Five Steps to start a business
Based on the most recent data available, business start-ups are still slumping since the Great Recession. Start-ups have continued to decline (only 414,000 were formed in 2015, a slight increase from 2014) based the most recent Census Bureau figures. To give some perspective – before the recession, there were 558,000 companies formed in 2006.
The good news? Washington State has seen some of the highest statistical business start-up rates as the economy continues to rebound. If you are looking to test the waters with your business idea, we recommend following these ten steps to ensure that your new business will be one of the 49% of businesses that survive five years or longer!
Step One – Market Research
Starting a business without first doing your research can be like driving from Seattle to Miami without a map or street signs. If you conduct market(ing) research, you will be able to use the results of your research to create a business plan and marketing plan (or measure the likely success of your current plans). You should find out some answers to the following questions:
- Is anyone else doing this idea (or something similar)? If not, are there any good reasons why not? If so, how would your idea be different?
- Who are your potential clients, customers, or vendors?
- How do you market to your potential clients and customers? (How do your customers choose you over a potential competitor?)
Step Two – Write a Business Plan
So – just like it’s not a great idea to drive from Seattle to Miami without a map or signs… you also shouldn’t start your business without a thought-out business plan. A business plan is a living breathing document – as such, we recommend taking a look at these service providers that provide a step-by-step approach and will help you create a business plan that you can track as you grow:
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” – Benjamin Franklin
Step Three – Get Opinions
Feedback, in any form, helps us formulate a plan to cultivate the success we are chasing. In that regard, you should formulate a strategy that allows people to interact with you, your company, and your product or service.
Unbiased feedback will help you focus on areas to improve as well as growth areas. Check out the video below for some tips on how to get feedback.
HANDLING FEEDBACK REMINDER:
- Lead with your appreciation. Saying ‘thank you’ will establish that you and your company are grateful for any feedback – even the negative feedback and that you view it as an opportunity to grow.
- Find the truth behind the feedback. Not all feedback is going to be effective, or even true. With that, we recommend finding the truth behind the communication and ignoring any comments or requests that fall outside of your established strategies or products.
- Look for the patterns. Are you receiving a ton of positive feedback about a specific concept, service or product? Chances are your strategies are likely working well in that area. Finding patterns in your feedback (both positive and negative) will help guide your focus.
- Ask questions. Engaging your audience by asking questions will help you learn specifically what someone did or did not like and how you can improve.
Step Four – Get in the Game!
- You will need to choose a business structure. (Will you be a corporation, limited liability company, partnership, or another type of legal structure?)
- You will need to choose a name for your business/brand.
- You will need to register your business (including obtaining state and federal identification numbers as well as any permits and/or licensing necessary to conduct your specific type of business.
- You will also want to ensure that your new business idea and brand are protected. Adequate insurance protection is a given, but you will also want contracts/agreements between you and any other business partners, your customers and any other vendors. You may also want to look into costs associated with Trademarking, copyrighting or perhaps even obtaining patents to ensure you are protecting your business from competitors.
Evergreen Law Office proudly provides many of these services for a flat fee because we believe that epic business counsel shouldn’t hinder good business practices but foster their growth.
Step Five – Grow
Growth is equal parts have a plan to market your new business and retaining the business you work so hard to obtain. Focus on using the many tools available to effectively grow your market presence through organic, influencer or paid social media campaigns.
Continued growth will depend on your efforts to continually invest in superior customer service, hiring great team members, creating a superior product or providing superior services, and then continue to learn as you grow.