By Jennifer Hearne
If anyone had told me 11 years ago that I would be running a quite successful home business and providing marketing solutions for several other companies while staying home with my toddler, I might have laughed in her face. At that time, I was working two jobs and desperately attempting to launch a small business in the evenings and on weekends. I was sacrificing the relationships in my life, my social time and my hobbies to chase my dream.
I wish I had taken the time then to create a simple plan for managing that business more efficiently. Since that time, I have retired that business and created a new one. I want to share with you a few tips for efficiently launching your business.
The first step to becoming a successful business owner is creating a business plan. Many templates are available online for creating a proper plan, but it simply boils down to asking yourself the pertinent questions that establish the principles on which to build your business. Define your product or service. Determine the demand. Will you offer your item/ service in person, online or both? How will you execute daily activities/production/services? How will you reach new customers? How will you market your business? Assess your strengths and weaknesses and apply those to the way you will run your business. This plan will serve as a guideline and create goals to achieve while working on your launch.
After creating your business plan, you must evaluate the financial risks and investment required. Make a list of all of the items needed to get started. Will you need inventory? Will there be overhead costs? Do you need a workspace? If you are employed, do you plan to leave your job? Ask yourself all the “what-if” questions to uncover any scenarios that may be surprising later. If you become your own boss, you may no longer have the luxury of sick days or possibly healthcare benefits. You’ll need to plan accordingly.
Once you have evaluated the major aspects of your business, as well as the things needed to get started, you will need to handle all of the legal aspects. Being an entrepreneur is not as easy as creating something and selling it on Facebook. You must register your business with the state and create an account with the treasury office for reporting and paying taxes for qualified transactions. I recommend finding an experienced accountant who can assist you with registering your business and advise you on the next steps in terms of classifying your business structure (LLC, sole proprietor, etc.). This aspect intimidated me most. I wish someone had told me that most accountants offer these simple services for a very small fee.
I have listed only a few of the preliminary tasks necessary for planning your business. An aspiring entrepreneur also should consider branding aspects such as a logo and the graphics needed for outfitting social media pages, groups and a website if desired. My best piece of advice was passed down to me: work smarter, not harder. Put your all into your business plan. Try to uncover all the roadblocks that your business may encounter and create a plan for each. Be organized and always plan ahead. Most importantly, have fun. Do what you love and what brings you joy.
Jennifer Hearne is the owner and designer of Pixel Pop Designs, as well as the marketing director for Chick-fil-A Edgewater Mall and marketing director and designer for Southern Taters: A Small Town Smock Company. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.