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starting a small business

5 Vital Tips for Starting a Small Business

Looking to start a small business? You’re hardly alone. The U.S. is home to more than 31 million companies of fewer than 500 employees, led by people who decided they wanted to be their own boss, pursue their own passion.

Just about every one of those businesses have had to go through some of the same unavoidable procedures and processes: determining a business structure, applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), acquiring the proper permits and licenses.

You’re going to have to tackle those steps, too.

However, if you’re looking to go above and beyond to give your budding company a leg up, here are a few vital tips for starting a small business the right way.

Conduct Market Research

Is there a market for the product or service you want to sell? If so, who’s already addressing that market — and where, and how?

The answers to these questions, as well as many more about your potential market, can help you differentiate your offerings.

You can conduct market research in a number of ways. You can dive into existing public data, research internet search trends, conduct surveys and even put together focus groups. And by using these methods, you can figure out important things such as local demographics, customer needs and preferences, and how crowded the business environment will be.

And remember: Be open to what the research tells you. In most cases, the data will help shape your path — but occasionally, it reveals there is no market. Heeding that advice can help you shift your focus, preventing wasted money and unnecessary heartbreak.

Determine Your Costs

More impulsive and less experienced small business owners dive in knowing exactly what they want to produce or provide … but without any clue about the costs and expenses they’ll accrue along the way.

Take a few minutes and start to brainstorm what kinds of expenses you might come across. There’s rent, of course, and utilities on top of that. There’ll be input costs — you can’t make something from nothing, after all. You’ll need to pay employees. And no one will come to your business if they don’t know about it, so you’ll need to pony up some cash for marketing, too.

This is just a short list of major expenses — it’s hardly a comprehensive list. You’ll absorb numerous other costs along the way, including the unexpected as new needs and hurdles pop up.

Don’t let that discourage you. Instead, remember that the companies best positioned to succeed are those that are prepared for all the costs of doing business.

Focus on Solving, Not Selling

You’ve surely heard the phrase “a solution in search of a problem.” It refers to something that doesn’t really resolve an existing issue — and it’s a common theme among failed small businesses. A person comes up with a product or service that they think is interesting, and they believe it will sell because it’s interesting … but it ultimately fails because it doesn’t achieve its goal in a quicker or better way than existing solutions.

Think of a snow salesman in Alaska. He has a solution — he can provide snow — but who there needs it?

Instead, when you’re developing your offerings, think to yourself: “What problem am I solving, and how?” If you’re successfully addressing customer wants and needs, you won’t have to put nearly as much effort into selling it.

Be Vocal About Your Business

If you’re starting a small business, chances are you’re an “ideas person.” But you might not be a self-promoter, a public speaker or an energetic networker.

Yet if you’re trying to grow your business, it pays to accept all of these roles.

Especially early on, you might be your business’s lone representative. That means you can’t be shy about your business, what it does and how it can help others. Thus, one thing you’ll want to do as you grow your new company is practice talking about it — to friends, family, even a mirror. Perfect your elevator pitch, memorize your numbers and drill yourself on speaking about your business with passion.

Doing so will prepare you for real conversations about funding opportunities and business partnerships down the road.

Don’t Freeze

Most of these tips for starting a small business have centered around learning what you can and being prepared for just about anything.

But you can’t prepare for everything. And you certainly can’t get everything right the first time around.

That’s OK — and that’s a reality you’re going to have to embrace.

If you can’t take the leap into small business ownership until every last detail is perfect, and until you’re ready for every last hurdle, it’ll never happen. For one, no one gets every last step right along the way. And then there’s the fact that there are some things you can’t plan for — the COVID-19 pandemic for instance.

Be as prepared as you can, but at some point, you have to bite the bullet and get started.

Starting a Small Business? We Can Help.

You don’t have to do all this on your own.

McManamon & Co. offers a number of services to small and midsize businesses, including accounting, consulting and even paperless office setup. In other words, we can make sure that you’re not just ticking off all of the necessary checkboxes — we can help you find ways to optimize your business, even early on.

Learn more about the ways McManamon & Co. can help your budding business. Get in touch with us at 440.892.8900 or contact us online.

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