Starting your own business can seem like an overwhelming task if you don’t know where to begin. I know whenever I decide to tackle a task of any size I find it best to begin with the end in mind. With that in mind, it will benefit you to be able to see the step involved in starting your business in Charlotte. Every business is a little different and these steps may vary for you but being able to see the whole process can be extremely helpful.
With that in mind, I created this checklist for starting a business from the absolute beginning. As you are doing this, remember to have some with it. Starting and building your business should be exciting and if you do it right, your business will provide you with with an exciting lifestyle for years to come.
1. Come Up With An Idea
For many would be small business owners this is easier said than done. A good place to start is by looking at hobbies and interests that you already have for inspiration. Starting a business, while exciting, does have its hurdles and hardships that will need to be overcome. Having an inspiring and interesting concept can help you as a new entrepreneur persevere through to profitability.
This might seem like an obvious first step but coming up with a plausible business idea is essential. Think about hobbies or interests that you have. Something that you are passionate about will make those difficult days of owning a business worth it.
2. Write A Business Plan
This is critical to providing some organization to your startup process and helps with some of the steps below such as obtaining financing from would be investors.
3. Enlist Help And Training If Necessary
Local small business associations like Charlotte Chamber provide many resources for new and existing businesses. They often provide help and guidance to answer questions, they may also give grants or special incentives for operating in certain neighborhoods. They can help take your idea and make it into a viable business.
4. Research And Test Your Ideas
You might think your idea is great but how do you know for sure? Without testing or researching the idea you’ll have no idea if you can actually make it more than a few years or in some cases months. This would certainly be an expensive mistake that is easily avoided by doing some market research. Some things to look at include your competition as well as what appears to be working (or not) for them. Sometimes just by asking prospective future customers you can gain critical insight.
5. Choose A Location For Your Business
Things to keep in mind when choosing a location include the amount of foot traffic that you might see around and near your business also keep in mind how much square footage you might need. Learning the area and the surrounding businesses are important aspects as well. For example if you’re a restaurant it is actually a good thing if there are a bunch of other restaurants or if there are a lot of local offices around who would provide great lunchtime traffic.
6. Determine Your Business’s Legal Structure
LLC? S Corp? Corporations? Partnership? Sole Proprietor? Choosing the right Legal Organizational structure is highly critical for protecting the assets and earnings of you and your business. There are numerous tax advantages and disadvantages to each structure. This is something that you may want to talk to a lawyer about to make sure that you find the right balance of protection and tax benefit.
7. Name Your Business/ Create A Web Presence
Naming your business is a fundamental aspect of establishing your “Brand”.
Make it as memorable as possible. Make it as unique as possible. Once you’ve decided on your branding be sure to create a unique and fitting web presence as well. During this digital age for some of your customers if you’re not online you don’t exist.
8. Obtain A Tax Identification Number/ Register For Taxes
This step is actually a lot easier than it seems. A tax ID number can be claimed for free from the IRS department website. It is required to conduct most forms of business and to keep your business account separate from your personal finances.
9. Secure Any Necessary Financing
This is where all the previous work pays off. Now that you have a solid idea and a well thought out business plan, you are in a good position to decide what if any financing you may need. Do you dip into savings or seek a cofounder? Do you have what it takes to take your product to market? The leading cause of businesses failing is under capitalization, so keep that in mind when making financing decisions. There are sure to be unforeseen expenses that will arise that will either make or break your company.
10. Licenses And Permits
Keeping it legal is just good business sense. Avoiding costly fees (and even jail) is not something you would want to mess around with. The state department website will list all relevant permits and licenses for each industry. If you have any questions you can always seek the advice of local lawyer or call the state department.
Depending on the type of business you are starting, you may have some other steps you need to take but this outline is a good starting point. They establish some of the key steps to starting a business in Charlotte but it’s always a good idea to ask other entrepreneurs what has worked for them.