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How To Start A Business Of Your Own (Hint: It’s Not Debt!)

You can start a business with these informative tips.

Nearly every business owner will agree: it’s great to be your own boss. According to Business Insider, over half a million people start new businesses each month. So what does it take? How do you start a business? The answers may surprise you.

Hold up. First, stop and think. Keep your current job, if you have one. Get all your thoughts and plans down on paper. Having this information organized also gives you the chance to step back and see if the concept is, after all, a good idea.

Search online for a good (free) business plan template. The one you choose doesn’t need to be fancy, but it should have these elements:

  • An executive summary. This briefly defines your purpose, philosophy and how your business will thrive. Be specific, but concise.
  • A description of your company and the market. This is where you’ll sell your business by explaining how it is unique, why the market needs your product, and what advantage you offer that your competitors do not.
  • An org chart. If you’re the only one running things, this diagram will be very simple. However, if others will be working with you— list their responsibilities and contributions here.
  • Sales and marketing strategy. Enough said.
  • Financial forecast. How will you fund your new business? Where will each dollar come from? Where will it go? How will it grow?

Make it official. You may have already changed businesses, products, or strategies a few times. That’s good. It was healthy to keep your options open… but it isn’t anymore.

The next step is to file forms to comply with tax obligations. Register your business as a nonprofit, a corporation, a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), or a sole proprietorship. Obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number), which keeps your business taxes distinct from your personal taxes. The IRS can help you determine which forms to file, depending on which business structure you choose.

Ensure you’re insured. Talk with a business insurance provider or two (or three!) to learn what options are available to you and what you can afford. Insurance is a must, but you have some flexibility when it comes to the specific product you purchase.

Fill your roster. You’ll want skilled advisers on speed-dial, including a strong lawyer and a sharp business consultant. This can also include dedicated friends and family who will help you spread the word. Establish a list of customers who agree they will buy your product as soon as you’re open for business. Consider asking volunteers to attend a modern-day “barn raising” where supporters come to work for a day. Enlist a designer buddy to help you get a website up in exchange for a favor, or a freelance writer to draft up some copy for your marketing materials.

If you happen to have thousands of dollars lying around, then sure, hire the best. But if you’re bootstrapping it, build a great team by simply asking your social circle to get involved.

Finally, start producing and selling. That’s right, you cannot run your business before the above steps are completed. However, once you’ve achieved them, brace yourself for sleepless nights, excitement, stress headaches, and priceless memories.

Many businesses can be launched without debt. If you have enough stick-to-it-iveness to accomplish the items on this task list above, then you have the self-discipline to start saving consistently for startup costs. If you already have a lot of personal debt, call a nonprofit debt counselor today to discuss your options. You may still be able to start a business and realize the dream of working for yourself.

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