The process is simpler than you might imagine, but to try to boil it down to five or 10 steps is an underestimation and an injustice.
The following 50 steps to start a business are, for the most part, necessary – though some businesses may be able to skip several steps, and others may be able to accomplish them completely out of order.
We recommend: Amy Kleinhans-Curd on Lifelong Entrepreneurship
Take these steps to start your business, however they suit you best:
1. Be inspired
Your first step is to get inspired to be an entrepreneur. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably already there.
2. Have a passion
Few business owners are successful without a sufficient passion driving their efforts. Find something you’re passionate about.
3. Educate yourself
You don’t need a college degree, but you do need to be aware of the risks and realities of business ownership.
4. Generate an idea
This is the hard part: Coming up with an idea that has the potential to launch a full-fledged business.
5. Preliminarily research the idea
Poke around the web and see what you can find. Are there other businesses like this?
6. Talk to others
See what your friends and family think about your idea, and be open to criticism.
7. Develop the idea
Brainstorm to work out the potential flaws and key advantages.
8. Research and start a business plan
Now’s your chance to get more involved. Find out what competitors there are and dig deep to create a full-fledged business plan (use the next steps to help you).
9. Determine your target market
Not everyone will be your target customer. Find a niche.
10. Come up with a financial model
How much are you going to charge? How much will it cost to run the business? How profitable can you be?
11. Come up with an operations model
Who and what do you need to maintain production?
12. Come up with a staffing plan
Determine the people you need to hire to get things started.
13. Come up with a sales and marketing plan
This isn’t superfluous. Sales and marketing are what will drive your business to grow.
14. Come up with a growth plan
How do you expect to scale in the first year? What about years two and three?
15. Decide on a legal structure for your business
Every legal construct has advantages and disadvantages. Think carefully about what will work best.
16. Determine what you need to start
Think about the people, resources and capital you need, and have both an “ideal” and “minimum” range.
17. Objectively analyse the risk
Determine how much you stand to lose if the company goes under.
18. If you’re ready, quit your current job
If everything looks good, pull the trigger and invest yourself full-time in your enterprise.
19. Secure capital
Withdraw savings, borrow from friends, seek funding or set up a line of credit with a bank – or some combination of these.
20. Seek resources and aid
Join a small-business development centre and find local resources to help you succeed.
21. Scout for potential clients
Keep your eyes peeled for individuals and businesses that might buy from you, and the earlier the better. Try to get at least one client before investing a dime.
22. Register your business name
It’s a simple step, but a necessary one.
23. Get a tax ID
Don’t forget about your tax responsibilities.
24. File for state and local taxes
Don’t neglect this financial step.
25. Obtain any necessary permits or licenses
Your business may require additional legal registrations.
26. Recruit one or more mentors
Find experienced entrepreneurs who can help you with the remaining steps, offering insight and guidance.
27. Find your key locations
Your office location, operations HQ and related issues are important decisions to make.
28. Establish a unique brand
Find out what makes your business unique, and develop a brand around it.
29. Start building a personal brand
While you’re at it, build a personal brand for yourself.
30. Create a test product or service
Call it a prototype if you want. Create a sample if you haven’t already.
31. Establish key vendors and partners
Find contractors, vendors and suppliers to help your business succeed.
32. Learn and apply your employer responsibilities
You’ll have to offer certain benefits, conditions and withholdings.
33. Hire your first employees
Hire the bare minimum you need to get started.
34. Create a human resource plan and company culture
Create some guidelines, and hire people who will adhere to them.
35. Start selling
Go out and sell the heck out of your products.
36. Launch a website
As soon as you can, establish an online presence.
37. Outline and begin a digital marketing campaign
Digital marketing is cheap, easy, and effective. SEO, content marketing, and social media are good places to start.
38. Network everywhere you go
Make it a point to meet people. You never know who could be a new client or employee.
39. Find at least one dependable, long-term client
Prioritise getting at least one surefire long-term client.
40. Use promotions and discounts to attract new customers
Profitability is not as important as recognition in your early stages.
We recommend: How Zelda Arnott Turned Fans Into Customers With Zellyco
41. Learn from customer feedback and launch a second iteration of your products or services
Make tweaks to your offerings.
42. Hire more employees if necessary
When you’re ready, expand the team.
43. Tweak your operations to become more efficient
No operation plan is perfect. Find ways to improve yours.
44. Ensure your cash flow remains positive, with proper safety measures
Cash can kill an otherwise profitable business. Don’t neglect it.
45. Scale your sales strategy
46. Scale your marketing strategy
47. Invest in infrastructural improvements
Improve whatever you can afford to improve to make your customers happier.
48. Learn more about your industry
Reach out to competitors, and attend industry conferences.
49. Become a thought leader
Establish yourself as an authority by speaking, writing and hosting webinars.
50. Evaluate your progress thus far, and adjust your business plan
Determine where you are in contrast to where you thought you’d be, and think about what expectations you had that were wrong. Revisit your business plan and adjust it to reflect your current situation and understandings.
We recommend: Business Plan Examples to Get You Going
Every business is unique, so yours may not perfectly adhere to the formula. Use these steps as a loose guideline for the course of your business’ development, and thrust yourself into the process as much as you can.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.