Starting a new business can be stressful, but with the right advice you can begin your journey by avoiding costly mistakes.
First, you are not alone as you begin this process. It is perfectly normal to ask for help and guidance, especially from experienced business owners. Second, it is vital that you do your research before making any major decisions.
“Starting a new business is a challenge and decisions should not be made lightly,” said Elie Y. Katz, who is president of National Retail Solutions (NRS) and a small business owner himself. “There is so much to learn and so many beneficial tips to consider as you ease into this new step in your life.”
First things first, which is selecting a name for your business. In order to do so, you should search through databases to determine availability, locally and nationally. This might take you some time to find a name you like, which is also available.
“Nonetheless, it is important to commit to a name you are happy with. After selecting a name, register your business for state and federal taxes. Also, consider setting up a ‘Doing Business As,’ or DBA. A DBA allows for a merchant to do business under the company’s name instead of their own,” Katz advised. “Therefore, if you are using a business name that is not your legal name, a DBA might be good for you to check out.”
Some positives of using a DBA include privacy protection and easy legal compliance. Make sure to do research and properly register in order to avoid financial or legal consequences. Next, if a state resale certificate is required, make sure to collect sales tax from customers and pay to the state. If you are unable to handle taxes on your own, consider hiring an accountant. It is best if you have an accountant, which you can trust for help all year-round, especially tax season.
“If you are short on liquid capital, consider a cash advance,” Katz said. “In order to properly set up your new business, you’ll need to budget and allocate funds. The outlay of cash upfront to do things correctly and build a strong business model, is well worth the yield of revenue you’ll see. You’ll likely recover your money quickly — and more.”
Choose a location that will be best for what you’re offering. If your business relies upon in-person foot traffic, the physical location of your operation is critical for your success. Research the neighborhood to make sure you don’t have competition right next door, or you’ll have to up your game and offer items they don’t.
“You don’t want a situation – if you can avoid it – where customers have to choose between you and the guy on the corner offering the same items. Evaluate how to best sell your products,” Katz said. “Perhaps you are interested in specifically selling in a store, online, street fairs, or various events. Each situation requires a bit of research and planning.”
Planning out the inside of your store with a planogram, can help you organize your store and efficiently stock your shelves. Make sure to group items on shelves in logical ways, and set up your store with impulse items at the register. A strong point of sale (POS) system helps you organize your business, attract customers and make more money. Integrated credit card processing makes your checkout process even more efficient, with a one-stop solution that helps make accounting reconciliation easy.
“Ideally, you’ll want to make sure all your items are uploaded into your POS, to save your cashiers time with checking out customers,” Katz said. “You’ll also want to think about branding. This part can be exciting, fun, and a great way for you, as a merchant, to express yourself in your business.”
First, have a graphic designer create a logo you like. From image to color, the logo should capture the essence of the business. It’s ideally going to be on your awning, doors/windows and anything you hand out, and on your ads and marketing materials.
Next, evaluate your needs for a website. Nowadays. Almost all businesses are found online and having a website can considerably boost your exposure leading to sales. Creating a website for your business is easier than you think. Software such as WordPress make it easy to build and maintain a website.
“If you need help, consider hiring a web developer. If you will be using e-commerce, you will need to set up a payment system that links to your business account,” Katz said. “If you prefer a physical location, make sure to report it to Google. It will allow customers nearby to find you from the internet.”
Furthermore, create a company email address to stay in contact with your customers and employees. You can use a service like Constant Contact or Mailchimp for sending out information. These sites allow businesses to create mailing lists for marketing purposes, while remaining compliant with email marketing rules.
“Marketing is an important part of a business, especially one that is just starting. Getting the word out about your business is a vital part of its growth. This can be done through social media, emails, or advertisements online or in print,” Katz said. “Setting up business profiles on social media, Google, and other search engines can make your business easier to find.”
In conclusion, starting a business can seem intimidating. It can also be exciting. If you’re interested in starting a new business, researching, planning, and reaching out for help can alleviate some of the stress.
“I hope the tips provided in this article can help you get on your feet and get moving,” Katz concluded. “Nevertheless, it is completely normal to make mistakes from time to time. It is important to not get discouraged. Learn from the past and figure out what works best for you and your new business. Good luck!”