7 Vital Steps to Help Your New Business Start, Grow, and Profit

Let's dive  straight in:
STEP 1 — Legalities and Accounting
It can be easier than  you think to learn the details of how to start a small business. It doesn't take  that much at all — you may need a state license and possibly a county or local  license. And you'll need to find out about charging sales tax, if that is  required, and about other tax issues.
Depending on what your business does,  special licensing may be required. For example, if you were opening a garage,  you would need a special license for the handling and disposal of hazardous  materials. Once you have dealt with those legal and tax issues, you might then  want to learn about what kinds of insurance is necessary. A moving company, for  example, needs insurance for their trucks, and their employees must be bonded.  Special insurance covers damage done to customers' personal possessions.
How  many employees will you need? If you were running a home daycare center, you  might not need another employee. You could choose to file taxes as  self-employed, but it is usually smarter to create a company. There are  instructions online that concern creating a corporation or LLC.
There are  many other things to consider too, including the source of start-up costs and  potential sources of income. Online businesses typically have lower start-up  costs, simply because there is no need for a storefront. So, if you can do  business online, it's a great way to get started.
Step 1 Summary: Get clear  on the legalities and accounting set up right from the start.
STEP 2 — Get  good advice!
This may all sound a little complicated, and if you're new to  business – a bit of a muddle! I strongly suggest you find an accountant and  lawyer you feel comfortable dealing with and speak with them. Some do offer  initially free consultations. And frankly, if you're looking into starting a  business, you'll have start up costs, and accountants and lawyers are one such  cost.
Now, this is just my personal preference so definitely isn't a hard  and fast rule — but I've always preferred dealing with smaller accounting and  legal firms as much as possible. In fact, my current accountant is just a father  and son team. My reasoning for this is I find they'll give you more attention,  they'll be more patient with your questions, and they'll take the time to  understand you and your business. In my experience, larger companies do NOT do  this.
Another rule I have regarding lawyers and accountants is I ask for  clear estimates on how much any work will cost. I've been stung in the past by  an 'open ended' invoice. That's where they say "We'll let you know how much it  is, once we've done the work."
You then find they've charged you thousands!  This is exactly what a fledgling business does NOT need. This is what I always  do now and strongly recommend you consider it. With a bit of searching, you can  find great companies to work with, so that research is time well spent. Because  once you've found an accountant or lawyer you're happy with, chances are you'll  keep dealing with them for years!
Step 2 Summary: Get good advice from a  lawyer and accountant that you feel comfortable working with long term (and that  won't overbill you!).
STEP 3 — Where does the internet fit in?
Okay,  the internet; let's say you provide a service that requires a conventional  store, it's still highly recommended that have an online presence. Many people  have stopped using their phone books and even Yellow Pages in favor of searching  on the internet.
In fact, getting traffic for local phrases like "accountant  in XXXXX" (where XXXXX is that person's home town, or district), is relatively  easy right now as there's really not that much competition for such niche  searches. If you're able to do such online marketing yourself, or can hire  someone to help you with this, targeting such relevant, yet relatively low  competition phrases can easily bring you new customers.
I really would say  that now most people, young and old alike, enjoy the internet and that's where  they often go for information. Whether they are looking for a restaurant or  computer parts, they may well go online first to do some research, and maybe to  see what's in their area. But that said, don't completely ignore other ways to  advertise – people still do check the Yellow Pages and their local paper!
Okay — today, learning how to make use of the internet is a vital part of  starting and growing a small business. While many conventional businesses fail  within the first year, many online businesses turn a profit within the first few  months or even the first few weeks! Especially since start up costs are lower,  so there's less risk, and insurance is generally not required and even licensing  is a simpler issue to deal with (or perhaps not at all necessary – again, get  good advice from a lawyer and accountant).
Step 3 Summary: Don't ignore the  internet as a promotional tool, but depending on the kind of business you have,  don't necessarily depend on it either! It's possible to advertise to find local  customers surprisingly inexpensively online, but don't ignore the 'old  fashioned' ways to advertise – many still work great!

STEP 4 — Hobby Business = Hobby MoneyThe lower the required  investment in a new business or project, it can cause people to treat that  business as a 'hobby'. With low investment comes less incentive to HAVE to make  it work. Don't let that happen to you. If you treat your business as a hobby,  you'll make 'hobby income'.
I've seen this first hand. Especially with  internet based businesses. For example – I was asked once at an internet  marketing seminar "Do you dabble?" (They were talking about running an internet  business.) If you dabble in business, you don't get anywhere! Make a real  commitment to your business.
Step 4 Summary: Treat your business like a  hobby, and you'll make hobby money. This is especially true when the business  starts as part time.
STEP 5 — The More You Know…
So in a nut shell  (and you may find this a running theme in some of my articles!) — DO THE  RESEARCH. The more you research before starting a business:
* The legalities
* The best structure for your business
* How to organize your accounts
* Your competition
* Your business and marketing plan
The greater  you put the odds of significant success in your favor. And remember that you  certainly do NOT have to be an expert at everything — do bring good advice on  board from other people… start building your 'business team' with an  accountant and lawyer you're comfortable working with.
Step 5 Summary: The  more you know about your future business, before you even get started, the more  you're putting success in your favor. But on the other hand – Paralysis by  Analysis is a really danger for many people, so do give yourself a firm cut off  date, for when the research stops, and the action starts…
STEP 6 — Make  Every Dollar Count
A business is a sum of it's parts, and a big percentage  of those parts are you, and the people you work with. I actually tried doing  everything myself at the start, and because of that my business grew VERY slowly  for the first few years. The more you distribute work to the right people  (accountants, lawyers, freelancers, staff members…) the more your business  will achieve, and the faster it will grow.
However of course, at every step  do keep a close eye on cash, and make sure all investments in your business are  designed as much as possible, for a maximum Return On Investment. So saying  that, it may actually be necessary for you to start off doing everything  yourself, spending as little money as possible, starting to understand every  aspect of the business, paying yourself a low salary from the business (the more  money left in a company, the healthier it is), and then re-investing profits  into future growth, whether that's for:
* Freelancers
* Staff members
* More advertising and marketing
All this depends of course on your  initial investment amount… the smaller the amount, the more you'll have to do  yourself at the start, and then by keeping cash in the company, you can grow  more and more over time by re-investing.
However, if you start with a larger  investment, you can potentially grow quicker by bringing more people on board  immediately. That said, and I know this is a bit of a running theme in this  article… but do bring on an accountant and lawyer you're comfortable with,  right from the start — that's VITAL. Make sure they're within your budget and  that you feel you can work with them long term — this really is important if  you're serious at all about your business, and it's future growth.
And if  you do have a decent investment amount to start your business, don't let that  make you sloppy with costs! Just as if you were starting on a shoestring – every  dollar much be accountable! Why do you think so many dot coms went bust? Because  they wasted money like crazy.
Step 6 Summary: If you have a decent amount of  money to start the business, it can grow a lot quicker for you than if you  didn't, but still — you must make every dollar count! If you don't have much  money to start your new business, then initial growth might be quite slow as  you'll have to do everything yourself. However, this is how I started, and after  a while it paid off BIG once I re-invested profits!
STEP 7 — Skills That  Pay The Bills
Do make sure you make the commitment to develop the know how  and skills right from the start, which are required to run a successful  business. It's very well learning about something, but you only get good at  something by applying knowledge in the real world. There's a world of difference  between 'theory' and 'skill'. Theory will never pay your bills, whereas skill  will.
So this may mean you need to learn project management, basic book  keeping, offline marketing, online marketing, sales etc.
That's part of the  problem running a business, you really do need to be a Jack (or Jackie) of all  Trades! And that knowledge, and skill base doesn't arrive overnight. So if  that's the case, and you don't have the investment right now to 'buy the know  how' by bringing freelancers or staff on board, then you'll need to build your  business slowly and get hands on experience as you go, until you're confident  enough, and the company has enough money, so start really growing.
Step 7  Summary: Theory won't pay your bills. Skills pay the bills. And as a business  owner you need a lot of skills. You can only get these by doing, so get started!
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