If you think you are ready to dive into the world of entrepreneurship, this article is for you. There are 10 simple steps for starting a small business, Veteran-Owned or not, that you must consider if you hope to be successful.
So you have a fantastic idea for a business, but you don’t know where to start. All you know is that you are tired of working for someone else and want to become your own boss. Maybe you are like me, and after serving 20 years in the military, and being in charge of people, you don’t want to start back over at the bottom of the totem pole.
Whatever the reason, many Veterans consider starting a small business once they retire or leave the military service. The leadership and organizational skills taught in the military are extraordinarily transferable and can help you become a successful business owner.
10 Simple Steps for Starting a Small Business
1 – Do Your Research Here! Learn the Ins and Outs of Your Small Business Market.
This step is number one for a reason. It is quite possibly the most critical piece of the pie, that is your success. In the military, commanders gather intelligence to help ensure mission success. Researching your small business idea is no different. Market research can help you determine if there is any possibility of turning your idea into a profitable business.
Gathering “intelligence” such as information about your target market, the strengths and weaknesses of your competition, and supply and demand in your area can help you determine a pricing strategy, product placement, and many more opportunities to gain your company a competitive advantage.
2 – Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
A good business plan is a road map to a successful business. It is the foundation on which to structure and grow your new business. Your business plan is the tool that you will use to convince investors that investing in your business is a good idea.
3 – Get Funding.
As part of your business plan, you will determine how much money you need to start your business. If you don’t have enough of your own money, you will need to raise capital or borrow it. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to get all the means you require. Want a customized wizard to help find funding sources? Check this out!
4 – Location, Location, Location!
Where you plan to set up your business is possibly the most critical decision you will make. Whether you’re planning to launch an online business or setting up a brick-and-mortar shop, the location can affect your revenue, your taxes and may have additional legal requirements.
5 – Decide on Your Business Structure. Small or not.
Depending on which legal structure you choose, your business will have different registration requirements. The legal structure may impact how much you pay in taxes and how much personal liability you retain. Need Help? Check here.
6 – Choose a Good Name For Your Business.
Picking the perfect name can be a challenge. You will want to make sure it is relevant and easy to remember; it reflects your spirit and your brand, and that it is not in use by anyone else. After all, as easy as it might be to remember, I don’t think many people are going to go shopping at “Tom’s Terrific Tools” if they are looking for groceries or medications.
7 – Get Your Business Registered!
OK, you have the perfect name, location, and structure for your business. Great job! Now, let’s make it legal and protect it. If you are doing business under a business name and not your name, you must register it with the federal (and possibly your state) government.
8 – Get Tax IDs (EINs).
Your Employer Identification Number (EIN) is like the social security number of your business. An EIN is used for several things when starting and growing your business. You will need a Federal EIN, but you may not require a state one as only certain states have this requirement. Get your EIN in several ways:
- Apply by telephone: (800) 829-4933.
- By fax or mail: Go here to get Form SS-4. You can also find the mailing addresses and fax numbers associated with your location on the IRS website.
- Or you can apply by going to the IRS website: If you are a little computer savvy, you can also file the SS-4 form online. They even have a live chat option with an “Interview-style” process to fill out the form.
9 – Do You Need a License or Permit?
Depending on the industry, location, and other factors, you may need specific licenses and permits to remain legally compliant. You can check the SBA’s database to determine licensing requirements by state and business type. Make sure you verify what those requirements are for your situation.
10 – Open a Separate Bank Account.
Establish a separate bank account for your business. First, it can help prevent commingling your funds. Second, it can significantly help you handle day-to-day expenses, accounting, legal, and tax issues. Third, if you registered your company, you already have the paperwork you need to set one up! Can’t afford an accountant yet? No problem! See my post on the best accounting software here!
So, I promised you 10 simple steps for starting a small business. I never said those steps would be easy. There are several reasons people want to start a business. Ultimately, a business owner’s goal is to turn their business into a long-term income source. I am going to fill you in on a little secret. You will only obtain long term wealth if the product or service you provide to your customers has more perceived value than the price they pay.
It doesn’t matter how much you love your idea; there has to be a physical or emotional need for it. If you cannot provide your customers with the solutions they seek for their problems, you are doomed to fail. If you give your customers value by giving them answers to the needs, wants, desires, or concerns they are presenting to you, you become significant in their lives. They will buy from you again and again.