Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
“A big business starts small.” – Richard Branson
This legendary British billionaire seemed to grasp from the first that businesses are not all about ideas, but about making ideas happen. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Success is 90% attitude and 10% aptitude,” and I’ve found that this is indelibly true — that the proper mindset is a huge factor in achieving goals. And when it comes to starting your own business, it’s especially important.
But for that new endeavor to succeed, it’s vital that an owner translate attitude into proper steps, which starts by doing your homework. There are so many things to do and so many decisions to make, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. However, with a bit of planning and organization, you can make the process much easier.
Remember one thing: If you do things right, the rewards — both personal and professional — will far outweigh the challenges. And that’s why, according to a study by Constant Contact, approximately 85% of owners said they would choose to start their business all over again if they had to.
A few of the most important things to keep in mind when starting your journey.
Related: 4 Expert-Backed Strategies for Growing Your Business During Uncertain Times
1. Choose the right structure
Many factors need to be considered in a startup, one of which is its legal form (LLC, C Corp, etc.). The right (or wrong) choice will have crucial implications. Structure hinders or helps in how good contracts are formed, and financial stability may depend on what type you choose. Many businesses, of course, will need funding; structure will be an important aspect of that process, too, and will also affect tax liability issues, insurance coverage and other matters.
Crucial factors to consider while choosing yours:
• Taxes: The type of business you choose impacts which taxes are owed (including personal liability). Before launching any new enterprise, tax considerations should be reviewed so that all of relevant obligations stay in good standing according to regulations.
• Type of industry: The kind of structure you choose will depend on your industry and specific practices within it. For example, real estate investment companies face a higher risk than other types do; this is why they often organize as LLCs to ensure owner protection from liability risks like bankruptcy or unpaid debts (among others).
• Personal liability: There are different levels of liability protection that you can receive depending upon business type, and knowing which protections will best suit your needs should be carefully considered.
2. Build credit
You can’t build a successful company without establishing business credit. Those who have it solidly established have access to more loans, contracts and other opportunities than those with poor credit. And how would your investors know if you are being honest about your finances? This is where such business credit reports come in additionally handy. Their information will let potential investors (and banks) make informed decisions as to whether you deserve their trust, and money.
Good credit also results in better credit and repayment terms with suppliers and contractors. Finally, you can protect your personal score by maintaining good business credit. (There will be no need to use your personal credit and risk downgrading it if your business credit is good.)
Related: Choose Your Business Structure
3. Develop branding
It’s essential to develop brand awareness so that both existing and potential customers know what you’re selling and want it. Brand development can create a lasting image among both groups, and you want yours to stand for something (after all, that’s what people will envision when they think about you).
Brand building is all about earning trust. When you continuously make promises and fulfill them, customers will keep returning, as they know what to expect. With faith in your brand, they will also be more likely to recommend you to others, which helps the company grow.
4. Build a social media presence
According to Statista, the average time social media users worldwide spent on associated platforms amounted to 145 minutes per day in 2020, and DataReportal’s latest stats count the number of social media users around the globe at an astonishing 4.62 billion. Think about your own life: Do you wake up each morning and check for new notifications?
Now is the perfect time to leverage this huge platform and massive audience — customers right at your fingertips.
Here’s how a strong social media presence can help your business move to the next level.
• Spend less on marketing: You can grow affordably, without spending too much on marketing and advertising.
• Grow your outreach: Partner with social media influencers to reach even more potential customers. This will also help you raise brand awareness faster.
• Get feedback: Social media is the perfect place to learn more about your customers and improve services and products based on their feedback.
• Outrun the competition: You will keep a better eye on the competitors and devise strategies to outgrow them constantly.
Related: 5 Social Media Marketing Tips to Boost Your Sales
5. Build SOP and other systems
One of the most important aspects of any organization is a clear set of duties and expectations for all employees and departments — from HR to marketing to production. If people don’t know how to meet requirements, then there’s no way to work to their actual potential. Good standard operating procedures put those expectations and resources right on the table for all to see.
These begin with imparting information precisely as to what needs doing, then providing sufficient resources so that each individual has a chance at success. It’s vital, however, that procedures not make people feel overwhelmed with responsibility or overlooked by design; this will lead only to confusion, which never has a happy ending.
Related: 5 Reasons Why You Need to Learn Time Management for Your Business
6. Differentiate from the competition
The modern world is incredibly competitive, and businesses struggle to stay afloat in it. To make sure you’re not one of those companies that slips through the cracks, do something different — stand out from competitors with something better and with more value.
Brand differentiation is significant because customers will simply choose someone else if you don’t have it. The goal should always be to find ways that set yourself apart from the crowd.
Starting a business with your dad? Retirees and adult children are teaming up.
5 Priceless Lessons For First-Time Entrepreneurs
Seven Lessons From A Lifelong Entrepreneur