Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy — and there's no better time to start one than now. Not only do small businesses provide much-needed goods and services to our communities, but they also create jobs and generate revenue that strengthens the local economy. If you're thinking of starting a small business in the Dulles area, here are seven tips to get you started on the right track.
The first step in starting any business is understanding what goods or services your community needs. When you identify a need in your community that isn't being met, you have the perfect opportunity to fill it with your small business. For example, if you live in a rural area with no grocery store nearby, starting a grocery delivery service would be a great way to meet your community's needs.
Once you've identified a need in your community that your small business can fill, it's time to start putting together a business plan. Your business plan should lay out all the details of your business, including your mission statement, marketing strategy, operating procedures, and financial projections. Having a well-crafted business plan will not only make it easier to get funding for your business, but it will also help keep you organized and on track as you work to get your business up and running.
Don’t feel confident in your abilities to execute an effective business plan? Then you may be better off bringing in a professional for this task. You can use a freelancer website like Fiverr to compare the profiles of dozens of professionals, including their portfolios and customer reviews, to help you find the best fit for your needs.
One of the most important decisions you'll make when starting a small business is choosing the right legal structure for your business. One of the most common structures for small businesses is the limited liability company (LLC). LLC owners are not held personally liable for the debts and liabilities of the business, and an LLC allows its owners to choose how the business will be taxed.
In addition, an LLC is relatively easy to set up and maintain, making it an attractive option for small businesses. It’s still a good idea to work with a professional to file your LLC paperwork to ensure you’re set up in a legally-compliant manner from the beginning. Read the reviews of the top agencies that can take this task on for you to decide on the best company for your needs — be sure to look at each service’s business history, TrustPilot rating, and price when making your choice.
The next step in starting your small business is securing the funding needed to get your business off the ground. There are a number of ways to finance your small business, including loans, grants, credit cards, and personal savings. A good first step to deciding which of these options makes the most sense for your situation is to meet with a business banker at the institution where you currently have personal accounts.
Another option for funding your startup is crowdfunding, a relatively new concept more and more entrepreneurs are utilizing. Sites like Indiegogo, Kickstarter, and SeedInvest allow people from all over the world to financially back your business in exchange for promotional materials (like company T-shirts) or a discounted product once you’re up and running. If you’re interested in going this route, check out this resource, which offers a breakdown of different crowdfunding sites’ fees, user ratings, and target audience.
Once you've secured funding for your small business, it's time to start working on developing a marketing strategy. After all, no matter how great your product or service is, if nobody knows about it, you're not going to be in business for long. There are many different marketing channels available to small businesses these days, including social media, email marketing, content marketing, and pay-per-click advertising. Identify which channels will work best for reaching your target market and allocate your budget accordingly.
No matter how big or small your company is — or how good at math you are — you need to implement strong accounting practices from day one if you want your business to be successful. Fortunately, there are many accounting software programs available that can make managing finances much easier (and less stressful). Find one that fits both your needs and budget and get started tracking income and expenses so you always know where your business stands financially.
Last but not least, don't forget to get insured. No matter how safe you try to make your workplace, accidents can still happen — and when they do, you want to make sure you're covered financially. There are many different types of insurance available for businesses, including property insurance, liability insurance, workers' compensation insurance, and product liability insurance. Make sure you're properly insured before opening for business so you can rest easy knowing both you and your company are protected.
If you're thinking about starting a small business in the Dulles area, there's no better time than now to launch. With these seven tips in mind and all of the benefits offered by your Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce membership, you'll be well on your way to getting started on the right foot.