10 step complete guide for starting a consulting business from scratch.
How to Start a Business
This is a complete step-by-step guide on starting a business in 2021. In this guide, you’ll learn exactly how to launch your new business or startup.
Among other things, you’ll learn how to develop and refine your business idea, conduct market research, write a business plan, choose a business name and logo, build an online presence, find investors and business partners, hire your team, register your business, and much more. Click the drop-down below to get started.
Introduction to Starting a Business
The difference between a business owner succeeding or failing is the foundation you build when you first start your business.
Thorough preparation allows you to chart a strong course while still allowing you to adapt to changing situations.
The businesses that survive and thrive have the distinct advantage of being started and run by people who prepare for what’s ahead.
Starting a new business involves careful planning, making key financial decisions, completing a series of key legal activities, developing your brand identity, and building an online presence. If you want a competitive advantage, we’re here to help you get started.
With this comprehensive step-by-step guide and our actionable insights for starting a business, you’ll have everything you need to know to start a successful, profitable business.
We’ve covered each of the required steps in great detail, with insights, tips, resources, and step-by-step guides.
Find a great idea and conduct market research
- How to develop and refine your business idea. If you want to start your own business, you need to consider your strengths, weaknesses, and interests. After all, the most basic question you can answer is why do you want to start a company? The answer to that question will help you focus on a single idea.
- How to conduct market research. Before you dive into your business plan, it’s important to know the market you’re entering. Conducting thorough market research in your intended market and understanding the demographics of your clients and potential clients will help you write your business plan and will also help you build a sustainable, successful business. Who is the direct competition? Is someone else already doing what you want to do? If not, is there a reason why that is?
Write your business plan
- How to write a business plan. Once you find and refine your business idea and conduct your market research, it’s time to write a business plan. A business plan isn’t required. But, it can help you to crystallize your ideas. After all, it’s not enough to start a business – you also need to know how to open a business and how to run a business too. In fact, people make a lot of mistakes when they start a new business and rush into things before considering the important aspects of their business.
FREE BRAND IDENTITY GUIDE
Pick a business structure and other important legal issues
- How to hire a business lawyer. Most business owners dread having to talk with and hire lawyers. Some fear they’ll end up paying exorbitant legal fees or that they’ll receive bad advice that will destroy their business (if you’ve watched the show Arrested Development and have seen Barry Zuckerkorn in action, you’ll know exactly what we mean). Others agonize over how to find a reasonably priced, competent business lawyer.
- How to decide your legal business structure. Before you can register your company and operate lawfully, you need to decide on the type of entity you want to register. Your legal business structure affects everything, from how you file your taxes, to your personal liability, to whether you need to comply with any special additional requirements at the local, state, or national level.
- How to get federal and state tax IDs. You may need to get an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. If you’re a sole owner and don’t have employees, this is not required. But you might want to get an EIN anyway to keep your personal and business taxes separate and to be sure that you can quickly hire when the time comes to expand your business.
Want a checklist to help you start your business quickly?
- How to register your business. All states require that you register your business with the government. Also, remember that most states require you to register your business as a DBA (doing business as) if the trade name under which you operate your business differs from the legal name of your business.
- How to apply for licenses and permits. In some cases, you may need federal, state, or local licenses and permits to operate your business.
- How to protect your intellectual property. Protecting your brand is an important part of building your business and maintaining your customers’ trust. Crucial brand elements like your company name, logo and tagline should be protected so that no other company can enter the market and use your identity to sell their product or service.
Create a strong brand identity for your business
- How to choose your business name. One of the most challenging pieces of the startup puzzle is choosing a name for your business. Your business name is the single most important identifier for your new company. It’s how your customers will identify and remember you. It’s part of your company’s brand identity and will influence your logo design and your entire visual brand. So, it’s not a decision that you should take lightly.
- How to choose your company logo. Everyone has their own take on what makes a logo perfect. When you break it down, what are the most fundamental, necessary elements that a business logo should possess – regardless of fads or trends? And, how do you know if your logo has these key elements?
- How to build a great website. Your website is one of your new business’s most important ambassadors and a crucial component of your marketing and branding strategy. Don’t believe us? A recent study shows that 97% of consumers research their purchases online before they buy something.
- How to build an online presence. If your small business isn’t maximizing the benefits of being present online, you are not alone. However, many of your competitors have built a credible online presence and as a result, are likely pulling ahead of you.
Accounting, insurance, location, and other financial issues
- How to assess your finances. Before you get started, you’ll need to look closely at your finances. That's because money is the foundation of any business, especially a sustainable business.
- How to set up accounting and bookkeeping. In order to keep track of your finances, you’ll need to set up a bookkeeping and accounting system. This is important so that you understand your business’s cash flow and will also be important for tax-filing purposes. Your accounting and bookkeeping system will include income, expenses, capital expenditures, profit, loss, EBITDA, etc.
- How to find a great business bank account. How to find a great business bank account. Be sure you find a strong banking partner. We’ll help you learn what to look for.
- How to pick your business location. You’ve probably heard the term 'location, location, location' a few times in your life. If you’re building a retail or physical business, location is important.
- How to purchase business insurance. You’d be surprised how many new business owners forget to protect themselves and their business by purchasing insurance before they start their business. It doesn’t help you to buy insurance after you started your business and incurred claims against you or your business.
Fund your business
- How to find investors. In a perfect world, we could all fund our own business ventures without any outside help. But, the truth is that most people can’t do it alone.
- How to fund your business. Some business owners don’t want to bring in outside investors. Instead, they want to find other ways to fund their business.
Find great partners, vendors, and team
- How to find business partners. One of the biggest challenges for every new business is saving enough capital to sustain and grow the business. This is where business partners can make a real difference.
- How to choose your vendors. Vendors and suppliers are essential to almost every business. Without the materials to make what you sell or manufacture, you will not be able to grow your business.
- How to build your team. There’s a time in almost every entrepreneur's career when you feel like you’re going it alone. When you first start your business, there’s a good chance that you will be. For your business to scale and grow, however, you’ll need help.
Launch and grow your business
- How to create a sales plan. Never forget the power of good old fashioned planning when you’re ready to open your business.
- How to grow your business. You have your business ready to go - your brand is a masterpiece of consistency and charm, your legal and business plans are all squared away, and you have a solid team standing behind your business. Here comes the fun part - introducing your business to customers!
- How to balance business and family. Many new business owners seek a balance in their work day but only some are able to successfully achieve a balanced life. Building a business is even tougher for parents who start businesses because they have to simultaneously run their families and their companies.
Guides on How to Start a Business In Different Industries
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