7 Important Resources for Starting Your Own Business

One of the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic is that we can do practically anything online, and that extends to starting a business.

If you already have an idea for the business and know what you want to offer or sell, then you’ve covered one important part of the process. If you don’t, then search for side hustles or small business ideas online or discuss with friends and colleagues. The real work starts after ideation.

Where to Start

Entrepreneurs often get stuck at this stage because they don’t know where and how to start running the business. A Google search may help you get a general picture of the steps, but it doesn’t cover all the aspects of launching your own business. There are plenty of business schools for entrepreneurs that teach how to start and manage your enterprise.

In this blog post, we’ll dive in and explore the most important resources that you should have in your arsenal to kick off your business. Let’s go!

1.     Planning Resources

No more wondering. Planning is the first course of action. It is the most important part of starting a business because it gives you a clear picture of what you are starting and whether it is even viable or not. A business plan also:

  1. Sets your vision and mission.
  2. Charts out the kinds of products and services you’ll offer.
  3. Analyzes the kind of seed money you’ll need.
  4. Creates a budget for expenses.
  5. Outlines the human resources you’ll require, if any.
  6. Markets your products and services.
  7. Plans out how to retain customers to sustain your business.
  8. … and more.

You can start doing all the above on your own or get help from professional bureaus like Small Business Administration (SBA), or use tools like Bplans, SCORE, and Shopify.

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2.     Market Research Resources

While your idea and planning may be good, and even if you think there are plenty of existing customers out there, the real deal is finding the right customers who will buy your products and services. For this purpose, market research is helpful. Some of the resources like Statista, Pew Research Center, Census Bureau, SBA, and survey tools (SurveyMonkey) can get you in-depth market analysis.

3.     Legal Resources

Before you start operating it is crucial to get your business registered. This applies to businesses that have physical interactions with customers in and around the city, especially for products and services that require physical delivery. There are two parts to registering your business as a legal entity—tax compliance and intellectual property rights. You can refer to a lawyer or a resource like Small Business Development Center. Some online resources like LegalZoom, Corpnet, and similar registrars can also help with legalities such as trademarks, incorporation, partnerships, and sole trading. With a license, you can open a business account, and apply for a permit for certain types of business like a salon, acupuncture, CBD, coffee shop, etc.

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4.     Financial Resources

Now that all the paperwork is out of the way, you can start thinking about where to get money to launch your own business. The financial requirements depend largely on the type of business you want to start. For example, an online content writing service can start with zero investment with you working as the sole employee. On the other hand, if you are planning to deliver food or run a salon business, you’ll need heavy investment to rent a place, stock inventory, hire helpers, etc.

If you have a ready stash, then you don’t have to worry about this. Nevertheless, it doesn’t harm to get seed money and save yours for rainy days. Some resources, where you can research and apply for seed money include:

  • Friends and family can help gather funds.
  • Grants from government agencies like Grants.gov, The Foundation Center, SBA, etc.
  • Venture capitalists or angel investors.
  • Crowdfunding like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and Patreon.
  • Startup accelerators like Techstars.

There are tons of financial resources out there, but these will get you started.

5.     Marketing Strategy Resources

To spread the word about your business you need a solid marketing strategy and a plan to reach your customers. From getting a logo to creating a brand identity, and identifying media and platforms to launch marketing campaigns, you need to organize marketing activities. Some resources like Hubspot Academy, Facebook, SEMRush, Hootsuite, Mailchimp, etc. can help you understand what you need to start a digital marketing campaign.

Alternatively, you can use platforms like Canva (quick template-based designs) and ZillionDesigns (customized designs by professionals) to get professional branding materials. The idea of securing these is to give that first positive image to your audience, to impress and make them curious about your brand.

6.     Networking Resources

Online marketing activities can only do so much for your publicity. You have to go out there to meet and network with real people too. Traditional networking events like meetups, support groups, business events, and fairs are great starting points. You can join The Female Collective, Chamber of Commerce, Young Entrepreneur Council, SCORE, National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), and Business Networking International (BNI).

If you can afford to secure a stall to promote your business, which is usually costly, then it would be ideal. You get a chance to interact with interested potential customers so give it your best shot when you pitch or sell them your product and services.

If you are attending events where you only network with people, then try to interact with those who are most likely to benefit from your expertise. At such events, it’s enough to share information, and introduce your business as a place you work at; do not sell.

That said, to succeed at networking events, interact with people and try to gather as much contact information from them so that you can reach out to them later.

7.     Productivity Resources

Before business starts to pick up, it’s better to get prepared for the way you work and run it. If you are starting alone then it is easier to set up productive hours for work-related activities. Focus to-do, Google Sheets, Trello, Kanban, etc. are good technologies to start with.

When you grow your team, you can use collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Asana, Slack, Evernote, etc. to assign, track, and receive tasks.

More Out There

This list is not exhaustive, of course, but the tools are a great help. Management tools such as Monday.com, FreshBooks, and similar tools are important too. Only you know what you need for running your business. It is worth noting that as a startup and entrepreneur, try to minimize costs including exploring and subscribing to freemiums or cheap options as opposed to full-scale platforms that will end up eating up your budget.

Photo by unsplash.com

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