Write a one-page business plan
This is a major part to starting any business. In the beginning it is also good to write down all of your ideas. They come fast and make plenty of sense. This is the key to a successful small business. Keep things simple and keep your costs low. Be patient! Costs don’t just mean your monetary costs, but also your time. Tell yourself that it WILL take time.
Many people who start out attempt to make their business the biggest thing coming out and tend to create a plan that is too big too soon. Limit it to one page. You’re only going to need more than that in the beginning if you’re seeking large investments or financing. You may be seeking that down the road but The Black Enterprise recommends small-business owners start out with by testing their ideas first, getting proof of concept beforehand, then after that investing lots of time and money.
To get started, create your own simple, one-page business plan that is a high-level overview of the small business you’re about to start.
- Define the Business. What will be the end result of your business?
- Define the mission. What is its purpose?Explain the reason your business exists.
- Define the objectives. What are you going to do? What problem will your business fix?
- Outline your strategies. How do you resolve your objectives?
- Write a simple action plan. Create a list of smaller tasks that will help you complete the objectives.
This will surely create organization and is shorter than a full business plan, which could take weeks to write.
Determine a budget
We here at The Black Enterprise highly recommend you keep your costs as low as possible. Do the research. You’ll still need to determine a budget to get started and how much you’ll be able to spend. If you have to put up your own money, be VERY realistic about the amount you can spend. Annotate how much money you currently spend (even the small things). Go through your bank information and credit cards to see where you spend money. We tend to forget the smaller expenses when we are trying to determine how much we actually spend. Take it seriously so that it doesnt come back to bite you in the coming months.
Your burn rate is how much cash you’re spending month over month. It’s an important number for you to figure out to determine how long you can stay in business before you need to turn a profit.
You should set up your business with profitability in mind the first 30 to 90 days. It’s possible. But have a budget reserve so you can survive if things go leaner than expected.
Decide on Legal
Filing paperwork to start your business costs money if you plan to also grow. Depending on your state, it can be a lot of money. You’ll need to account for city or municipality licensing, state incorporation or business entity fees and more. Do a thorough search ahead of time to determine what the filing fees are for your city, county and state before starting any business.
Often in the initial testing phase while gathering information, it can be wise to start as a sole proprietor. It will lead to less paperwork and up-front expenses. You can save some money while you determine the viability of your business. As a sole proprietor it could put you at personal risk definitely depending on the type of business that you run so you’ll want to weigh the benefits vs. risks. Speak with a local attorney or tax professional to decide which is smarter for your short-term vs. long-term goals.
You can always file for a business entity once you’ve proven in the first three to six months of business that you’ve got a viable, sustainable model.
Take Care of the Money
Whatever business you decide to take on, keep those funds separate from your personal accounts. For many reason. To start, for tax purposes. People make a big mistake of not doing so that makes tax time and financials so confusing. It’s really easy to set up a free business checking account with your local credit union or bank.
Don’t pay for an account or get any kind of credit lines yet. Just get a holding place where you can keep your money separated from your personal accounts.
Have a Website
We cannot stress this enough. having a website decreases the anxiety that some people get when trying to obtain your service and having to jump through loops they aren’t used to, to get it. Being able to accept payments is one thing, but you will never be able to grow without a website. Your audience will always be limited to people who think about doing business with you before they find someone else they think they could trust and the limited amount of people that will send you a payment through PayPal or a similar service with the expectation of receiving that service. Depending on the type of business, this is why a ton of businesses never get approved for The Black Enterprise because it is not marketable by our definition.
If you’re starting an online business, you can tie your domain to an online shopping cart and store front such as Shopify for a low monthly fee, or you can build a basic website yourself on top of your URL with do-it-yourself drag-and-drop site builders such as Weebly for a low fee. Both are less than $100 a month.
Test Sales & Information
Once you have enough of a foundation you can start testing some sales. Try to spread the word in inexpensive and creative ways. Social media is a huge outlet for this. You should also be setting your website up for analytics and other information.
If you have a service-based business, get involved with your local chamber of commerce or small-business chapter immediately and ask what resources are available for you to speak, present or share information about your business. If you have a product-based business, test the viability of your product at local swap meets, farmers markets or other community events to test what the public really thinks (and if they’ll purchase) from you.
Drive traffic to your website through simple Facebook Ads with capped budgets, or set up a simple Google AdWords account with a budget cap to test if traffic is going to your site.
You can follow these six steps by yourself for not a lot of money. It’s a fantastic way to test the viability of your small business before throwing all your time and money into an unproven idea.