As 2010 comes to a close and people prepare for a new year, New Year’s resolutions start to come to mind. Some people want to focus on their diets, others want to spend more time with family, and still others decide to finally make their dreams come true and go into business for themselves. If you are one of those people with a great business idea but nowhere to start, these steps will help you get your business off the ground.
1) Decide what Kind of Business You Want and Do Some Research. Before you do anything else, ask yourself some questions. What are you passionate about? Do you like to work alone or with a team? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Then, take these answers and do some research about your desired field. Keep in mind what you love to do, and what you’re good at. Starting a business takes a lot of time and you will definitely want to be spending that time working on something you enjoy.
2) Create a Long-Term Business Plan. Next, come up with a written business plan that takes in to account the questions you have asked yourself. If you work better with a team, plan for employees or partners. If you aren’t very good with accounting, think about easy ways to keep your financials in order. In your business plan, focus on where you want your business to be in 5 or 10 years, then work backwards to this start-up phase. Your long-term goals might dictate your current plans, and having a path set out for you will save you time and energy down the road.
3) Find Financing. The next step is financing your goals. There are many ways to get the money for your business, including friends and family, personal credit, and loans. Be sure to also look for partners/investors and associations that are looking to invest in people like you! This is also a good time to be thinking about building business credit. Business credit will allow you to take out loans in the name of your business, and these types of loans can have higher amounts and lower interest rates than personal loans.
4) Use an Online Filing Company to Make your Business Official. Creating a legal business entity early on in the start-up process is important to protect your personal assets from liability. Online filing services will create your business for you and save you lots of money in the beginning when it really counts. Lawyers can cost around $200 an hour but online filing services will typically charge less for filing your entire business, a process that could take a lawyer more than 4 hours. Using an online filing service guides you through the filing process and helps ensure you do it right the first time.
5) Protect your Business with Trademarks. After you’ve worked to bring your business idea to life, protecting it becomes important. Companies with similar names or offering similar products can steal customers away or negatively impact your reputation. Registering your business name and product protects against this scenario and allows you to be a unique company, saving you from consumer confusion.
Many New Year’s resolutions never make it to February, but don’t let yours be one of them! Following these easy steps will keep you on track for a successful transition into business owner, and just maybe next year your New Year’s resolution will be to double profits or expand in to new areas!
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