For a surprising number of people, one of their main aspirations in life is to eventually become their own boss. According to CPA Practice Advisor, as many as 24 million Americans share this dream. Why is becoming an entrepreneur such a coveted position?
Starting your own business grants you flexibility, independence, opportunity, and the ability to directly help others. As your own boss, you set your hours and decide exactly when you will take vacations, you can pursue new opportunities and truly explore creating meaningful work, and you can personally set up initiatives to give back to the local community.
If starting your own business appeals to you, here is what you need to do to make it happen.
Create a Business Plan
Unfortunately, many startup businesses do not last. In fact, only 50% will make it for at least five years. Part of the reason for failed business ventures is the lack of a mission or agenda. Tip the scales in your favor by putting together a detailed business plan.
A well-structured business plan will include a clearly defined mission statement, a business description, a brief outline of the products or services you offer, market research and the ways your business will fit into that market, a list of who will be running the company and more about each individual, and a well-thought-out financial plan.
Business plans are an invaluable tool that will give you insight into your company’s future and finances. Plus, it will lay out all the details for investors, executives, and other professionals who may otherwise wish to finance your startup.
Figure Out How to Safely Store Data
These days, just about all businesses will require some digitization. That may include your company website, digital payment processing systems, company data storage systems, and more. Prepare for this inevitability.
Know that the transmission of data and safe, secure storage of data is essential to the modern startup, and plan for it. Remember that failing to do so may mean losing customers — or permanently losing business. If you have customers’ payment information or personal information on file, they trust you to keep it safe and not to compromise their information during security threats.
To keep customers’ data as secure as possible, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends collecting only the information you need, use encryption and authentication to secure data, invest in quality security software, and update that software regularly. It also helps to have a plan in place about what will happen if there is a data breach. How will you respond to it, and how will you ensure your response is quick and effective?
Focus on Marketing
What does your business need to get off on the right foot? Remember, marketing can make a tremendous difference, and it can, in fact, be responsible for the success of your company. Why is marketing so critically important?
Over half (51%) of Internet traffic comes from organic search inquiries, 10% can be attributed to paid search, and social media accounts for 5% of all web traffic. The remaining 34% comes from all other marketing sources. These figures make it clear. People will find your company via search and social media, but you have to put the word out there or invest in these platforms first.
Don’t Forget About the Legal Side of Things
What is product liability insurance? How much tax will your company owe? What specific tax laws do you need to know about as a startup company? If you do not know the answers to these questions, you need to. Work closely with a business lawyer to dot your Is and cross your Ts as you start your company — not after.
For many, starting their own business is the American dream. Make it happen — and make it last — by going about it the right way. Establish a business plan, invest in marketing and a good business lawyer, and make important decisions about data security before your business launches.