Starting your own business takes courage, determination and learning. Even then, not every small business or startup becomes a success story.
“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
But that’s not how it is meant to be always. Businesses that succeed often have the right vision, planning, funding and flexibility. Here we bring out an easy guide for starting your own business step by step.
Start a business in 10 steps
Most businesses must go through the same series of steps, regardless of the industry.
- Do a thorough research.
- Make a business plan.
- Plan your finances.
- Select your business structure.
- Register your business name.
- Select your domain name.
- Use technology to automate processes.
- Select your business location.
- Hire the right employees.
- Promote your small business.
Complete all of these steps and you’ll be on solid ground to launch a successful startup.
Step 1: Do a thorough research
By the time you ditch your full-time job to embark on your business journey, most likely you will already have a business idea. But does that idea stand the chance to succeed?
Ask yourself: Is your business solving a problem, meeting a need or offering something the market wants?
You can identify this need through market research, competitor analysis and even by trial and error. Before starting your own business, you should be able to identify your target customers, how your products or services are similar or unique to that of your competition and how your business would fit into the market. There is no point in producing a product or service for which there are already more than enough providers.
Step 2: Make a business plan
In order to make your business idea a reality, you must come up with a business plan. This is a blueprint that will guide your business from the startup stage through establishment and eventually business growth.
These days, some people think that smart presentations can displace traditional business plans. But the reality is, every entrepreneur and startup company needs a business plan. The length of a business plan varies from one page to several pages, depending on the nature of the business.
Those seeking financial support from an investor or financial institution generally have a more elaborate business plan. If you are not seeking financial support, a simple one-page business plan can give you clarity about what you hope to achieve and how you can go about it.
Step 3: Plan your finances
Starting your own business does not always require a lot of money if you are starting small. But it involves some initial investment and expenses. You can fund your business in various ways:
- Business loans
- Angel investments
- Simple bootstrapping, in other words, keeping expenses to a minimum
Oftentimes, a combination of options works best to get off the ground.
Using a spreadsheet to manage your finances is the best way to put together your financial records. These include sales forecast, expenses budget, cash flow statements and income projections.
Step 4: Select your business structure
A very important decision when starting your own business is choosing the right legal business structure. Whether your business is a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability company or a corporation will determine other things such as:
- The name of your business
- How you file your taxes
- The amount of paperwork your business must do
- The firm’s ability to raise money
You can later change your business structure depending on the business growth and market needs.
Step 5: Register your business name
Your business name plays a key role in almost every aspect. Hence you need to explore your options well before deciding on your final choice.
Check with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to see if your choice of the company name is available.
The Companies Act of 1956 allows the government to regulate all aspects of a business, from establishment to liquidation.
To register your company or a new business in India, you must complete some official procedures for the same.
- Register online for a DSC (Digital Signature Certificate). This is the digital equivalent of paper certificates that prove your identity.
- Apply online with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs for the DIN (Director Identification Number). This unique number identifies the director of your company.
- After obtaining your DIN and DSC, prepare the company’s incorporation form for filing online with the Registrar of Companies (RoC).
- File eForm 1A online to apply for a company name. The RoC will approve the company name based on availability and appropriateness.
Once the RoC issues your Certificate of Incorporation, you can readily start your own business in India.
Step 6: Select your domain name
Since every small business needs a website, you’ll need a domain name that’s unique to your company. This becomes your business address on the internet.
Register your domain name immediately after you have finalised your business name.
This is a vital step of starting your own business, as a domain name that matches your business name adds credibility to your small business. It also creates a strong, professional image in cyberspace.
Step 7: Use technology to automate processes
A company runs most effectively when it is technologically equipped.
A key example for a small business is an accounting system. It not only helps you create and manage your budget, but also set quotes, file your taxes and so on.
Contact management software is another example. This keeps all data related to each customer in a single place, where employees can use it to resolve customer complaints.
Technologies such as CRM, supply chain, and artificial intelligence (AI) can also streamline some processes.
Step 8: Select your business location
Setting up your place of business should not be an afterthought. In fact, you should begin scouting locations in the early stages, as your budget depends on the business location and office infrastructure you procure.
You may choose to have a home office, a shared or private office space, or buy or lease a commercial space.
Make a list of everything you will need in your new office, from desks and chairs to computer hardware, as well as any tasks like setting up your internet connection.
Step 9: Hire the right employees
Hiring employees means that you are now ready to get down to business. You should outline the positions you intend to fill and make a list of people you know who could fill them.
It is important to have clarity on the new positions, prospective candidates and their job responsibilities when selecting the right candidates.
Small business owners sometimes do not hire employees. They instead outsource work to independent contractors. This can often turn out to be more cost-effective, especially in the early days.
Step 10: Promote your small business
While physical brochures, pamphlets and print ads are desirable to advertise your products/services in a particular geography, for broader reach start promoting your business online. Your options are many and include:
- A business website
- Social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook etc.)
- Business blogs
- Pay-per-click ads
- Email newsletters
Don’t let the multitude of options overwhelm you; choose one or two to start with. Then refine and expand your promotional efforts as you gain experience.
Starting your own business in summary
So, finally, you become an entrepreneur! The right blend of products (or services), people and processes can increase the chances of your success.
Make sure you follow the 10 steps of starting your own business outlined here, then shape it into a dream venture. Good luck!