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What is the first step in starting your own business?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I am thinking about starting my own business with a friend of mine. But, where do you start?

What if we decided to do online sales? A website store.

First, we need to decide what we want to do. We have 2 ideas. One which is my passion (and I think a market that is going to soar in the next few years), the other--something we are very experienced in, but is a competitive market, CATERING.

ANY suggestions, advice, warnings, etc will be so appreciated!
post #2 of 10
A business plan is so very important. you may be looking at getting investors, in which case they will want to see a well written business plan. They take months to write and research. You have so many different issues to address in them its crazy, but it is your ultimate ticket to monies to start the business. Also you need a liscence. I think getting your LLC at least down here in florida takes 75 dollars. I am in the process of starting my own business as well. You will have many sleepless nights researching market standards and growth rates. But in the end like I said the business plan is your ticket in.

This is a good site with alot of info! Good luck in your endeavours! Anything can be successful if you put your mind to it!

http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplan...lan/index.html
post #3 of 10
I think the way you go about it is completely dependent on if this is your sole source of income or a "hobby" or supplemental type of income. If this is your sole source, then a bit more planning is needed before you start making an investment in it. Just propping up a website doesn't guarantee that anyone will find it and order from it. Test selling your product in appropriate markets, and if you think it will take off, then build the website and start marketing it through as many means as you can.

If you want to direct your business to the website, realize that it won't pop up with a "google search" unless you have links to your site from a lot of sources. Google uses an algorithm based on how many places your website appears, so the more links, the more likely your web site will pop up to the top. If someone can't find your site, you don't get traffic to it and you won't get sales.
post #4 of 10
I really admire you for wanting to own your own business! It's a venture that takes real courage. Here are a few thoughts to consider, based on 18 years working with franchisees of the company I helped build:

1. When you own your own business, the actual work of the business is only the beginning -- you also have to manage the whole operation, from taxes to accounts receivable to human resources to liability insurance and on and on and on. Be sure you or your partner are willing and able to deal with all these vital issues, or that you can afford to hire (and know enough to manage) someone competent and trustworthy to handle them for you.

2. With most startups, you need to be prepared to take not a penny out of the business for at least a full year. That means you need to have your living expenses and operating expenses for that year covered by a loan, savings, or reliable income. If you don't have that kind of funding available, choose a business whose upfront investment you can handle -- because getting in over your head financially is the quickest way to fail. You can do everything else right, but if the money isn't there, the doors close.

3. If there's a good business management course offered near you, take it before you begin. It could be invaluable in helping you create the kind of thorough and realistic business plan that can prevent disaster.

4. Before you commit funds to a new business, do all the research you can think of -- seek out other businesses similar to it in the area and learn all you can about them. Look into all the suppliers you'll need to count on and know their rates and their capabilities. Study the demographics of the area you'll serve, select the zip codes you'll market to, and find out what a good current mailing list for those zip codes will cost you. If you'll be renting space, seek out potential locations and find out what the terms are, what build-out (including data lines and any special venting or drainage requirements) will cost, and what restrictions may exist on your permanent and temporary signage. Study all the various media by which you may want to market your business and know what demographic each one reaches, and for how much per impression. In short, try to anticipate every cost, problem, and opportunity you'll face. (This will all be part of your business plan.)

And the big one:

5. Choose work that you enjoy -- but bear in mind that in most businesses, you will soon have to give up nearly all of that work to employees. As the owner, you will need to be out networking, building and maintaining client relationships, and raising positive awareness of your business throughout your community. You'll need to become an ambassador for your business -- so if you were a caterer, for example, you would need to spend a lot more time making presentations to corporate event planners than making creme brulee.

If you aren't comfortable doing that, then your partner needs to be -- because if one of you can't fill that role, your chances of success are greatly diminished. And it's extremely rare to find an employee who can even begin to represent your business for you -- it's never the same level of commitment on the employee's part, and it doesn't have the same effect on the people you're marketing to. They want to see your face and know that you personally stand behind every job you do for them.

So at least one of the owners has to be out in the community, building the customer base and the public image. This is the single most important thing to know about small-business entrepreneurship.


I emphasize this because not doing it was the root cause of very nearly every store failure I saw in all my years of working with over 400 locally-owned stores around the world.

Of course, these issues will vary with the kind of business you go into -- but most of them will apply to one degree or another in any venture.

One last thing (because this is one of my specialties): Don't scrimp on your business's ID materials -- logo, tagline, business cards, signage, vehicle graphics, brochures, mailers, print and broadcast ads, jingles, everything. Be certain your business name and tagline are memorable and clearly define what you do. Be certain your logo carries not the slightest whiff of amateurism, or people will assume your work is amateurish, too. And make sure every piece of advertising you use reflects the level of quality you want your customers to expect from your business.

Sheesh, I'm longwinded! Okay, I'm shutting up now.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
That is exactly the type of advice I was looking for. Thank you so very much! That is very helpful.
post #6 of 10
good luck!! i got my broker's license (as opposed to the regular salesman license) in real estate so i would have the option of going independent or even better, maybe some day starting my own firm but i'm a chicken lol... things are going really well where i am and i'm at one of the top firms and i'm afraid my clients might lose confidence if i were to leave that firm. it becomes an issue of, how much of my reputation is based on ME, not the company name? also, being with an established firm brings on tons of built-in business since i can pick up clients every time i'm on phone duty. it's a huge risk to leave a good situation for the unknown. i admire anyone who can do it and be successful at it. i'm sure you know the statistics... 90% of all small business owners close shop within the first 3 years. staggering.

please let us know how it goes. although the catering business is a highly competitive field, if you have a certain niche that appeals to people that no one else has, that can be your key to success. i live in houston where there are TONS of caterers and they all pretty much do the same thing. if i go to one more party where they serve chicken satay i'm going to barf! lol... it would be so nice to find one who has a unique specialty... something outside of the box but i guess no one wants to take a risk... personally, i'd rather have southern comfort food that you don't really see at most chi-chi cocktail parties rather than the same boring, trendy stuff that looks the same at every party and to me, doesn't even taste that great! who cares if it's cute if it's not good? lol

sorry, caffeine buzz got me going. hehe

anyway good luck!
post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoRachelHere View Post
A business plan is so very important. you may be looking at getting investors, in which case they will want to see a well written business plan. They take months to write and research. You have so many different issues to address in them its crazy, but it is your ultimate ticket to monies to start the business. Also you need a liscence. I think getting your LLC at least down here in florida takes 75 dollars. I am in the process of starting my own business as well. You will have many sleepless nights researching market standards and growth rates. But in the end like I said the business plan is your ticket in.

This is a good site with alot of info! Good luck in your endeavours! Anything can be successful if you put your mind to it!

http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplan...lan/index.html

Business plan is the very first thing
post #8 of 10
Ask your bank if they have any information, I used to work for HSBC and they had lots of information for people thinking of starting a business, they had these cool fact sheets that were written relevant to each business.
post #9 of 10
You could see if there is a local chapter of SCORE nearby-or go to their website.

Our local tech schools have classes to take on starting your own business.

A couple of books I bght for info----The small business start up kit and Steps to a Small Business Start-up.

The legal structure is important-right now I'm a sole proprietor (a DBA)it has some tax advantages for me I but there are also liability issues that could be a disadvantage.
If you have a partner you probably want an LLC-Legal Zoom's website provides you with instructions on creating your own LLC (my husband did this with 2 of his brothers on our farm property.
post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by GailC View Post
You could see if there is a local chapter of SCORE nearby-or go to their website.
Did not think of them! They are excellent. I went to one of their seminars before starting our business. ALOT of useful information!
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