10 Simple Steps for Starting a Small Business – Tips and Tools to Use

Neon sign that reads "Open"

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.

Girl looking at a laptop

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.

Man in sunglasses holding a fan of cash

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.Business structure path chart

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.

13 thoughts on “10 Simple Steps for Starting a Small Business – Tips and Tools to Use”

  1. Thank you for sharing the step by step on how to start your small business. I used to have 2 restaurants and I did all the process  that you suggested here. I remembered that I scouted around for the competition and told my partner that there is potential and just like that we opened our restaurants. I found a good CPA and let the CPA register my LLC and I went to Chase bank and opened a business account. The landlord and the permits are also hectic so I will say that you will need to estimate your expense while you are waiting for your permit as well. Good luck to all the new entrepreneurs! 

    • Thanks Nuttanee!  You are absolutely right permits are hectic and can be expensive depending on what they are for and where you are located!  A good CPA can help estimate those expenses too.  Best of luck to you in all your future endeavors!

  2. It’s a good and amazing experience to read this. I’d look forward to having more and more infomercial that are very resourceful and useful like this, thanks for sharing. Starting a business can be very tasking but this has made it easier, It’s very thoughtful of you to put this out here, thanks for the help.

  3. This is not the first time that I am seeing something of this sort mad I must say that it is very good to understand just how it works and I think you know very much about this and that is why you can tell me so much about it too. Really nice to see this steps to start my own online busine and the good tisonyou gave to complement them.too.

  4. This is an excellent article on starting a business, these information are great for all new entrepreneurs starting out and knowing not the first thing to do in proceeding. I myself was in the Real Estate Business and taken out an EIN number, I still have it sitting around, cause I no longer in that business. 

    I am working from home on my own term, and need to applied few if these method in moving forward for when I am earning income and have to file my taxes.  

    • Thanks Affiliate.  Even if you are working from home on your own terms.  Be careful with how you protect yourself and your assets!  Home based businesses are often prime candidates for an IRS Audit

  5. This is a great website and my father will find it most wonderful as he is a veteran. I like the idea of writing for veterans as they have specific requirements and thinking. I find your article most interesting, and I am sending him a link.

    I think, most importantly, veterans need to learn the ins and outs of the small business market, as they have never really been connected remotely with business all their lives.



    • Hi Aps!  Thanks for the reply!  You are correct, most Veterans have a certain level of “disconnect” with the business world just because of the nature of the job.  But, most Veterans also have more business knowledge and ability than they realize!  The leadership training, experiences, and structured systems in the military are VERY transferrable!  Also, there are a great number of Veterans benefits available to those Veterans interested in starting their own business!

  6. Thanks for listing out the 10 steps to start a small business. It does seem like daunting tasks for someone who has been an employee his whole life. But that would also be the fun of it, I presume. To be your own boss, you have to be a jack of all trades and hopefully, the business can scale till you can expand. 

    • Hi Richard!  Thank you for taking the time to read and reply to my post!  There is alot to learn and to know when it comes to being your own boss and running your own business, but you are correct, that can be the funnest part!  Just remember, there is always help out there, you just have to look and ask for it if you need it.

  7. It is always good to think things through before you do. These are 10 basic matters, without which you could fall into all kinds of trouble, so yes they are very important in a start-up process. I am not sure whether in the online business, location is as significant as for brick-and-mortar shops. Affiliate marketing can be done from almost everywhere in the world, unless you want to go very local of course. Not many people immediately think about setting-up a separate bank account, but this will indeed save you a lot of trouble.

    • Thanks for reading and replying Jerry!  You are correct, location is not nearly as important for online businesses, especially something like Affiliate Marketing.  However, depending on what your online business is, location can still be a factor.


Leave a Comment