You have a great business idea. You are willing to work long and hard to get things off of the ground. You’ve tested the market, and response to your product or service is excellent. Now, you are ready for the next step.
You are ready to turn your idea into a small-business venture. You’ve made a lot of sacrifices to get here. Chances are, you’ve invested your own money. You may have even gone into debt. If you are like many entrepreneurs, you may have even gone so far as quitting your job in order to dedicate yourself full time to your new venture.
This is a scary and an exciting time for you. With so many things to get done, you may wonder what to do next. Relax, here are some practical tips that should keep you on the right track as you work towards your small business goals.
Get Your Patents, Permits, and Licenses Settled
Before you launch your business, you must make sure that another party cannot come forward and state, for any reason, that you do not have the right to do business. Depending on the nature and the location of your business, this means making sure that you have patents in place for any proprietary designs or concepts that you have come up with.
It also means making sure that you have cooperated with local authorities and have obtained the essential permits and licenses that you must have in order to operate your business venture. It can be time-consuming and frustrating, but once this process has been completed, you don’t need to fear a technicality having a negative impact on your operations.
Get On the Right Side of Uncle Sam
One grave mistake that many small-business owners make before they launch their business is failing to obtain an EIN number from the government, and then failing to put in place a decent payroll system that complies with the mandatory deductions and other regulations that impact compensating employees.
It does not matter how small your business is, never launch until you have the means to both pay your taxes, and make sure that your employees are also doing the same. The quickest route to IRS trouble is to assume that you are too small to worry about such things. Even if you do not anticipate payroll being an issue for several more quarters, get these ducks in a row.
Prepare Your Website for Launch
This seems obvious doesn’t it? In all likelihood, you have put a lot of thought into the design of your website, but have you taken these practical matters into consideration:
- Will you host your website on your own servers or use a subscription service?
- Have you coordinated your marketing plans with the design of your website?
- Do you have a plan to launch your website that complements the launch of your small business?
- Have you sought out competent advice on any terms of service or disclaimers that need to be present on your website?
- Can your customers feel confident that their personal and financial information is safe on your website?
- Does your website work on all of the browsers and operating systems that your customers might use?
A final thing to consider is making sure that your website is fully functional. When customers click on a link, will they be routed where you intended for them to go? If they click on a link to place an order, will they be able to do so? If they want to make a payment or leave a comment, is that option available to them?
Pay a Visit to Your Bank
It is an excellent idea to open checking and savings accounts for your business before you open your doors to the public. You may have decided to create an LLC, or a sole proprietorship. There are many reasons for pursuing both. What is mainly of importance is that you are able to take the money that your clients pay you, cash checks, make deposits, and have full access to your account information. This is particularly useful if you plan to use payment apps like Payanywhere to proceed different types of credit card payments from your clients on the go and receiving your funds instantly.
If your bank is not aware that you have launched a small business, they may not have your account set up properly for a business, which could cause some issues later down the road. Avoid these pitfalls by making sure that you have bank accounts opened in the name of your LLC, or as a DBA (Doing Business As).
Register Your Business Name
In many states, this is just a formality, but for most entrepreneurs it is nearly always a way to officially establish and legitimize their business. It is also, in some cases, a necessary step in making sure that government entities, or even the bank treats your business with due respect. Registering the name of your business is also a necessary step in ensuring that another small-business owner will not use that name, or if someone is using that name, that their usage will not have a negative impact.
Start a Blog
You can also start a discussion group, an email list, or any other vehicle that you can use to make sure that you are providing customers with interesting, ongoing, and relevant content about the services that your offer. In fact, a well-written, prelaunch blog is a great way to garner interest in your website and your business.
Make Sure You Have Insurance
Please make sure that any and all liability concerns that you have are covered by a strong and reliable insurance policy. This will put your investors at ease, and it will protect you in the event that something happens that is outside of your realm of control. At a bare minimum, you should have some form of liability insurance, along with workers’ compensation. This way, your employees and your assets are both fully protected.
Empower Your Sales Staff
Make sure that your sales personnel are well trained. They should know your products and services inside out. They should also have an in-depth understanding of your policies. Your sales team should be able to answer any questions that customers bring up, and they should be empowered to close deals. from the customers that they convert without the need to delay payment, or to accept payment alternatives.
This empowerment may include the ability to offer special incentives to get customers on board, or it may simply mean that your sales people are able to accept payments from the customers that they convert without the need to delay payment, or to accept payment alternatives.
Create a Social Media Presence
Many new business owners make the mistake of assuming that this simply means they must create an online presence, Facebook page, or send out the occasional tweet. In reality, creating a social media presence involves completing a small social media strategy that involves Facebook along with a variety other social networks. It also involves making a plan to regularly publish content to social media, and to establish relationships with potential customers via social media.
Bring Your Support System Along for the Ride
You’ve worked really hard to make sure that your small business venture is going to be a success. Now is the time to get things off the ground. Chances are, your hard work has been supplemented by the people who believe in you and have worked hard for you. When your first day of business ends in success, go ahead and pop that champagne bottle, just make sure the right people are there to celebrate with you.