How to Start a Business: The First 6 Steps
So, you’ve decided to start your own business, but you aren’t quite sure where to start. I totally understand because I was once in the same boat! Luckily, after months of research and opening my own brand, I learned the 5 most important steps you must take in order to open a small business. So, let’s get started!
1. Decide What Your Business Will Be
Obviously, this is going to be step one because without an idea, you don’t have a business. There are so many different types of businesses you can open that it can become overwhelming. Your business should be something you're passionate about. Hopefully, you’ll be doing it for the rest of your life, so you’re going to want to love it.
You also want something that will actually be profitable. It can be easy to follow your dreams and forget that you have to turn your passion into a profitable business. So, make sure to identify how exactly you’ll be making money and pay your bills. Once you’ve got an idea of the business, and you know how you’re going to turn a profit, move on to step two!
2. Come Up with a Name and Logo
Next, you’re going to want a name that suits your business. Remember, this doesn’t have to be a super-cute name that immediately tells customers exactly what your brand does. That’s what branding is for. Some of the world’s most successful companies have names that don’t even hint at what they do or make.
Apple? They focus on technology. Lululemon? They make activewear! See where I’m going with this? You just want to make sure your name is memorable, fits with your brand’s identity, and you have to love it!
You’ll also want to translate this name into a logo. You can do this quickly and easily for FREE on Canva. Canva is an easy-to-use drag and drop graphic design service that allows anyone to make beautiful logos, marketing materials, and more!
Here’s the thing about step two: get it done and move on. Don’t get caught up in it. So many new business owners are worried about having the perfect business name and logo that they don’t actually focus on building the business. Names and logos can change, but every day that you aren’t making moves toward building your brand is time you can’t get back.
3. Apply for Your Trademark and Business License
This step is vital; don’t skip it! You need to apply for your trademark and business license as soon as you have a concept, logo, and a name for your business. You can apply for a business license through your state’s secretary of state website.
Getting your business license can be kind of confusing, so be sure to either take your time with it or hire a professional to set it up on your behalf. Web-based services such as LegalZoom can also complete this process for you for a minimal fee.
Applying for a trademark is also something you should never do alone! (Unless you have a legal background.) Obtaining your trademark and can be a long and complicated process that is simply best left to the professionals. For under $1,000, you can have a trademark lawyer, apply for your trademark, dispute any claims, and pay for your actual trademark.
It might seem like a lot of money to those on a budget, trust me, I’ve been there. However, if you find another company trying to argue that your name or logo is too similar to theirs, that legal battle is a hard one to fight if you don’t know your stuff. Leaving it to the professionals will better ensure you get your trademark promptly and without any future complications.
4. Open a Business Bank Account
Criss-crossing your personal finances and your business finances is NEVER a good idea. Accidentally paying for product with your rent money isn’t a good position to be in. That’s why every startup needs to open a business bank account—immediately.
Luckily, opening a business account is easy to do online or at your local bank. Having this account will help you better separate your income and expenses. It will also help you track your budget more effectively which is essential for a startup’s success.
5. Get Online
Lastly, you have to get online. No business exists if it isn’t online these days. You may not have a lot of capital to invest in the beginning, but you will have time. Build yourself a website and launch social media pages so you start your online footprint early. This will help you tell the world who you are and what you do while giving them the opportunity to engage with you.
Next, take some time to develop a marketing plan. What platforms are your competitors using? What strategies will increase your brand’s reach most quickly? Who can you network with online to help you uplevel this brand?
There’s a lot of power in digital marketing if you take some time and discover how best to use it.
6. Don’t Overthink It
Starting a business can seem like a daunting process. There are thousands of great business ideas that never get put into action simply because people are scared to start or don’t know where to start. However, the key is to just go ahead and start!
Keep taking small steps because they add up quickly. You’ll be up and running before you know
Meet the Author: Holly Hickman
Holly Hickman is a Kennesaw State University graduate who has worked with a myriad of clients in e-commerce, Saas, hospitality, non-profits, and more to grow their companies with smart digital marketing strategy. She specializes in content marketing and has a keen eye for language and messaging while focusing heavily on SEO.
Holly is also passionate about health and fitness spending her time outside the office as a full-time bikini competitor and competitive powerlifter. She is also the Founder and CEO of HollyLolly, an athletic apparel company helping women feel bad-ass and confident in the gym whether they’ve been an athlete all their life or are just beginning their fitness journey. You can connect with her on Instagram @holly_hickman.