Are you working on starting your own business? The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce has put together a guide to help you navigate through the uncertainties of starting a new business. Part 1 was posted previously, and here in part 2 of this series, you will find the final steps to get you started on your way to owning a business startup.
Steps to Starting a Business
- Purchase an Insurance Policy
Before you officially launch your business, it’s important to purchase the right insurance. Incidents such as property damage, lawsuits, and theft can be costly, so you need to make sure your business is properly protected. There are many types of business insurance available, but there are a few basic plans from which almost every small business can benefit.
If your business will have employees, you will need workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. Most small businesses should also purchase general liability insurance to cover property damage, bodily injury, and personal injury to yourself or to a third party. Professional liability insurance is useful if your business provides a service because it covers you if you do something wrong or neglect to do something you should’ve done.
- Recruit and Hire Employees
If you aren’t planning on being your only employee, then you’re going to need to build a great team to get your company up and running. Because your product or service quality depends on the people who build and provide it, it’s important to recruit and hire employees who can work well together and give your company what it needs. Make sure you define roles and responsibility, division of labor, how feedback will be given, and how to work together to spare yourself a lot of headaches down the road.
- Research Vendors
You likely won’t be able to do everything your business needs all on your own. That’s why you need to research and choose third-party vendors you can trust. You can partner with companies to help you handle HR, business phone systems, accounting, marketing, and other areas where you need assistance. Make sure you choose these B2B partners carefully since they will have access to vital and potentially sensitive business data. Ask potential vendors about the experience they have in your industry, how they’ve helped other clients grow, and what their track record is with existing clients. At the very least, small businesses need vendors who can help them with taking payments from customers (i.e., credit card processing) and managing finances, typically in the form of either an accountant firm or accounting software provider. Figure out what other types of vendors your business will need to succeed in your industry, then do the research to figure out which ones will be the best fit for your company.
- Create a Marketing Plan
An important step in starting a business is building your brand and gaining a following of people who will jump to buy your product or service when you open your doors. Some of the things that will help you most are:
- Company website – Most customers go online to find out more about a business and its offerings. A website is digital proof that your business actually exists and is reputable. It’s also a great way to interact with potential and current customers.
- Social media – Social media is great for spreading the word about your new business. You can use social media as a promotional tool to offer discounts and coupons for followers to use when you launch. Which social media platforms you should use depends on who your target audience is.
- CRM – Customer relationship management software, or CRM, allows you to store customer data so you can improve how you market to them. For example, you can store customer email addresses to strategically build a contact list for email marketing campaigns. This can help you reach more customers and effectively communicate with your audience.
- Logo – As part of building your brand, you need to create a logo. A logo helps people easily identify your brand and recognize your products. Make sure you are consistent in using your logo across all your platforms.
It’s vital that you keep all your digital marketing assets up to date with interesting and relevant content about your business and industry. Create a marketing plan that extends beyond your launch date so you can continually draw and retain customers by getting the word out about your business. This process is just as important as creating a quality product or service, especially in the beginning.
- Grow Your Business
The work isn’t over after your launch and first sales. To turn a profit and stay afloat, you need to always be working to grow your business. Remember: You’ll get out of your business what you put into it. One great way to achieve growth is by collaborating with more established brands. You can contact other companies and ask them for some promotion in exchange for a free sample of your product or service. You can also partner with a nonprofit organization and volunteer your time or products to help get your name out there.
It’s also important to keep in mind that no matter how well you prepare and plan, there will almost certainly be things that go wrong. To run a successful business and see growth, you have to be able to adapt to changing situations. Always be prepared to adjust your plans and be ready to problem-solve quickly. The key to being a successful entrepreneur is the ability to solve problems for people using your product or service and solving problems within your business.
Become a Member of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce for More Small Business Resources
Following the steps in this guide will help you start a successful small business. If you need more help, join the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce to gain access to additional small business resources for new startups. You will be given information, networking opportunities, advertising options, and other chances to learn and grow your small business. Become a member of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce to build connections and access helpful small business resources. Fill out the membership application today, or give us a call at 865-397-9642 if you have any questions.