Starting a business can be an incredibly stressful, but gratifying, process. As someone who has been a self-employed business owner for almost four years, I can tell you that it’s not an easy path. However, there is joy and a feeling of accomplishment once your business takes off.
Like any big goal in life, it’s important to plan when starting a business. In fact, there are several steps women can take before they start a business to ensure it’s successful.
Decide What Your Purpose Is
Even before you decide on a name for your business, decide what the purpose of your business will be. Why do you want to start a business to begin with? Do you want to help people by offering a service? Do you want to make someone’s life better with your product?
By the way, it’s OK to start a business solely to earn more money, too. Just know that businesses are usually the most successful when there’s motivation to improve your community and your world in addition to a desire to make a better income for your own family.
Once you know your purpose, your “why,” then you can move on to the next step, which is deciding on your business name.
Choose a Business Name
Your business name is important, but it’s surprising how many business owners get it wrong. You want a name that is easy to remember. It’s also important to have a business name with an available URL (you can brainstorm and see what’s available on a site like Panabee).
Try not to change the spelling of common words or overcomplicate things. Puns might be funny to a select few, but not everyone gets them. Really, a straightforward business name that describes what you offer is the best route.
Keep in mind that you might have to think of a few different business names before deciding on the one you really love.
Get a Business License
There are different types of business structures, from a sole proprietorship to an LLC to an S Corp. Each one of these has different advantages and disadvantages.
The best person to consult about which business structure is right for you is your accountant. A good accountant with experience in business taxes can help you decide which would be the most advantageous for you from a cost and tax perspective.
Also, do research with the Small Business Administration or ask your accountant what permits or licenses you need to start your business in your local area. This applies whether you’re opening a brick-and-mortar store or launching an e-commerce business.
Open a Business Checking Account
Once you’ve decided on the company name you want to use, you can submit paperwork to “do business as” this name, also known as a DBA. Once you have your DBA paperwork complete, you can then use your business name to open a business checking account, write checks and more.
Having separate business and personal checking accounts will make tax time much easier, and it will help you stay organized. You can always set up an automatic monthly transfer from your business account to your personal account to make it “feel” like you have a paycheck.
Also, while you’re thinking about money, make sure you know how much it costs to fund your small business. Some businesses, like many online businesses, have very low startup costs. Others, like restaurants and stores, have high startup costs.
If you know you need assistance funding your small business in the beginning, see the next step below.
Create a Business/Marketing Plan
I’ll admit that I didn’t have a formal business plan when I became self-employed. Rather, my business grew organically over time into what it is now. My side hustle turned into my full-time hustle.
Still, if you are planning a business from scratch, it might be helpful to go through the process of creating a business plan. Included in that business plan should be information about your services, your competitors, your plans for marketing and your projections for the future. If you need startup funding for a business, your business plan will give potential investors or lenders a comprehensive view of your plans for your business’ success.
Also, plan how others will find out about your business. Will you have a party to announce your business? Will you be relying solely on social media marketing to get the word out? How will people find out about the services you provide? Remember, your marketing strategy can change and grow over time, but it’s important to have an idea of how you want to get the word out before opening your doors.
Ultimately, thinking about of all of these steps ahead of time (rather than figuring it out along the way like I did) can go a long way in helping you feel prepared to start your business. Remember, nothing is set in stone. (You can even change your business name later if you want!) However, each step will get you organized and put you on the path to business success.
Have you ever started a business? Are there any steps I left out that women who want to start businesses might find useful?
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