Many of us grow weary of working the standard nine to five, reporting to someone else to make their dreams come true. You don’t have much say over where your career goes or decisions that the business you’re working for makes. But perhaps most frustratingly, you work hard to line someone else’s pockets. The good news is that, even though we’re taught to walk straight into employment and work for someone else, there are other options. Increasingly, folks are starting their own businesses, even before they get disillusioned by the daily grind of working for someone. All you need to start your own business is an innovative product or service to offer or do it in a way that’s different from the way everyone else satisfies the consumer’s needs (ie. Uber), give great customer service at a reasonable price, and convince some group of consumers that you can help solve their problems. Easy peasy, right?
Not so much. That’s why many startups fail, but you can start your own business off for success by following these 6 tips.
First, you don’t have to think of something new, you can always offer a better product or service than what’s already out there, or simply market it in a way that says it’s really right for some set of consumers or offer it at a lower price point. Of course, price matching favors large, established businesses unless you figure out a way to also remove costs, which is how Uber offers great pricing over traditional taxi services.
There really isn’t any reason that you can’t start your own business. You just need persistence, determination, the know-how, and a little money to start yourself off. So, here are a few things you need to know to get the ball rolling in the right direction!
Forming your Business
Forming your business is actually an official process that you need to go through. If you want your business as a separate legal entity to you, you can’t simply dive headfirst into operations. You’re going to have to look into forming a limited company or choose some other business structure, such as an S corporation.
You may hear this process referred to as company formation or company registration. You may even hear it called “company incorporation”. This may seem confusing at first, but when it comes down to it, all of these processes are the same thing. They make sure that any of the money, property, assets responsibilities and agreements purchased by, owned by, or agreed by your company are completely separate from your own finances and your own belongings. This essentially means that if your business gets into trouble and items have to be repossessed or you have to repay debts, or, God forbid, face a costly lawsuit, the money won’t come out of your personal belongings. Your home, assets, and other property will all be safe. Similarly, if you experience problems with your personal finances, your business won’t be affected either.
Being Wary of Copyright and Trademarking
Speaking of legal issues related to starting your own business, copyrighting and trademarking issues impact what you can and can’t do with someone else’s intellectual property. If someone copyrighted or trademarked something they have created, you can’t use it to make your own profit. This is only fair.
So, before you settle on a brand name, brand colors (ie. John Deere green is a particular shade copyprotected by the company), brand logo, or anything else, make sure someone else isn’t already using it. There are all sorts of online databases that will help you find it a particular item is protected intellectual property, but usually, a simple search engine search will highlight whether something’s already out there that matches what you’re planning.
It’s also important that you protect your intellectual property when you come up with something good. If you come up with an original brand name and other assets to support your branding, you need to protect them. Investing in copyright and trademark protection is an investment for your brand and can prevent problems and brand changes down the line. It will also stop anyone profiting from your creativity and hard work.
Brick and Mortar vs Ecommerce
When it comes to selling your goods, you have to decide whether you want to focus on a traditional brick and mortar business (where you sell your goods from an actual shop) or E-commerce (where you will sell your goods online), or some combination that we call bricks and clicks.
Generally speaking, it’s best to start out with E-commerce. This represents a lower investment and has a host of benefits that can help to get your company off the ground. When you operate online, you aren’t confined to store opening hours. Your customers can shop at all hours of the day and night, maximizing your potential for sales and profit generation. You’re also not limited by location. People from all across the country can buy from you. If you add the option of international shipping, people from all around the world can engage with your brand too! Remember, if you have your heart set on a more traditional store, this is always something you can work towards down the line, once you’ve established your brand and have a little more cash behind you.
Don’t forget, however, that operating 24/7 is a two-edged sword because you’re also expected to respond to consumers in multiple time zones, so you need to prepare for around the clock support.
Of course, setting up a small business is going to be pretty tough at times. It’s a challenge. But it’s a challenge that could set you up for life, freeing you from the constraints of employment and giving you the opportunity to expand and progress!
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