From Idea to New Business

To start a new business, you begin with a process.

Having a process makes the first dozen plus steps to starting a business more manageable and hopefully more successful.

Here are some of the steps you should include in the process that launches your new business.

  • Upfront check-out your idea.  Run it by family and friends, industry experts; do research.  Does your business idea make sense?  Is there a need or want in the marketplace for it?  Is the marketplace big enough and is it expected to grow?  Also, checkout competition; what are other businesses doing; how will your business be unique?  Are you passionate about your business idea and will it fuel you through the challenges of starting a new business. 
  • Select a name.  What your business is called is important.  Does it reflect what your company does?  Is it easy to pronounce?  Is the URL available?  Check its meaning in other languages where you might conduct business and/or the languages used by your customers, vendors, partners, and others you will be doing business with; make sure it does not have a meaning you do not want.
  • Write a strategic business plan.  Your plans may change along the way, but you will have a starting point and make adjustments.  Include your vision, culture, offerings, financials (revenue, expenses), profit margins, capital expenditures, staffing, competitive analysis and your business’ advantages, partnerships, planned acquisitions, etc.  Your business plan will come in handy as you meet with bank managers, potential investors, possible hires, and hired experts.  There are a number of online templates to get you started.
  • Decide on your business formation structure.  Unless you plan to work as a sole proprietor, you should look into creating a limited liability corporation.  To learn about the different business structures, go to the Small Business Administration website (https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/launch-your-business/choose-business-structure).  Also, an advisor, such as an accountant or lawyer, can guide you. 
  • Select your business location(s).  Consider where you live or want to live; as well as look at where are your target customers (if you are retail you will want to be easily accessible), business partners, and potential hires.  Further, you should consider the costs, benefits, and restrictions of different government agencies.
  • Register your business.  Your location and business structure determine how you will need to register your business.  Register with federal, state and local agencies; if you do not register your business, you could miss out on personal liability protection, legal benefits, and tax benefits.  Then stay up to date with registration requirements; some states require you to provide reports soon after registering depending on your business structure.  Also, check with your local tax office or franchise tax board, if it applies to you.
  • Get a Tax ID number.  You willneed to file for a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), which the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses to administrate tax laws, unless you are a sole proprietor or a LLC without any employees.  It is issued either by the Social Security Administration (SSA) or by the IRS. However, if you plan to have employees, you will need to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) that they can use for filing taxes.  An EIN can be applied for online if your business is located in the United States or U.S. Territories, and you’ll first need to have a TIN to apply for an EIN. 
  • Apply for licenses and permits.  Learn about the business licensing requirements and the permits you need depend on the city, county and state in which you are doing business as well as the kind and size of business you plan to start; then apply for them.
  • Get a business bank account.  Choose a bank that goes the extra mile for small businesses is vital to your success.  Look for banks that offer dedicated business checking accounts with low or no fees, small starting deposits, ATM accessibility in your area, interest-earning accounts and online or mobile banking tools geared toward making small-business processes easier.
  • Get business insurance.  If you are not protected with the right insurance, accidents, natural disasters, and lawsuits could put out of business.  Select the type of business insurance you need.  The federal government requires every business with employees to have workers’ compensation, unemployment, and disability insurance.  Some states also require additional insurance.  Then, assess your risks, find a reputable licensed agent, and shop around for the best prices and benefits for your business.
  • Set your business culture.  How you do business, your mission/purpose and values, is important for hiring, developing, and retaining employees as well as establishing partnerships and building your customers.  Be transparent and consistent with your culture.
  • Create a brand.  Decide what the emotional resonance of your company should be and then use that to inform all your branding choices: images, graphics and how products make customers or clients feel.  Once you’ve decided on a look and feel, stick with it. Consistency of messaging is vital to brand awareness and success.
  • Build a website.  A good business website is a fundamental part of the business creation process, and it is nearly impossible to do effective business without one, much less reach your growth and sales potentials.  Get a web presence up and running by the time you’re ready to launch.
  • Plan, execute a digital-marketing strategy.  Digital marketing is going to be important to how you promote your business and engage your customers.  The voice you use must reflect your business and be consistently applied across channels.
  • Get business insurance.  If you are not protected with the right insurance, accidents, natural disasters, and lawsuits could put out of business.  Select the type of business insurance you need.  The federal government requires every business with employees to have workers’ compensation, unemployment, and disability insurance.  Some states also require additional insurance.  Then, assess your risks, find a reputable licensed agent, and shop around for the best prices and benefits for your business.
  • Set your business culture.  How you do business, your mission/purpose and values, is important for hiring, developing, and retaining employees as well as establishing partnerships and building your customers.  Be transparent and consistent with your culture.
  • Create a brand.  Decide what the emotional resonance of your company should be and then use that to inform all your branding choices: images, graphics and how products make customers or clients feel.  Once you’ve decided on a look and feel, stick with it. Consistency of messaging is vital to brand awareness and success.
  • Build a website.  A good business website is a fundamental part of the business creation process, and it is nearly impossible to do effective business without one, much less reach your growth and sales potentials.  Get a web presence up and running by the time you’re ready to launch.
  • Plan, execute a digital-marketing strategy.  Digital marketing is going to be important to how you promote your business and engage your customers.  The voice you use must reflect your business and be consistently applied across channels.

Starting and owning a business is a full-time commitment, one that owners put their all into.  Make sure you start your business off well to enhance your chances of having a successful small business.

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