Once you’ve decided on a business structure and a location for your new business, it’s time to get ready to launch your business. This is an exciting time because it’s where you start putting your business into action and making your ideas a reality. Starting a business is a big undertaking that requires attention to detail, investment of resources, and the coordination of multiple contributions coming from all directions – just like the launch of a Space Shuttle.
Every Space Shuttle launch started with a “countdown” on the launching pad to help the engineers and support staff ensure that all the equipment was working properly and all of the processes were in place for a successful flight. In the same way, as you get ready to launch your business, it’s important to be thorough in completing all of the necessary steps and “checking the boxes” along the way.
If you complete all the steps on this countdown to launch, you’ll be better positioned for success as your business takes flight:
Countdown To Launch Your Business
Write a Business Plan and Set Your Prices
There’s an old saying:
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
So before you do anything else, you should go through the exercise of writing a business plan. Even if you have a clear idea of what kind of business you want to start, even if you think that your business plan is “simple” or “easy,” committing to putting it in writing by creating a formal, written business plan will almost certainly be time well spent. By writing a business plan, you are taking time to understand and analyze the market demand for your product or service.
Your business plan should show how you can tailor your offerings to meet the needs of customers, how you will compare with competitors, and how you will grow over time. An important part of your business plan is deciding what prices to charge for your products or services.
Spend some time researching and analyzing the typical prices charged by your competitors. Find out how you can add extra value to command a higher price. Find out the bare minimum price that you can afford to charge to break even, and then build in enough of a profit margin that you can have some additional “cushion.”
Do you expect that your business will have certain “busy seasons” and quiet periods throughout the year? If so, plan for the cash flow needs of your business. Try to anticipate when your business will be bringing in revenue and when you will need to dip into your cash reserves.
Writing a business plan will help you avoid surprises that are costly or even fatal for your business down the road. Lots of people have “can’t miss” business ideas that fall short of their potential (or never get off the ground) because these would-be entrepreneurs don’t do the research and take time to write a business plan. Don’t let this happen to you.
Write a Marketing Plan
So you’ve got a business idea and you’ve written a business plan. Now you need to figure out who’s going to buy from you, why they should buy from you, and how you’re going to reach them to build relationships with your future customers. As part of the overall business plan, you also need to create a specific “Marketing Plan” that identifies your target markets and outlines ways to reach them.
Creating a marketing plan – a blueprint for how to find and engage with your customers – is one of the most exciting parts of running your own business (and one of the most critical for your success).
Name Your Business
Just like new parents give their baby a name, new business owners need to choose a name for the business. Choosing a business name can be fun, creative and exciting, but it can also be nerve-wracking – how do you choose the right name to concisely and credibly serve as your business’s first impression to the world?
Another consideration in naming a business is to choose a business name that is not already being used by someone else. Making sure you have a unique business name will help you avoid trademark and copyright problems or potential disputes with other business owners. Before you invest too much in a great new name, you should do a business name search to make sure it is not already in use in a way that could create a conflict with another business.
CorpNet™ offers a free business name search that can help you check to verify whether the business name of your choice is available. If you are forming a corporation or Limited Liability Company (LLC) as part of starting your business, your company’s legal entity name will often be the same as the business name. If it is a different name, or if you are a sole proprietor and using a fictitious name for your business (that is, a name other than your own), you will need to register a Doing Business As (DBA) name with the state or county in which you intend to operate.
CorpNet™ can also help prepare and file your DBA application. Once you choose a name for your business, it is also a good time to buy a URL for your business website. Ideally, your business website URL will include your business name (or something close, so that customers can easily find you online). You should also take steps to protect your business name, including possibly filing for trademark protection. If you’d like to learn more about “what’s in a name” when it comes to your business, contact CorpNet for a free business consultation.
Once you have decided on a business name (and made sure it is available for you to use), you should next determine the best form of legal entity for your business.
Form a Legal Entity for your Business
As we discussed in our previous articles on incorporating a business and choosing a business structure, there are many choices, including incorporating your business by forming a C Corporation or S Corporation, forming a partnership or limited liability company (LLC), or operating as a sole proprietorship.
Different legal entities have different advantages, complications and drawbacks. You will need to decide which type of business structure is right for you. CorpNet™ offers easy-to-use online guides and tools to help entrepreneurs make the best choice of business structure to fit their needs.
Once you decide if you want an LLC, S Corporation or other business structure, CorpNet can help you form your business’s legal entity. We manage the business filings for you, making it fast and cost-effective for you to make your business “official” as a legal entity.
If you have a complex or unusual business, you should consider hiring a good attorney and tax accountant from the beginning of your business operations.
Now that the countdown to launch your business is complete, it’s time to get ready for the daily work of running your business.
In the next article in our series, we’ll talk about the nitty gritty details of how to outfit and equip your business, how to learn the rules of running your business with the proper licensing, how to protect your business with liability insurance, and how to get ready to market your business and start making sales.
And if you’re unsure about which type of business structure is right for you, take our quiz and find out now!
Countdown Clock Photo via Shutterstock