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50 Steps Every Entrepreneur Must Take to Build a Business

Inspiration, passion and a cash-flow plan are startup essentials.

Jayson Demers




Starting a business is one of the most challenging and rewarding things you’ll ever do.

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-tickWe 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?

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: The 5 Motivations That Drive People to Choose Entrepreneurship

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.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: Founder of Merchant Capital’s Lessons From a Global Entrepreneurship Programme

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.

We-recommend-tickWe recommend: Test and Validate Your Business From Both a Product and Brand Perspective

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-tickWe 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

Do more.

46. Scale your marketing strategy

Reach further.

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-tickWe 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

Jayson DeMers is founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, a Seattle-based SEO agency. He also started, a lyrics-humor website.


Company Posts

How The Sanlam Enterprise And Supplier Development Programme Is Helping Start-up Businesses

The balance between funding, business development and mentorship can make or break an enterprise development programme

Francois Adriaan



Sanlam Enterprise and Supplier Development

165 new employment opportunities, 172 SMEs developed and 1046 jobs sustained. These are some of the numbers recorded by Sanlam as the company prepares to wrap up the fourth year of its Sanlam Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) programme.

The flagship incubation scheme has turned around loss-making enterprises, helped some participants get critical accreditation and funding, but most importantly, R12.6 million was spent procuring goods and services from the participating businesses by the end of 2016.

Related: Enterprise Development Programmes For Black Entrepreneurs

Receiving funding isn’t the secret to start-up success

Francois Adriaan, head of Sanlam Foundation says the secret to a successful enterprise development programme is not the amount of funding big corporates can give SMEs: “It’s having the right mix of mentorship; business intervention and procurement spend flowing from your corporate to small businesses.

You have to show the entrepreneur you are mentoring that you trust them enough to do business and walk the journey with them instead of giving them a once-off grant and leaving them to their own devices,” says Adriaan.

Financial support that’s timed to business need

Like in many other ESD programmes, participants in the Sanlam ESD programme also have access to funding. But what sets the programme apart from others, says Adriaan is that the amount of funds disbursed to each participating businesses is directly linked to its need, its commitment and progress record.

“Financial support is timed according to the specific needs of each SME. Those who qualify for funding are then provided with a further seven years of SME growth support through the ASISA Enterprise Development Fund.”

The Sanlam ESD programme

The Sanlam ESD programme was launched in July 2013 in collaboration with the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA) to empower SMEs, create jobs and contribute to economic growth in South Africa. An independent evaluation shows that participating enterprises have grown their annual revenue by 19% on average.

D&P Auto participants

One of the programme participants is D&P Auto, a panel beating business based in Retreat. For two decades, the owners of the business (husband and wife) poured their life savings, bank loans and even pension policy pay-outs into the business to keep it afloat because it was not making profit. Three years of focused business incubation and mentoring under the Sanlam ESD programme resolved D&P Auto’s 20-year loss-making battle.

“Our business has grown from a non-profitable business to the extent that we now have to pay provisional taxes to SARS for the first time in 24 years,” said Pam Douglas on their business maiden profit.

Successes of the incubation programme

The incubation from the programme has helped other participants brush up their bookkeeping skills, file successfully for tenders and get accreditation that took their businesses to the next level.

G&T Auto, the only fully accredited Major Structural Repairer in the programme, bagged Mazda accreditation last year, a rare accolade that will see the enterprise repair Mazdas that are still under warranty. The owner, Thembi Sithole says the programme has given her confidence to approach bigger clients as she now understands the requirements to get big contracts. She has also become more knowledgeable about financial statements and their impact on obtaining funding.

Related: Why Employee Engagement Programmes Backfire And What You Can Do About It

Adriaan says enterprise development initiatives of this nature give big corporates an opportunity not only achieve their business objectives, but also impact broader South African society.

“This commitment is around impacting issues of inter-generational poverty, unemployment and inequality. It is also about aligning around public-private-civil society partnerships in sustainable ways,” concludes Adriaans.

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Are You Ready For A Side Hustle? Here’s How To Know

We talk to side hustle pro Susie Moore about who should jump into entrepreneurship and when is a good time to take the leap.

Andrea Huspeni




It seems like everyone has a side hustle. Indeed, 1 in 4 millennials have a side hustle, part of the  54 million Americans making money outside of their pay cheque.

But are you ready to get your hustle on?

According to Susie Moore, a life coach and the founder of Side Hustle Made Simple, you are always ready to begin a side hustle. You just need to know where to begin.

Related: 3 Ways To Set Your Side Hustle Up For Success

Moore has helped thousands of people take the leap from concept to creation in making their entrepreneurial dreams a living, breathing reality by launching a risk-free side hustle. She left her $500,000 job after her own side hustle took off within just 18 months.

She’s also the author of What if it DOES Work Out? How a Side Hustle Can Change Your Life released this fall, speaker and adviser to startups. Her work has been featured on the Today Show, Marie Claire and more.

To help aspiring entrepreneurs understand what it takes to be a side hustler, Moore is joining us for this week’s episode of Tough Love Tuesday, our Facebook Live series that connects experts with side hustlers for real-time advice and support.

Related: 50 Jobs, Gigs And Side Hustles You Can Do From Home

Specifically, she’ll share:

  1. The qualities all side hustlers need
  2. Advice that turns great ideas into action
  3. Strategies for making money right away
  4. Ideas for perfect side hustles
  5. Productivity hacks that prevent burnout.

This article was originally posted here on

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(Video) Why Your ‘Great Idea’ Actually Sucks

Don’t get caught up in coming up with the next big idea.




Everyone wants to come up with the next Uber, Facebook or Tesla. But, if Entrepreneur Network partner Patrick Bet-David has to choose between someone with a great idea and someone with great sales skills, he’s taking the salesperson every time. Why?

Related: The 3-Step Approach For Testing Out Your Business Idea

Well, look at the history of great businesses. Ray Kroc didn’t start McDonald’s, but he learned how to sell the fast food restaurant and made far more in his life than the actual McDonalds brothers. Steve Jobs couldn’t code like Steve Wozniack, but he knew how to sell Apple, and his estate is worth far more now than Wozniack’s.

Facebook, Tesla and more. Each time, it seems like the great salesperson ends up earning more than the person who created the great idea to start with.

Watch the video to learn more about the relationship between great ideas and great sales techniques.

This article was originally posted here on

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