1. Determine the feasibility of your idea.
Figuring out whether your idea has potential to thrive and understanding the risks associated with launching a product or service is the first step to owning your own business.
- Ask yourself: Would someone buy this product or service?
- Could I make a profit? How will I market this to my customer?
- Utilize local organizations, like the Missouri State University Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC) (sbtdc.missouristate.edu), that conduct feasibility studies to answer these questions.
2. Rally advisers and create a business plan.
Assembling a proper business plan to distinguish your startup from the rest is a detailed and time-consuming process that requires assistance.
- Seek the advice of a business mentor who can guide you through this process, such as the SBTDC or SCORE (score.org).
- Be prepared to discuss your company’s intent and goals, show evidence of market analysis and address plans for future financial growth.
- Hire a certified public accountant and a business attorney to review your document.
3. Decide on a business structure.
There are many choices for how to structure your business. Today, most startups are organized as limited liability companies or subchapter S corporations.
- Ask your accountant and attorney which one is right for you.
4. Name your business.
Your new company’s name instantly establishes brand identity, so choose one that’s creative but still conveys meaning. Here are some general guidelines:
- If your business name doesn’t tell customers what you do, invent a tag line that does.
- Think about how your name will look online and offline.
- Conduct a web search at uspto.gov or godaddy.com to check for possible trademark infringement and domain name availability.
5. Take care of legal paperwork.
Before you can lawfully operate most business types, you must register your business name with the Missouri Secretary of State’s office.
- Consult with your accountant and attorney to determine filing status and tax obligations.
6. Figure out your finances.
Understanding the budgetary needs of your business is crucial to profitability and often dictates the most sensible option for funding.
- Estimate initial operating costs to know how much capital you need to get started.
- Determine what type of funding is best. (For a breakdown of these choices, see page 40.)
- Consider how you’re going to support yourself and your family until your business is generating enough revenue to exceed expenses, including your own salary.
7. Pick your location and hire employees.
If you plan to have a physical storefront, choose a location that will position your company for success.
- Find a place that’s accessible to customers or clients, but keep in mind proximity to competitors and space for expansion.
- Be able to handle the financial responsibility of purchasing or leasing.
- When you’re ready to hire, determine how many employees are appropriate based on your business type.
- Update yourself on employment laws and employee benefits, and outline best practices in a staff handbook.
8. Create hype.
Advertise on social media. Without spending a dime, you can pinpoint target customers, drive traffic to your website and solicit excitement about your company.
- Register your new business with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- Expand to other channels once you master the basics.
9. Open the doors.
You’ve come up with a brilliant idea, run it through the wringer and found investors who believe in you. All that’s left to do is start selling.
- Take one day at a time, but don’t forget about the big picture.
- Stay connected to the small business community, and utilize 417-land resources that assist startups, like the SBTDC.