Starting your own business can be a liberating experience. Indeed, a major goal for many people is working for themselves, free from the constraints of a larger company and able to make decisions and reap the rewards accordingly. Doing so requires a great deal of planning, though, and the prospect can be daunting if you’re testing the waters for the first time.
The better you can prepare for contingencies in the initial stages of preparation, the more likely your new business is to succeed. And while every business has its own unique aspects, launching a successful company always entails some variation of these basic steps.
Do your research
Before jumping headfirst into selling your own products and services, it’s a good idea to know what to expect. What’s the mood of the market? How big is it? What can you do better?
That will give you a sense of opportunities to establish your niche. As you do so, ask yourself some practical questions about your potential business:
- What kind of opportunities are available here?
- What will be required to take advantage of them?
- What problems and challenges are facing companies?
- What contingencies should my business have in place for the unexpected?
Power tip: Go beyond bookmarks and quickly save information as a note with Web Clipper. Save web page URLs, images, and descriptions to Evernote and keep all your related content in one easy-to-find place.
Write a business plan
A business plan is your road map to success; not just the concrete steps you take to start your own business, but measurable milestones to chart your progress while providing points for assessment. The stronger your plan, the more success you’ll have in attracting people to work with you, invest in your company, or do business with you.
It should include:
- An objective analysis of the market and the needs you believe your business could meet
- Company structure and organization
- A list of products sold and/or services offered
- An organized marketing strategy, including customer demographics
- Means of funding, initial investment figures, and financial projections covering expected expenses and revenue
Power tip: Keep track of your plan and your current progress, and integrate all of the data into a single reference file using templates in Evernote. This way you can easily organize and access your information whenever you need it. Saved templates are synced so they’re readily available on all of your devices. What’s more, they’re fully customizable and endlessly reusable.
Prepare your finances
You’ll need startup funds to cover equipment, office space, personnel, and other necessities. If you don’t have sufficient funds on-hand, you’ll need to raise the capital by attracting investors.
Before they jump on board, though, investors will want to see a detailed business plan. Expect a negotiation of terms and due diligence to be performed on your finances. The more work you put into that on the front end, the better prepared you’ll be.
Power tip: Evernote is a strong tool for financial management, letting you track your finances from receipts to invoices to budget plans. Drag PDF bills or statements into Evernote; if you’re on a paid plan, forward any receipts or documents from your email directly into Evernote.
Lay down the basics
With funding in hand, you need to provide the operating basics for starting your own business. That includes purchasing equipment, renting office space, production and distribution, a marketing plan, a name and logo, and more.
Your organization and structural plans will come into play here, and will likely face unexpected challenges as your business gains traction. The better you can anticipate and resolve those issues, the more likely your business will succeed.
Power tip: Tasks in Evernote are designed to handle the busy schedule of day-to-day business. By consolidating all of your to-dos in one place, you can access them quickly and address them in a timely fashion. Tasks live inside your notes, so there’s no need to switch between your notes and a dedicated task manager.
Make everything legal
Once you’ve planned for the day-to-day operations of your new business, you need to make sure you operate within the law.
- Register your business as a distinct legal entity. The specifics depend on where you are operating and the type of business you start.
- Establish an employer identification number (EIN) for federal and state taxes. There may be additional requirements, depending on where your business will be founded.
- Obtain pertinent licenses and permits, and be sure to address any additional legalities required to operate your business.
Power tip: Organize all your PDF files and other documents in Evernote, making any necessary annotations and keeping similar information together. That smooths out the paperwork to help you work through application processes efficiently.
Small businesses are often just that, and when you first start yours, you may be the only employee—or one of only a handful of people— responsible for covering every task.
As such, you will often don many hats, and until the business sees steady success and growth, you should be adept at handling all the elements needed to keep it running.
Power tip: Stay on top of everything by streamlining all your activities in Home. Pin important notes and save filtered views, all tailored to the unique needs of your workload. Shape your workflow experience with a variety of widgets you can rearrange and resize. Connect your Google Calendar to instantly link notes to events and get quick access to them later.
From employee to entrepreneur
Starting a business from scratch can be exciting, daunting, and downright scary. When you become your own boss, you’re suddenly responsible for everything related to your business. This can be overwhelming, and it can be hard to know exactly where to start.
Preparation is key to success. By creating a system of organization from day one, you ensure that your business is as professional as possible—and that you won’t miss any important details as you step outside your comfort zone and face the world on your own.
Staying on top of it all requires a solid plan, and you can help yourself by creating a rock-solid foundation with the right tools. There has never been a better time to step out on your own, and if starting your own business is a priority for you, being prepared and organized will give you the best shot at success.