So, you want to start a business in Vermont. Congratulations! However, while creating a new business can be exciting, there are many hurdles to overcome on the road to success. That said, if you know what to expect and plan accordingly, you should be able to get your enterprise off the ground pretty easily.
Fortunately, we've compiled a list of the six things you'll want to get your Vermont business started. Follow these steps, and you'll be making money in no time!
Step One: Come Up With a Business Idea
If you want to start a business, you need to know what you'll sell first. Chances are that you've thought about this already, but now is the time to refine your idea. Here are some factors to consider when developing your new company:
- Competition - No matter your idea, there are other businesses already doing it. You should research those other companies to see what they have to offer, as well as what they're doing right and wrong. Knowing these details ensures that you can adapt to the industry and appeal to customers who might be used to your competitors.
- Location - As the saying goes, only three things matter when starting a business: "location, location, location." If you're going to sell online, the physical space doesn't matter as much. However, if you'll have a storefront, you have to pay attention to things like foot traffic, parking, and nearby businesses.
- Demand - If no one wants to buy your products or services, you're doomed to fail. Do some research to see if your industry is growing or shrinking. From there, you can see whether demand for your business type is thriving or not. If not, you might have to choose something (or somewhere) else.
Step Two: Name Your Business
Once you've verified that your business idea is poised for success, you have to come up with a name. This step might seem pretty straightforward, but your company name matters a lot. Here are some points to think about before finalizing the name:
- Official Name vs. DBA - A DBA is "doing business as," and it allows you to have some flexibility when naming your business. For example, your official name might be something generic like "John Smith Products, Inc." but your DBA might be more specific, like "Fun Zone Athletics." If you need to file paperwork with a business name right away, you can add a DBA later.
- Descriptive vs. Vague - One thing you have to consider is the long-term success of your business. If your name is too specific, it'll be harder to branch out into other products or offerings. For example, if you're "The Casino Company," what happens if you want to start offering DJs and sound equipment? People might get confused. On the other hand, the name shouldn't be too generic. It should provide some detail without getting too granular.
- Make it Memorable - You want a name that people will be able to recall quickly and easily. So, a name like "Peterson Consultants & Manufacturing Processes" is harder to remember than "PCM." If you can make your business name catchy, it can serve as free advertising later on.
Step Three: Develop Marketing Materials
At first, it might seem counterintuitive to develop marketing materials before finalizing your business paperwork. However, this step is more critical because it allows you to build buzz and test demand before investing too much time, energy, and money. Business licenses and documentation can cost a lot (depending on the industry), so you want to make sure that you're poised for success first. That said, you don't want to go overboard on the marketing materials either. Here are some examples of what you should have right away:
- Logo - Without a logo, it'll be next to impossible to promote your business.
- Business Cards - As you meet new clients and vendors, having a business card ensures that they remember who you are.
- Social Media Accounts - Set these up first and start putting your name and logo out there. See what people start saying about your business.
- Printed Materials (e.g., flyers and banners) - If you want high-quality printed materials, or window and floor graphics, a high-quality printshop and sign manufacturer like Worksafe TCI has you covered.
Step Four: Get Licenses and Permits
Now that you know that people are interested in your business, you can pull the trigger on permits and licenses. As a rule, you'll need the following elements:
- Entity Type - Will your business be a corporation, an LLC, or a partnership? Each option has pros and cons, so you should determine which will work best for both immediate and long-term benefits. Generally, a corporation is the best entity, but it can be expensive to start.
- Business License - You need to get licensed in both Vermont and your local county.
- Seller's License - If you want to sell products, you need this license.
- Tax Number (EIN) - You'll need this if you're going to hire employees. A tax number is also necessary for accounting purposes.
Step Five: Get Funding
Now that you have all of your ducks in a row, you'll likely have to get a business loan. Here is another reason to develop marketing materials first. It's much easier to get investors or a bank on board with your idea if they can see your logo and other materials right away. If you tried to get funding without these elements, you might get denied.
To obtain funding, you should have an official business model, complete with market research and a breakdown of your company's internal structure. A business model shows that you know what you're doing, and it gives confidence to lenders.
Step Six: Get a Location
Finally, once you have secured a loan, you can sign a new warehouse or storefront lease. Again, pay attention to different variables in the area, such as demographics, other businesses, and parking. Also, keep in mind that you might not get your dream location right away. Instead, you might have to settle for something less appealing, but remember that you can move out as your business grows and thrives.
Overall, you want to find a place that won't exceed your funding. Since you won't make a profit right away, you don't want to set yourself up for failure with an expensive lease agreement.