Starting a business is a big step, and challenges are undoubtedly ahead. However, setting yourself up for success means understanding what steps you can take to minimize potential obstacles. Before you take the plunge, read this top 10 list about what you must do before starting a business.

1.    Develop a mission

Don’t overthink this step. Your mission will likely tie into the initial business idea you had to begin with. However, developing your mission or message can help you prepare to write your business plan. Ask yourself:

·       What customer problem am I seeking to solve?

·       Why would potential customers be willing to invest in my business?

·       Why will my business be operational and financially successful?

A mission will direct your steps and keep you on track as you get your business up and running.

 2.    Write a business plan.

This is the first natural step you’ll take to starting your business because it forces you to evaluate the logistical questions and answers that come with starting a business. A business plan is a written document that describes the nature of your business, the sales and marketing strategy, and the financial background. It also contains a projected profit and loss statement. Because it so briefly describes your business, it’s what investors request so they can understand the proposed business venture.

 3.    Know your competition and marketplace

When writing your business plan, it’s often helpful to know exactly who your competition is. In fact, including this in your business plan shows that you’ve been thoughtful enough to look at external factors that may impact the success of your new business. Evaluate your marketplace and your competition, and then you can use this information to ask yourself how your company will be different from the rest. How will it be successful compared to what’s already out there? What makes you different? Better to ask yourself this now than when you’ve already launched!

 4.    Make sure you’re legal

To start a business, you’ll need to get your business registration, licenses, and tax identification. This process will vary between states, so be sure to research it specifically within your area. You can look at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for any federal tax matters and local corporation commissions for regulatory requirements in your specific county for local taxes.

5.    Get a mentor

Mentorship is crucial when starting a business, and not enough emphasis is placed on how helpful it can be to have someone who has done what you’re trying to do. Mentors play the dual role of a teacher and a connector. They can help to broaden your network and show you how to get connected in your industry if you’re struggling to get started.

If you don’t have already have a mentor, get a mentor. Read Looking for a Mentor? The 7 Best Places to Start for some of the best ideas.

 6.    Grasp the financial aspect

This is where a lot of entrepreneurs falter because odds are you’re not an accountant, investor, or finance expert. That’s all okay! However, you must have a strong grasp on your finances when going into starting your business. Do some pre-business planning and evaluate your start-up costs, sales, projected profits, cash flow, and more.

Keep in mind that you can cut costs in a variety of places like email marketing or social media until you make enough money to use paid advertising. You can start a business on a smaller budget, but you can’t do it without budgeting at all.

7.    Be passionate

You can’t start a business with only one foot in…you have to jump in with two feet. There will be long days and days that feel nearly impossible. Success is unlikely to happen immediately, and you’ll need to make decisions on the fly that you may not have ever planned to make. Yet, above all, you must hold onto the passion that you have for your business. This will help you get through those long days and nights. Let your passion drive you, and you’ll see success before you know it.

8.    Get proper insurance

You can’t start a business without getting the right insurance. This includes healthcare, vehicle, directors and officers, liability, performance bonds, travel, and life. Just like licensing, you’ll want to check your local regulations to see what types of insurance you’re required to have. For example, if you plan to start a business that carries risks like tree removal, you’d absolutely need liability insurance. However, a business like bookkeeping may not require that.

9.    Obtain legal counsel

You may not need around-the-clock legal counsel, but your business needs to have access to a lawyer when necessary. Having a lawyer sign off on any regulatory requirements or legal standards can help you save time, money, and effort. If you skip steps or attempt to cut corners, it can cost your company in the long run.

To position yourself for success, you must bring the right people on board. Remember that there are experts around you. Learn from and lean on them when necessary.

10. Use local and national resources

Your local corporation commission, the Small Business Administration, and the IRS are useful resources that can help you as you start your business. Yet, don’t stop there. Use any and all local and national business resources to build your business up and make sure that you remain compliant with all of the rules and regulations. Your mentor can help to advise you on which local resources may be best for your specific business.

Final thoughts

There you have it! These 10 steps will have you well on your way to starting a small business that you can grow into more. Be sure that you review everything as you go and invest time into planning. This can truly help you prepare for what’s to come and start your business off correctly.

By Titu Sarder, President & CEO, LLLTV, Inc