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Article from our Guest Expert Kyle Wilkins

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4 Important Things to Know When Starting a Small Business

Do you have an idea for a business that has you ready to get started on the paperwork right away? Before you take on the huge commitment of dedicating your whole life to getting your fledgling business off the ground, make sure you are familiar with all of the basic first steps you will need to follow in order to start a successful, healthy new business with the potential for stable, long-term growth.

1)     Start with the Nuts & Bolts

Once you've figured out what general service(s) you want to offer, make sure you know what specifically will make your business stand out from the crowd. The world already has lots of dog trainers in the world. What about your credentials and your method make you a brand new voice in the market? Do you have a strategy for working with dogs that is all your own? Do you combine your training with doggie daycare? Have you received any awards or recommendations?

Once you've figured out what sets you apart from the crowd, come up with a name. You will need to purchase the rights to your name and register it, so go online to look up all company names and registrations before you settle on one that is fun, catchy, and reflects your business.

Next, attend to legal matters. Depending on the nature of your business, you may have to follow particular local, regional, or national guidelines. Make sure your paperwork is all taken care of, that you are registered with a Tax ID, and that you know all laws relevant to your business type.

2)     Figure Out a Starting Budget

Do you expect to be working on your own at first or do you want to hire on a few starting employees? Figure out how much money you can start out with. You may want to consider using budgeting software so that you can clearly see what you can work with. Do you have enough in savings that you are comfortable spending on this project? Do you need to take out a business loan? How many employees can you afford up front?

Next, figure out the starting logistics. Will you work from your home? If you have other employees, will they work remotely or do you want to rent an office location where your employees will work? Do you have enough for office supplies including furniture, computers, and telephones? If you can wait until you have some clients and income accumulated, you may be able to secure a more stable footing before risking your money on investing in an office location!

3)     Get Ready to Self-Promote

Once you have figured out the logistics of starting a business out of your home or of creating a brick and mortar location, it's time to start thinking about creating a client base. Who are the people that your services will appeal to? Who are the people who might already buy from you? What are the means of self-promotion that will most appeal to their sensibilities?

To get started, you should be sure to set up a website and to build company profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. Depending on the nature of your business, you may also want to be on Pinterest and Instagram.

In setting up your website, try to get a domain name that is the same as your business name. If that is not available or is too expensive, you may actually want to consider picking a different business name so that your business name and URL will match. You've no doubt experienced confusion before when working with a company whose URL didn't match their business name, so you've seen how this can easily lead to misdirection and loss of sales.

Next, start to build your website. Choose a reputable hosting company that will be safe and secure and will be suitable to growing your website as your company grows. Be sure to have some form of website security to protect you against malware and prevent you from missing out on traffic. Now that part of your profits depend on your website, you will become a bigger target for hackers, so you will want to take extra measures to ensure the safety of your network and devices.

4)     Find Those Clients!

Now that you have a great looking business backing you up, it's time to connect with clients! Try to think of things that will appeal to your specific network. For example:

  • Get advertising space on local TV and radio channels.
  • Put ads in the paper and on local websites. Buy banner space on websites that cater to your industry or local area.
  • Put a listing in the phone book.
  • Request an interview with a publication that appeals to your consumer base.
  • Offer discounts and coupons for referrals as well as follows and likes on social media.

Now that you're on track to building up an industry presence and a client base, you're on your way to succeeding as a local business. Check out these resources for more tips. Good luck!



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About the Expert

Peter Hupalo
Owner of HCM Publishing, Inc.
Peter investigates the latest computer-programming technologies and researches companies for investment. He also writes a column about entrepreneurship and small business for and reviews biz books. Peter wrote Thinking Like An Entrepreneur, about how to make savvy business decisions and take real control of your financial destiny. more