How to Start Your Own Business

(Time to Go Pro?)

There’s a lot to consider before launching your own business. Work from home or lease a space? Borrow from the bank or crowdfund? Don’t let these questions hold you back from going pro. Use these 10 pre-launch tips to start your small business out strong.

ASK FOR HELP

No one expects you to have all the answers (and if you do, you probably don’t need this article). Use Score.org’s nationwide mentor program to meet up with a local mentor over a cup of coffee. Explore the U.S. Small Business Administration for everything from tutorials on crowdfunding to simple steps for choosing your type of business (LLC or sole proprietorship?). It may feel too complicated, but with proper help and research, you’ll be just fine.

SLEUTH LIKE YOU’VE NEVER SLEUTHED BEFORE

The internet is a beautiful thing. Stalk other businesses like yours to uncover what they’re missing: Maybe your local record shop has a weak used vinyl selection, which is why everyone buys online. Check sites like Yelp to see other customer’s critiques — these are market demands you can use to your advantage.

GO WITH THE FLOW

Entrepreneur Steve Blank once said, “No business plan survives first contact with customers.” Be flexible. Your cupcake bakery’s business plan might not predict that your store will struggle, while your food truck rakes in the, ahem, dough. Shut down the store, buy a fleet of food trucks and take over your city’s appetite for cupcakes one block at a time. Leave room to adapt to changing trends.

confident young women starting her own business

LOCATE YOUR HOME BASE

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 53% of small businesses operate from the owner’s home. Channel the money you save on office space into operations by investing in tools or resources that will help you do your job better without the overhead. If you need a professional office down the road, you can always rent a co-working space.

KNOW YOUR TAX BREAKS

If you do end up working out of your home, you probably can write off some expenses on your taxes. The same goes for using your car for work — you might be able to write off mileage. Keep track of all your receipts as you get started, and read up on the IRS’s rules for self-employment taxes.

GET THAT MONEY

Consider using crowdfunding sites to raise funds. If 1,000 people donate $20 to your future T-shirt design company, that’s $20,000 without taking out a loan at the bank. Use your personal and business social media networks to spread the word.

CHOOSE YOUR STRUCTURE

What makes a business a corporation? What is a limited liability company (LLC)? If you are screenprinting concert posters all alone from home, you’ll likely register as a sole proprietorship. Part of a co-op working in a shared space? That is a cooperative business structure. How your business operates, how many owners are involved, and whether you have investors will directly impact your business tax structure.

IT’S HYPE CITY, AND YOU’RE THE MAYOR

Tweet pictures of your landscaping jobs on Twitter. Post your newest vintage vinyl arrivals on Facebook. Connect with local and national blogs focusing on your type of product, and don’t hesitate to send them samples of your latest prints, hair products or barbecue sauces. An active social media presence shows consumers that you are passionate, relevant and have something special to offer.

As always, we’ve got your back. — The On Your Own Team End of article insignia



[Any reference to a specific company, commercial product, process or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement or recommendation by On Your Own, the National Endowment for Financial Education or any of its affiliate programs.]