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5 Steps to Starting Your Own Business

1. Consider Your Strengths

The old adage is corny but true.  Decide what you would do for the rest of your life if you had no need to make money, and then create a business doing just that because this will bring you happiness and success.

Do you truly prefer the company of dogs to human beings?  That’s okay.  You might be a great dog sitter.  If you had no need for money, would you spend all of your time working on cars?  Perhaps you should be buying abandoned vintage cars and fixing them up for a profit.  You get the idea.  It’s not just about money, it’s about happiness.

2. Consider Your Weaknesses

We all have our weaknesses, just as we have strengths.  Before you begin your small business, consider your weaknesses and make a plan for dealing with them.

Do you lack startup capital?  Most Americans have very little in savings and the money that they do have stashed away is earmarked for emergencies. If you fall into this category, you’ll have to figure out how to finance your small business.

While you could take out a small business loan or go into credit card debt, the smartest option is beginning your business on a shoestring budget in a spare bedroom of your home or in your garage.  This is also known as bootstrapping and some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the United States have found success with this method.  Will it be easy?  Absolutely not.  Persistence and determination are everything.

Are you great at marketing and sales but hopelessly clueless when it comes to accounting? Rather than spend money to hire an accountant or struggle with something you don’t understand, perhaps you could form a partnership with someone very trusted who’s great at accounting.

3. Decide What Business Structure You Will Use

There are generally four types of business structures to choose from and, before you decide which one is right for your business, you should probably consult a CPA and an attorney.

The four structures are:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Corporation
  • Limited Liability Company

Which structure is best for your business depends upon whether you have personal assets that will need to be protected from liability and how business profits will be shared. Even if you think that you are broke, you may need to protect any equity you have in your home especially if you are working out of your garage or spare bedroom.

Today, many entrepreneurs choose to use online legal services such as Rocket Lawyer and LegalZoom because legal fees have become prohibitively expensive. These services offer subscription services for the legal advice entrepreneurs need in making business decisions.

4. Get Licensed

Every day, states create more and more licensing requirements for small businesses in an attempt to fill the holes in their budgets. If your state of residence requires licensing for your business and you skip this step, you could potentially face large fines.

Licensing requirements for small businesses exist not only at the state level, but also at the county and municipal levels. It can be a confusing mess. If you wish to figure out the licensing requirements of your location on your own, call your friendly chamber of commerce and ask for a little bit of guidance. They should be happy to point you in the right direction.

If you wish to expedite your licensing process and you have a little money to spend, the above mentioned online legal services usually offer packages which include all of the research necessary to determine the licenses you may need.

5. Figure Out Your Marketing

Offering a fabulous product or service isn’t enough. It’s really just the beginning. Sitting in your new home office and waiting for the phone to ring is a painful and pointless. You simply must get the word out about your new venture but unless you are Elon Musk, money is likely to be tight.

Once your business is actually bring in some revenue, you can consider spending money on whatever advertising seems most likely to succeed to you.  Until then, you have your mouth, your personality, and your business card.  Famous entrepreneur Mary Kay Ash called this the three-foot rule. In other words, anyone within three feet of you is a potential customer for your business and you should try to introduce yourself to them, smile, and talk about your business.

If you are introverted, engaging every stranger you encounter in a friendly chat about your new business and trying to give them a business card may fill you with fear. It’s understandable. Still, it is the cheapest and most effective way to get the word out about your new business when funds are limited. Many entrepreneurs find that Vistaprint has excellent deals on business cards.

In conclusion, the United States is still a land of tremendous opportunity. In a nutshell, begin your small business and never give up! If you refuse to quit, you will always succeed in the end.

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