Updated June 23, 2020
Here’s how to launch your firm from first ideas to your first dollar filled with the practical tips I learned from successfully starting, managing, and selling multiple small businesses.
Every entrepreneur’s journey is paved with hard work, thrills, chills, and more than a few spills! Navigate your business startup with me by your side cheering you on and advising you along the way.
Ready -- Set -- Launch!
How to Start Your Own Business -- Step by Step
- How to Start Your Own Business -- Step by Step
- Business Ideas -- Get a Good Idea
- Research the Marketplace, Competition, and Locations
- Market Research -- Is your Startup Viable?
- Marketing and Branding
- How to Get the Perfect Logo Design
- Legal Issues of Startups
- Business Licenses & Permits
Business Ideas -- Get a Good Idea
All great businesses start with good ideas.
One of the best ways to get brilliant new business ideas is to review my lists of business ideas categorized for your particular situation such as small town business ideas, craft, online or at home.
- Business Ideas for Women
- Home-based Business Ideas
- Craft Handmade Business Ideas
- Rural Small Town Business Ideas
Business Idea Generator Tool
If you want to have some fun try my tool the random Business Idea Generator. Click the button and some concepts for product, service or side hustle businesses will be generated.
Research the Marketplace, Competition, and Locations
Market Research -- Is your Startup Viable?
All successful businesses MUST fulfill a need for paying customers to thrive.
Find out if your new business idea will solve problems that customers are willing to pay for.
Start your market research by asking the following questions to study the market, competition and target customers needs and wants.
How to Learn if the Market Needs & Wants Your New Product or Service
- What problem, need or desire is being solved by your product?
- Who are the people, or companies, that have this problem? Why do they have the problem? What are they trying to achieve?
- How are they answering this problem now, without your new startup? What products and services are they using?
- What are other companies offering for this need -- similar or dissimilar products to your business ideas?
- Where does your new firm fit into the marketplace?
- What is your point of difference, competitive edge, over established companies? Why should people buy your product instead of what they are using now?
Test Your Idea
Perhaps you have an idea and want to know if it is viable and if you should proceed to build a business with your idea. Check out my tips on the 10 best ways to field test your business ideas here
Pick the Best Location for your New Business
Choosing the right location for your firm is one of the most critical decisions you need to make at the onset of your business launch.
Take your time and do your homework of research and planning, before committing to a lease on retail or office space. Study the demographics of the area and surrounding towns, your competition nearby, and much more.
7 Questions to Determine if Location is Good for your Business
- Image -- Does this spot project the brand image you desire?
- Competition -- Are neighboring businesses competition or complementary?
- Labor -- Will you be able to find employees easily, or is it too far to commute?
- Growth -- Is there room for future expansions?
- Vendors -- Are vendors able to deliver here efficiently and at a reasonable cost?
- Security-- What is the crime rate?
- Zoning -- Is this location zoned for your type of business activity?
Calculate Your Financial Projections
Write your Business Plan the Right Way
No doubt you’ve heard the old saying of one of my favorite guys Winston Churchill, “if you don’t plan -- you are planning to fail”.
Nowhere is this truer than when starting a business.
You, like most entrepreneurs, are excited and want to start right away without taking any time for business planning – THIS is a major mistake.
Spare yourself the substantial loss of money, time, and much heartache by taking the time to write a business plan.
The importance of writing the plan is not wholly the finished document but the discoveries of missing elements in your business concept you find as you prepare your business plan.
During the process of writing your business plan, you will uncover aspects of your business strategy that will not work. Better that you discover these weaknesses on paper --now -- then adjust your business model accordingly- than to encounter these problems in the field costing time, money, and possibility your company survival.
To help you properly calculate your startup costs I have written these articles:
- How to Calculate Your Startup Costs
- How Much it Costs to Start a Bakery
- How Much it Costs to Start a Dog Kennel
Many first-time entrepreneurs think that the business plan has to be some sort of huge financial novel is given to the bank in the application for a business loan. While that is one type of business plan.
The more important type of business plan is one that the entrepreneur writes for themselves. This plan documents the business summary, target markets, marketing strategies.
Think of it as a map for your entrepreneurial journey. You would not set out on a long hike across unknown territory without a field guide and a detailed map.
So don’t dive into a new business and spend money, time and emotional energy without a map.
Marketing and Branding
How to Name Your Business so Customers Remember Your Brand
It is hard to think up a catchy name for your new company. Here are my best tips for coming up with company names that succeed:
Process for Coming Up with Great Company Names
Part 1 -- Make a List of Keywords
The words and phrases that your prospective customers type into internet search engines to find companies like yours. Add other towns, states, and countries to your search to find similar firms, outside of your marketing area for inspiration.
Don’t use another firm’s exact name, just use those names to brainstorm your own unique brand name.
- Use market level words such as industry names (ie catering, plumbing) and see what comes up
- Try your competitive advantage term (ie faster, cheaper, cooler) to find interesting concepts
- Your value proposition, innovation, or special feature is a good source to build memorable names (example -- Evernote -- Remember Everything)
- Outside of Your Industry -- Step back and look for an interesting combination of words from outside the industry.
Naming Tips: How to Come Up with a Catchy Business Name
Part 2 -- Play with Words for a Great Business Name
Take that list of words and concepts from Part 1 above and mix and match and play until you find that perfect new startup name.
- Try Wordoid to generate fictitious word combinations.
- Domainr is a webmaster tool to find domain names, but it also makes good abbreviated company brand names
Consider trying out a business name generator from my list of the top FREE company name generators here
Review List of Business Names for Inspiration
To help inspire you I have written lists of catchy business names for lots of types of companies such as below. Check out these unique name ideas that are not taken and available!
- Restaurant Name Ideas List (PS this list has sections for different types of restaurant names such as bakery, seafood, Mexican and Italian -- Food truck name ideas too!)
- Photography Business Name Ideas
- Name Ideas for Hair Salons and Nail Salons
- Real Estate Company Names
- Consulting Firm Name Ideas
Read my latest business name ideas here
Naming Tips: How to Come Up with a Catchy Business Name
How to Get the Perfect Logo Design
Can you think of a major business without a logo? Bet you can’t!
That’s because major brands are built on the foundation of strong logos, the single most important visual element of branding.
So, you know that you need a standout logo for your company. But how to create one?
Learn how I created my newest brand logo in this comprehensive 99designs step by step tutorial complete with over an over the shoulder video series. PS (save $99 on your order with my exclusive coupon code here) .
Legal Issues of Startups
Legal business Structures
Your business is considered an entity or an organization in the eyes of the law and government, this means that you need to have a structure such as Corporation for LLC, a limited liability company in which you run your business.
You will want to determine the best legal structure for your new startup business such as sole proprietorship, partnerships, corporations, or trusts.
Some businesses should incorporate, most notably those seeking venture capital and manufacturers, and some should not such as small one-person companies, often referred to as solopreneurs and those with low capital do not deal in products or services that could be dangerous to your customers.
Based on my marketing client requests I have compiled individual article answering FAQ about LLC here:
Protect Intellectual Property Assets
If your new businesses that developed new processes or created new products will want to protect your intellectual property with patents, trademarks, and copyrights issued by the US patent and trademark office. It is also a good idea.
Business Licenses & Permits
In addition to setting up your legal business structure LLC, INC or DBA (as detailed above) you may (depending upon your type of business) be required to obtain special business license or permits.
Insurance & Regulations: Federal IRS, State, and City
Legally, you are required to have certain federal and state licenses and permits depending upon the type of business you are founding.
All businesses must be registered with the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) in America when they file their business structure type, either DBA (sole proprietorship), incorporation or LLC for their tax status and filing purposes. Beyond that governmental requirement, you may need additional licenses as listed below.
PS: If you are not a US citizen check out my special guide on how to start an American business as a foreigner here
Federal licenses are required for those businesses that sell alcohol, dealing firearms or require federal permits listed here on the SBA website also those firms in agriculture, aviation, fish and wildlife, mining, maritime, nuclear energy, television, and radio broadcasting, and transportation. Get more info here about licenses and permits needed to open your business.
Some US states will require small businesses to have additional licenses or permits beyond the federal permits. Find out your state’s particular licensing requirements by contacting your local Business License Office
Find out about how to obtain the correct license and permits for your new business, including tax permits and home-based businesses.
Financing Your Startups: Get Funded
Get Funded: Startup Business Loans
Now that you have a great business idea, you need money to get started in the venture. While there are some businesses that you can start with almost no money.
Most startups require some form of a business loan or capital investment. In the step above you created your working business plan that forecasted both your sales and expenses plus working capital.
Looking for business funding? Check out my list of 17 proven sources of startup funds here
Now you have data and the exact amount of money, in business loans or personal investment, that you need to get started.
Surely you have heard of many businesses they got started using your credit cards as a primary form of financing. While this can be done, we recommend that you read this article and heed our warnings about financing your business startup on your credit cards.
If after reviewing your personal capital, loans from family and friends and find that you need more money, finance your small business start-up, then consider one of these online lenders such as our top recommendation for small business startup loans -- Kabbage.com.
Read my review of Kabbage loans with verified customer reviews and experience
Advertising -- Print Media and Online
Today’s entrepreneurs need to learn effective advertising strategies for both online and off-line media channels.
Online Advertising Advice and Tips
Google Adwords and Pay per Click -- PPC
Unless you want to waste tons of money -- Don’t start using Google Adwords until you have learned both how to set up campaigns properly and best practices.
I caution all of my business consulting clients that the first click in all Google ad campaigns should be to purchase a recommended course.
Google has done an excellent job of making it easy to set up ads -- BUT that does NOT mean that your ads are:
a) set up properly for maximum results
b) lowest cost per click
c) best keywords matched to ads
d) budget limited
Many beginner business owners DIY their Google Adwords campaign and have sad tales of lost money and wasted time. For beginners, I highly recommend this gold star rated course from Udemy -- Google Adwords for Beginners.
Learn how to use the Adwords from Google effectively, and affordably, to sell your products and services online.
- Adwords Fundamentals
- Budget Management
- Bidding process and strategy
- How to research keywords using the Google Planner
- Targeting your Campaigns by demographic and geographic factors
- Writing ads that succeed in getting new customers and making sales
- Research your competitor’s ad campaigns
- Optimize your advertising dollars
For entrepreneurs who have mastered the basics of Google Adwords, I recommend the 5 star rated -- Ultimate Google Adwords Course 2017 -- Win with Pay per Click Advertising. Many of my clients have raved about this course and told me how their sales increased.
Learn how to:
- Get constant highly-qualified traffic -- of ready to buy customers -- to your website or blog
- Build optimized and consistently profitable Adwords campaigns for your launch products
- Measure your conversion rates to accurately determine the value of your ads
- Remarket to your site visitors to sell them again and again
Other Recommended Training on PPC and Google Adwords:
Harness the power of social media and custom target customer groups by advertising on Facebook with this essential guide to Facebook Advertising. Learn how to set up effective ad campaigns with a visual step by step guide. Learn how to reach the millions of customers on Facebook every day. Avoid easy-to-make and costly mistakes in your ad campaigns. Bonus learn how to create great Facebook Business Pages, Groups, Place and Social Plugins! This low-cost how to guide includes:
- How to build and run highly targeted Facebook advertising campaigns
- Designs compelling Facebook Ads
- Advertise Your Facebook Pages
- How Sponsored Stories Work to Build Sales
- Get Facebook Badge
- Use the News Feed for your ads on mobile devices and cell phones
- Create Facebook Offers to Sell Your Products
Newspaper Advertising -- Print Ads
Print media is not dead! In fact for many types of businesses, especially local firms, it could be the best and least expensive advertising method. Before you start writing and buying your ads get the secrets, from expert ad men, of how to write an ad that attracts paying customers. DO NOT let the “free” graphic artist at the paper design your ad. They are not professional salespeople and will not make you the best ad possible. Instead spend a very small amount of money, under $30 to learn- How to Create Great Newspaper Ads that will Pull All the Customers You Will Ever Need
This book contains newspaper industry insider info on how to:
- Triple the results of your ads and crush your competition!
- Learn the formula to create winning ads every time
- 6 ways to tell if your ad is a dude and how to fix it
- Attract the attention of your most likely to buy customers
- 16 tips to create powerful openings that grab the readers
- Time proven words and phrases that turn your ads into money machines
- How to Create a Dynamic Yellow Pages Ad with Real Pulling Power
- Great Headlines Instantly -- How to Write Powerful Attention-Grabbing Headlines
- 39 pages of Sample Headlines Examples You Can Use in Your Ads
Sales Process and Getting Paid
We recommend Intuit mobile credit card reader and rate it as the best mobile card reader for small business. Our review compares Gopayment app vs Square.
Check out my guide on how to start your business right with tons of useful tips I learned by successfully starting, building, and selling multiple companies.