You’ve decided you’re ready to start your own business, but what do you do first? There are so many things to consider when starting a small business – from the initial planning stages to the day-to-day tasks of running your company. It can seem overwhelming, but don’t worry. Just go one step at a time and follow the tips discussed below.
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about starting a small business as a female entrepreneur, including choosing a business idea, writing a business plan, registering your company, and marketing your business. You’ll also get tips for dealing with common challenges and pitfalls of entrepreneurship.
Whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been in business for a while and are looking for ways to grow and improve, this guide is for you. Let’s get started!
Define Your Goals
It’s important to have a clear understanding of your business goals first and foremost. Ask yourself these questions:
- What do you hope to achieve with your small business?
- Are you looking to make a quick buck, or are you in it for the long haul?
- Do you want to be the next big name in your industry, or are you happy just being a small business owner?
- Will this be a full-time commitment for you or a part-time side hustle?
Knowing your goals will help you determine the best way to go about starting your business. It will also help you stay focused as things get challenging (and they will get challenging). With that in mind, take some time to really think about what you want, and write it down. This is your roadmap to success.
Research Your Industry
Before you take the plunge and start your own small business, it’s important to do your research. That means studying your industry and understanding the trends that are happening in it.
It’s also important to know your target market, who your competition is, and what kind of pricing strategy you’re going to use. And don’t forget about marketing — you need to come up with a plan for how you’re going to get the word out about your business.
Fortunately, we have some great resources for starting a business here on Women On Business that can help you get started. Our website is packed with information, from tips on writing a marketing plan to advice on how to get funding.
Develop a Business Plan
You’ve got the idea, you’ve done your research, and you’re ready to take the plunge and start your own small business. The next step is to develop a business plan. This document is your roadmap to success, and it outlines everything from your business goals and objectives to your marketing strategy and financial projections.
It’s important to take the time to develop a detailed business plan, because it will help you stay on track and make sure you’re heading in the right direction. It’s also extremely important if you’ll need to seek funding to start your business. Lenders and investors need to see a strong business plan or they won’t give you money.
Parts of a Business Plan
A common structure for a business plan includes the following parts:
- Executive Summary: A quick overview of your business (and the opportunity for investors)
- Products and Services: What you’ll offer to customers and why they’ll want it
- Market Analysis: Competitor review, potential market size, target audience details, and proof there is consumer demand for your products and services
- Marketing and Sales: How you’ll promote your products and services and get sales to generate revenue as well as your pricing and distribution strategies
- Operational Management: Processes, tools, headcount, and other details about how the business will operate on a daily basis as well as how you’ll meet growing demands as the business scales
- Organizational Structure: Proof that you have the right team in place to execute the business plan successfully
- Financial Analysis: What’s been happening with your sales, profits, cash flow, and other financial considerations if your business is already operational in some capacity
- Financial Projections: Tables and charts detailing projected profit and loss statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement as well as information about how you’ll use funds that you already have and are trying to get from loans and investors.
- Milestones: A timeline of key events – past, present, and future – for the company.
Creating a business plan isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth the effort. With a well-thought-out plan in place, you’ll be well on your way to achieving success as a female entrepreneur.
Determine Your Business Structure
Now it’s time to determine your business structure. This is something you’ll need to think about carefully, because it will determine things like how much paperwork you have to do, how much you’ll pay in taxes, what kind of liability you’re exposed to, and more. For help choosing the right business structure for your business, follow the link to take a handy business structure quiz.
There are several different business structures to choose from, but the most common are sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, and corporation. Let’s take a look at each one.
Sole proprietorship is the simplest business structure, and it’s ideal for small businesses. Since a sole proprietorship isn’t actually a formal business entity, you just need to start selling your business or services and the sole proprietorship is established – no paperwork is necessary. The downside is that you’re personally liable for any debts or lawsuits against the business.
Partnership is similar to sole proprietorship, but it’s intended for businesses with multiple owners. All partners are personally liable for any debts or lawsuits, and they share in the profits and losses of the business.
Limited Liability Company
The Limited liability company structure separates your personal and business finances (unlike a sole proprietorship), but you don’t need to worry about all of the extra tax and legal document filings that come with a corporation. Rather than shareholders, like a corporation, the company is owned by members.
Corporation is more complex than the limited liability company structure, but it offers more legal protection. The shareholders (owners of the corporation) are not personally liable for any debts or lawsuits, and the corporation can sue and be sued. However, more paperwork is required to be filed with your state and with taxing agencies. Most small business owners who choose a corporation business structure file additional paperwork to be considered an s-corporation rather than a c-corporation, which is the preferred structure of large companies.
Choose a Business Location
One of the most important decisions you’ll make when starting your own business is where to set up shop. Location is key, and should choose a spot that’s going to be convenient for your customers.
Think about the demographics of the area and what type of business you want to run. If you’re selling clothes, for example, you’ll want to be in a neighborhood with high foot traffic. If you’re a consultant, you’ll want to be near your target clients.
You also need to take into account things like rent, utilities, and renovations costs. Make a list of all the expenses and compare it to your budget. You may want to consult with an accountant or business mentor to help you make the right strategic financial decisions.
Register Your Business
So you’ve decided to start a small business. Great decision! Now the next step is to register your business. Depending on your location, the process might be a little different, but generally, you’ll need to file some paperwork and pay a fee.
Your state and local government websites should have all the information you need about registering your business. If you need help, don’t be afraid to reach out to your local Small Business Administration office or Chamber of Commerce.
Get Federal and State Tax IDs
Once you have your business idea in place, it’s time to get your tax IDs so you can start operating. This is something you’ll need to do in order to set up your business and start collecting revenue.
There are two types of tax IDs you may need. You’ll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), and in some states, you’ll need a State Tax Identification Number. The EIN is issued by the IRS and is used to identify your business for tax purposes. You need it in order to pay federal taxes, open a bank account, hire employees, and apply for business licenses and permits. The state tax ID number is issued by the state in which your business is located and is used to make required tax payments to the state where your business is located.
You can apply for these ID numbers online. The process is simple and takes just a few minutes. Just be sure to have all of your business information handy when you fill out the forms, including your name, address, and contact information.
Obtain Licenses and Permits
Depending on the type of business you’re starting, you may need licenses and permits to get your small business off the ground. Every state has different requirements, so it’s best to check with your local government to find out what you need.
Some of the most common licenses and permits include a business license, a seller’s permit, and a zoning permit. You might also need a special license to provide services depending on your business type. For example, you may need a contractor’s license if you’re planning to do any construction or renovation work through your business.
Whatever you do, don’t just start selling your product or service without the proper licenses and permits. You could get in legal trouble, and that’s the last thing you want. For example, did you know you can’t sell food or products for consumption or use on the skin or body that you make in a zoned residential building in some states – even if you have a separate room or building on the property to make your products?
Therefore, take the time to research what’s required in your area, and then take the necessary steps to get your business up and running legally.
Raise Capital for Your Small Business
Time to talk money. Before you start a business, you need to figure out how to raise the capital you need to get your business off the ground.
There are a few different ways to go about this. You can apply for a small business loan from a bank, or you can try to get funding from investors. You could also look into crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo.
No matter which route you choose, make sure you do your research and understand the terms and conditions of any loans or funding agreements you sign up for. And always be prepared to show a potential investor or lender your business plan and financial projections. You’ll need to convince them that your business is a safe investment for them.
Who is going to help you get your business up and running? Who will help you get all the work done to run your business in the future?
This is where hiring employees comes in. It can be daunting to think about finding the right people to join your team, but it’s crucial if you want your business to succeed. Here are a few tips for finding and vetting potential employees:
- Start by creating a job description and posting it online or in online job boards. LinkedIn and com are two great options.
- Screen candidates carefully and ask them questions about their experience and qualifications.
- Make sure to check references and do a background check.
- Be prepared to offer a competitive salary and benefits package.
Hiring the right employees is essential for any small business, so take your time and make sure you hire for skills, knowledge and company culture fit.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Make sure to avoid the following common mistakes when you start your business:
One of the biggest mistakes new entrepreneurs make is focusing on the wrong thing. They get so wrapped up in their idea that they don’t take the time to do their research or plan out their business. As a result, they often don’t make it past the planning stages.
No Foundation to Grow On
Another mistake is not taking care of business basics. This includes things like creating a business plan, setting up bookkeeping systems, and building a good network of contacts. If you don’t have a solid foundation from the start, your business is going to struggle.
Lack of Marketing and Branding
Third on the list is ignoring marketing and branding. Many entrepreneurs put all their effort into developing a great product or service but then fail to market it effectively. As a result, they end up with a great product nobody knows about.
The fourth mistake is choosing the wrong industry. Make sure you do your research and pick an industry that’s aligned with your skills and interests. Picking the wrong industry can doom your business before it starts.
Expecting Too Much Too Fast
Finally, don’t set unrealistic expectations for your business. Remember that it takes time and hard work to build a successful company, and you need to be prepared for bumps in the road along the way.
Key Takeaways about Starting a Business as a Female Entrepreneur
If you’ve made it this far, then you’re ready to start your own small business. While it won’t be easy, it will be worth it.
First, you’ll need to come up with a business idea. Do some research and make sure there’s a market for your product or service. Then, create a business plan and make sure you have the resources you need to get started.
Next, register your business and work on raising funds if necessary. When your finances are set, hire employees and start marketing your business. Finally, make sure to track your progress and revise your plan as needed.
Starting a small business is hard work, but it’s rewarding and can be a great way to achieve financial independence. Follow this guide and you’ll be on your way to success as a female entrepreneur!