1. Size up the competition
This will help you understand who else is doing what you’re planning to do. And work out how you can do it better!
By studying the competition you can learn from others’ mistakes – or even what their customers appreciate. Learn how much people are willing to pay for your product or service and how you could enhance the current offerings.
If one big player dominates the market space, focus on what they don’t do well or who they don’t cater for, provide superior service and you could grab a share of their space.
Alternatively, if the market is fragmented, there could be an opportunity to launch a brand that becomes the de facto choice for consumers.

2. Define your target audience
Appealing to everyone appeals to no one. You need to focus on your target audience and style everything, from your website to your marketing campaigns, around them.  Make sure you are targeting the right people by conducting surveys and connecting with your customers through social media.
The only way to provide a product or service people really want is to get inside their heads. Involve your target customer in the development of your business and continue to test, test, test.
Once you’re up and running, consulting your customers will also make them feel like they have a voice, inspire loyalty and, if you’re lucky, increase the likelihood of them recommending you to others.

3. Paying yourself
How will you pay for yourself? You need to think about this upfront.
With the best intentions of ploughing profits straight back into the business, you’re going to have to eat, drink and put a roof over your head.
Cut back on the luxuries, but figure out what you do need to live on and include it in your outgoings. This is called your personal survival budget.
The bank or any investors would much rather see this than you going back cap-in-hand six months after you told them your business plan made sense.

4. Choosing a name
Think long and hard about your name: you’re going to be stuck with it as rebrands are expensive and painful. It’ll need to work with an available web domain and will also often be the first thing prospective customers see. Make sure there aren’t lots of other businesses with the same name. Consider what your name needs to say about your business. It is an important part of your business branding. Should it simply be a case of ‘says what it does on the tin’ or communicate aspects of your brand identity, such as Innocent Drinks? Or perhaps geography is important if you’re focused on serving or representing a local area – Manchester Landscaping Ltd or Premium Lincolnshire Sausages Ltd, for instance?

5. How you’ll get your name out there
There’s no point having an amazing business idea if nobody knows about it – so how will you get your name out there? You need a marketing plan! Without a big marketing budget, start small and focus on building relationships. Use social media and networking opportunities to start building a reputation with not just potential customers, but also local journalists, suppliers, fellow retailers, local business organizations. Start a blog, be active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, offer to write articles or talk for free on your expert subject, get people trying and reviewing your product or service, get listed on vendor databases in your region, contact events and venues through event listings websites such as EventProHub.com, think about having a launch party.

6. Your web presence
Did you know that 50% of small business don’t have a website? Most want one, but they either think they can’t afford one or don’t have the skills to put it together themselves. The latter may have been true a few years ago, but web building tools such as Wix and Squarespace mean absolute beginners can now get a fully e-commerce website up and running in no time. You can also setup a Virtual Vendor Booth on EventProHub.com. You might not need to sell online though, perhaps a simple brochure site showcasing what you do would be enough – but, then again, wouldn’t it be nice to take bookings? Start thinking about how much more business you could be doing by embracing an online market – then explore the available options to make it happen.

7. Define your USP
Customers will only stop buying from other businesses in favor of yours if you offer something better or different. Your USP (unique sales proposition) defines what is special about your offering; what customers can’t get elsewhere. This is key to your business brand. Carefully sculpt your USP: perhaps it’s your product if it is genuinely unique, or maybe it’s about customer experience, after-sales support, the way you price or offer payment, or perhaps everything you do is organic. Maybe – like Tom’s Shoes, which donates footwear to Africa for every sale made – you appeal to consumers’ growing demand for ethical trading. Find your angle then make sure everything you do is true to it.

8. Route to market
This one’s really simple – how will you sell to your customers? Consider all your options as there are many!

  • street fairs and farmer’s markets
  • events and festivals
  • online store
  • brick and mortar
  • business to business
  • social media

You can’t write a business plan until you’ve worked out your platforms and route to market, and how much each will cost you.

9. Potential partners
Who could you benefit from working with? Forming a relationship with a business in another sector could help you tap into a whole new customer base. For example, if you’re a florist you could find a wedding planner and supply flowers for them at a discounted price. You’ll get access to their customers and you can recommend people to them. It’s beneficial for both parties. Find someone to share half the workload and you’ll move twice as fast.

10. Find the best bank account
You’ll need a business bank account, but don’t just go straight to the bank you’ve used as a consumer. Find one that understands your business and who you feel comfortable with. Most banks also offer incentives for new sign-ups.

11. Staffing requirements
Will you need employees from day one? If not, how about day 100? You need a plan for this so you’re organized, prepared and resourced for whenever – if ever – that day is. Employing someone is a big commitment to the individual, but also to your bottom line. Don’t jump into it and be clear before making any appointment exactly what that person will do and what added revenue they will bring to the business: it’s usually an equation that results in a quick rethink! If you can, utilize freelancers and look at what you can outsource.

12. Skill gaps, experience and training
Just because you’ve eaten in a lot of restaurants it doesn’t mean you’d know how to run one – a fairly obvious statement numerous wannabe restaurateurs have ignored to their peril. So even though you may have a killer business idea you need to work out if you have the experience and skills to execute it. If you haven’t, look into training, evening classes and even think about getting a job in the industry first to pick up that valuable insider knowledge. Skillshare and even YouTube tutorials is a great place to start.

13. Technology
Audit your business plan to figure out what technology will enable you to do five things: save time, save money, stay in control, make more sales and deliver a better service to your customers. For example, accounting software like QuickBooks can help you save time and effort on your invoicing and expenses.

14. Mentors
There’s nothing better than having an experienced business mentor to turn to for guidance, or simply to bounce ideas off. Someone who has been there and done it, and knows what you’re going through will be invaluable. Is there a business guru in your circle of friends? If not target people you admire, seek recommendations from people within your industry or consider government-backed mentoring plans.

15. When to start (and give up your day job)
You’re ready to launch your business, but don’t rush to quit the day job – the salary could be useful in the short-term. It could pay to start piecing together your business out-of-office hours, and then make the leap once your business can sustain you, and is truly ready for your full-time attention.

Your business structure affects how much you pay in taxes, your ability to raise money, the paperwork you need to file, and your personal liability. You should choose a business structure that gives you the right balance of legal protection and benefits.

You’ll need to choose a business structure before you register your business with the state. Most businesses will also need to get a tax ID number and file for the appropriate licenses and permits.

Choose carefully. While you may convert to a different business structure in the future, there may be restrictions based on your location. This could also result in tax consequences and unintended dissolution, among other complications.

Consulting with business counselors, attorneys, and accountants can prove helpful.

Business plans rock – really! Don’t view them as a chore that you have to do for the bank or an investor . Use this as a chance to prove to yourself that every aspect of your business plan and model works and makes sense. If it doesn’t, do you really want to go ahead?

Click here for detailed information on creating a business plan.

Your location and business structure determine how you’ll need to register your business. Determine those factors first, and registration becomes very straightforward.

For most small businesses, registering your business is as simple as registering your business name with state and local governments.

In some cases, you don’t need to register at all. If you conduct business as yourself using your legal name, you won’t need to register anywhere. But remember, if you don’t register your business, you could miss out on personal liability protection, legal benefits, and tax benefits.

Most businesses don’t need to register with the federal government to become a legal entity, other than simply filing to get a federal tax ID. Small businesses sometimes register with the federal government for trademark protection or tax exempt status.

If you want to trademark your business, brand or product name, file with the United States Patent and Trademark office once you’ve formed your business.

If you want tax-exempt status for a nonprofit corporation, register your business as a tax-exempt entity with the IRS.

To create an S corp, you’ll need to file form 2553 with the IRS.

When launching a business you should speak to the local authority to find out whether you need any special licenses to sell in your area. For example, if you are selling food or alcohol you need a license. If you fail to produce one, you’ll be fined and could ultimately be closed down.

There are a host of other legal obligations to consider and it’s best to get at least one session of legal advice. You should also ensure processes – from sales to supplier agreements and terms and conditions – are legal binding and contracted up.

Most small businesses need a combination of licenses and permits from both federal and state agencies. The requirements — and fees — vary based on your business activities, location, and government rules.

Secure Funding
In an ideal world, you would have enough money to self-fund the launch of your new business. But, for the majority, that’s not an option. Instead, you can ask friends or family if they may be willing to help or you can look into getting a bank loan or seek out an investor. You should also look into what business grants are available: they’re hard to come by but, a big help if you manage to get one. If you can’t secure the funding you need to launch your master plan, start small and prove the business works – then go back to the bank or investors with more evidence. This is referred to as bootstrapping.

FINANCING HELPS SMALL BUSINESSES GROW

Start earning money now with new equipment and pay small manageable payments.

Here are some available benefits:

  • 100% TAX DEDUCTABLE
  • IRS Tax Codes allow your business to deduct the full purchase price.
  • LOW MONTHLY PAYMENTS
  • Payment plans from 12 to 60 months.
  • Avoid surprises related to traditional bank lending.​
  • Keep potential lines of credit open for emergencies and use our financing to build your business credentials with any bank.
  • No extensive financing statements needed
  • No cash down payment
  • Low credit OK
  • Bankruptcy OK
  • Startups OK

Here are some top lending options​:

Quick Spark Financial

Direct Capital

Pinnacle Lease

Marlin

Funding Circle

New Lane Finance

CIT

Select Funding

You are required by law to have employers’ liability insurance if you have any staff and public liability insurance if you expect to welcome customers or suppliers onto your premises.

You must also insure any vehicle you use.

If you sell products explore if you need product liability insurance. It can be expensive, but think if your business could survive should the unthinkable happen and your premises, equipment or stock was stolen or damaged.

Shop around for the best deal and ask your bank for any deals that may come as part of your account.

Here are some insurance options:

Simply Business

Thimble

Event Helper

RLI Corp

Event Insurance Now

Special Event Insurance

ACT Insurance

Eventsured

Nationwide