1. Start with a 1-page business plan
A short plan helps you lock in the idea, and iron out the rough bits. You can make it longer later.
2. Profile your customer
List key characteristics like:
- where they are
- what they care about
- how much they spend
This will help you refine your product and your marketing.
3. Check out the competition
Figure out who’s competing for the same customers and learn from them. Why have they succeeded? And how could you be better? List their:
- Weaknesses: Why you can win
- Strengths: Why winning will be hard
4. Do your numbers
Plot your projected costs on a timeline. Do the same with projected income. You'll run at a loss when you first start a business. How will you make up the shortfall?
Most US businesses get their money from:
34% owner’s savings | 10% bank loans | 17% friends and family | 33% credit cards
5. Speak to a pro
Check your numbers with a bookkeeper, accountant, or a business mentor. They know how to start a business and will call out gaps in your thinking.
6. Register your business
Ask city, county, or state authorities if you need licenses or permits. Ask the state tax office about sales tax. Ask the IRS if you need a federal tax identification number.
After starting a business
So now you know how to start a business, but what comes next? Lots of questions, that’s what. Keep your advisors and mentors close. And look for helpful articles in our small business guides.
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