When opening a small business, a common first step is to develop a business plan. Having a clear outline can help with the steps that follow, such as calculating the amount of money needed to start the business and attempting to secure funding. Once the plan is laid out and the funding issues are addressed, one can attend to such details as choosing the location and handling the logistics regarding furniture, equipment and other supplies. Establishing the business as a legal entity is another step — one must often register one's business and obtain a license, for instance. Finally, the new business owner should advertise and market the new enterprise, along with hiring staff members, if necessary.
Many people consider the business plan to be a crucial first step when opening a small business. Not only does it paint a clear picture for potential funders and customers, but it also helps the business owner remain accountable for carrying out his stated objectives. The plan typically includes both short-term priorities and long-term goals.
Someone opening a small business usually needs access to start-up funds and money for ongoing expenses. Some typical sources of financing to start a business include personal funds, private investments, and small business loans. They might also include using credit cards or acquiring loans for equipment and daily operating costs.
Next, the business owner should decide whether to rent or purchase office space, or to work out of his home. He should weigh the pros and cons of each scenario, depending on the type of business. Once a location is chosen, he can arrange to get furniture and basic equipment, such as a computer, a telephone, and a fax machine.
In most places, there also is a legal obligation to register a new business. Prior to opening a small business, one should research the requirements and apply for any necessary licenses or permits. In the U.S. for instance, potential business owners have a wealth of information available to them through the Small Business Administration. Next, the owner can register the organization and its name, and then obtain tax identification numbers. At this stage, he can also decide what form the business will take — some possible options include a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company (LLC).
Opening a small business usually requires some effort to get the word out about its services as well. The owner might advertise in local newspapers or business directories, along with leaving business cards or fliers in appropriate locations. Fortunately, networking and social media marketing are generally less expensive options, and often are preferable to incurring printing and mailing costs. Depending on the nature of the small business, the new owner might also need to recruit and hire staff members. Some people, however, wait until the business is off the ground and has made a profit before hiring employees.