The beginner’s guide to starting a business

For many people, owning a business is a lifelong dream.

While starting your own business may be an exciting opportunity for growth, getting your venture off the ground also requires a lot of hard work and planning. This guide can help you get organized and map out your strategy for success.

As you work through the checklist, challenge yourself to answer each question in Phase 1, and then move on to Phases 2 and 3. Once you’re able to successfully answer all questions, you may be ready to take action and get your business up and running. Let’s get started.

Phase 1: Review your goals and identify opportunities

Set expectations
  • What are you hoping to accomplish?
  • Why did you select this particular industry?
  • What professional experience or strengths do you have that may help you succeed in this industry? What are your weaknesses?
  • Do you plan on having a business partner?
Conduct market research
  • What is unique about the good or service that you will offer
  • Who will be your main competitors?
  • Who will be your target customer/client?
Create a value proposition
  • What benefits will your business model provide?
  • How will you differentiate yourself from competitors?
  • What problem are you seeking to solve?

Phase 2: Organize your resources and start planning

Reach out to your network of contacts
  • Have you considered both social and professional connections?
  • Are there skills you will need to learn? Who in your network may be able to help you?
  • Have you gotten feedback on your idea from people who are familiar with the marketplace?
Talk to a financial professional
  • Considering all upfront costs, how much money will you need to get started?
  • How long do you anticipate it will take to acquire paying customers?
  • How many months of profits will you need before you reach a breakeven point?
  • Do you require funds from any outside investors?
  • Have you opened a business bank account?
Sketch out a business plan

Necessary components:

  • Put together an overview of basic information about your company
  • Create a description of your product or service
  • Compile operational details—including number of employees, key suppliers, industry-specific regulations, business hours, etc.
  • Consider the insurance strategies you may want to employ if you will be maintaining a staff, including offering Life Insurance to recruit talent and protect your business. Learn more.
  • Decide on a legal or business structure: Corporation, LLC, or Sole Proprietorship

Phase 3: Execute your strategy

Establish a secure business location
  • Will you need a brick and mortar space, a website, or both?
  • What are the costs associated with getting your new business space up and running?
Solidify your brand
  • What makes you unique?
  • How do you want to be perceived in the marketplace?
Begin marketing
  • Will you utilize emails, blogs, or SEO technology?
  • Will you display your marketing materials in the form of signs, brochures, or banners?
  • Would it make sense to organize an opening day or launch party to gain some publicity?
Set up any needed technology

Necessary steps:

  • Establish a company email network
  • Select a billing and payment system, if needed
  • Make sure you can access your company bank account easily

Make sure you can answer the questions in Phases 1 through 3, and be prepared to take the recommended steps before you invest substantial time, money, and energy into your new business. You should be comfortable with your business plan and day-to-day responsibilities before you open your doors to the public. Remember, it’s only natural to feel nervous as you take this big step! Just remind yourself that you’ve taken the necessary measures to prepare—and don’t forget to enjoy the journey.