So you’ve decided to start a small business. Fantastic! You have a great idea, maybe even a great name already picked out. But what comes next? What are the things you need to do to get off the ground?
The process can vary greatly depending on the type of business, but there are a few steps you should take no matter what you plan on doing. These five steps will help you get up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Write a Business Plan
You might think you have everything figured out, but until you have it down on paper in a business plan, it’s all just an idea. Writing a business plan will help you develop a solid timeline, make good decisions in the future, and keep you motivated to stay on track. The importance of a good plan can’t be overstated.
The US Small Business Administration has a great tool for creating a business plan at sba.gov/tools/business-plan/1. You’ll need to create a free account to get started.
It’s important to make sure that you’re registered as a business to avoid any potential legal or financial troubles in the future. The process isn’t too difficult, but it’s best to follow the guidelines posted on gov.uk to make sure that you don’t miss any steps.
Head to gov.uk/set-up-business/overview to get the information you need on registering, VAT, employing other people, and the other information you need to get legally set up.
Establish a Web Presence
It might seem too early to get a website and some social media accounts set up, but they’re absolutely essential tools in today’s marketplace. If you aren’t online, how can you expect anyone to find you? There are plenty of places you can get cheap hosting for your website; check out HostGator, GoDaddy, Bluehost, and 1&1 Hosting.
A Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook account can also be very useful; we’ve discussed the benefits of social media for small businesses before, and they’re significant. You can get in touch with customers, do market research, offer discounts and coupons, and do all sorts of other things that will put you ahead of competitors who aren’t using social media to their advantage.
Prepare Your Product or Service
This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s really important, and it’s possible to overlook it. Make sure that whatever product or service you’re selling is ready to go. If you put up a website and get an order, and you can’t send out the product immediately, your customer isn’t going to be very happy!
You don’t need a warehouse full of stuff, but make sure that you’re able to meet at least the basic expectations of your first few customers. Starting a business unprepared isn’t a great way to win repeat consumers.
Figure Out How You’ll Get Paid
When you get your first customer, you can bet they aren’t going to be very impressed if you tell them you can only take cash or a cheque. People pay for just about everything with debit or credit cards now, and if you aren’t prepared to take this kind of payment, you’re not going to create a good impression.
By signing up for SmartTrade, you’ll be able to take credit and debit card payments directly from your mobile phone without paying for expensive contracts or a card reader that you can lose or break. It’s an Android or iPhone card reader with no physical card reader. In other words, a no-brainer. There are no startup fees, so you can start taking payments right away. And you don’t even need an expensive business bank account!
So sign up for SmartTrade today, start writing your business plan, get registered, and get to doing what you really want to do: running your business.