7 Key Tips to Starting a Successful Small Business

Do you have an ingenious idea in your pocket? Is your business idea the next viral goat yoga trend? The world needs you!

Whether your business is in the ideation stage or you’re ready to get the show on the road, your company’s forward momentum will depend on precise decision-making and strategy implementation.

When the time is right, keep these key tips in mind to launch your small business without a hitch.

#1: Know Your Market

First thing’s first: make sure you’ve done your research and are familiar with your target market before setting up shop.

Without enough demand for even the most stellar product or service, your precious business will have to weather the storm of an oversaturated market (or worse, a nonexistent one). That’s why getting to know your potential customer base is an absolute must before you try to get the ball rolling.

You don’t have to get too fancy to conduct effective market research. The internet is your biggest ally. Kick-off your research with these strategies:

  • Mine the statistics – The U.S. Small Business Administration is an excellent resource for finding the statistics and business data that are most relevant to your niche. Head to their site to find everything from demographic information to the latest consumer spending trends.
  • Size up your competition – Good old-fashioned internet research can help you size up your competition and learn from their successes (and failures).
  • Bring in an expert or two – In addition to scouring competitors’ websites and all online content for clues, consider hiring a small business consultant to gain a competitive edge.

#2: Design a Solid Business Plan

Your creativity and passion helped you come up with your unique business idea—but only solid strategies and planning will help you realize it.

A concise business plan is like a roadmap for your company’s future. It’s a living, breathing thing that can change and evolve. However, you need to support that malleability with a strong foundation. That way, you’ll have solid ground from which to approach pitching to investors, securing funding, and running day-to-day operations.

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It’s easy to find free business plan templates by state online. Whichever template or format you choose, make sure your plan includes:

  • Your mission
  • Description of your company
  • Market research findings
  • Service or product details
  • Marketing plan and outline
  • Financial strategy and projections

#3: Secure Enough Funding

Most people can’t simply pull cash out of their pockets to fund their small business. Like many of us, they need to acquire funding through venture capitalists, angel investors, banks, or friends and family.

Your business plan and credit score play major roles in your funding endeavors. But if getting the support you need from your bank isn’t possible, here are some unconventional lending sources you can try:

  • Kabbage
  • Square Capital
  • PayPal
  • Fundation

#4: Get Your Paperwork and Permits in Order

To make things official, you have to carefully fill out several documents for both local and federal government agencies.

These bureaucratic (albeit very necessary) tasks include:

  • Choosing a business structure (LLC, sole proprietorship, partnership, etc.).
  • Deciding on and registering your official business name.
  • Applying for a federal tax ID number.
  • Registering with appropriate local and federal agencies.
  • Hiring a contract or startup lawyer to assist with paperwork and future litigation.
  • Purchasing the appropriate insurance policies for your business.
  • Acquiring business permits, if necessary.

#5: Hire Your Dream Team

Regardless of whether you need just one helping hand or a handful of staffers, give yourself plenty of time to hire the best team members, either through online hiring software services or in-person recruitment events.

Conduct the most successful search possible by using your network or posting openings on online job boards such as:

  • ZipRecruiter
  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • Simply Hired
  • Monster
  • Glassdoor
  • Career Builder
  • com
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 #6: Set Up Systems

Ensure that your business will operate like a well-oiled machine by establishing clear systems for every aspect of your company’s operations. Two important ingredients for managing successful workflows are automated systems and business management software programs.

Starting a small business will require you to wear many hats, often more than your brilliant head can handle! That’s why you’ll need to delegate some of this work to various robust apps and software programs on the market.

These programs will cover operations like:

  • Billing
  • Expenses
  • Invoicing
  • Marketing
  • Hiring
  • Client acquisition and retention
  • Timekeeping
  • Project management

While most of these deal with day-to-day operations, don’t forget to spend time finding the right tax prep software for when tax season comes around—you do not want to deal with the IRS, especially in these early stages of your business.

 #7: Devise a Marketing Plan

Your business won’t survive in a vacuum, which is why outlining a marketing strategy is a must for increasing brand awareness.

It’s a layered and ever-changing process, but successful small business marketing starts with a few key items:

  • An attractive, user-friendly website
  • Active social media presence
  • Eye-catching, precise branding
  • SEO efforts
  • Email and newsletter campaigns

Where Passion Meets Work Ethic

Launching a small business starts with the flicker of an idea, a spark of brilliance, a surge of passion—but it only moves forward when that brilliance is met with hard work, planning, and diligence. If you believe you have what it takes to take your idea to the next level, be prepared to approach every day with the work ethic to match.

With the help of these key tips and strategies, you’ll have everything you need to achieve satisfying rewards and a fulfilling future as a small business owner.

Good luck and good work!

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