose a proprietorship and register a trademark. Alternatively, you may wish to incorporate your business. There are advantages and disadvantages to each form. For example, a sole proprietorship allows you the greatest flexibility (and it’s the cheapest start-up). However, you have personal liability. An incorporated business will protect you from personal liability, however, it is more expensive initially, and will require ongoing maintenance (for example, the filing of annual returns, and so on).
- Investigate all necessary requisite compliance documentation; for example, in order to run your business, you may need a municipal permit or license. Research the cost, requirements and time-line to ensure that all is in order.
- Finalize your Business Plan. Plan to launch your business by a prescribed date and set, for yourself, a critical path timeline with specific dates for you to complete certain tasks. If possible, delegate! By now, you should know if you will be receiving a loan or a grant, based upon your personal presentation of your Plan to a financial institution.
- Plan to undertake the launching of your business. Expect the best but prepare for the not-so-best scenario. In other words, make a contingency plan. What happens if the business runs over-budget or the demand is slow, for your product/service? Think about it and plan for it.