Planning a Business: A Startup Guide for Entrepreneurs

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No matter what industry you’re currently working in, starting your own business probably sounds like a lifelong dream. The possibility of growth and success is just so enticing, especially seeing as how some of the biggest companies of our time started out as small startups. However, when it’s finally time to take action, starting a business does require careful planning, along with a good understanding of a range of topics such as financing, HR, legalities, brand building and more.

If you feel ready to open up a new chapter in your professional life, but don’t know just where to start, here are some basic points that might be beneficial to your planning process.

Name and Website
If you’re at the planning stage of your startup, you’ve likely already gone through the steps of evaluating your skills, goals and aspirations. All it takes to make it big could be one brilliant idea, but it really matters how you build it, and how much effort you put into developing it. For starters, come up with a great name for your product or service—it should be unique, catchy and to-the-point—and make sure you make it your own by taking all the necessary steps of intellectual property protection, like patents, copyrights and trademarks.

When you’ve made it all official, it’s time to take it online; invest in a strong website, as that’s where your brand will truly shine. You can start out by doing some market research and checking competitors’ websites, deciding on a unique design and preparing some great content. Make sure your website is optimized for search engines and mobile devices, and definitely keep it user-friendly.

Business Plan and Pitch
Creating a written description of the evolvement of your business from start to finish is always a good idea. Your business plan should be relatively brief, and it should contain information on your marketing strategies, competitive analyses, management plan and financial factors. The business plan will also come in handy when you’re preparing your pitch—an essential element of your startup which will introduce your business to prospective investors, partners and customers.

Granted, one thing to keep in mind while writing down your plan is that it’s just a guideline rather than a strict set of rules, and it will keep changing and evolving as your business grows. So don’t set everything aside and dwell on it—taking real action is usually more important than planning things on paper.

Finances
One of the most frustrating aspects of building a business is, without question, the means of funding it. First of all, you should form your startup as a corporation or LLC—this way, your personal assets won’t be at risk for the liabilities of your business.

Then, you can look into different ways of getting the resources you’ll be needing. Of course, you can always try to fund your startup yourself, receive help from friends and family, or even start a crowdfunding campaign to get a head start. But when this is not an option, you can consider applying for a line of credit to have one reliable source of finance for years to come, instead of harming your credit score with multiple applications for loans.

Once your startup is up and running, you can do yourself a favor by setting up a good accounting system to keep track of your finances. By then, you’ll likely be swamped with tasks regarding pitching, marketing, team building and business development strategies—so spare yourself the trouble of bookkeeping; you can hire professional accountants, or use some online software that can help you understand your cash flow while also facilitating the tax-filing process in the future.

Good Luck!
Starting up a successful business definitely has numerous aspects that one can easily overlook in the beginning. Even after the initial planning is complete, more and more factors come into play as you grow and develop your startup, so it’s important to always stay informed and up to date. Aside from being an effective leader and a visionary entrepreneur, you’ll have to keep building your skills as a sales person, a decision-maker, and a good listener. At the end of the day, being a business owner is a never-ending process of growth, but with the right attitude and some wise strategies, success can be closer than you think.

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