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Starting Your Own Business in Texas Step by Step
Step 1 – "W4H" Section
Now, this may seem pretty elementary but I used it to show my 13 year old how to start her own business and it helped her learn the basics. We learn these basics in elementary but apply them now to your business start up.
Take out a piece of paper and answer these questions ...
Who? What? When? Where? How?
Who is your target audience?
Who are you going to sell your product or service TO?
What is your product or service?
What will you sell?
When are you going to market?
When will you sell your service or product? (Meaning will your product be seasonal, all year round, etc)
Where are you going to sell your product or service?
Where will you market your product or service?
How will your customer receive your product or service?
How will you maintain your customer base?
These are basic questions to get your started but once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll find it easier to create your business plan. Not only that, you now have it in black and white, you’ll be motivated to follow it through. Hang a copy on your fridge and remind yourself everyday what you are doing this for.
Step 2 – "Choose a Business Name" Section
Choose a business name. I recommend two things here, first, go to your local County Clerks office to look up the name you want to use and to make sure no one else is using the name. If you choose to, you can purchase the business name.
In Texas, for example the fee is somewhere around $18. That’s a one time fee that just ensures no one else can conduct business under the name you have registered.
Second, or rather at the same time as coming up with a business name, look it up online. Google it with your city and state to see if it comes up in your area, and then also see if it’s available as a domain name. That’s going to be your website name.
When choosing a business name, I recommend not settling on the first one that comes to mind.
Once you finalize your business name, that’s it, there is no going back. :) Not to sound too serious. Just make sure you really want that business name. You can also take votes throughout your family and friends to see what they think. Come up with about five business names, throw in some snacks, invite everyone to vote, and there you have a good time PLUS a tax write-off!
Plus it’s a great way to start the word of mouth process.
Step 3 – "Taxes" Section
I only provide this information from personal experience, I am not an accountant nor should anything here be considered legal advice.
Determine how you are going to pay your taxes. Here’s a tidbit, no matter how you file your taxes, there are tax breaks out there for everyone. Even if you have an EIN (a social security # for your business) you’ll still have to report all of your total income. I’m not a tax specialist so make sure to visit http://www.irs.gov/ and click on small business.
Call their toll-free number and ask any questions you have. If you don’t hire a CPA off the bat then call Uncle Sam himself. They will answer any questions you have. You can find their phone number on the website. This is homework for you.
Step 4 – "Website" Section
I use Godaddy. Visit their site or choose another - you’ll see how simple it is. You can choose to do it yourself or hire someone to build a website for you from scratch, either way you’ll have to have the domain name! You can find different variations to the website name you want and again see which one is more popular.
I recommend using a website name that is pertinent to your business so search engines will pull your site faster for people to find when they type in their keywords.
Step 5 – "Business Plan" Section
Ok, let’s write your business plan, which will be easier to do since you have already written out who, what, when, where, and how in Step 1. There are very detailed business plans and ones that are short and sweet. If you are planning to stay small, don’t try to give yourself a huge headache by using one of those technical business plan formats.
Find other business plan samples here by doing a Google search, they have sample templates you won’t have to pay for.
Here’s a breakdown of the sections a business plan should have:
1. Cover Page
2. The purpose of your business
3. The business structure
4. What makes your business different?
5. How will you meet the clients’ needs?
6. Product or service description
7. Rates – Financial Table
8. Time Table to achieve goals while maintaining finances
9. Additional revenue if any – describe that here
10. Your business staff and management, donator and suppliers
Again, use your answers in the who, what, when, where, & how section and just expand on them. By now you already know what it is you want to do so a simple business plan will just help you maintain those goals. Business plans need to be as detailed as possible if you will use it to try and obtain funding from loans, grants, or private parties. People want to know where the money is going and how you plan to sustain after the seed money is gone.
Step 6 – "Marketing" Section
The next step is going to be your Marketing. I saved the best for last because marketing is the most important aspect of your business and sometimes the most fun!
(Marketing is important but so is customer service, but I can’t teach customer service ~ JUST TREAT OTHERS AS YOU WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED AS A CUSTOMER!)
Marketing is key to your business because it is the cornerstone on which your business is built. It’s about getting your name out there in front of actual people that are willing to pay for your service or product, and believe me, they are out there. They are just waiting to hear about you.
Again, your website is a huge tool for your business. So many people are looking online now to find what they are looking for. Yellow Pages are a thing of the past so don’t put too much money (if any) into those.
Word of mouth referrals are free and more effective than any other means of advertisement. This is where good customer service comes in. You’d use someone a friend referred you to before you’d use someone you found in the phone book. Correct?
No matter what, you’ll want business cards. These are like miniature billboards that are not only professional looking but can be a useful referral card, etc.
Visit Vistaprint for an inexpensive start to your marketing materials.
Other great marketing tools are postcards, brochures, car magnets, business card magnets, and lots more! You can also research companies online by simply "Google-ing" business cards. Sometimes it's just a matter of do you have the time to do all of this while also starting up your business? More than likely not, but your budget will determine this.
If you have to, print some business cards from home just to get going, you can find plain white business card paper at any local store where the copy paper is found.
Sign up for a MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter account promoting your business immediately. They are all free.
Step 7 – "Get Going"
Start passing out your marketing materials, place ads on free sites such as craigslist.org and don’t wait for people to come to you. It’s like waiting for someone to knock on your door with your sweepstakes check. It’s likely he will never show up.
It’s more likely you’ll find business within the first week of following these directions. There will be people that try to discourage you from starting your own business, especially in this economy, but keep your head up and keep trucking. When you’re a success, those same people will possibly be asking for a job!
Manage your finances well, treat your customers with respect, and make sure to pay yourself. Even if you are only paying yourself $100 a month to begin with, just make sure you do it. You’ll keep yourself better motivated if you see the fruits of your labor.
So that's it.