Starting a business is a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Without the proper knowledge and preparation, it can be easy to become overwhelmed and lose a lot of money in the process.
I’m AJ, and I’m here to ensure that doesn’t happen. I’ve spent the last decade growing a digital agency, so I know a thing or two about starting a successful business.
In fact, after a successful multi-million dollar exit with my agency, I started a company called Small Business Bonfire.
Our mission is to help fellow entrepreneurs and small business owners get their ideas off the ground without taking on too much risk.
We believe that anyone can start their own business with the right know-how. That’s why we’ve put together this guide.
Let’s get into the details!
- Make sure you know your target market and competition.
- Do your research to find the right legal structure for your business.
- Take advantage of free resources, like online courses and mentor programs.
- Take your time to make sure you have the right team in place before you launch.
- Budget accordingly, and plan for unexpected expenses.
- Have an exit strategy in mind for when it’s time to move on from your business.
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Determine Your Business Concept
Before starting a business, you’ll need to come up with a basic business model. This is the first step, and it can be one of the most difficult.
The right concept can mean the difference between success and failure. Think about Apple computers and their impact on the tech industry.
It all stemmed from the idea of a personal computer that was easy to use for anyone.
In this case, the concept was revolutionary, leading to Apple becoming one of the most successful companies in history.
Now, you’re (probably) not going to come up with an idea that’s as revolutionary or successful as Apple (although, never say never). But you can still build something great.
It’s important to consider the following:
- What is your business idea?
- What type of business should you start?
- Popular business startup ideas
What is Your Business Idea?
When first establishing a concept for your business, it’s important to determine what the idea overall idea is. This essentially means what you are trying to achieve with your business.
For example, if you want to open a bakery, your idea is to provide freshly baked goods and cakes for people in the area.
What Type of Business Should You Start?
Once you have an idea of what you hope to achieve, it’s time to decide on the type of business you want to start. This decision comes down to two main factors: structure and cost.
For example, if you are looking to open a retail store, you may be best suited to become an LLC or other corporate entity due to its lower cost and flexible structure.
If your client base is spread out geographically, you may consider setting up an online business or a franchise.
What Are Some Popular Business Startup Ideas?
It’s important to explore popular business startup ideas.
Some of the top contenders include the following:
- eCommerce stores
- Franchise ownership
- Consulting services
eCommerce, in particular, has become increasingly popular due to the rise of online shopping.
Ultimately, the key is to choose a startup idea that aligns with your passions and strengths.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and create something entirely unique. Remember, starting a successful business is a journey, and it’s important to enjoy the ride.
Conduct Market Research
After you’ve got your concept nailed down, it’s time to do some market research.
For the purposes of making it easier, we break it down into 4 parts:
- Primary research
- Secondary research
- SWOT analysis
- Find a business mentor
This step is like going on a first date; you want to get to know your potential customers as much as possible before diving into a business relationship.
Primary research is when you gather data directly from your target market through various methods such as:
- Focus groups
This helps you get an idea of their needs, preferences, expectations, and pain points.
So, make sure to do your research, ask the right questions, and get to know your customers like they’re your best friend.
At Small Business Bonfire, we are constantly conducting this type of research to help us deliver better content to the Bonfire Nation (our community of small business owners).
Let’s talk about the second step in conducting market research: secondary research.
This step involves gathering information that already exists about your industry and target market.
So where can you find this secondary research? Well, the internet is your best friend here. You can use search engines like Google and Bing to dive deep into your industry and target market. We even provide a lot of this type of content on our website in order to help small business owners succeed.
You can also look up government statistics and reports, industry associations, and trade publications.
These sources provide valuable data on the following:
- Industry trends
- Consumer behavior
- Competitive analysis
Social media is another valuable tool for conducting secondary research. You can monitor your competitors’ social media platforms to see what they’re up to and what their customers are saying.
You can also use social media listening tools to track mentions of your industry and target market. And if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can even conduct surveys or focus groups using platforms like SurveyMonkey or Zoom.
The point is, there’s a wealth of information out there just waiting for you to discover it. So don’t be afraid to dig deep and really get to know your industry and target market.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
Essentially, it’s a way to evaluate your business idea and determine the following:
- What could hold it back
- What competition might exist
- What could potentially make it successful
- What external factors could help or hinder you
It’s like a self-awareness exercise for your business idea. By conducting a thorough SWOT analysis, you can gain valuable insights and identify potential problems before they become major issues down the road.
Find a Business Mentor
When it comes to starting a business, there’s no such thing as knowing too much. That’s why the final step in conducting market research is to find a business mentor.
Sure, you could go at it alone, but why not learn from someone who’s seen it all? A mentor can provide priceless guidance and share invaluable insights gained from years of experience.
Plus, they can help you avoid common pitfalls, connect you with relevant resources, and potentially even introduce you to key players in your industry.
Whether it’s through a formal mentorship program or simply reaching out to someone you admire, a trusted mentor can be the difference between a fly-by-night startup and a thriving business.
So, don’t be afraid to ask for help – after all, a wise person (Confucius) once said, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”
Write a One Page Business Plan
After you’ve done your research, it’s a good idea to write a one-page business plan. This document will help you crystalize your ideas, clarify your goals, and ensure you’re on the right track.
Your plan should cover the following:
- Company overview
- Mission statement
- Start with an exit strategy
- Don’t worry about scale (yet)
- Start planning for taxes
- Understand your funding needs
Start by writing a brief summary of your business. This should include the mission statement, goals, and core values of your company.
Next, write a concise explanation of why you’re starting this business. Your mission statement should be clear and direct, and it should capture the essence of what you want to achieve with your business.
Start With an Exit Strategy
When starting a new business, it’s essential to have an exit strategy in place. This will help you plan ahead and anticipate potential problems down the road – whether it’s selling the company or scaling back operations.
Don’t Worry About Scale (Yet)
When starting a business, it’s easy to get carried away with ambitious plans for growth.
Before you get there, it’s important to focus on the basics and make sure your business is successful in its current form.
Then you can start thinking about scaling up or expanding into new markets.
Start Planning for Taxes
Taxes are a fact of business life, so it’s essential to plan ahead and understand your obligations.
Reach out to a qualified accountant or tax specialist for help with the following:
- Filing taxes
- Setting up payroll
- Other financial considerations
Understand Your Funding Needs
Finally, consider the startup costs associated with your small business. Make sure you have a handle on your financing needs, and don’t be afraid to explore potential investors or grants that could help fund your venture.
Create a Minimum Viable Product/Service
The next step for aspiring business owners should be to create an MVP.
What is an MVP?
A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a version of your product or service that you can put out into the world for customer feedback.
It doesn’t need to be perfect – in fact, it shouldn’t be! The goal is to get something out as quickly and cheaply as possible so that you can start collecting data from real customers and tweaking your product/service accordingly.
Once you’ve done this, use the feedback to iterate on the product or service until it meets customer needs. This will ensure that when you launch a full-scale version of your business, you have a good chance at success.
How to Create an MVP
So, how do you create an MVP? First, identify what problem your product or service solves and who your target audience is.
Then, focus on the core features that address that problem and build them out. Don’t waste time on features that don’t directly address the problem.
Keep it simple and lean. Next, test your MVP with a small group of early adopters. Allow them to use your product or service and gather feedback. This feedback is crucial and will help you refine your MVP and avoid costly mistakes.
Remember, an MVP is not a final product, so be open to making changes based on feedback.
Lastly, measure the success of your MVP based on the feedback you receive. Use this information to make informed decisions on how to move forward with your business idea. Remember, creating an MVP is about being lean, agile, and smart with your resources.
MVP Pros and Cons
Now let’s go over the pros and cons of creating an MVP.
- It allows you to test the viability of an idea quickly and cheaply
- It allows you to get feedback from customers before investing too much time and money on a full-scale product or service
- You can use it to test different assumptions about how target customers interact with your product or service
- It may not be able to capture the full scope of a problem you’re trying to solve, which could lead to problems down the road
- You may miss out on market opportunities, or customer needs that didn’t get captured in the MVP
- You may end up investing too much time and money on the MVP, making it difficult to pivot when needed
Ultimately, creating an MVP is all about balancing risk and reward.
Get Your First Customers
Once you have a working MVP in place, it’s time to start getting customers.
Sell First Ask Questions Later
One of the best pieces of advice when it comes to finding your first customers is to “sell first, ask questions later.”
This essentially means that you should put forward your product or service and start seeking out buyers without getting bogged down in the details.
By putting yourself and your offering out there, you’ll be able to gauge initial interest and quickly learn what works and what doesn’t, fine-tuning your approach as needed.
Get 3-5 Strong Customers
Once you’ve sold to a few eager customers, it’s important to make sure that you’re building strong relationships with them.
Think of these early buyers as your test group, and use their feedback and input to refine and improve upon your offering.
It’s generally a good idea to aim for 3-5 strong customers, as this will give you a solid foundation on which to build and grow.
Continue to Refine Your Product/Service With Your Paying Test Group
Congratulations! You finally have paying customers for your new business. Now, it’s time to make sure that they’re happy with your product or service and that you’re on the right track toward success.
How do you do that? Well, it all comes down to continuing to refine your offering with your test group.
Your test group is made up of early adopters, people who are willing to take a chance on your business and who are excited about your product or service.
They’re your first customers, and their feedback is essential to making sure that you’re meeting their needs. You need to listen carefully to what they have to say and use that feedback to make improvements.
Understand Your Business Finances
This next step is critical. So many businesses start with a great business idea but don’t have the finances to back it up. This is why it’s essential to understand your business finances before you launch.
Here are some steps we recommend you take:
- Open a business bank account
- Get accounting software
- Determine your break-even point
- Put together a business budget?
- What expenses to track in your business
Open a Business Bank Account
This may seem like a tedious process, but opening a business bank account is a crucial part of understanding and managing your business finances.
Trust us, you don’t want to intermingle your personal and business costs – that’s a recipe for disaster. By opening a separate business bank account, you’ll be able to keep track of your income and expenses more easily, which will make tax time a whole lot less stressful.
Plus, having a separate bank account can help increase your credibility with lenders, suppliers, and investors – they’ll see that you’re taking your business seriously and that you have a clear financial plan in place.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can just use your personal bank account for business expenses – not only is it against the terms of service for most banks, but it also puts you at risk of legal and financial complications down the line.
So do yourself a favor and open a business bank account – your wallet (and your peace of mind) will thank you.
Get Accounting Software
Accounting software is a great way to keep track of your business finances. Having everything all in one place makes it easier (and less stressful) to understand and manage your money.
There is a wide range of accounting tools on the market, ranging from high-end enterprise solutions to free open source options. Depending on the size and scope of your business, you may want to consider investing in a more sophisticated accounting tool.
No matter what software you decide to use, the important thing is that it allows you to track income and expenses, create invoices, understand cash flow, and generate reports. This will help keep your finances organized and make sure you don’t miss any important deductions or credits.
Determine Your Break-Even Point
Your break-even point is the point at which your business is making enough money to cover its costs and expenses without going into debt.
To figure out your break-even point, you’ll need to understand all of your fixed and variable expenses.
We’ll get into these terms more in-depth below, but suffice it to say that you need to make sure you’re making enough money to cover all of your costs.
Some of these include the following:
- Inventory management
- Put Together a Business Budget
Putting together a business budget might not sound like the most exciting part of starting a business, but it is absolutely crucial to understanding your finances and avoiding any unpleasant surprises down the line.
A good business budget should take into account all of your expected expenses – from rent and utilities to employee salaries and business marketing costs.
It should also factor in a healthy margin for unexpected expenses or emergencies. To put it simply: if you’re not budgeting, you’re flying blind.
What Expenses To Track In Your Business
Let’s go over the different expenses that your new business could have after your initial startup costs.
We’ve broken it down into two important categories:
- Fixed expenses
- Variable expenses
These are the expenses that stay the same each month.
Examples of fixed expenses include:
- Rent for office space
- Employee salaries
- Small business loan payments
- Business insurance premiums
It’s typically easier to budget for fixed expenses since they are consistent each month.
Variable expenses can change from month to month and can include things like:
- Marketing costs
- Travel expenses
- Merchant fees/sales tax
- Supplies and inventory
As you might imagine, these types of expenses require a bit more planning since you don’t always know how much they’re going to cost.
It’s important to track these expenses closely so that you can budget accordingly and avoid any unexpected surprises.
Choose a Business Name
Once you have your finances in order, it’s time to choose a business name. This is the name that will appear on all of your official paperwork and marketing materials.
How to Choose a Business Name
At Small Business Bonfire, we picked our name by brainstorming keywords that represent what we’re all about: community, growth, and support.
We landed on “Bonfire” because it represents a gathering of people around a common goal.
Also, the word “small business” in our name is a clear indication of our target audience. When you’re choosing a business name, it’s essential to consider factors such as relevance, uniqueness, and future growth.
You want a name that will give your brand identity credibility and will be memorable and easy to pronounce. It may take some time to come up with the perfect business name, but it’s worth the effort in the long run. After all, this will be the name that represents you for years to come!
Business Name Best Practices
Here are some best practices when it comes to settling on a name:
- Don’t be too similar to competitors
- Choose a name people can spell
- Be memorable
- Be brandable
- Try and find the URL
Let’s go over each of these to give you a better idea of what makes for a great business name.
Don’t be Too Similar to Competitors
One thing you should always keep in mind is not to be too similar to your competitors. The last thing you want is to confuse your customers or risk being accused of trademark infringement.
Besides, being too similar to your competitors doesn’t help you stand out from the crowd, which is crucial in a competitive business landscape.
That’s why it’s important to do your research and check if your proposed name is already taken or if there are similar ones out there.
You’d be surprised how many businesses make this mistake and end up changing their name down the road, costing them time and money.
Choose a Name People Can Spell
One of the best practices when it comes to choosing a name for your business is to pick one that people can spell.
This might seem obvious, but many entrepreneurs overlook the importance of having a name that is easy to spell.
When your potential clients search for your business online, they may have trouble finding you if they don’t know how to spell your name correctly.
This can lead to missed opportunities and lost business, which is the last thing you want when you’re just starting out.
Of course, choosing a name that people can spell doesn’t mean you have to settle for something boring or generic.
You can still be creative and unique with your name as long as you keep it simple.
Speaking of being creative, you want to make sure your business name is memorable and stands out.
A memorable name is essential for making a lasting impression on your target audience.
A name that is easy to remember and pronounce is more likely to stick in people’s minds and come to them when they are looking for a product or service in your niche.
Some successful businesses with memorable names include:
These names are simple, catchy, and easy to remember, making them stand out in the crowded market.
A good way to ensure your business name is memorable is to keep it short and simple, avoid using numbers or special characters, and make sure it is not too similar to other businesses in your industry.
It’s also important to make sure your name is relevant to your products or services, as this can help customers identify with your brand.
Ultimately, a memorable name can help your business stand out from the competition, create brand recognition, and bring in more customers in the long run.
You’ll want to make sure that your business’s name is brandable.
This means that the name should be simple and unique, so it can become an easily recognizable symbol of your business.
Some examples of fantastic brandable names include:
The names are short, simple, and easily recognizable. These brands have become a symbol of quality and reliability for their customers.
When choosing your the name of your new business, try to come up with something unique that will stick in people’s minds and become your company’s signature.
Try and Find the URL
This final step is one of the most important. You want to make sure the domain name for your business is available.
You’d be surprised how many businesses have already taken the domain names of their own companies or are just using a generic URL that doesn’t accurately reflect their brand.
To make sure you have a unique URL, try to find one that closely resembles your company’s name.
You can also use a domain registrar to search for available URLs and find one that fits your business perfectly.
Register Your Business & Get Federal & State Tax IDs
Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the guide.
Once you have your name, it’s time to officially get your business license and form an LLC or other business structure.
You’ll need to get a Federal Tax ID number as well as a State Tax ID number in order to do this.
These numbers are important for filing taxes and opening bank accounts, so make sure to get them before you move forward.
This is part of starting a new business takes some paperwork and legal know-how, so it’s best to consult with a lawyer or accountant before making any decisions.
What is an LLC?
An LLC (Limited Liability Company) is the most popular and widely used business structure in the United States.
This type of business is great because it offers a number of advantages to entrepreneurs.
An LLC provides limited personal liability protection for its owners, so they are not held personally responsible for any debts or obligations of the business.
It also offers flexible taxation options and can help you save money on taxes.
Finally, an LLC is relatively easy to set up and maintain, making it a great choice for small businesses.
LLC Pros and Cons
Before you commit to forming an LLC for your business, it’s important to understand both the advantages and disadvantages of this type of structure.
The pros include:
- Limited liability protection
- Flexible taxation options
- Easy to set up and maintain
- Attractive to potential investors
The cons include:
- Higher filing fees compared to other business structures
- More formalities and paperwork are required to maintain the LLC status
- Limited life span – the LLC can be dissolved if not managed properly
What is an LLP?
An LLP is a hybrid business structure that offers the limited liability of a corporation while still allowing partners to share in the management and profits of the business, similar to a partnership.
LLPs are commonly used in professional services industries, such as law or accounting, where partners want to protect themselves from each other’s liabilities.
One of the advantages of an LLP is that partners are not personally responsible for the debts and obligations of the business. This means that if the business is sued or goes bankrupt, partners are not required to use their personal assets to pay off any debts.
Additionally, LLPs are taxed like partnerships, which means that profits and losses are “passed through” to partners and are taxed at their individual tax rates rather than being taxed at the business level like a corporation.
However, it’s important to note that not all states allow LLPs, so it’s essential to check local laws and regulations before considering this business structure.
LLP Pros and Cons
As with any business structure, it’s important to understand the benefits and downsides of an LLP.
The pros include:
- Limited liability protection for partners
- Profits and losses pass through to partners, not the business
- Reduced paperwork compared to other business structures
- Flexible ownership structure
The cons include:
- Some states do not allow LLPs
- Require more formalities and paperwork to maintain the LLP status
- Profits are subject to self-employment taxes
What is a Sole Proprietorship?
If you’re looking for a business venture that offers maximum control without the headache of complicated legalities, then starting a sole proprietorship might just be the way to go.
Essentially, a sole proprietorship is a business structure where one individual is the sole owner and operator of the business.
This means that all profits and losses are solely his or hers to bear. Unlike other business structures, such as a corporation or LLC, there is no separate legal entity established for the business.
In simpler terms, the business is viewed as an extension of the individual owner’s personal assets and liabilities. The best part? No partners to answer to and no need to involve any third parties when it comes to decision-making.
And for those who find comfort in simplicity, let’s not forget that the registration process for sole proprietorships can be a breeze. In fact, many states don’t require any formal registration at all!
However, as with any business venture, there are potential risks involved. With a sole proprietorship, unlimited personal liability is a major concern. This means that if the business incurs any debt or legal liabilities, the owner’s personal assets are at risk.
Sole Proprietorship Pros and Cons
The pros of a sole proprietorship include:
- Unlimited control over business decisions and assets
- Easy to set up and maintain
- Simple tax filing process
The cons of a sole proprietorship include:
- Unlimited personal liability for any debt or legal liabilities incurred by the business
- Difficult to raise capital as the owner has full responsibility for all debts
- Not available in all states
What is a Corporation?
A corporation is a legal entity that’s separate from its owners, also referred to as shareholders.
In other words, the assets and liabilities of the corporation are not owned by its owners and vice versa. This means that if the company incurs any sort of debt or obligation, it will be solely responsible for it, and the shareholders will not be held accountable.
This is one of the main benefits of forming a corporation, as it offers limited liability protection to shareholders. Additionally, corporations have more options when it comes to raising capital, and they benefit from favorable tax treatment in some cases.
However, setting up a corporation can be complicated and involves several legal steps, such as filing articles of incorporation and setting up corporate bylaws. We recommend that you consult with an attorney before starting this process.
Corporation Pros and Cons
The pros of forming a corporation include:
- Limited liability protection for shareholders
- More options for raising capital
- Potential tax benefits, depending on the situation
The cons of starting a corporation include:
- Complicated setup process with several legal steps
- Additional paperwork and filing requirements to maintain the corporate status
- The potential for double taxation if the corporation is not set up correctly
Register Your Business & Get an EIN
Once you’ve established your business structure, the next step is to register your business with the state and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The purpose of registering your business is to legally declare it as a different entity from yourself. This will help you establish legitimacy and credibility in the eyes of customers,
Depending on the type of business you are starting, there could be various forms and fees involved. As we said previously, we recommend consulting with an attorney and/or accountant to make sure you are taking the right steps.
Launch a Website for Your Business
Alright, you’ve got the business idea, the plan, the structure, the name, and the paperwork. Now it’s time to let people know about your business!
The best way to do this in the modern world is to launch a website for your business. This can be done by hiring a web developer, or if you’re tech-savvy, you could take on the challenge yourself with one of the many content management systems available today.
I’m a firm believer in the concept of learning by doing, so if you’re up for it, go for it!
Having an online presence will give your business instant visibility and make it easier for people to find and connect with your business.
It will also help you establish credibility, as people are more likely to take you seriously if they can find a website associated with your business.
Start With Squarespace
Speaking of website platforms, there’s no better way to get started than with Squarespace.
Its simple and intuitive user interface makes creating a website fast and easy, while its array of templates gives you the freedom to customize your site according to your needs.
Squarespace also offers advanced tools such as:
- Domain registration
- Analytics tracking
- eCommerce integration
All of these features make it one of the best platforms for small businesses to create an impressive online presence.
So if you’re ready to jump into the world of entrepreneurship, Squarespace is a great place to start!
Launch Your Site Before It’s Ready
This step may seem counterintuitive, but hear me out.
Launching your website before it’s completely ready can have several benefits. It will give your audience a taste of what you’ve been doing and get them excited about the launch of the full version of your site.
It will also give you time to test things out and make sure everything is running smoothly before launch day.
And finally, it will give you a platform for gathering feedback from your audience that can help inform and improve the final version of your website.
Launching before you’re ready may sound risky, but if done correctly, it can be a great way to start building an engaged audience for your business.
Start Marketing Your Business
Now comes the fun part.
It’s time to start marketing your business and let the world know what you’re up to! The options are endless, so be sure to take your time and figure out which strategies are best for you.
Here are some steps we think are vital to the marketing process:
- Learn SEO
- Spend on AdWords
- Build an email list
- Get Social
- Start a YouTube channel
- Partner with related businesses
- Find referral partners
- Outbound sales
- Start a blog/content marketing
If you’re going to make an impact in digital marketing, you have to learn SEO.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of optimizing your website so it gets more visibility on search engines like Google.
By increasing your visibility online, you can get more qualified visitors to your site who are likely to convert into customers or followers.
The Small Business Bonfire team and I have done extensive research on the subject and can safely say that SEO is one of the best strategies for growing your business.
Spend on AdWords
AdWords is Google’s advertising platform, and it can be an invaluable tool for getting your business in front of the right people.
It allows you to create ad campaigns with targeted keywords that will show up when someone searches for a keyword related to your business.
This means you can reach potential customers who are already interested in what you have to offer.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that AdWords campaigns can get expensive quickly, so make sure you have a budget set aside before getting started.
Build an Email List
One of the most crucial steps to start marketing your business is building an email list. Look, we get it – the term might sound a little outdated, but hear us out.
Your email list is an untapped goldmine of potential customers who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.
And no, we’re not talking about spamming their inboxes with irrelevant promotions.
By providing quality content and personalized offers, you’re building a relationship with your subscribers based on trust and value.
Start by offering a valuable incentive for signing up, such as a free e-book or a major discount. Then, segment your list based on their interests and preferences to create targeted campaigns.
And always remember to prioritize quality over quantity – it’s better to have a small list of engaged subscribers than a large one that doesn’t care.
Trust us, with a well-crafted email marketing strategy, the sky’s the limit for your business’s success.
There are a ton of great platforms to assist you with this, including:
So what are you waiting for? Start building your email list today, and get ready to engage with customers like never before!
Social media is no longer just a platform for connecting with friends and sharing memes – it’s become a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes to reach a wider audience and build their brand.
But don’t just create an account on every social media platform and hope for the best. Be strategic in your approach.
Firstly, determine where your target audience is most active – is it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or something else?
Once you’ve identified this, create content that is tailored to each platform’s unique features and formats.
Instagram, for instance, is visual and can be used to showcase products, while LinkedIn is more professional and can be utilized to showcase thought leadership in your industry.
Additionally, consistency is key. Don’t just post once a month and expect to gain a following. Develop a content calendar for each platform and post regularly.
Respond to comments and messages in a timely manner, and engage with your audience. Social media gives you the opportunity to build a community around your brand and establish two-way communication.
Start a YouTube Channel
Nowadays, people are consuming more video content than ever before. So why not take advantage of this trend and start your own YouTube channel?
By creating videos that cover topics related to your business, you can help position yourself as an authority in the industry – plus, it’ll make it easier for potential customers to find you when searching online.
And the best part is, you don’t need a professional studio and top-notch equipment to get started (although it does help). All you need is a smartphone and some creativity to make engaging videos that your audience will love.
Partner With Related Businesses
Another great strategy to help with your marketing campaigns is to partner with related businesses. This will allow you to tap into each other’s customer base and leverage their existing relationships.
For example, if you own an online clothing store, consider collaborating with a popular fashion blog or beauty influencer that targets the same audience as you. You could offer them free products in exchange for a shout-out on their platform.
Just make sure to pick a partner that will represent your brand in the right way and whose values align with yours.
Some examples of business partnerships include :
- A local cafe and a yoga studio offering discounts for each other’s services
- A travel agency teaming up with an airline to offer holiday packages
- An online business linking up with a popular lifestyle blogger for giveaways
By building relationships with related businesses, you can significantly expand your reach and get more people interested.
Find Referral Partners
Referral partners are businesses or individuals who are willing to refer customers to your business and endorse your products/services.
Think about it – referrals can be an incredibly powerful marketing tactic, as the person doing the referral is likely to have firsthand experience with your product or service.
This will help build trust among potential customers and increase conversions.
Some examples of potential referral partners include:
- Local businesses that serve the same target market as you
- Affiliate marketers who recommend your product/service on their website and social media
- Influencers in your industry who are willing to promote your brand
Outbound sales (also known as cold calling) has been around for a long time and can still be an effective marketing tactic if done right.
It involves contacting potential customers directly through phone calls or emails and pitching them on your product/service.
This tactic is especially useful for B2B businesses, as it allows you to target a specific audience and tailor your message to their needs.
Just remember that outbound sales requires patience, persistence, and excellent communication skills. It may take several attempts before you see results, so don’t give up too soon!
Start a Blog/Content Marketing
This is one of our favorite marketing tactics for small businesses, as it’s incredibly cost-effective and can be done with little upfront investment.
Starting a blog or engaging in content marketing is an excellent way to accomplish the following:
- Bring traffic to your site
- Establish yourself as an authority in the industry
- Attract more leads
- Build relationships with customers
Write engaging articles that provide value to your target audience, and be sure to include keywords related to your business.
Get the Right Business Software
The right software can really make or break your business.
Make sure you’re using software that is designed for your small business needs and offers features that can help streamline processes, increase efficiency, and save you time.
Examples of commonly used software types are:
- Accounting software
- CRM software
- Project management software
- POS software
- Credit card processing software
- VPN software
- Merchant services
- Email software
- SEO software
- Website builders
- Website hosting
This list may seem overwhelming, but we are going to provide an overview of each to give you a better idea of some of this software.
We’ll also list a few popular platforms for each software type for you to check out. We recommend checking out any free trials offered before committing, just in case you find something better suited for your needs.
This is simply software used to track your financial data and ensure accuracy.
It’s especially useful for small businesses because it can help you with the following:
- Manage expenses
- Monitor cash flow
- Issue invoices
- Pay bills
- Generate reports
Here are some popular platforms to potentially check out:
- QuickBooks by Intuit
- Wave Financial
- Zenefits HR and Payroll Platforms
For sales and marketing teams, especially, having the right customer relationship management (CRM) software can make a huge difference.
CRM software is designed to help you organize data, automate processes, and keep track of your customers’ interactions with your business.
It can also be used to store customer information, such as contact information and purchase history.
Here are some CRM platforms (in order from most to least expensive) that we love at Small Business Bonfire:
- Less Annoying CRM
Be sure to check out our list of the best CRMS for small businesses to help you get started.
Project Management Software
Project management software is designed to help teams plan, organize, and manage their projects more efficiently.
It can be used to do the following:
- Delegate tasks
- Assign deadlines
- Monitor progress
- Keep everyone on the same page
Here are a few popular project management solutions:
We utilize Trello at Small Business Bonfire because it is affordable and has a really simple and intuitive user interface.
Point of sale (POS) software is used to manage physical retail transactions.
It can be used to do the following:
- Process payments
- Track sales data and reports
- Manage inventory
- Create loyalty programs for customers
- Issue rewards and discounts
- Integrate with other systems, such as accounting or CRM software
Finding the right software is critical to the success of your business.
Here are some popular POS software solutions that you may want to check out:
- Lightspeed POS
- Shopify POS
Credit Card Processing Software
Similar to POS software, credit card processing software allows you to accept credit card payments from customers. This is crucial if you have an online store because it allows customers to pay quickly and securely.
Here are some popular payment processing solutions:
- Shopify Payments
VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a service that allows you to connect to the internet securely and privately.
With VPN software, you can mask your IP address and encrypt your internet traffic, making it difficult for hackers to access your sensitive business data.
One of the most popular VPN software products is NordVPN, which offers military-grade encryption, kill switch protection, and fast connection speeds.
When it comes to the security of your business, we recommend not cutting corners. Invest in a reliable and secure VPN service to protect your business data.
We’ve already covered the importance of having an email marketing process for your business.
This is where email software comes in. Email software helps you automate your marketing campaigns, track data, and increase engagement with your customers.
Some popular options to consider include the following:
- Constant Contact
- SEO Software
SEO software covers everything related to optimizing your website for search engine rankings.
It can help you with the following:
- Track keyword performance and rank
- Conduct SEO audits
- Create backlinks
- Monitor social media
- Track competitor activity
This is another area where we think you shouldn’t skimp out. Investing in a reliable SEO software package from the start can save you a ton of time and money in the long run.
Some popular options to consider include the following:
Website builders make it easy to create and design your own website without having to learn how to code or hire a web developer.
You can use them to do the following:
- Create custom layouts
- Manage content, images, and videos on your site
- Integrate with other software, such as eCommerce stores
Web hosting is possibly even more important than the website builder itself.
It provides the infrastructure that your site needs to keep it running fast and securely.
Here are some popular web hosting solutions:
In order to build a successful business, you’re going to want to try out a variety of tools and solutions to find the right fit for you.
The key is to make sure you invest in reliable products from reputable providers. Read reviews, check out free trials, and do your research to ensure that you’re getting the best value for your money.
Fund Your Business Growth
Now it’s time to put your money where your mouth is, so to speak.
Funding your business can be a challenge, but there are plenty of options out there to consider.
We’ll discuss funding it yourself and then get into seeking outside investment, so you can get the capital needed to grow your business.
Startup capital refers to money invested by the business owner or other individuals.
Some methods of obtaining startup capital include:
- Personal savings
- Credit cards
- Friends & family
Using your own personal capital to fund your business is the least risky option.
If you’re comfortable with using your own savings, it’s a great way to get your business off the ground without having to answer any investors.
Another option is to use credit cards. business credit cards can provide an immediate injection of capital, but be sure to read the fine print on any card you take out.
Pay attention to interest rates and repayment terms so you know what you’re getting into.
Friends & Family
Asking friends and family for a loan can seem like an embarrassing option, but it’s often the best way to get startup funding.
This is because family members are often more understanding and may be willing to give you a loan with no interest or lower terms than what you’d find with other lenders.
Just make sure that you treat any capital you receive from friends and family as if it were a loan, even if they don’t ask for anything in return.
External Funding Methods
Now let’s look at the most common types of external funding methods.
Small Business Loans
Small business loans are one of the most popular external funding methods.
These types of loans can be obtained from banks and other lending institutions. They often require you to have a good credit score and may require collateral or other forms of security.
Small Business Grants
Small business grants are another way to fund your business. Grants are typically offered by federal government agencies or non-profit organizations, and they don’t usually require you to repay the funds.
You will need to do some research to find out if there are any grants available for your particular industry.
Angel investors are wealthy individuals who are looking for new business opportunities. They can be a great source of funding, but they usually require a sizable return on their investment.
Be sure to do your research and find out if there are any angel investors in your area who may be interested in investing in your business.
Venture capitalists are investors who specialize in providing capital to high-risk businesses. They usually require a large stake in the company and may be difficult to secure funding from.
However, venture capitalists can be an invaluable source of funds if you have a solid business plan and an ambitious vision for your company.
Crowdfunding is a relatively new way to fund your business. It involves asking the public for donations in exchange for rewards or equity in your company.
Platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo are some of the most popular ways to raise capital through crowdfunding campaigns.
If you have a great idea and a compelling story to tell, crowdfunding can be a great way to get the word out about your business and raise money at the same time.
Scale Your Business
Now that you’ve secured the funds you need, it’s time to start growing your business.
Take some time to research different ways to market and advertise your business so that you can attract new customers and increase sales.
Develop a strong understanding of your industry and keep an eye on trends so that you can stay ahead of the competition.
Build a Team & Hire Employees
As your business grows, you may find that you need additional help to manage operations. Hiring employees can be a great way to scale your business and ensure that it runs smoothly.
Be sure to thoroughly vet any potential hires before bringing them on board. Look for individuals who share the same values as your company and have the skills and experience to help you reach your goals.
With the right team in place, you can ensure that your business continues to grow and succeed for years to come.
Create a One-Page Employee Agreement
Just like with your business plan, it’s important to create a one-page agreement with your employees. This document should include things like job duties and expectations, salary, vacation time, and any other key points that you want your team to understand.
Having an employee agreement in place will help you protect yourself from any legal issues down the road. It will also help ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
Test Employees for Three Months
Once you’ve hired employees, it’s a good idea to test them out for three months. This will give you a chance to see how they perform in their role and whether or not they’re the right fit for your business.
It can also be helpful for building trust between you and your team members. If they know that their position is secure after the probationary period, they will be more likely to give it their all and contribute to the success of your business.
We went in-depth on exactly how to start a business in the hopes that new business owners don’t face the same pitfalls we did when starting out. Now it’s time to put all of your new knowledge into action and start your own business.
As we’ve discussed, starting a business is a risk, but with the right preparation, research, and tools, you can minimize that risk and give yourself the best chance for success.
Do you have any questions about starting a business? If so, let us know in the comments below!
FAQs About How to Start a Business
Starting a business with no money can be challenging, but it is doable. First, think about starting a service-based business where you can offer your skills and knowledge to others. For example, you can be a freelance writer, designer, or consultant. Second, try to find a business partner who has the capital to invest. Lastly, consider applying for grants, seeking out investors, or crowdfunding to secure some funding to start your business.
The four basics of a startup business are as follows: a solid business plan, funding, a business structure, and a qualified team. Creating a comprehensive business plan will help you identify your goals, target market, and competition. Funding is essential to help you launch your business and keep it running. Choosing the right business structure will depend on your goals and the type of business you’re in. Lastly, having a qualified team will make running your business a smooth process.
Starting a business with $100 is a great challenge, but it is possible. One way to do this is by creating a service-based business, such as being a virtual bookkeeper, freelance writer, or personal assistant to others. Another option is to flip items from thrift stores and yard sales for a profit. Lastly, consider selling items you no longer use, such as clothing or electronics, online through platforms like eBay or Etsy.
The amount of money you need to start a business will depend on the type of business you want to start. $100,000 can be enough to start a business, but it will depend on factors like your industry, location, and size. For example, starting a brick-and-mortar business will require more capital compared to an online business. It’s essential to create a business plan and budget before determining if $100,000 is enough to start a business.
Yes, $3,000 can be enough to get started as a small business owner. It’s essential to create a comprehensive budget and business plan before deciding on the type of business to start. For instance, starting a home-based business like a tutoring service, event planning, or managing social media accounts can be done with $3,000.
Yes, $1,000 can be enough to start a business. Similar to starting a business with $3,000, you’ll need to identify what type of business you want to start and create a budget and business plan. For instance, starting a freelance writing, graphic design, or photography service can be started with $1,000.
There is no one easy business to start since every business requires a lot of hard work and dedication. But some businesses are easier to start than others. For instance, home-based businesses require minimal capital and can be started with just an internet connection and a laptop. Examples of home-based businesses include virtual bookkeeping, web design, online coaching, or tutoring.
Starting a business from home requires careful planning and research. Start by identifying your skills, passions, and interests, and see if they’re marketable. Create a business plan and budget, and choose a business structure that suits your needs. Register your business and create a home office equipped with the necessary equipment and tools. Also, research your local laws and regulations regarding home-based businesses.
The simplest way to start a business is by identifying a problem that needs solving and creating a product or service that solves that problem. Once you have a solid business idea, create a business plan and budget, and seek out funding if necessary. Choose a business structure (such as an online business) and register your business. Lastly, market your product or service to your target audience and start gaining customers.
It is advised that new businesses get both general liability insurance and business interruption insurance if applicable. These types of insurance policies protect businesses from potential lawsuits, property damage, and lost profits due to unexpected events. Speak with an insurance broker to determine the type and amount of coverage that best fits your business needs.
Your business entity may not need a credit card, depending on how much revenue you’re making and how often your business purchases items. However, having a business credit card can help separate your business from personal finances, enable you to track expenses more easily, and build up a good credit score for your business. Speak with financial institutions to determine if a credit card is best for your business.