For a budding entrepreneur the launching of a new business venture is one of the most exhilarating and stressful endeavours that can be experienced. To be successful, an entrepreneur must become a master planner, organizer, marketer, leader and communicator. It is not an easy task and it certainly does not happen quickly. In the words of the late, great comedian Eddie Cantor, “It takes 20 years to make an overnight success.”
Although, starting and maintaining a business is around-the-clock hard work, it is totally manageable with proper planning. Here are 6 essentials for entrepreneurs and small business owners that will help transform an idea into an operating and profitable business:
Business Plan: Think of your business as a long road trip. You can not begin driving without identifying your destination and plotting a course to get there. A business plan is a framework that “maps out” exactly how your business will operate and what it will take to make it a success (i.e. arrive at your destination). The level of detail required in the business plan is highly dependent on the type of business you plan to operate. Check out the SCORE web site for free downloadable business plan templates that will help you to evaluate your needs and plan your business. SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small businesses start, grow, and succeed nationwide.
Legal Representation: You heard me correctly, “You need a lawyer”. When you are first starting your business there are many decisions that need to be made and these early decisions will impact your business as it grows. One important decision a lawyer can help you with is “What type of business legal structure should you establish?” Should you go with a Corporation, S-Corp, LLC, LP, Sole Proprietorship, etc…? Not sure, don’t sweat it, that is why you are seeking advice from a lawyer who can explain the various options and their benefits and disadvantages.
Liability Insurance: Suppose a client trips and falls while visiting your office for a consultation and files a claim against your for personal injury. Liability insurance is designed to protect your business (and you) by providing coverage for personal injury and damages. There are various policy types to consider and you should compare public liability insurance to ensure you obtain the appropriate coverage for your business needs. The last thing you want to do is face the high costs associated with defending your business alone and without insurance.
Blog: These days it is common knowledge that a web site is a very important marketing tool for your new business. However, a static web site is simply not going to cut it. In order for your business web site to stand out from the crowd fresh content is essential and the quickest way to provide this content is through a blog. The word, “BLOG” actually is an acronym for “Better Listing On Google”, so a blog itself is intended to be a marketing tool and it is a very good one. New and relevant content is a great way to keep your prospective and current clients engaged. Check out WordPress.com to learn more about blogging.
Logo, Business cards and Letterhead: Many people think they can “cheap-out” on this element of their business, but to do so is dead wrong. A comprehensive and consistent visual representation of your business is an important part of establishing your image as a provider of excellent products and services. Try Vivalogo.com to search for a designer in your country and local area.
Accountant: If you thought doing your personal taxes is tough then wait until you try and calculate and file business taxes. Business tax policies are changing constantly and the cost of missing something can be quite high due to penalties and fees. Also, your business will likely need to make quarterly estimated tax payments that an accountant should be able to calculate for you or show you how to calculate it on your own. If you are self-employed you will also need to pay self-employment taxes. My 2-cents, find a good accountant and hold on to him/her. Check out Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers to find an accountant or other service provider near you.