Launching your first business may be one of your life’s greatest adventures. It’s exciting to take your dream from the initial spark to hopefully becoming a recognized leader in your industry. The process can be rewarding, but the path to success isn’t easy. It takes hard work, and you won’t always get everything right, though you will learn a lot. Your passion for your product or service will carry you a long way, though to be successful, you’ll need more. You’ll have to conduct research, comply with regulations, and perform record keeping. Those things are rarely seen as exciting but necessary. Below are eight critical tasks for a successful launch.
Spend time clarifying your idea. Whether you are offering a service or a product, start by investigating the industry. Determine how much of a need or opportunity there is for your idea. Learn everything you can about the competition and identify areas where your product is unique or superior. Pinpoint your potential customers. The more research you do at this stage, the better your chances for success.
2. Decide on a Name
You probably already have a good idea for your business name. Do an online search and check with your state to see if the name is available, and complete the registration form. Don’t neglect this task. You don’t want to spend time and money marketing a name that belongs to another business.
3. Generate Interest
After you’ve secured your business name and before making your first sale, start building your brand and attracting followers. Create a website and establish social media accounts. Provide interesting interactions with potential customers and begin gathering email addresses for future marketing campaigns. Time is money, and you will be busy. Investigate Customer Relations Management (CRM) software. CRM for small business can be a great and cost-effective solution to managing your customer interactions.
4. Create a Business Plan
A good business plan will help you further define your business and keep you focused. There are plenty of online resources and government entities that provide instructions and templates. Your plan will need to contain the details about your product or service, income forecasts, and expenses for both startup and ongoing costs. If required, the document can be used to obtain financing or convince others to invest in your business. Be well-researched and accurate as possible.
5. Obtain Financing
Using the information in your business plan, project your expenses at least six months out. If possible, in addition to startup costs, have enough cash on hand to cover three to six months of expenses. Consider personal savings, loans, grants, and investors. Lack of operating funds is a common reason for business failure.
6. Select a Legal Structure
Each business is unique, and depending on your circumstances, your business will be registered as a Sole Proprietorship, a Partnership, a Corporation, or a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). Review the requirements and benefits of each type before making a decision. Choose wisely. The choice you make will affect your taxes and reporting requirements.
7. Get Federal and State Tax IDs
Go to the IRS website to obtain a federal tax ID. You will need it to pay federal taxes and hire employees. Depending on your state, you may or may not need a state ID. Visit your state’s site to see if a state ID is required.
8. Develop an Ongoing Marketing Campaign
Celebrate your opening by announcing it on social media and your website. Contact potential customers through an email campaign. Think of creative ways to engage your followers on an ongoing basis. Consider contests or grand opening discounts. Constant contact is how you build brand loyalty.
If you perform the tasks above, you will have launched your first business. Depending on your industry, there may be additional requirements such as licensing, permits or insurance. Seek advice when needed.
The launch is only the beginning. Stay flexible and make necessary changes as you grow. Most of all, remember why you started the journey and enjoy the adventure.