Starting a small business is an exciting yet challenging endeavor. Though many entrepreneurs set out with the best of intentions, they may still find themselves struggling to make it work by the end of their first year. In fact, according to the Small Business Administration, 21.5% of businesses will close within one year of launching for reasons such as poor cash management, lack of management experience, and lack of industry experience.
The best way to ensure that your business is successful during year one and beyond is to spend some time doing good, old-fashioned preparation. We’ve put together a snapshot of what your first six months in business will look like, including important tasks you’ll need to complete to be on the right track for success.
Choosing a Legal Structure for Your Business
One of the first things you should do before you start selling products or services is to choose a legal structure for your business and register your business with the state. Choosing a legal structure is important because this structure will determine how you pay taxes, handle lawsuits, and pass on or dissolve the business.
You’ll want to choose a business structure that offers the right balance of legal protections and benefits. It can be helpful to consult with legal and tax professionals to make sure you are choosing the best structure for your business.
Getting Your Financials in Order
The first part of getting your business finances in order is opening a business checking and savings account. You’ll also want to consider which systems you will use for things like invoicing, accounting, payroll, and taxes. If you don’t have financial expertise on your team, consider hiring an accountant or outsourcing this work to a professional.
Whether you are starting your business up with your own funds or funds from investors, you’ll want to take time to identify some additional sources of funding in case you need them. Some of the best startup funding options are SBA loans, personal business loans, business credit cards, crowdfunding, grants, and even friends and family.
Marketing Your Business
If you want people to know how great your business is, you’ve got to let them know who you are and what you have to offer. The best way to do this is through digital marketing. Though there are many parts of an effective digital marketing strategy, most businesses start with a website. In today’s digital marketplace, customers are most likely to find you online. Start by developing a user-friendly and attractive website with clear and compelling copy that tells your brand’s story and shares more about your products and services.
Once you have a killer website that you can send your leads and prospects to, you’ll want to incorporate some other digital marketing tactics to get the word out about your business:
- Create social media profiles for your company where you can interact with leads and customers.
- Develop an email list that allows you to keep in touch with those interested in your company.
- Start a blog where you can share content about your industry and the common challenges that your customers face.
- When the time is right, invest in online advertising to help reach even more leads who are likely to be interested in what your company offers.
Making Sure Your Business Is Legally Sound
In addition to registering your business with the state, you’ll need to take care of a few other legal considerations during your first six months:
- Trademarks — Before you name your business, you’ll want to make sure there isn’t another business with the same name to avoid conflict. Once you’ve selected the name, consider registering your company name and logo as a trademark.
- Zoning Laws — Make sure that the location of your company is properly zoned for the type of business. If you are working out of a home office, check the local home business zoning ordinances to ensure that you’re compliant.
- Licenses — Depending on the type of business you run, there may be certain types of licenses or permits you’ll need to get before you open your business. Check with your local area and state to see which specific licenses you need to legally run your business.
- Health and Safety Laws — As a business owner, you need to make sure that you provide a safe and healthy work environment for your employees. You may want to conduct a risk assessment to determine any risks or hazards and adjust your business processes to reduce risk.
- Insurance — Depending on the type of business you have, you may also need to carry certain insurance to remain legally compliant with state and federal laws. For example, workers’ compensation is required in every state but Texas for employers with five or more employees. Many small businesses also get general liability and property insurance.
Need Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
Part of ensuring that your business is legally sound is making sure that you have the right insurance to protect your small business when the unexpected happens. While navigating the options for workers’ compensation may seem like an ordeal, it doesn’t have to be. Cerity makes it easy for small businesses to get the coverage they need without layers of complexity.
In just a few minutes, you can have your free online quote and be on your way to finding the policy that’s right for your business. Get your quote now.