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How to Start Your Dream Business in 15 Simple Steps

There’s nothing quite like that feeling when you start a business for the first time.

You’re simply bursting with ideas, buzzing with excitement, and are all fired up to finally launch something you’ve been dreaming about for years.

I remember the feeling well.

But then, reality hits, and you start thinking about all that’s involved in starting a business and realize you don’t know what the first steps to start a business actually are.

You want to give it your best shot and do all the right things, but how do you make sure you take all the proper steps? First, you take a deep breath and know you’ve got this.

You know how I know? Because you’re not in this alone! I’m here to help you get your dream business off the ground with my beginner’s guide to starting a business.

In this guide, I’ll take you through all the things you need to sort out in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step format, so you can ensure you’re doing everything in the right order.

Let’s dive right in!

Here are your first steps to starting a business. How exciting!

Starting a business is an exhilarating yet challenging journey for small business owners. And you can make things a lot harder for yourself if you don’t consider the planning and preparation stages carefully.

To help set yourself up for business launch success, follow these essential steps you need to take to start a business.

#1 Know What You’re Selling

The first step in starting a successful business is getting crystal clear on your business idea and what you want to sell. Choose something that plays well to your strengths, passions, and experience; otherwise, you’ll quickly lose interest once your business is up and running!

#2 Conduct Market Research

No business becomes successful without first performing market research. Before moving forward, take the time to figure out if there’s a strong appetite for what you’re selling by conducting in-depth target customer research, competitor research, and positioning work.

#3 Nail Down Your Offer

Now that you’ve performed intensive research into your position in the market, competitors, and target audience, it’s time to get what you’re offering down to a T. That’s why I recommend writing out all your services, products, and offers with descriptions and pricing at this stage.

#4 Create a Solid Business Plan

A business plan will help you stay focused, raise capital, and attract investors. In your business plan, include your target market, business costs, competitor research, marketing and sales strategies, operational processes, and financial projections to plan how you’ll profit.

#5 Choose Your Business Name

Now that you’ve got a clear idea of what you’re offering and the direction you want to take your business; it’s time to name your business. Have a name picked out already? Great! If you haven’t, make sure it’s easy to say, reflective of your business, and catchy!

#6 Buy a Website Domain Name

Once you have ideas for your business name, research URLs to make sure the name isn’t already taken. If it is, then it’s back to the drawing board you go! Once you’ve found a unique website domain name, buy it online. Then it’s all yours!

#7 Make it Legal

Next, hire an attorney to help you choose a business structure that works best for you. Common structures include sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation. Then it’s time to form your business structure. Woo!

#8 Choose a Location

If you’re setting up a brick-and-mortar business, it’s time to figure out where it will be. Consider things like accessibility, zoning regulations, and the availability of employees to hire, suppliers, and customers when picking your business location.

#9 Register Your Business

The next step is registering your business entity with relevant state and local agencies and getting your employer identification number. This usually involves getting your business license and necessary permits sorted and registering for taxes like sales, payroll, and personal property taxes. (Yep, it’s a lot of taxes – I know!) I highly recommend using an attorney to get all of this set up. The same attorney who helped with your business formation documents will be able to help you with this stage of setting up your business.

#10 Sort Out Banking and Insurance

Once you’ve registered for all that lovely tax “stuff”, it’s time to set up and open a separate business bank account and get a business credit card. You’ll also need to buy commercial property insurance, personal liability insurance, general liability insurance, and/or business insurance. Shop around a bit to find the best rates for your own business. I recommend and use Hiscox.

#11 Develop Your Branding

Your brand is the visual and emotional representation of your business and plays a crucial role in attracting and retaining customers. Hire a branding specialist (like moi!) to help you develop a strong brand identity with a unique logo, color palette, typography, and more.

#12 Design and Build Your Website

If you’re not going the DIY route, hire a web designer, developer, content writer, and search engine optimization (SEO) expert within your budget to help you develop a standout website that increases visibility online and attracts potential customers. In case you’re curious where to find such a person, look no further…you’ve already found your gal.

Here are a few things to consider during this phase:

  • Which website software is ideal for you and your business, i.e. WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify, etc.?
  • What type of hosting will you need? Some website builders (i.e. Shopify or Squarespace) take care of the hosting for you while some (i.e. WordPress) require that you purchase your own hosting.  There are pros and cons to both routes, so be sure to consult a web professional to guide you through this process.
  • If choosing a self-hosted platform like WordPress, you’ll need to make sure you have security monitoring in place to ward off website hackers. The other platforms should be taking care of this for you.
  • Buy custom email addresses from your chosen provider. I strongly recommend Google Workspace.
  • Decide what pages you’ll need on your website. If you choose to work with me, I will provide you with a content planner and we’ll have a strategy session to sort all of these details out.
  • Choose the look and feel of your website design. Start researching websites in your industry to get inspiration, but consider looking outside of your industry as well.
  • Write website content that follows SEO principles. Wondering what SEO best practices you should follow? Start Googling or work with a pro to ensure your website is well written and checks off all the SEO boxes.
  • Regularly maintain your website with updates, error fixes, etc. 
  • Test to make sure your website runs smoothly before the launch.
  • Perform technical SEO work to give your website more visibility.
  • Regularly write SEO-friendly blogs to reach your target audience.

Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to do the above, your chosen web designer, web developer, content writer, and SEO specialist will help you check off everything on the list above throughout the process.

#13 Choose Your Tech Stack

You’ll need support from tech tools to run a small business. Before launching your new business, choose your accounting software, project management software, contracts and invoicing tools, and email marketing software to keep your business running smoothly.

#14 Create Social Media Profiles

A strong social media presence is essential for most businesses in today’s digital age. Set up your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. accounts, ensuring they’re consistent with your brand and populated with content before your launch day.

Need help setting up social media profiles? No problem! I’ve got you covered in my previous blog, “How Set Up Your Social Media Business Accounts – The Easy Way!”

#15 Launch and Promote Your Business

When it’s (finally) time to launch your small business, start by patting yourself on the back, as you’re now a bonafide business owner! Now all that’s left to do is launch your business by making your website live and implementing a well-thought-out marketing strategy to promote it.

Feeling more confident about starting your business? Great!

Starting a business is a long journey. And many business owners can find the first few months challenging, even if they have a great business model.

So, it’s essential to adapt your business strategy to changing circumstances after launch and be willing to pivot and tweak things if needed.

Keep improving your digital strategy based on your learnings, and watch those profits increase year after year!

At Exhale Design Co, we bring your website, digital strategy, and branding to life, so you can finally breathe out and focus on all that important stuff on your to-do list. Want me to take techie things off your hands? Please get in touch!

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Stefani Harris

Hey there! I'm Stefani, your website strategist, designer, developer, caretaker, and proud Google nerd. I believe in taking a mindful, holistic, and collaborative approach to accomplish your website and tech-related goals. Click here to learn more about me and Exhale Design Co. I look forward to meeting you and working with you!

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