Steps & Preplanning for Those Who Want to Start a Small Business

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    Identify Your Niche

    • The term "niche" simply means where a small entity fits in to a larger population. Starting a successful small business goes beyond a great idea. It also means understanding who your competition is, what makes you different from your competitors and who your target customers are. Before you sit down to write a business plan, you need to know how and where your business fits into the marketplace.

    Writing a Business Plan

    • No matter how small your small business is, drafting a business plan is an essential step in the startup process. A business plan is an organized and detailed outline of how you plan to launch your business and make it successful. A typical business plan includes a description of the business's structure and organization, a list of primary goals and objectives, information about the product or service being offered, information about the sales and marketing plan, requests for funding and projected profit and loss. As your business grows and changes, your business plan should also continue to evolve. The Small Business Administration offers small business owners a number of tips and tools to help draft a successful business plan.

    Financial Planning

    • Once you've drafted a business plan, you'll need to determine how you're going to finance your new venture. The amount of capital you'll need ultimately depends on the type of business you're starting. For example, you may need money to pay for licenses, permits, leases or rent, utilities, inventory, supplies, equipment, furniture, insurance and advertising. Unless you have cash on hand, you're going to need to research your options for financing your business. The most common option is to take out a small business loan through a bank or the federal government. Some states also offer grant funding to help launch small businesses. You may also consider approaching private investors to provide initial funding.

    Getting Established

    • If you've obtained funding, you can begin to establish your small business. The first step is to secure a location, either by leasing or buying a space. You will need to check the zoning requirements in your area to determine whether you can open your business in the desired location. Once your business has a physical home, you will need to obtain the appropriate business licenses and permits required by your state. You will also need to register for federal and state tax identification numbers, workers' compensation and unemployment insurance. Once you're legally able to do business, you can begin marketing your product or service to your target audience.

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