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4 How To Open A Small Business (Complete With Pictures)

Small Business - How To Open A Small Business - Once you've decided to start a small business, formulated your business plan, prepared financing, and secured a location, it's finally time to start a business. While planning a business can present challenges, actually opening a business and making the business concept a reality has its own set of difficulties. To stand a better chance of long-term success, you need to get your business off to a good start. Here are a few tips on how to start your business legally, hire your first employees, spread the word and organize a grand opening.

  • How to legal formation of company

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Make sure you have a business plan. A business plan is critical to the success of a business and can be viewed as a plan that describes your business, your products/services, your market and how your business will expand over the next three to five years. It is essentially a “roadmap” for your business to follow going forward.

How to write a business plan provides a lot of useful information about the process, such as: determining your potential market and its viability; Identifying the initial needs and start-up costs of your business; identification of potential investors; Creation of your business strategy and marketing plan; and creating a clear, concise document ending with your “Executive Summary” in which you essentially “sell” your business to investors and prospects.

See the following wikiHow articles for more information on how to start a small business; Starting a small retail business like a bakery; and, among other things, the ins and outs of starting a business in California.

To make sure you're ready to open up, consult the US Small Business Administration's (SBA) 10-part checklist for starting a business. Each part of the checklist is summarized in the following three steps.

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Determine the legal form of your company. Before you start your business and submit the required paperwork, it is important to decide how your business will be legally structured. In general, you either start a sole proprietorship; Partnership; group; or Limited Liability Company (LLC). Both have important legal and tax implications.

A sole proprietorship is owned and operated by one person and there is no difference between the owner and the company. This means that all profits, losses, debts and liabilities of the company are your responsibility. Choose this if you are the sole owner and want to take full responsibility for the business.

Partnership: A partnership is formed when two or more people share ownership. In a partnership, each partner (unless otherwise noted) has an equal share in the profits, liabilities, and management of the company. This can be useful to pool capital and know-how to start the business.

Corporation: A corporation is an independent legal entity owned by shareholders. In general, this structure is not suitable for small businesses.

Limited Liability Company (LLC): An LLC is similar to a partnership except that members are protected from personal liability for actions of the LLC. For example, if the LLC is sued, the partners' personal assets are usually exempt. If you're concerned about personal susceptibility to lawsuits or debt arising out of your business, this may be a good option.

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Form the necessary legal form. There is a different process to form each of these structures and some require more work while others are extremely easy. Details on how each type is formed can be found on the US Small Business Administration (SBA) website.

Starting a sole proprietorship is the easiest as no formal action is required. Simply obtain your EIN (described below), set up a business name (described below) and you can declare your business income on your personal tax return.

LLCs, partnerships and corporations are a bit more complex to set up and require special documentation. For details, visit the SBA website or contact the SBA.

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Obtain a tax identification number. Also known as an Employee Identification Number (EIN), the EIN is used to identify your company for tax purposes. Applying for an EIN is easy and can be done in minutes on the IRS website.

Note that it is not necessary to obtain an EIN if you are forming a partnership or sole proprietorship. However, it may be advisable to do so anyway. Without an EIN, your business will be identified by your Social Security Number (SSN) for tax purposes. Keeping your SSN private reduces the likelihood of identity theft.

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Register your company name. Unless you are running the business under your own name, such as For example, for "John Smith Painting," most states require that you register a "Doing Business As" (DBA) name for tax and legal reasons. A DBA is registered with your state government or district secretariat. Search online for your state's specific requirements.

Setting up a DBA name usually takes only a few minutes and is especially useful if you are a sole proprietorship. This allows you to have a company name separate from your personal name. If you form a sole proprietorship, the company name will automatically be set to your personal name unless you file a DBA.

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Obtain a business license. The city or county in which you operate requires a business license. You can usually find these forms on your city's website.

These forms require your business type, address, number of employees, EIN, and possibly revenue information (estimates work well here).

Keep in mind that licensing requirements often apply to online and home businesses, as well as typical brick-and-mortar businesses. Requirements vary by location, so be sure to check with your local and state government to determine specific requirements.

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Inquire about other required permits. Unfortunately, each city or county has different business permitting requirements. This can include things like "household permits" for work-from-home businesses, "alarm permits" if your business requires a commercial alarm, or various alcohol and firearms permits.

Contact your local government permitting office or similar agency, or contact your local chamber of commerce or business association for advice.

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Set up a bank account for your business. It is very important not to mix business and personal finances as this can cause problems with the IRS. Separate bank accounts for business and personal transactions simplify accounting and make tax requirements easier to understand.

To open a business account, simply contact your local bank or credit union.

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Consult an attorney or small business accountant for more information. While forming a sole proprietorship is relatively easy, involving a professional is essential when forming an LLC, corporation, or partnership.

A professional can guide you through the forms to fill out and also help you draft important partnership documents. For example, the formation of an LLC or partnership involves documents stating what ownership rights are attributed to each partner. This must be stated in a legally valid form.

  • How to preparing to open business

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Define employer responsibilities. Before you begin hiring, make sure you've taken the necessary steps to collect federal and state payroll taxes, prove employee eligibility, and obtain worker's compensation insurance, among other things.

One of your key responsibilities is to ensure employees are eligible to work in the United States. To do this, you must fill out "Form I-9" within three days of hiring a new employee. Completing this form requires you to submit documents to verify your employees' citizenship and their eligibility to work in the United States. The form can be downloaded from the US Immigration and Customs website. Note that you do not have to file this form with the federal government, but you must keep it for three years after the hire date or one year after the termination date, whichever is later.

Be sure to register for workers compensation insurance with your state's workers compensation insurance program.

If you hire an employee, they must provide you with a signed Form W4, which you must send to the IRS, before employment begins. This allows you to withhold federal tax.

For more information on hiring and employer responsibilities, visit the SBA website (

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Hire the right people. First impressions are crucial for a new small business, and unless you do all the work yourself, that impression will be made, at least in part, by the people you hire.

Ideally, you'll find someone who knows the business—someone who's twirled dough if you're opening a pizza shop, say—but more importantly, find someone who's willing and eager to learn. You need employees who want to learn to do things your way (and represent your company).

However, you have to be willing to let go a little. This business has been your baby for a long time, but when you release it into the world, you need help taking care of it. Look for employees who are willing to contribute ideas and adapt as the company goes through its early growing pains.

Do your homework. Look at the CVs. View references. Don't just hire your nephew to make your brother happy. (Wait for your business to get going.)

Key questions such as "Can you give an example of a problem that you have successfully solved?" can provide insight into a prospect's ambition, resourcefulness and work ethic. However, remember that such questions are asked frequently. and the respondent may have already prepared standard answers. (So ​​an inability to respond effectively is a bad sign.) Also, try to think of a few problem-solving hypotheses that are specific to your small business, for example.

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Prepare your site. Whether you have a physical or virtual business website, the impression it makes on your first customers is critical to your chances of success.

If your store includes a window — say, a candy store or an antique store — set up your space to represent your vision for the store. For example, coordinate color patterns and decor with your logo or consider personalizing it with family photos to establish your essential connection to this company. Consider hiring a professional interior designer and/or decorator.

A web presence is becoming (if not already) essential for any new small business, so don't take this aspect for granted. Especially if your business has a significant web-based component, make your website intuitive, manageable, and appropriate for the brand identity you're trying to build. It can be a good idea to hire a professional web designer.

If your budget is tight and/or your business doesn't need a traditional storefront, don't overspend on a fancy space. A local coffee shop can be a good place to meet clients, or you can rent a space for such gatherings as needed. Wait until your business has a solid foundation before expanding into a nicer space.

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Consider a "soft" opening. There's no rule that says your first day of trading has to be your grand open. Give your company a chance to solve the problems before it announces itself to the world.

Restaurants are probably the best-known example of businesses that often have soft openings — rehearsals of dinners with invited guests, maybe just friends and family. But the concept can work with almost any small business. Send the crews of your new landscaping company to work on your local relatives' homes, lure your friends in with free pedicures, or convince your book club to come in and discuss their life insurance needs.

Officially open without much fanfare, perhaps for a week or two before your (well-publicized) grand opening. Customers will likely just trickle in, but that will make it easier to practice getting things right before the hopeful onslaught of customers arrives.

  • How to spreading the word small business

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Start early. Don't wait until opening day, or even until you know when opening day will be. Be proactive to build brand awareness and create anticipation. A "in preparation" sign on your storefront is a good start, but it's not enough on its own.

Save the bulk of your initial marketing budget for the grand opening, but before that, use budget-friendly options like flyers, targeted direct mail, and a social media presence.

Try to build your brand even before your site is ready. If you want to sell handmade necklaces or handmade pierogies, find a local craft or food festival where you can set up a table and sell your wares. (Make sure to advertise your forthcoming retail presence.) If you're an accountant, you might be able to volunteer (and give out business cards) tax advice at your local community center or library.

Leverage the wealth of free consumer data provided by the Census Bureau and Department of Labor to learn more about customers.

After identifying your consumer profile (who actually buys the product), use the federal data to find even more consumers and reach the masses. Combine this data with insights from free reports provided by research companies (like Nielsen) to determine how best to market your product/service to your consumer mass.

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Set a marketing budget. The run-up to opening and the first few months of operations can very well make or break your new small business, so make sure you put a lot of effort into your initial marketing push.

One suggestion is to spend 20% of your first year marketing budget on your grand opening. This amount should be large enough to get your message across widely at a time when your ads are likely to be most effective, but at the same time not an "all-in-one-basket" situation that leaves you with limited ability to post-market Advertising.

For example, spend $4,500 to promote your opening, because that amount should be enough for two media purchases. If that amount is out of your reach, you might be able to use a mix of flyers, direct mail, promotional items (balloons, banners, etc.), and a "sign spinner" at a busy intersection for about $1,500.

Of course, this assumes you have a fairly large marketing budget of $22,500 ($4,500 is 20% of $22,500). Since many companies have much smaller marketing budgets (maybe just a few thousand dollars), you're always working within 20% of your marketing budget.

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Use traditional media. If your marketing budget allows, consider using traditional media such as radio or newspaper. If you can also manage TV advertising, it's always a good idea to diversify your advertising exposure.

Before you cast aside radio as an outdated media format, consider that about three-quarters of American adults listen to the radio at least occasionally, and often do so when traveling somewhere. As such, radio can be a particularly good advertising method for retail stores and restaurants. Target your ads by format (top 40, country, talk, etc.) and time of day to maximize impact.

Newspapers are popular with those over 35, but even a decent percentage of younger adults read a newspaper occasionally. Newspapers are still an inexpensive way to reach thousands of potential customers.

Also consider adding coupons; They not only motivate a visit, but create a tangible connection between a potential customer and your company. It's also easy to track their effectiveness as more coupons come in, which means they're doing their job.

You can expect TV advertising to exceed your small business budget, but there are ways to produce and run more affordable ads, sometimes with support from the local TV station. Consider bundling your ads into programs relevant to your target customer base — say, television judges' shows for a law firm or the nightly sports news for a golf school — so you appear like a primary sponsor.

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Use social media. Even if you don't distinguish your tweets from your tags or assume that your tailoring shop doesn't need a social media presence, use every opportunity to get the word out about your business. About 80% of your fellow small business owners use social media, especially for marketing purposes.

The appeal of social media advertising is its low cost and direct connection to potential customers, but remember that the trade-off is likely to be a greater investment of time. Conduct a detailed analysis of your targeted and existing customer base and try to coordinate your brand identity and message across platforms.

With the ever-growing number of social media platforms, you may feel tempted to be active on as many as possible. But don't spread your business (or yourself) too thinly. If your salon is targeting moms in their 40s who are likely to use Facebook, focus your energy on that. Don't get bogged down in postings all the time; a few times a week will probably suffice. You will be very busy with all the other details of your business opening.

However, there are ways to link multiple social media platforms. Consider this option if you're managing to slim down again during a very busy period.

Social media presence is especially important if your business is online based. In addition to social media, consider internet advertising using technologies like Google Adwords. Adwords allows your business's ad to appear when a user searches certain keywords on Google. When someone clicks on your ad, you pay. For an online-based business, this can be especially important as it communicates your business to the wider internet. It's also important for traditional brick-and-mortar stores as it reaches an audience that, unlike other forms of media, is primarily exposed to the internet.

  • How to opening a small business

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Think about when you're going to make your opening "great." As previously mentioned, it is not necessary to hold your grand opening on the first day of business and it is often wise to wait even a few weeks before staging it.

Plan your opening for a day and time that suits your product or service—a Saturday morning for dinner; a Friday night for an ice cream shop; Early evening for a martial arts studio.

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Make it an event. Work hard to create excitement in the days and even weeks leading up to your grand opening.

Use the term "Grand Opening" in your marketing - it makes it seem more special than just a "store opening" message. Create excitement by offering visitors prizes, giveaways, demonstrations, special offers, etc. on the day.

Hire a photographer to capture the event for media consumption (traditional or social). Bring live entertainment, extra staff, and even security if you're expecting a particularly large crowd.

If your company and/or its location are not conducive to a large public launch celebration, consider hosting an event more along the lines of a "launch party" at a nearby restaurant, banquet hall, etc.

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Guarantee a positive customer experience. Plan ahead and do whatever it takes to ensure attendees leave your grand opening with a positive first impression of your new business. Oversights as simple as insufficient parking, long food lines, or running out of paper products in the restrooms can sour an otherwise enthusiastic reception.

Have extra staff on hand to ensure customers don't have to wait too long for service or attention.

If parking might be an issue, try working out arrangements with other businesses or community groups beforehand—perhaps setting up satellite parking at a nearby church, for example.

Send attendees home a token of appreciation – ideally something with your logo on it – along with a voucher/special offer for a return visit.

How to Open a Small Business (with Pictures)

Get the community involved. Make your connection to the local community from the start. Let people imagine that your business will have a positive impact on the community for years to come.

Invite the local press to your event, but also other local business and community leaders. Network with as many as possible and establish yourself as a member of the local team.

If possible, coordinate your opening with a community event that will already have local crowds gathering. Make it seem like a part of this larger celebration. Sponsor the entertainment at the Holiday Lights Celebration or Midsummer Festival. Promote both your business and your deep connection to the community.

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