How to start your business and hit the ground running

Dreaming of starting your own business? Find out how you can hit the ground running – and give it the best chance of success.

It’s not unusual to dream of being an entrepreneur. According to the Small Business Administration, there are around 28 million small businesses in the United States – making up a staggering 99.7% of all businesses in the country.

There are many reasons for starting a business. You might have a unique business idea that you are sure will lead to success. Maybe you would prefer financial independence, or you want a flexible career that can grow and change as you do.

What’s more, the fact that you don’t need a college degree or too much capital to hit the ground running helps with this. All you really need is a strong business plan for effective project execution and some thorough preparation.

This is important because out of those 99.7%, only two-thirds survive the first two years. These numbers drop as the time goes on – with only half of them making it through the first five. So, what steps do you need to take in order for you to start a business that is going to thrive?

Market research is an essential first step

You might have heard that you need a good idea to start a business, but that’s not always the case. You might think you have a brilliant business idea that flops in the market because it is not sustainable enough. And sometimes, not so brilliant ideas can evolve to become big financial successes.

So what makes the difference?

Well, in simple terms, it all has to do with market research. This is how you discover just how good of an idea you have. The basic question to ask is if anyone else is doing what you are doing right now – and why is it so.

On one hand, your idea might be original and primed for success. On the other, hundreds may have tried the same and failed spectacularly. It is up to you to discover this – through market research.

Conducting market research is not hard – all you are doing is gathering information about both customers and your future competition. You can do it through simple online research, but it’s important you don’t stop there – it’s a cardinal mistake to make.

Instead, go face-to-face and conduct interviews – or use your phone. Ask around about your idea. Remember, it needs to solve a problem or fulfill a need. See if there is such a need, who you can target, and who else is doing it. This will give you a clearer picture of how you will fit in the market.

The next step is creating a good business plan

Making a plan might seem like an obvious next step – but one that many do not take seriously. In order to hit the ground running when starting a business, you need to have a blueprint of it.

Having a clear idea of how you will shape your startup and move it forward is just as essential as knowing who you will work with. Make sure you define what you stand for from the start. Then, move on to actually typing out one of the two types of business plans.

If you want to reach investors, then you need to create a traditional business plan. This can be a lengthy document – about 20 to 30 pages – where you outline everything. Make sure you explore this option more thoroughly if you want banks or shareholders to help you with starting a business.

If this is not the case, you can be a bit more flexible. In these cases, even a one page plan can work. All you need is to write down what you want to achieve – and the ways in which you will do it.

Type it in a software that you can access and change regularly – and you’ll want to do at least once per week. This flexibility will help you change as the business world changes around you.

Don’t forget to plan your finances

After you have a plan, it’s time to deal with finances. These are the lifeline of your business. Without capital, you will not be able to run any operation. Unfortunately, you will not turn profit as soon as you start your business. Instead, it might take some time, so early investment is necessary.

Create a document that will outline all the starting costs you can think of. These include legal fees, insurance policies, licenses, branding, and trademark – anything you can imagine.

Then, you should also add any costs you can foresee in the next 12 months. Things like rent, utilities, and salaries (including yours – don’t forget it!), marketing and supplies go here.

Once you add these two numbers you have your initial investment that needs to be covered. Only then can you search for financial opportunities – which we encourage you to research further.

You need to file the required paperwork

Finally, in order to start your business, you need to file some paperwork. First, choose your business structure. There is a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or you can form an LLC (a limited liability company) or a corporation.

This decision factors into everything you do next, from the name you pick to how you deal with taxes. But don’t worry, you can change it as you grow!

Afterward, pick a name and make sure you trademark it. Then, according to your business type, trademark it for yourself. A sole proprietor needs to go to their state or county clerk, while other types do so with the formation paperwork. The same applies to various licenses and permits – so make sure you research these as well.

Once you are done with the paperwork, you have officially started your business. Now, it’s time to assemble a good team, define your project management workflow, and you are ready to hit the ground running!

Petar Djordjevic is a content writer at Nifty, a leading project management tool. A math student, he’s working to become a professional novel writer.

Photo by Christina