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How to Start a Business in 15 Steps

Hillary Crawford

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

1. Find the right opportunity

2. write a business plan, 3. choose a business structure, 4. get a federal tax id, 5. apply for licenses and permits, 6. open a business bank account, 7. understand your startup financing options, 8. get a business credit card, 9. choose the right accounting software, 10. prepare to pay your taxes, 11. protect yourself with business insurance, 12. establish your online presence, 13. set up a payments system, 14. hire employees, 15. get financing to grow your business.

Starting a business takes research, smarts and self-confidence — and a measure of fearlessness. You may already be asking yourself: How can I start my own business with no money? What's the right equipment? Am I getting the best advice?

Here are the essential steps on how to start a business, from choosing the right business idea, creating a solid business plan and structuring your company to opening a business bank account and choosing the right accounting software.

» MORE: 5 steps to turn your side gig into a full-fledged business



What business should you start? It depends on your expertise, plus how much time and money you’re able to invest. Some small-business ideas can be launched from home with little overhead, and e-commerce and remote businesses have become increasingly common in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As you narrow your scope, you also want to be sure that your idea can actually make money . If you’re not sure what kind of business you want to run, use these lists to get the wheels turning:

50 best small-business ideas.

The 23 most profitable business ideas .

40 startup ideas to try .

16 e-commerce business ideas.

40 home business ideas to explore .

44 online business ideas you can start now .

Looking for tools to help grow your business?

Tell us where you're at in your business journey, and we'll direct you to the experience that fits.

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A strong business plan can help you prepare for every aspect of your business. Plus, you’ll need one to present to potential investors and lenders. This document should include details of the products or services you plan to offer, how you plan to make money, who you need on your team and more.

You’ll also want to include detailed financial projections, budgets and thorough explanations of how you plan to spend investor dollars or loans. Since cash flow projections will fluctuate as you adjust projected income and expenses, it helps to think of the plan’s financials as a living, changing document.

Ultimately, your business plan will help you chart a course for your business, anticipate potential roadblocks and work out how to overcome them — and will likely go through multiple iterations before your idea comes to fruition. Industry colleagues and accountants may be able to provide valuable feedback on how realistic your projections look and point out any overlooked costs.

How to write a business plan, step by step .

How to create a business budget .

Best business budgeting software tools .

5 tips to write a successful business plan . 

How to write a successful business plan for a loan .

The legal structure of your business can affect everything from your taxes to what you're liable for. For example, there’s no legal distinction between a sole proprietorship and its owner. Limited liability companies (LLCs) and their owners, however, are considered separate entities by law, which can provide more personal asset protection.

Talking with a tax professional can help you choose the right business structure for you. And you can change your structure as your business grows.

How to choose the right business structure .

Pros and cons of a limited liability company .

LLC vs. sole proprietorship: How to choose .

Partnership vs. corporation: How to choose .

Getting an employer identification number (EIN) is necessary for most businesses to file taxes, open bank accounts and perform other essential tasks. Even if you don’t have employees, there are benefits to getting an EIN. It’s free to apply and the online application only takes a few minutes.

How to apply for an employer identification number .

Benefits of getting an EIN (even if you don’t have to) .

In general, restaurants need health inspections and liquor licenses. Hair stylists need cosmetology licenses. Your city may require you to apply for a business license regardless of what field you’re in. And if you’re renovating a space to sell products or perform services, you may need to ask local officials for a zoning change.

Set aside time early on to find out what licenses and permits you need before you can open your doors. While you don’t typically need a lawyer to apply for a business license, they can help you navigate the process and review other documents, like lease agreements or loans, before you sign them. Industry associations, city officials who work on economic development issues and local business associations, like your Chamber of Commerce, may be able to offer advice, too.

How to get a business license .

Do you need a business license to sell online?

How to find a startup lawyer . 

How much do you need?

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We’ll start with a brief questionnaire to better understand the unique needs of your business.

Once we uncover your personalized matches, our team will consult you on the process moving forward.

Keeping your business and personal finances separate is key to managing your business finances. It’s standard bookkeeping hygiene and makes it easier to deduct business expenses come tax time. A business bank account can help, and they’re simple to set up.

Best business bank accounts . 

Best business bank accounts for freelancers .

Best free business checking accounts .

Best business bank accounts for LLCs .

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Most businesses need a little capital to get started. However, the majority of business loans are not available to businesses that have been operating for less than six months, and most online lenders prefer at least a year in business. Startups should consider alternative financing options, or try to leverage other strengths of their business, such as strong credit or collateral. If your business does qualify for a loan, be sure to pay attention to interest rates, potential prepayment fees and personal liability terms.

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Many business owners rely on their own savings to get started. You can also look into crowdfunding, personal loans, business grants and more. High-growth-potential startups may also be eligible for equity financing, which gives partial ownership, or equity, to investors in exchange for capital.

How do business loans work?

Best startup business loans.

Startup business grants .

Asset-based lending options.

Types of startup funding.

Crowdfunding for business .

Is equity financing right for your business?

Funding your business with a personal loan .

Is your to-do list overwhelming?

Business credit cards can also be used as a short-term financing solution to help you purchase necessary supplies and pay bills while cash flow is still shaky. Just be sure to spend within your limit and pay off your balance in full each month so you don’t get into a cycle of debt. Startup financing aside, business credit cards also make it easier to keep business and personal finances separate. As an added bonus, you can also earn rewards, such as cash back, on the money you spend.

Usually, you can qualify for a business credit card based on your personal credit score.

What is a business credit card?

How to get a business credit card .

Best small-business credit cards .

Best business credit cards for new businesses .

Best 0% APR business credit cards.

It’s essential that you keep records that show how much revenue you’re bringing in and how much you’re spending. Accounting software helps you track and analyze these numbers by generating reports and recording sales trends — and there are even some free options.

As your business grows, you may want to start working with a bookkeeper . This person can help ensure your records are complete and accurate, which makes it easier to file your taxes, apply for financing and more.

Best accounting software for small businesses .

Best online bookkeeping services .

Bookkeeping basics for small businesses. 

Best free accounting software .

Know these 4 business financial metrics to track performance .

You'll have some new tax responsibilities as a business owner — including, potentially, the need to pay taxes throughout the year, not just during tax season. But you'll probably discover some new tax breaks , too.

Filing taxes can be complex, especially as a small-business owner. Developing a relationship with a tax professional early on can help set you up for success, and they can be a trusted adviser to your business later on.

A tax guide for small-business owners.

Self-employment tax, explained.

Best tax software for small businesses .

How estimated quarterly taxes work .

How to find the right tax advisor for your business .

It's important to protect your business and your personal assets, and business insurance exists to do just that. NerdWallet recommends that every business carry general liability insurance in case of legal claims.

You may also need insurance to comply with a contract, like to set up a booth at an event or work as a subcontractor on a larger project.

Best small-business insurance providers .

How much does business insurance cost?

What is general liability insurance?

What is a business owner’s policy (BOP)?

An online presence is critical for almost every business — especially if you want to sell products online. Setting up a website and social media profiles early on, even if they’re simple, can help you start developing relationships with potential customers right away.

Here’s what you need to know to start your business website:

How to build an e-commerce website .

The ultimate guide to small-business marketing .

The best ways to promote your business on social media .

6 Instagram tips for small-business owners .

8 best e-commerce website builders for small businesses .

The do’s and don’ts of using Facebook to drive business sales .

5 best places to advertise your business online .

If your business takes credit and debit cards, you'll likely need a payment processor and point-of-sale (POS) system. Lots of POS system providers double as processing companies, which can make the decision-making process simple. Remember to consider upfront hardware costs for card readers or POS registers, monthly POS software fees and processing fees. Online payments typically have higher processing fees than in-person payments, so be sure to consider the full range of fees when choosing your provider.

How to accept credit card payments.

What is credit card processing and how does it work?

Cheapest credit card processing companies.

Best point-of-sale (POS) systems .

Best credit card processing companies .

Best credit card readers for small businesses .

You may not need to hire employees right away — and some small-business owners prefer to remain solopreneurs throughout the life of their business. But if you do choose to hire, you’ll probably need workers’ compensation insurance, payroll software and more. Here’s what goes into hiring your first employees.

Ready to hire your first employee? Prep with these steps .

Strategies to attract good employees.

Tips for hiring remote workers.

Strategies to help retain employees.

How to choose the right payroll software for your business .

Best payroll software for small businesses. 

What is workers’ compensation insurance?

Once you’ve been in business for six to 12 months, you may start qualifying for business loans. Financing can help your business grow and expand — by buying equipment, renovating an office or expanding your inventory, for instance — or float you through a slow season while you prepare for increased future revenue.

Here’s what you need to know about business loans, lines of credit and other financing options.

How to get a business loan .

SBA loans: What they are and how to qualify .

Equipment financing: What it is and top lenders.

Best small-business loans .

Types of business loans.

Should you grow your business? 6 questions to help you decide .

On a similar note...

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How to start and fund your own business

Learn from the Small Business Administration (SBA) how to start and fund a small business, from researching the market to launching your new business.

How to start a business

The SBA can help you learn how to start your own business with 10 Steps to Start a Business .

The SBA's Business Guide covers other important aspects of running a business. These include:

  • Paying business taxes
  • Getting business insurance
  • Applying for licenses and permits
  • Hiring and managing employees

Business funding options

Learn from the SBA about sources for funding your business . They include:

  • Self-funding

Funding resources for specific groups

The SBA also provides business guides and resources on funding and contracting programs for special groups, including:

  • Women-owned businesses
  • Minority-owned businesses
  • Native American-owned businesses
  • Veteran-owned businesses
  • Military spouse-owned businesses
  • LGBTQ-owned businesses
  • Rural businesses

LAST UPDATED: December 6, 2023

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Starting a Business | How To

How to Start a Small Business: An Ultimate Guide

Published October 9, 2023

Published Oct 9, 2023

Agatha Aviso

WRITTEN BY: Agatha Aviso

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This article is part of a larger series on Starting a Business .

Starting A Business?

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  • 1. Come Up With a Business Idea
  • 2. Test Your Business Idea
  • 3. Write a Business Plan
  • 4. Acquire Funding
  • 5. Choose Structure & Register
  • 6. Get Business Insured
  • 7. Build Team
  • 8. Set Up Systems & Software

Bottom Line

Whether you’re starting a part-time business or quitting your corporate job to create your dream biz, you’ll find information in this guide to help you succeed. Throughout this article, you’ll learn how to start a small business from experts in finance, legal, marketing, human resources, software, insurance, as well as expert advice from former small business consultants.

Starting a small business involves coming up with a business idea, testing the idea, writing a business plan, acquiring funding, choosing a business structure, registering the business, getting it insured, making key hires, setting up systems, and finally, marketing and promoting it.

Download Your Free “How To Start A Business” E-book


How To Start A Business

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As you’re starting your business, it’s wise to register it as a legal entity, like an LLC. Doing this will protect your personal assets if a lawsuit were to occur against the business. You can register your business as an LLC through an online legal service.

IncFile is an online service that handles and files the paperwork so your business can become an LLC quickly.

Start your business today with IncFile for as little as $0 plus state fees with no contracts and no hidden fees.

Step-by-step infographic of how to start a business.

Should you start a business? Before coming up with a business, it’s crucial to determine if you’re ready to become a business owner and there are many things to consider. Examine the main points to consider by reading our guide on determining if you should start a business .

“Starting a business is not for everyone. Generally, starting a business, I’d say, No. 1 is to have a high pain threshold. When you first start a company, there’s lots of optimism and things are great. Happiness at first is high, then you encounter all sorts of issues and happiness will steadily decline, and then you will go through a whole world of hurt, and then eventually, if you succeed—and in most cases, you will not succeed—if you succeed then, after a long time, you will finally get back to happiness.” – Elon Musk

Step 1: Come Up With a Business Idea

All businesses start with the same first step— coming up with a business idea . When coming up with an idea for your business, consider your own skills and experiences, as well as business trends and problems or pain points your business could help address.

As you go through your day, you should write down any ideas you have. Look for problems you’re having in your own life. Can you solve that problem yourself and turn the solution into a business?

It’s also important to consider your personality when choosing a business idea:

  • Would you like to work at home in silence or talk with customers in a store?
  • Would you like to have a lifestyle business, which caps your income, or an eight-figure business with employees?
  • Would you like to start from scratch or purchase an existing businesslike a franchise?
  • Would you like to work 80-hour weeks and grow a business fast or keep a more balanced life and grow the business slowly?
  • Would you like to create products and have other people sell them or sell products that other people have created?

Think about these questions to help you begin with the end in mind. Another personality-based test is to notice your energy levels when doing tasks at work and home. What tasks give you energy, and what depletes your energy? Running a business that gives you energy will be much more likely to succeed.

Business Idea Examples

Browse our list of business ideas for inspiration:

  • Best Business Ideas to Make Money
  • Best Business to Start
  • Best Businesses to Start With Less Than $500
  • Mompreneur Business Ideas
  • Home-based Business Ideas
  • Small Farm Business Ideas
  • Low-cost Franchises
  • Creative Business Ideas Started During the Pandemic

Additionally, you may want to browse “how to start a business” guides to learn more about a specific business idea:

  • Restaurant or catering business
  • Cleaning business
  • Clothing boutique or a consignment store
  • Coffee shop
  • Dropshipping business
  • FedEx routes
  • Ghost kitchen
  • Lifestyle blog
  • Online store
  • Online T-shirt business
  • Personal training
  • Retail store

Starting From Scratch vs Buying Existing vs a Franchise

One question you may have is if you should start your small business from scratch, buy an existing business, or purchase a franchise? Two things to consider are your business experience and available funds.

If you have no experience running a business or in a particular industry, buying into a franchise can increase your odds of success. When you buy into a franchise , you’re mostly learning how to run the business. If you follow the franchise formula in a well-populated area, you’re likely to succeed.

The same line of thinking applies to an existing business. Purchase an existing business, and you’ll learn how to run the business—plus receive previous customers. This combination makes the likelihood of success higher than you’d have for a brand-new franchise.

The challenge with buying a franchise or an existing business is cost. The high cost is one of the main reasons most new entrepreneurs start their business from scratch. However, keep in mind that there are dozens of franchises that cost under $25,000 .

  • Buying a Franchise: How to Buy a Franchise in 8 Steps
  • Financing a Franchise: 7 Best Loan Options
  • 11 Franchise Marketing Tips to Grow Your Business
  • 19 Best Franchises Under 10K

How Much Money Do You Need to Start?

It’s essential to know the answer to this question before starting your business. I’ve met with several people who never got their business off the ground because it required too much money. Remember, if you don’t have the capital available: Dream big, but start small.

To start some businesses, such as residential cleaning or power washing, you may only need $1,000. Use these funds to register the business, purchase supplies, get your first customers, and then, you’ll be in business.

Opening a store with a location is more costly. You’ll need at least $50,000 in funding—possibly several hundred thousand dollars. For a very small retail store, you should plan on earning at least $100,000 a year to cover overhead costs and make a nice profit.

If you need substantial debt to open your first business—over $20,000—you should seriously think about that decision. What’s the worst-case scenario? And how long will it take you to get out of debt? If possible, start part time with the business and acquire the necessary entrepreneurship skills. Or consider waiting. Save up cash, and take on as little debt as possible.

Learn More: How to Choose a Business to Start

Now that you’ve settled on an idea, it is time to really dive into the market.

Step 2: Research Your Market and Competitors

Once you have chosen your business idea, you need to test the idea to determine the likelihood that it will work. The majority of new business owners skip this step—that’s why 20–22% of small businesses fail within the first year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics .

Don’t skip this step! You may learn valuable information that alters the type of business you start or how you implement it. All the information you collect will go into your business plan (step No. 3).

Validate Your Business Idea

Validating your business idea involves making efforts to ensure the solution you want to sell is something customers will pay for. True validation comes when someone spends their money on your product or service. However, you may not be able to figure out with certainty how well your product will do in the market until it’s created, or your business is open.

This is where research becomes crucial. Consider creating a few focus groups and surveys to gather feedback. Building an audience online is a great way to elicit feedback for your idea. Additionally, starting a crowdfunding campaign is one of the best ways to ensure your business idea is a good one.

  • Evaluate your competitors. Consider your top five potential competitors and list their strengths and weaknesses. What strengths do your competitors have that you cannot beat? What weaknesses do they have that you can improve upon? If you have no competitors, that is not always a good sign. Ask yourself why there are no competitors in your area. There may be a reason. For example, the market may be too small to support your idea or people are not willing to pay for your product or service.
  • Identify your target demographic. Customer research is key in deciding whether or not the business will work. There must be people willing to pay for your product or service in your area. To narrow down your customers, consider creating customer profiles for each type of customer you will have. Once you are clear on your customers, you want to determine how many of them are in your area. ReferenceUSA is a database you can use to do this research. ReferenceUSA is a powerful tool that allows you to research customers based on demographics. Tens of thousands of local libraries provide free access to ReferenceUSA.

Perform a SWOT Analysis

A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis is an exercise that helps you think critically about your business idea. SWOT analysis may reveal certain aspects of your business you have not considered—both positive and negative.

Go through each section below and list your ideas:

  • Strengths: What will the business do well?
  • Weaknesses: What may the business not do well?
  • Opportunities: What external market opportunities are there—such as less competition and underserved segments?
  • Threats: What external factors may make success difficult—such as regulations?

Guide infographic for conducting a SWOT analysis.

  • Identify your competitive advantages. A SWOT analysis helps you identify your own competitive advantages. A question to ask yourself is: “What is my advantage that the competition will struggle to match? ” Is it your quality of product or service, customer service, or knowledge? This question will help you determine if you can be the best at something. Being the best in a certain area of a business makes it more likely that the business will succeed.

Research a Location

If you’re considering an office or storefront, start your research into the location now. You want to start early to make sure you can afford it. Look into potential locations to develop a rough estimate of the build-out cost (renovations) and monthly rent. The information you collect will go into your business plan and financial projections.

Once you have validated your idea, performed in-depth research, identified target demographics and possible locations, and performed competitive analysis, you are ready for the next step. So far, you have put together informal pieces of a business plan. Now, it’s time to write down information in a document as part of a formal business plan.

Step 3: Write a Business Plan

When you’re just starting your business, a business plan, along with a solid business philosophy , can help you plot your future. Additionally, a business plan is an opportunity to show why and how your business will become a success. All businesses need to create a business plan or a strategic roadmap to guide their business decisions.

The business plan contains several elements, including market analysis, competitor analysis, and financial projections. If you’re seeking funding from a bank or investor, you will need a business plan. The plan shows on paper how you will start your own business. After you open, the document keeps you focused and on track with your goals.

A typical business plan may contain over 40 pages of info about your business. You should plan on spending at least 30 hours creating a well-researched business plan. In addition to writing the plan, you will also spend time doing market research and creating financial projections.

Planning to launch a very small business such as a side business? Creating a one-page business plan might be better. With this plan, you’ll write a couple of sentences for important business concepts. It should include items such as the business model (how will it make money?) and competitive advantage (what will it do better than competitors?).

You should plan on spending around an hour to write out a one-page business plan. The simplified financial projections will be the most challenging and time-consuming. You most likely will need to do research online to get accurate income and expense estimates.

Download our one-page business plan template to start your business planning today.

One-Page Business Plan Template

Showing a graphic of one-page business plan.

Most business owners can easily do the research and write the plan. Where most have difficulty are the financial projections, which require creating several financial documents. If you don’t have a financial analysis background or interest, it’s a wise strategy to purchase business plan software that walks you through the financial projection process.

Related: 4 Types Of Business Plans (Plus Software & Writing Services)

Here are nine sections to include in your traditional business plan:

  • Opening Organizational and Legal Pages: Cover page, nondisclosure agreement, and a table of contents
  • Executive Summary: A summary of the entire business plan in fewer than two pages; Complete this section last
  • Company Summary: Basics of the company, such as its history, location, facilities, company ownership, and competitive advantage
  • Products and Services: How your business makes money (business model), the products or services it provides, and future products or services
  • Market and Industry Analysis: Analysis of potential customers and industry. Include any data here about your current (or ideal) customers, business industry, and competitors
  • Marketing Strategy and Implementation Summary: Discussion of marketing, sales, and pricing strategies
  • Management and Organization Summary: Business ownership and operation. (If your business isn’t open yet, give a compelling reason why your background will make it a success. Include information on any managers in the business as well.)
  • Financial Data and Analysis: Financial projections such as a profit and loss statement, projected cash flow, and business ratios
  • Appendix: Any documents or information that doesn’t fit in the above categories goes in the appendix. You may want to include documents such as a floor plan, trademark, or marketing materials.

This might be a big undertaking for some, so there are business plan writing services you can seek help from. Alternatively, Here are some industry-specific business plan templates that can help:

  • How To Write an SBA Business Plan [+Free Template]
  • 4 Free Retail & Online Store Business Plans
  • How to Write a Real Estate Business Plan (+ Free Template)

Learn More: How to Write a Business Plan

Step 4: Acquire Funding

Obtaining financing for your startup business may be the biggest challenge you face in your company’s infancy.

If you don’t have sufficient personal funds to start your business, you’ll need to secure additional funds. There are several funding options available for soon-to-be business owners, including several types of loans, investors, and crowdfunding.

No matter which type of startup financing your business applies for, you can increase the chances of getting a small business loan by preparing a solid business plan, improving your personal credit score , saving up personal capital, building your business’ customer base, and maintaining updated financial projections .

Family & Friends

A popular saying that many in startup financing like to say is, “You should always look to family, friends, and fools for funding before an investor or loan.” The reason is that family and friends (and fools) are the cheapest sources of capital.

The main downside of securing capital from family and friends is the potential for a damaged relationship. To avoid this, draw up an agreement that states how and when you need to pay back the funds.

A loan is a sum of money that needs to be paid back with interest. Business loan amounts can range anywhere from under $1,000 to over $1,000,000.

Just because you may qualify for a loan doesn’t mean you should use it. Start your small business with as little debt as possible. Remember, if your business were to fail, you would still need to pay off the debt you incurred, which could take several years.

Here are several different types of loans to fund your business:

  • 10 Best Business Credit Cards for Startups
  • 10 Best Sole Proprietorship Business Credit Cards
  • 6 Best Instant Approval Business Credit Cards
  • 6 Best Credit Cards for New Businesses With No Credit History
  • 8 Best LLC Credit Cards
  • 13 Best Small Business Credit Cards
  • 6 Best Personal Loans for Business Funding
  • Business Loans vs Personal Loans: Which Is Best for Your Small Business

See also: 7 Best Rollover for Business Startups (ROBS) Providers

  • Home equity loan or line of credit : These loans pull equity out of your home for a loan. They are appealing because of their low-interest rate.

See also: SBA Microloans: What They Are & How to Apply

  • SBA Loan Requirements
  • How to Get an SBA Loan in 4 Steps
  • How to Get an SBA Startup Loan in 6 Steps
  • SBA Community Advantage Loan: What It Is & How to Apply
  • Understanding the SBA Guarantee Fee

See also: How to Get Unsecured Startup Business Loans in 6 Steps

Find an Angel Investor

An angel investor is typically a wealthy individual who funds early-stage businesses. Investors usually want equity ownership in businesses they invest their money in. Having ownership means they will collect a percent of your profits in exchange for their investment. Read more about the pros and cons of angel investments .


Crowdfunding a small business is when you get customers to pre-order products or services. It’s a great way to raise funds before opening your business or creating a product.

Kickstarter and Indiegogo are crowdfunding platforms that assist with raising the money for your business. The cost to use the platforms is 5% of the final price raised plus payment processing fees, which are around 3%.

  • Pros and Cons of Business Crowdfunding
  • 11 Best Crowdfunding Sites for Small Businesses

Apply for Business Grants

Business grants are funds given to start a business that doesn’t have to be repaid. Federal, state, and local governments are common sources of grants. Many new business owners seek them, but they are hard to find.

A business grant is typically reserved for a particular type of business, such as a research-based business. Grants may also come in forms other than money, such as reduced rent to open a business in a disadvantaged area designated by a city.

  • 8 Best Small Business Grants
  • 8 Great Minority Small Business Grants
  • 13 Best Small Business Grants for Women

Apply for Venture Capital Funding

Venture capital is private equity designed to help startups with long-term growth potential scale. In this arrangement, groups of investors pool money to fund a startup in exchange for equity. Typically, venture capitalist firms also shape the strategies of the companies, provide expertise, and make introductions. Read more about the disadvantages and advantages of venture capital funding .

Learn More: Startup Business Loans: The 7 Best Ways to Fund Your Startup

Step 5: Choose a Business Structure & Register Your Business

After acquiring funding, it is time to file the necessary legal paperwork and register your business. You want to take the steps below to comply with city, state, and federal laws. You also want to protect your personal assets if something happens in your business that results in a lawsuit. Additionally, if you have a unique business idea, you want to protect that from competitors.

The cost of registering a business varies between $40 to $500, depending on the state in which you choose to register. You can register through the state’s official business registration website. If you find the website challenging to navigate, use an online legal service such as Rocket Lawyer to assist with the process.

Registering your business is a must-do before taking on your first customer. You don’t want to start your business and not be properly prepared to deal with something like a trademark infringement or a home-based business inspection from a city official. To ensure the business registration process doesn’t become overwhelming, use our checklist to keep track of what has been accomplished and what needs to be completed.

Infographic with steps on how to register a business.

Prepare to Register Your Business

This may only include obtaining an employment identification number (EIN), opening a business bank account, and registering the business as a legal entity in the state in which it operates.

Or registering your business can be several tasks including those above in addition to obtaining a professional business license, getting a State Taxpayer Identification Number, and passing a city health inspection. It’s best to prepare for these tasks in advance to ensure they go smoothly.

  • Choose a business name. Before taking any legal steps below, you need to decide on your business name. This is important to do first because your business name will be on all of your legal documents. Know that you don’t have to stick with this name forever. If you’d like to change the public-facing name of your business, you can always file a DBA (doing business as) registration with the state in which your business is primarily located. Try our business name generator if you need help coming up with a name for your business.
  • Choose a location to receive important documents. Your city or state may require certain documents to be signed and will mail them to you. Additionally, your state will mail documents to your address every year to remind you to re-register your business. It’s important to re-register on time because the late fee is often higher than the initial registration cost.
  • Obtain your Employment Identification Number (EIN ). Your EIN is a federal business number provided by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to primarily identify your business for tax purposes. It’s free to obtain your EIN and you will use it on several documents. Many banks require an EIN before opening a business bank account.

See also: Can I Open a Business Bank Account Without an EIN?

  • Open a business bank account. It’s important to open a business bank account before incurring any business expenses. This ensures you’re not mixing personal and business expenses. Many banks require a balance of at least $1,500 or they deduct a monthly fee.

Choose Your Business Structure

We recommend all businesses register as a legal entity, such as a limited liability company (LLC), S corporation, or C corporation. Registering your business as a legal entity protects your personal assets if a lawsuit were to ever occur against the business.

Research and determine the right type of legal entity for your business. While these legal entities have different pros and cons , they all achieve the vital goal of separating the business owner from personal financial liability if the business were sued or went bankrupt.

Here are the most common business structures:

  • Sole proprietor: If you don’t register your business, this is the default business structure. Typically, only very low liability businesses should stay a sole proprietor, such as a beginner graphic designer or tutor.
  • Partnership: Similar to a sole proprietor, except a partnership has two or more owners.
  • LLC and LLP (legal entity) : This is similar to that of a sole proprietor, except it provides personal asset protection in the event of a lawsuit or business bankruptcy. An LLP (limited liability partnership) is for multiple partners.
  • S corporation (tax status) : Elect your LLC or LLP as an S-corp to save money on taxes. Consider this structure if you are paying yourself more than $20,000 per year from the business.
  • C corporation (legal entity) : This business structure provides several benefits, including transferable shares and perpetual existence. You’ll likely need to work with an attorney before forming a C-corp to create the needed documents.

Here is a snapshot of the different business structures you can consider and their key advantages and disadvantages.

Register Your Business With the State

Now that you’ve done the research and chosen your business’ legal entity, it’s time to submit the entity registration to the state it’s operating in. You can do this on your own by navigating to your state government’s business registration website. Or you can use an online legal service to assist you in the process. Additionally, if your business has a sales tax, you’ll want to obtain a state sales tax identification number (STIN).

Get State Licenses & Local Permits

Depending on your type of business, you may need a professional license issued by the state or a local permit. Additionally, if you work from home and receive customers or employees, you may need to obtain a work-from-home license.

  • State professional licenses are typically for businesses that may pose a public health risk. Each state may require different professions to obtain a professional license.
  • Local license and permit requirements vary by state; however, typically, before opening a physical location you’ll need a local building inspection to ensure the facility is safe for the public.
  • A home-based business license is needed if you’re accepting employees and customers or creating products from your home. This license is to ensure the business isn’t causing a public health risk. However, Most businesses that operate from a home won’t need a license.

Secure Your Intellectual Property

Although it’s not necessary to start your business, you may want to register a trademark, copyright, or patent. A trademark ensures no other business uses your logo, business name, or tagline. A copyright gives you increased legal protection over your creative work. A patent ensures no one can take your product idea.

  • Trademark Costs: DIY Registration vs Online Service vs Lawyer
  • How Much Does a Patent Cost? The Beginner’s Guide

Step 6: Get Your Business Insured

Business insurance is a form of protection small business owners can buy to safeguard their personal or business assets. Getting the appropriate coverage for your operations protects your assets by covering customer lawsuits, property damage, and other perils so the costs following a disaster don’t put you out of business.

Most businesses deal with third parties who may claim your business caused their property damage, bodily harm, or financial loss. Different types of business insurance cover these accusations by paying the associated costs.

Certain small business insurance policies are considered fundamental because they protect against risks that most business owners face. General liability is a good example of this because it covers claims that your business is responsible for someone else’s damages. Many business owners also get commercial property insurance because it pays for damages to their property.

Common Types of Small Business Insurance Policies

How to get business insurance.

Small business owners can get business insurance online through brokers or directly from carriers. To get the appropriate coverage for your business, it’s important to first assess your risks and then to find providers who offer coverage that protects against them.

  • 6 Best Small Business Insurance Companies
  • 6 Ways To Save Money on Business Insurance

Because no business is immune to general liability claims, getting coverage should be a standard business practice. However, cash-strapped small business owners who are looking for inexpensive general liability insurance should remember that price shouldn’t be the only consideration. Smart business owners evaluate coverage limits, additional fees, and the carrier’s reputation as well.

Step 7: Build Your Business Team

After taking care of the necessary legal steps to get your business registered and protected, it is now time to make key hires. Your first employees will be vital to the success of your business. Additionally, many new business owners overlook the importance of hires outside of the business such as a bookkeeper, attorneys, and mentors.

Connect With a Business Attorney

A business attorney may help you form your new business, create custom forms or contracts, and provide legal advice. Even if you won’t need an attorney for these activities, it’s wise to connect with one before a legal matter occurs in your business. You don’t want the stress of interviewing business attorneys after your company has been served.

Meet With a No-cost Business Adviser

The federal and state government funds several organizations that provide no-cost business consulting and mentoring. The SBDC has over 5,000 consultants across the United States that provide no-cost consulting in a variety of business areas. These consultants typically have advanced education or experience owning a business.

SCORE Advisers are volunteers who typically have previously owned a business. They serve as mentors to business owners. A SCORE Adviser can be a great asset to your business, especially if they have experience in your industry.

Hire Your First Employee

Hiring great employees is the key to growing your business. A thoughtful hiring process includes well-written job descriptions, effective recruitment ads, and strong interview processes, all of which should promote your values and culture and adhere to fair labor practices.

Many first-time business owners find employees online these days —through job boards , LinkedIn , Facebook, and Instagram. You will likely hire your first employee through word-of-mouth or from one of your family members or friends .

  • How to Hire Employees
  • How to Create a New Hire Checklist [+ Free Template]
  • 10 Best Startup Hiring Tips for Finding Top Candidates
  • Hiring Bias: 13 Unfair Prejudices & How to Avoid Them
  • New Employee Onboarding Best Practices: Steps & Checklist

Hire a Bookkeeper or Accountant

If you’re starting a part-time business, you can likely track your income and expenses with software such as QuickBooks Online. However, if you have a full-time business with multiple products and services and have several expenses to track, you may want to hire a professional.

Many new business owners are unsure if they should hire a bookkeeper or accountant, but most people starting a small business only need a bookkeeper . If you need complicated financial statements or business tax advice, it’s wise to hire a certified public accountant (CPA).

Step 8: Set Up Your Business Systems & Software

As you organize your business, you will find yourself creating systems to manage repeatable tasks and ultimately increase profits . You’ll often find software to assist with the tasks.

Below you’ll find two lists—one with processes and systems that almost all new small businesses will need to implement. The second list includes several systems and software that—if they apply to you—are highly recommended.

Must-have Systems & Software

  • Payment processing: You’ll need this to accept credit card payments . Sign up with a merchant service provider before setting this up.
  • Bookkeeping: This is how you track income and expenses. If you are managing it yourself, you’ll need accounting software . If not managing yourself, consider hiring a virtual bookkeeper .
  • Payroll processing: If you have employees, you’ll use this system to pay them. To make the process easier, consider payroll processing software .
  • Business tax payments: It’s a best practice to make business tax payments to the IRS quarterly so you don’t have a large tax bill at the end of the year. Aside from tax software , you can often use your accounting and payroll software to submit early tax payments.
  • Business phone number: You’ll want to secure a business phone number so that you can separate personal calls from business calls. You can get a virtual phone line for free or for a small fee .
  • Branded business email address: You don’t want potential customers to email a “@gmail,” “@yahoo,” or another alternative. It looks unprofessional. Get a business email that ends with “@yourcompanyname” so that it looks more professional . Google Workspace provides this for $6 a month.

Additional Systems & Software to Consider

  • Business website: If potential customers are typing your business name into the search engines, you need a business website . You can set one up yourself and pay around $15 a month. Here are small business website examples you can use for inspiration.
  • Sell online: Expand your products’ or services’ reach by selling to customers online . You can build an ecommerce website or use a platform such as Amazon , Facebook Shop , Instagram , or Etsy .
  • Customer management: If you have dozens of customers (or more), you’ll need customer relationship management (CRM) software . This software helps you keep track of customer information such as previous communications and contact info.
  • Appointment scheduling: Don’t schedule appointments by hand (unless you want to). Use free appointment scheduling software to store your appointments in the cloud. Also, allow clients to schedule online without communicating with you.
  • Work from home: COVID-19 is forcing and encouraging many people to work from home for the first time. Set up your home office and manage it so that you can keep up productivity and enjoy your working environment.
  • Take video calls: Video meetings and calls have skyrocketed since the pandemic arrived. Give your clients the option to meet through video conferencing software .

Overwhelmed? Don’t be. Free business software helps your company save money and become efficient. You can use free business tools to do accounting, accept payments, and pay employees.

If you’re starting a business, going with free business tools is a great way to keep operating expenses at a minimum. Free business tools are a low-risk test as you figure out the best systems and software for you. If you like them, keep them and possibly expand their features with a paid version. If you don’t like them, stop using the software with no added costs to your business.

Step 9: Market Your Business

Your last step to starting your business is to get customers. You’ll use your marketing strategy to get your new business in front of potential customers.

There are a lot of strategies you can implement to get your business noticed. Don’t get overwhelmed! Remember, you don’t have to implement—and pay for—all of these strategies. A few done well will get your business enough customers to make it a success.

Before diving headfirst into any of the marketing strategies, take time to write a marketing plan . Think through and plan out how you want to market your business. In your plan, outline your brand, such as the logo, colors, font, and tagline.

At a minimum, you’ll want to create business cards to hand out to potential customers and vendors or while networking. Other marketing materials to consider are brochures , flyers , cards , and branded apparel. Many new business owners make the mistake of relying too much on online marketing. Don’t overlook the effectiveness of having physical business marketing materials in someone’s home.

Market Online

  • Social media marketing : Connect with your customers where they are spending their time online. Don’t try to grow a following on all social media platforms. Choose one and spend the majority of your time growing your account there.
  • Email marketing : Stay in touch with past customers by sending them valuable or entertaining emails . Don’t make your emails all about sales and discounts. You’ll lose subscribers.
  • Content marketing : Create and distribute articles, videos, case studies, and other forms of online content created to attract leads, create brand awareness, move prospects through the buying journey, or convert them to customers.
  • Google My Business (GMB) listing : This listing is free for all businesses looking for local customers. Many marketers are calling GMB the new small business “homepage.” It’s what customers see on Google before your website when they search for your business.
  • Online directories : It’s likely your business can be on several online directories such as Yelp and Yellow Pages . Consider any industry-specific directories as well.

Network With Local Businesses

When you first open, explore networking groups available for local businesses. It’s always a good idea to meet and network with other business owners. Word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals may lead to some of your first customers.

Related: 8 Business Networking Statistics to Generate New Opportunities

Pay for Advertising

You may want to pay to get your business in front of ideal customers. This paid marketing can give your brand recognition a jump-start. You can pay for advertising online or through traditional advertising channels.

  • Search engine ads : Pay to get your business at the top of Google or Microsoft . Typically, you will pay every time an interested searcher clicks on your ad. The cost of the click will depend on the number of businesses competing for the ad space.
  • Social media ads : Get your social media ad in front of both followers and nonfollowers. Ad cost depends on the competitiveness of the audience you’re targeting.
  • Online directory leads: Depending on the directory, you can pay for higher rankings or leads. Yelp provides both options.
  • Direct mail : Create cards or brochures and send them to homes of potential customers near your business.
  • Radio ads : This type of advertising is an excellent option if your business appeals to an audience in a broad industry such as retail or home improvement.
  • Billboards : The cost of a billboard varies depending on location. Pay anywhere from $250 per month for a rural area to over $15,000 per month in a larger market.

Media Package

You want local media to know about your new business. Local media prefers information about your business submitted to them in a press release. A press release is a summary and story of your business. You also want to include owner headshots and photos of the business in the press kit . It’s important to include a hook, which is a way to present your business that creates interest so that the business journalist will cover the opening of your startup.

Learn More: 11 Strategies to Market a New Business

How to Start a Small Business Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click through the questions below to get answers to some of your most frequently asked starting a small business questions.

How can I start a small business with no money?

A business can be started with no money, but it is not recommended. You aren’t required to spend money to register your business. When you don’t register, it is called a sole proprietorship. The problem with not registering is that your personal assets are at risk. For example, if you’re starting a lawn care business and something costly gets destroyed at a customer’s property, that customer can sue you for damages, and your personal assets are at risk.

What is the easiest business to start up?

The easiest business to start is one that relies on your expertise. People pay you for your expertise because you know more than they do. For example, if you are a social media manager for a business, you can take your social media marketing expertise and charge local businesses to manage their accounts.

There is little cost to this type of business because your time and expertise are the product.

How much does it cost to start a small business?

Starting a business does not need to cost a lot of money. If you’re providing a service like resume writing, the only cost is registering the business in your state. As you add additional components to your business like a website, accounting software, and a branded email address, your business costs will increase. For example, adding a low-cost website is another $100 or more per year. A branded email address will cost another $100 or more per year.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the tasks to start your business, don’t stress! Starting a business is a marathon, not a sprint. Be patient. Give yourself time to absorb and understand the above steps.

“The truth is, success is a process—you can ask anybody who’s been successful.” – Oprah Winfrey

Be proud that you’re learning and trying to figure out this messy world of starting a business. Make your next move today: What micro-step are you taking today to make your idea a reality?

About the Author

Agatha Aviso

Find Agatha On LinkedIn

Agatha Aviso

Agatha Aviso is a retail software expert writer at Fit Small Business. She specializes in evaluating ecommerce and retail software features that help small businesses grow. She has evaluated dozens of the top software for retail SMBs. Agatha has more than 10 years of experience writing online content for both small business owners as well as the marketing industry. She also served as a content strategist and digital marketing manager for many entrepreneurs.

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How to start a business in 14 steps: a guide for 2024

  • Amanda Bellucco Chatham
  • Dec 3, 2023
  • 31 min read

Get started by: Creating a website →  | Getting a domain →

How to start a business

In the words of Steve Jobs, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Starting your own business is one step towards doing work that you love. But from forming an idea to creating a business website , there are several essential steps and questions to consider before you dive in: What problem are you solving? Who is your target audience? What differentiates your product or service from existing offerings? And, most importantly, where exactly do you begin?

This comprehensive guide will walk you through every step of the journey: brainstorming ideas, perfecting your branding, registering your business and more. Use it as your trusted roadmap on how to start a business, empowering you to navigate the exciting world of entrepreneurship with confidence.

Ready to create a business website? Start building yours today .

How to start a business

Brainstorm and refine your business idea

Conduct market and competitor research

Pick a business name

Write up a business plan

Choose a legal structure for your business

Secure business capital and funding

Register your business and make it official

Apply for tax IDs, licenses and permits

Apply for business insurance

Organize your finances

Brand your business

Create a professional business website

Market and promote your business

Build a team

01. Brainstorm and refine your business idea

You might already have a great business idea that you can’t wait to start, or maybe you’re still in the early brainstorming stages of finding your niche. If the latter applies to you, think about what you’re passionate about and what skills you possess. The best business ideas often emerge from your interests and expertise, making it easier to stay motivated and dedicated throughout the journey.

Keep in mind that there are some very real, very unavoidable small business challenges to consider. Most business ideas require money, innovation and time to yield results—some may even come with financial risks. This is true for both brick-and-mortar businesses and online business ideas . That’s why as a first step, you’ll need to refine and test your idea to make sure it’s a viable option. Here are some effective ways to kickstart your brainstorming process:

Be realistic: While it’s important to choose a business idea that’s in line with your passions, it’s also crucial that there’s market demand for your product or service. Ask yourself, is your business idea scalable? Who’s your target market ? Do you have the necessary skills and expertise?

Test your idea in the real world: This can involve anything from a focus group to a small-scale pilot test. Another strategy is to build a landing page , which can help you generate and gauge interest. If you find that your idea doesn’t pique interest, it’s time to reassess. Consider how you can refresh your idea to bring something new to the table, or how you can adapt it to more directly address consumer needs.

Define your business model: As you think about ways to make money from your idea, think about the exact business model that will help you to grow your business in a manageable way. Think: How do you want your business to look a year from now? Two years from now? Five? Is it sustainable?

Dropshipping as a business idea

Popular business ideas to get you started

Dropshipping : Dropshipping is a great low-cost business idea that lets you sell products without needing to manage your own inventory. You simply need an eCommerce website , or a specific dropshipping website and a strong marketing strategy to get started.

Print on demand (POD): Another popular way to make money online , POD involves working with suppliers that print your designs on blank items, such as t-shirts and mugs, and ship the orders on your behalf. This is an effective way to put your own spin on a retail venture and start your own online store .

Freelancing: Freelance artists , writers and creatives can jumpstart their business by creating a portfolio website and monetizing their skills. Take Berlin-based illustrator and animator Rafael Varona for inspiration—his modern, visually engaging Wix website features artwork he’s done for leading companies including Disney, Google and Porsche.

Starting a service business : Service business ideas center around selling your expertise, skills or assistance—such as tutoring, dog walking, personal training or event planning. For inspiration, take a look at Whitehead Weddings + Events . Founder Anna Katherine Whitehead has built an elegant service website that showcases work samples, package offerings and more.

Selling handmade items: If you’ve got a knack for creating homemade jewelry, artwork, décor or clothing, you have a business idea just waiting to launch. Follow the lead of businesses like Tach Clothing , whose online Wix storefront features handmade crocheted clothing inspired by vintage fashion.

Boring businesses : Don't be fooled by the way these business sound, boring means anything but. These ventures are typically businesses that offer products or services that are essential but may not have flashy or attention-grabbing qualities. Think accounting firms, insurance companies, waste management services or industrial manufacturers.

Whitehead weddings and events homepage

How a successful business owner turned selling handmade items into a $2M business

Six and a half years ago, Amanda Buhse was working a 9-to-5 job as a graphic designer. Her day job was exhausting so Buhse and her best friend, a nurse, decided to meet a few times a week to decompress over a glass of wine and make candles together. The hobby stuck. Buhse eventually turned those evenings melting wax and cutting wicks into a bustling business.

Now she’s the owner and chief creative officer of Coal and Canary , a Canada-based online luxury candle company. Her candles are sold all over North America and have even made it into the glamorous gift bags handed out to VIPs at the Oscar and Grammy Awards.

What started as a passionate side hustle is now a $2M business. You can read more about Amanda’s business story here .

Other business ideas to consider:

Business ideas for teens

Small town business ideas

Part-time business ideas

Scalable business ideas

Family business ideas

Craft business ideas

B2B business ideas

Rental business ideas

Beauty business ideas

Is starting a business worth it?

Yes, starting a business is worth it. Business ownership can be a profitable venture, providing financial stability and potential for growth. Moreover, for people like Amanda Buhse, it offers the opportunity to escape the confines of a 9-to-5 job that may not bring you happiness or fulfillment. By taking the leap into entrepreneurship, you can create your own path and shape your future on your own terms.

More popular business ideas to consider

How to start an online business

How to start a consulting business

How to start a fitness business

How to start a fitness clothing line

How to start a makeup line

How to start a candle business

How to start a clothing business

How to start an online boutique

How to start a t-shirt business

How to start a jewelry business

How to start a subscription box business

How to start a beauty business

How to start a photography business

How to start a food business

How to start an interior design business

How to start a rental property business

How to start a painting business

How to start a gym business

How to start a babysitting business

How to start a plumbing business

How to start a coaching business

How to start a finance business

02. Conduct market and competitor research

When your business is still in its earliest stages, doing market research is critical. This step helps you understand your target audience’s needs and preferences, allowing you to tailor your products or services accordingly. It also enables you to evaluate the competitive landscape, identify market gaps and make informed decisions. All of this increases your chances of success and mitigates risk.

When it comes to consumer behavior, there are two sets of research: primary and secondary.

Primary research: This is the direct study of your target market by researching them firsthand, such as by conducting user interviews or holding focus groups. You’ll want to define who your customers are and further segment your market by age, location, language, spending power or even stage of life (for example, college students, newlyweds or retirees).

Secondary research: This consists of gathering information from external sources. Conduct an online search or reference public agencies like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as a good starting point. Down the line, you might also find internal data just as useful. You can turn to your own sales reports and see what trends took off right under your nose.

This combination of primary and secondary research can help you create a thorough SWOT analysis , which is an insightful way to measure and evaluate your overall business outlook against your competitors. To do this, create a table with four quadrants, where you'll rank your business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Strengths: Identify the areas where your business stands out. Then, turn to your competitors and ask yourself, “How can I do what they do, but better?” Look at the products and services they offer to help you understand what attracts their customers, and use this as inspiration to improve your own business strategy and competitive advantage .

Weaknesses: Be honest with yourself here. Answer this question as directly as you can: What do customers complain about or dislike? This will let you narrow in on one topic at a time, as opposed to tackling something abstract like, “What is wrong within my company?”

Opportunities: Think about your business in terms of growth. Consider different ways to expand and tap into new spaces, like running seasonal events, taking on a green initiative or testing out trends.

Threats: Be cautious of any external factors that can affect your business in a negative way. It can range from market fluctuations to consumers who no longer express interest in your offerings.

Remember to play to your understanding of what a specific audience needs. Identifying a gap in the market, or having an idea to make an existing product is an important part of market research for starting a business.

How one entrepreneur translated her understanding of her target audience into business success

Raquel “Rocky” Harris knows a thing or two about kicking ass. She’s a five-time Muay Thai champion, Team USA gold medalist, Fight Camp trainer (that’s basically the Peloton of boxing) and, most recently, a thriving entrepreneur (see our guide on how to become an entrepreneur ). Harris now uses Wix eCommerce to sell a collection of wellness products to athletes like herself as the founder of Warm Up .

“I was making my own hand sanitizer and thought ‘Why don’t they have sanitizers that kill fungus?’” she says. “There are always breakouts in boxing gyms due to common skin infections like ringworms. Tea tree soap is anti-fungal, so I started adding it to my hand sanitizers, which eventually evolved into my sweat butters.”

She launched her first product line while training clients and creating Wix sites for her colleagues, all while moving across the country to shoot workouts for Fight Camp. You can read more about her business story here .

Is it easy to start a business?

Creating a business doesn't have to be difficult or intimidating. It can start with a simple but strong idea, like Raquel Harris' realization that hand sanitizers would be all the more useful if they killed fungus, especially in boxing rings.

Starting a business does require dedication, hard work and careful planning—there's no way around that. While it may not be easy, per se, with the right mindset, research, resources and tools like Wix, anyone can embark on the entrepreneurial journey. The rewards of building a successful business can truly be fulfilling and worthwhile.

Market segmentation - how to start a business

03. Pick a business name

Feeling satisfied with your business idea? The next step is to come up with a business name that will leave a strong first impression on potential clients.

You’ll want a name that’s catchy, memorable and scalable (i.e., is still relevant even if your business expands to new locations, niches or product offerings). If you need a little nudge, Wix’s free business name generator can help you brainstorm some ideas, or you can check out these best company names for further inspiration.

You’ll also want to make sure no one else has trademarked or registered your desired business name, which you can check via the U.S. Trademark Electronic Search System or with the Office of the Secretary of State for the state in which your business is located. And, remember you’ll eventually want to build a website for your business. Because your domain name will most likely be the same as your business name, make sure your desired name is available by doing a domain name search .

Learn more:

Small business name ideas

Tech business name ideas

Craft business name ideas

Clothing brand name ideas

Consulting business names

Marketing business names

eCommerce business names

Beauty business name ideas

Fitness business name ideas

Getting help from a business name generator to name a business

04. Write up a business plan

Another essential step when starting a business is to come up with an organized plan. At its core, a business plan is a document that serves as a roadmap for how to structure, operate and manage your new venture. It serves multiple purposes, like helping to attract investors, earning the trust of banks and outlining the cost of starting your business . You can use a business plan template to get your thoughts on paper. No matter how you get started, your business plan should include these components:

Executive summary : Give a high-level view of your business proposal or concept. If you were to make a professional elevator pitch (explaining your business in about a minute), you’d be reciting this bit aloud.

Company description: Include your company’s name, the names of your founders, your locations and your mission statement . Your mission statement should include core values, goals and your guarantee to provide clients with quality service or products. Take a look at these powerful mission statement examples to gather inspiration for your own.

Industry analysis: Provide research about your industry, such as small business trends and growth. When writing this section, think about how large your industry is and how it’s expected to evolve. You should also consider who your competitors are, and make note of their strengths and weaknesses.

Customer analysis: Describe your target audience and how you plan to reach them. Clearly state the needs of your customers and specify how your product or service will meet them.

Organization and management: Provide an overview of your business' organization and leadership, encompassing any founders, executives, board members, employees or important stakeholders. Creating a visual representation—like an organizational chart—can assist in presenting your company's structure effectively.

Service or product offerings: Create a list of your existing and upcoming products and services. If you're still developing your business idea, write a concept statement to outline your vision. Additionally, incorporate a proof of concept (POC) to showcase the viability of your idea.

Marketing and sales: Outline how your business concept actually translates into sales. Explain your marketing strategies and tactics, including plans for advertising, promotions, pricing, distribution channels and digital marketing efforts, along with planned consumer touchpoints (website, mobile app, retail store, etc.).

Financial projections: Estimate how much money will be coming in—or share any data around early sales. Investors want to see hard numbers to justify their risk. Include a sales forecast (based on industry and market trends), expenses , sunk costs , overhead costs , anticipated break-even point, expected accounts receivable, an estimated cash flow (derived from your sales forecast and expenses) and expected profits or losses.

Operational plan: Wrap up with an action plan. If you have a team, write down how each member will contribute to achieving your company’s SMART goals and objectives. Answer questions like “Is there a timeline?” and “What are the milestones you wish to accomplish?” For both, think in terms of years and quarters.

CTA example - how to start a business

How choosing the right business model and establishing a clear business plan helped this online business succeed

Based in Oldbury, right in the heart of England, Andrew Darby, Faye Darby, Craig Pritchard and Terri Pritchard sold their first piece of jewelry in January 2019. Their story began with Wix eCommerce and a little inspiration from their spouses: “Our wives love jewelry, so we thought, ‘Let's do something mid-range and affordable. Nice pieces that last well.’"

For these new entrepreneurs, the key to starting their business off on the right foot was, in their own words, also their biggest challenge, “The biggest challenge was having a business model so to speak—or a blueprint and sticking to that blueprint. Eventually when we found our blueprint, we got ourselves out of trying to sell here, there, and everywhere.”

And for this business, it's worked. As of April 2022, Darby Pritchards had an annual returning customer rate of over 20%. Read more about how they started their business here .

Looking for a business plan for a specific business idea:

How to create a clothing line business plan

How to create a consultant business plan

How to create a photographer business plan

How to create a bookkeeping business plan

How to create a virtual assistant business plan

How to create a real estate business plan

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Mission statement online - how to start a business

05. Choose a legal structure for your business

While there are different flavors of legal structures, choosing which one will best serve your needs is based on multiple factors, such as how much personal liability you want to have, taxes and business registration requirements. For example, a sole proprietorship is the easiest to file, but has the most personal liability. LLCs relieve you of many personal liabilities, but can come with hefty tax payments.

A great place to start is by reviewing your options via the U.S. Small Business Administration’s business structure breakdown .

The most common types of businesses or business entities in the U.S. include:

Sole proprietorship : This refers to a business owned by one individual who assumes all of its legal responsibility. Profits and losses from the business are reported on the owner's personal income tax return, and the owner is personally liable for any debts or legal issues that may arise, which could potentially put personal assets at risk.

Partnership : In this arrangement, two or more individuals or entities share ownership, responsibilities and profits. The partnership itself does not pay income tax; instead, the profits and losses "pass through" to the partners, who report them on their individual tax returns. Each partner is personally responsible for the debts and obligations of the partnership, which could potentially expose personal assets to business-related risks.

Corporations : This is a legal entity separate from its owners (shareholders) that can conduct business and incur liabilities in its own name. Corporations are subject to corporate income tax on profits, and its shareholders are generally not personally liable for the company's debts and legal obligations. If a corporation distributes dividends to its shareholders, they must pay personal income tax on these amounts. There are different types of corporations with varying legal implications, most notably C-corps and S-corps.

Limited Liability Company (LLC) : LLCs provide the limited liability protection of a corporation while allowing for the flexibility of a partnership. In terms of taxes, an LLC can choose to be taxed as a pass-through entity, where the profits and losses "pass through" to the owners' individual tax returns, or it can elect to be taxed as a corporation.

How do you know which one is right for you? We consulted with Shylene D’Addario, VP, associate general counsel with LegalZoom. Shylene offered the following insight:

"Sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations and LLCs are the most popular kinds of business structures, according to the IRS. But what type is best for you and why?

A sole proprietorship is best suited to a business owned by an individual or couple that doesn’t have employees or significant contracts with landlords, suppliers or subcontractors.

A business with two or more owners that hasn’t established an entity is treated as a general partnership. General partners typically share the management of the business and its profits and losses but don’t have any protection against liability for their partners’ negligence, misconduct or internal disputes.

Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) provide their owners with protection against liability for company obligations. If your LLC can’t pay its debts or is unable to meet its obligations, only the business assets—and not personal assets—are at risk in a lawsuit. This flexibility and limited liability make LLCs a popular choice for small businesses of all types.

Corporations offer their owners (called 'shareholders') the same liability protection as LLCs. Corporations tend to have somewhat more complex recordkeeping and reporting requirements than LLCs, depending on the state in which you incorporate.

If you have additional questions about what kind of entity may be right for your needs, you can learn more on our website or LegalZoom can connect you with a business lawyer who can help advise you in this process."

Start an LLC with LegalZoom.

Do your research, and compare and contrast the advantages and disadvantages of the different business structures to find the right fit for you. A business lawyer can help advise you in this process, and the IRS’ guide to business structures can assist in evaluating tax implications.

What are the differences between starting a small business and an enterprise?

Starting an enterprise and starting a small business share some similarities but they differ greatly in scale, scope and goals.

Small businesses are typically, as the name suggests, small in scale. They often serve a local or niche market and have a limited number of employees. Enterprises are generally larger in scale, often with a broader geographic reach. They may have multiple locations and serve a larger customer base. Think a small, independent toy shop in a town versus a huge brand like Toys R us.

Small businesses are often owner-operated, where the owner is actively involved in day-to-day operations. Enterprises usually have a more complex ownership structure. They generally have multiple owners, shareholders and a board of directors. The owner's involvement in day-to-day operations can be limited, especially in larger enterprises.

Small businesses tend to offer a narrow range of products or services tailored to a specific customer base. They might focus on providing personalized, local solutions. Enterprises typically have a broader scope, offering a wide range of products or services. They often aim to capture a larger share of the market or diversify their offerings.

While small businesses can grow over time, they might not have aspirations for rapid or significant expansion. The primary goal may be to maintain a steady income or lifestyle. The primary goal of an enterprise is often rapid growth and scaling. They aim to expand their operations, market presence, and profitability.

types of business entities in the U.S.

06. Secure business capital and funding

The most common cause of startup failure is lack of financing (47%), according to a recent survey. Second to that is running out of cash (44%). Clearly, it’s never too early to start thinking about finances. You’ll need both sufficient capital and reliable cash flow to get your business off the ground.

Business funding can take many forms. From applying for grants and loans to reaching out to an angel investor or setting up a fundraising campaign, there are many different strategies here. Here are a few good ways to obtain capital:

Bootstrapping : This involves dipping into your own personal finances to fund your business. In some cases, the benefits of investing your own money may outweigh the challenges of having to depend on outsiders. This allows you to retain greater control over all aspects of your company, though you may face slower growth and potential personal risk.

Crowdfunding: This is a fast and easy way to share your ideas on a wide scale, get feedback and raise money at the same time. When choosing from one of the many crowdfunding sites available, consider the fees, terms and conditions of each, as well as the kind of audience they typically draw.

Small business grants: The biggest benefit of using grant money is that you won’t have to pay it back. A good place to begin looking for grants and eligibility is on the grants for community organizations page of the U.S. Small Business Administration website. Alternatively, you can check out private institutions that offer small business grants, including FedEx and the Second Service Foundation .

Credit cards: When used responsibly, credit cards can be a viable option for funding a new business. It’s advisable to open a business credit card just for this purpose; ideally one with a 0% introductory APR period and a rewards structure so you can earn cash back, credit statements or miles. This can also be a good way to build your business credit score, as long as you make on-time payments and keep a credit utilization of under 30% . You will need strong credit to obtain other types of financing.

Startup business loan : Small businesses can apply for loans from banks and other financial institutions through their offering of business banking services. First, you should know how much you need, and you should be able to demonstrate good reasons for it. Use the financial projections of your business plan to estimate an amount and determine the type of loan you need.

Business line of credit (LOC): This is a flexible loan that behaves similar to a credit card, letting you borrow and repay funds as needed. Business LOCs often have an annual income and time-in-business requirement, but new business owners may be able apply if they’re willing to put up collateral and have a good personal credit score ( over 670 ).

Angel investors: Often, angel investors are found through mutual contacts or even family members. That said, there are hundreds of other active high-net worth individuals who seed startups with their personal money, particularly in the early stages. You can check out Golden Seeds LLC (New York City) or Tech Coast Angels (Los Angeles) as just a few examples of angel investing firms who are involved in venture capital financing.

business funding

07. Register your business and make it official

Before you take your business out into the world, you’ll need to complete all the legal and formal paperwork. If you’re establishing a business in the U.S., your location and business structure will determine the steps you’ll need to take to register a business name .

Keep in mind that, according to the SBA , the benefits of registering your business include personal liability protection, legal and trademark protection, and tax benefits—all of which are crucial to the prosperity and expansion of any entrepreneurial operation .

Meanwhile, for those who are seeking to set up a business in the UK or EU , it's essential to familiarize yourself with the different requirements and rules for registering a business , relevant certifications and VAT.

how to start a business - register it in the us

How to start a business by state

How to start a business in Utah

How to start a business in Massachusetts

How to start a business in Oregon

How to start a business in Alabama

How to start a business in Missouri

How to start a business in Illinois

How to start a business in Maryland

How to start a business in Michigan

How to start a business in Connecticut

How to start a business in South Carolina

How to start a business in Tennessee

How to start a business in Minnesota

How to start a business in New York

How to start a business in Pennsylvania

How to start a business in Virginia

How to start a business in Indiana

How to start a business in Washington state

start a business - what makes an entrepreneur friendly state

How these co-founders managed to register their business one step at a time

For Andrea Shubert, Co-founder of Strathcona Spirits when it came to registering their new business they found the following crucial:

"Don’t start with a 'no.' We didn’t think the distillery was going to happen because of all the red tape involved, but we kept applying for permits to do this or that. When they said yes, we thought: great, let’s move on to the next thing. The idea that everything is permitted is the best place to start from and just go from there.

And when you get a 'no,' which we definitely have a few times over the last five years, we typically dust ourselves off and continue on until we find our 'yes.'"

08. Apply for tax IDs, licenses and permits

As a registered U.S. business, you’re going to need to obtain your federal and state tax ID numbers , known as your employer identification number (EIN). This is how your business is recognized by the government when it comes to paying taxes on both the state and federal levels. Furthermore, you’ll need a tax ID number to hire employees, open a bank account and apply for relevant business licenses and permits.

Check your local government site to see what types of licenses and permits you might need to apply for. If your company’s activities are regulated by a federal agency, you’ll need a license (selling alcoholic beverages or broadcasting on public radio are two examples). You can review the SBA’s list of business requirements for federal licenses and permits for more information.

Applying for an EIN is free and you can do so online with the IRS’ EIN Assistant tool . That said, tax requirements vary by state. Visit your state’s website to check whether you need to get a state tax ID number to remain compliant. You'll also need to understand which IRS forms are relevant for your business, income statement , tax return process, income tax audit process and corporate tax payments, if any.

Taxes are a major responsibility for business owners, and that responsibility can vary significantly from business to business. According to Sabrina Papini, marketing director of eCommerce and marketplaces at Avalara , "A small business owner might be subjected to various types of taxes depending on their location, industry and business activities." Papini notes that in particular, business owners may be required to pay the following:

Sales tax: If your business sells goods or services to customers within a particular jurisdiction, you might need to collect and remit sales tax. The rate and regulations can vary based on the location and type of product or service sold.

State and local taxes: Depending on your business' location, there could be additional state and local taxes beyond sales tax. These could include business privilege taxes, property taxes, local business license fees and city-specific taxes.

Excise tax: Certain industries that deal with specific goods like alcohol, tobacco, fuel or other regulated products might be subject to excise taxes. These taxes are usually included in the product's price and are paid by the manufacturer, importer or distributor.

International taxes: The company could encounter various international taxes and fees if the business engages in international commerce. These may include value-added tax (VAT), goods and services tax (GST), customs duties or tariffs. If you're a U.S. business operating overseas, or a foreign business operating from the U.S., you should also check for any double taxation liabilities.

Tax considerations should be part of your operational plan from the beginning, Papini emphasizes. "[Using] automated tools, staying informed about tax changes and seeking professional guidance when necessary are critical strategies for managing tax and staying compliant with regulations . These steps will not only help protect your business from legal issues but also contribute to its growth and success."

stamp of business license

09. Apply for business insurance

As a new small business owner, obtaining insurance is crucial to protect your venture from unforeseen risks and potential financial liabilities. Business insurance provides a safety net that can shield your assets and help your business stay afloat in case of accidents, lawsuits or other unexpected events.

When applying for insurance, you’ll want to first assess the nature of your business and identify the specific risks it may face. This includes any potential hazards, liabilities related to your products or services, and any potential lawsuits that might arise. Next, consider the coverage types that align with your business needs, such as general liability, professional liability, casualty or property insurance, etc.

A knowledgeable insurance broker can help you navigate the complexities of insurance policies and find the best rates and coverage options that fit your unique circumstances. Some types of insurance you might need to consider include:

Workers' compensation insurance: Mandatory in most states if you have employees, this insurance covers medical expenses and lost wages for employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses.

General liability insurance: This provides coverage for third-party bodily injury, property damage and related legal expenses resulting from accidents on your business premises or due to your products or services.

Professional liability insurance: Also known as “errors and omissions insurance,” this policy protects against claims of professional negligence, errors or omissions that may arise from providing professional services or advice.

Property insurance: This policy covers physical assets of the business, such as buildings, equipment, inventory and furniture against damage or loss from events like fire, theft or natural disasters.

Product liability insurance: This type of policy offers coverage for claims arising from injuries or property damage caused by a defective product sold by your business.

Business interruption insurance: If your business operations are interrupted due to a covered event, such as a fire or natural disaster, this will provide compensation for lost income and ongoing expenses.

Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI): An EPLI policy provides coverage for claims related to employment practices issues, such as wrongful termination, discrimination or harassment.

types of business insurance

10. Organize your finances

Keeping a business running smoothly demands organized, detailed financials. As you put these systems in place, you’ll want to open a business bank account and consider how you’ll handle your business accounting.

Set up a business bank account

New small businesses should set up a business bank account for several reasons. First and foremost, separating your business finances from your personal finances is crucial for maintaining accurate and organized records. A dedicated business bank account enables you to track income, expenses and profits effectively, simplifying tax preparation and financial reporting.

Additionally, having a business bank account is usually required if you want a business loan or line of credit. It builds credibility with customers, peers and potential investors, as it demonstrates a professional approach to how you operate.

To open a business bank account, you’ll typically need to provide certain documents, including your business registration paperwork, employer identification number (EIN) or Social Security number (SSN). When setting up a business bank account, you’ll want to ask questions to make sure the bank can adequately handle your business needs. Make sure you ask about account fees, transaction limits, access to credit options and integration with financial accounting software to start.

Set up an accounting system

Having a meticulous bookkeeping system in place will help set your business up for success, especially when it comes to tracking expenses, paying taxes, managing invoices or handling payroll. There are a myriad of accounting apps and software options that can help you stay organized in this area, or you can hire a certified public accountant (CPA) to manage this for you.

With Wix, you can keep your books right from within the platform, eliminating the need for additional software and streamlining your workflow. You can manage customer invoices or product inventory directly from your website dashboard, or you can employ a number of accounting and payroll app integrations, such as QuickBooks and EasyTeam .

To fine tune your process, turn to this guide on small business accounting , which covers everything from creating financial statements to planning cash flow statements to managing balance sheets and more.

small business accounting

11. Brand your business

Building a brand is a vital part of understanding how to start a small business and shape a corporate identity . In a nutshell, branding is about creating a consistent voice, set of values and visual identity for your company. This can include everything from logo and brand colors to your company ethos, story and personality.

Brand visuals

When building your brand visuals, there are several key elements and assets you need to create to establish a cohesive visual identity:

Logo: A well-designed logo is the cornerstone of your brand visuals. It should be versatile, memorable and easily recognizable. You can get a professional design in minutes with Wix’s free logo maker .

Color palette: Choose a set of primary and secondary colors that reflect your brand's personality and evoke the desired emotions.

Typography: Select fonts that align with your brand's tone and are easy to read across different mediums.

Imagery: Decide on the type of images or illustrations that best represent your brand. This could include photography, illustrations or graphics.

Iconography: Create a set of custom icons or symbols that can be used consistently throughout your branding materials.

Website design: Ensure that your brand visuals and colors are integrated into your site design, including buttons, banners and overall layout.

Print materials: Consider how your brand visuals will translate to print materials like business cards, brochures and packaging. Not sure how to design a business card ? The Wix Business Card Maker can help you create a professional design in just six steps.

Email: Creating a business email takes just a handful of steps, and you can get a custom business email with Wix . Develop branded templates to maintain consistency in your online communications.

Setting up a business email

Brand story

According to Sitecore’s 2022 Brand Authenticity report, 70% of consumers want brands to connect with them on a more personal level. This is where your brand story comes into play.

Building a brand story is all about creating a compelling and authentic narrative that resonates with your target audience. Yaya Aaronsohn, head of brand maker at Wix, explains further. "At its core, branding hinges on trust—think of it as a relationship between two individuals: the customer and the brand, which represents the business. Within this relationship, authenticity plays a critical role. It builds trust and creates emotional bonds. It fosters consistency, engagement and reduces reputation risks."

A well-defined brand story can help you forge an emotional connection with customers, and should touch on your:

Origin story: Share the backstory of how and why your brand was created, including the challenges and inspirations that led to its inception.

Founder's journey: If applicable, humanize the brand by sharing the founder's personal journey and connection to the business.

Brand purpose: Clearly articulate the reason your brand exists, its core mission and the problem it aims to solve for its customers.

Brand values: Identify the guiding principles and values that drive your brand's decision-making and actions.

Evolution: Address how your brand has evolved over time and demonstrate your commitment to continuous improvement.

Brand voice

Brand voice establishes a consistent tone that reflects your personality and communication style. It further helps customers relate to the face behind the brand, which can translate directly to sales.

Your brand voice should remain consistent across all channels to reinforce your identity. Some key elements to include are:

Persona: Identify how you want to be perceived by your target audience and craft a tone that supports that identity.

Language: Use language that aligns with your chosen persona, such as authoritative, knowledgeable, down to earth or humorous.

Communication strategy: Set clear communication standards for how you’ll respond to customer comments, reviews, emails or phone calls.

Example of business logo

12. Create a professional business website

Building a strong website and setting goals for your website is an absolute must when starting a business. For most prospective customers, investors and partners, your website will be their introduction to your business. It's a vital opportunity for you to create a positive first impression of your brand.

Expert advice from Amanda Buhse, Owner and Chief Creative Officer of Coal and Canary

"Something that I always heard growing up was that you could be the smallest fish in the sea, but if you have a professional website and branding, people will take you seriously. When I sent my website to potential retailers early on, we were making seven candles at a time out of my small kitchen. I think it goes to show that when you have a professional brand, the goals and dreams that you have are limitless." (Coal and Canary now produces more than 1,0000 hand-poured candles, a day from their 10,000 square foot warehouse.)

Learning how to make a business website is simple and doable for people of all skill levels. Follow the steps outlined below to get your online presence off the ground.

Ready to launch? Build a beautiful business website or eCommerce website today.

Find a business website template

Website builders make it easy to create a professional, well-designed website with a few clicks of the mouse. Wix offers more than 800 business templates , including more than 500 online store templates , encompassing everything from finance and fashion to crafts and consulting (and beyond).

To begin, simply choose a template and customize it to meet your needs. Alternatively, you can utilize Wix’s AI website builder tool, which translates information about your design and layout preferences into a professional website tailor-made to your needs—all in a matter of minutes.

If you need more inspiration, check out the best business websites of the past year.

Customize your tools and features

With the foundation of your website up and running, it’s time to fine-tune which tools and integrations you’ll use to help run your business.

Wix offers business owners a full assortment of native software solutions and built-in features that transform your site dashboard into a one-stop-shop for day-to-day operations. You can handle transactions with Wix Payments or Wix Point of Sale (POS) ; manage incoming payments with Wix Invoices ; schedule classes, workshops and appointments with Wix Bookings ; and even sell tickets with Wix Events & Tickets .

The Wix App Market offers hundreds of other third-party integrations that can help you manage payroll, expense tracking and more.

Choose a web host and domain name

After you’ve customized your template, you’re ready to move on to the next step: flipping the switch so that your site is visible to the public. This is a two-fold process.

First, you’ll need to pick a web hosting provider. Basically, this is just a tool that stores your website’s files so that they’re viewable online. Wix is the leading web hosting platform for small businesses , and it offers free website hosting that’s protected and reliable—complete with 24/7 security monitoring and integrated SSL certificates to keep your users safe.

Once you’ve selected a web host, you’ll need to connect your registered domain name to a hosting server. It will take a matter of minutes, but rest assured that when you purchase your website domain with Wix, you’ll also gain access to domain security and full customer support.

domain name search to choose domain and business name to start a business

Optimize your business website for SEO

When it comes to starting a business online, it’s essential to have some basic knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of optimizing web content to improve your site’s ranking for searches of specific keywords. Rebecca Tomasis, SEO expert for Wix Blogs, explains further. "The higher you rank in search, and the more keywords you rank for—the greater your visibility, traffic and potential for conversions or sales."

For example, if you sell organic baby items, you want to integrate exact phrases, like “eco baby products” and “natural baby toys,” into your site content. This improves your chances of showing up in search results when people type those phrases into the search bar.

You can use keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs or Semrush (which has native integration with Wix ) to find terms to incorporate into your web content. You can also use the Wix SEO Hub as a resource for all things related to learning SEO.

Your overall SEO strategy should include the following:

Technical SEO: "Technical [SEO] involves elements such as your site speed, core web vitals, the site hierarchy and structure and navigation," Tomasis details. In other words, your website should, on a technical level, be responsive, quick to load (including on mobile) and easy for search engines to crawl. You should avoid things like dead links, duplicate content and large, slow-loading media files that can impact the user experience.

On-page optimization: Optimize your website's individual pages for the targeted keywords you’ve identified. Place the primary keyword in the page title, meta description, headings and content naturally.

High-quality content: Create high-quality, informative and engaging content that addresses the needs of your target audience. If you have a blog, well-written articles attract visitors and encourage them to spend more time on your site, signaling search engines about its relevance. "Make sure your content is helpful and answers the intent behind the search term as directly and as clearly as possible," says Tomasis. "Everything about the article—its structure, its data, its headings—should be optimized to meet the intent of the user searching."

Mobile-friendly design: Ensure your website is responsive and mobile-friendly. With the increasing number of mobile users, mobile optimization is crucial for SEO and user experience.

Local SEO: If your business serves a local audience, optimize for local SEO. Claim and optimize your Google My Business listing, ensure consistent NAP (name, address, phone) information across the web and encourage customer reviews.

Register your domain name

13. Market and promote your business

Once you’ve launched your business and published your website, you can start building a small business marketing strategy that fuels business growth . A solid marketing strategy is essential for bringing in customers and taking your business to the next level. As Erin Shea, Senior Director of North America Marketing for VistaPrint shares, "Customers are the backbone of any successful small business and effective marketing is one of the best ways to build and sustain your community". According to Erin,

“Whether you’re engaging customers online or offline—remember that consistency is worth its weight in gold. A cohesive look to your marketing inspires confidence in your professionalism, builds credibility and strengthens customer rapport.”

Check out more of VistaPrint's 2024 marketing trends to help with your new business efforts.

Here are some of the most common marketing strategies to consider:

Paid advertising: By leveraging targeted advertisements, small businesses can reach a vast audience of potential customers who are actively searching for products or services related to their industry. Google Ads are particularly popular, letting businesses bid on relevant keywords, ensuring their ads appear prominently in search engine results. Wix users can manage Google Ad campaigns from their site dashboard, leaving one less external platform to worry about.

Social media marketing: Marketing on social media brings you massive exposure from diverse groups of people. Pick a platform that your target audience uses and maintain an active presence there. You can also implement paid social media marketing; for example, Wix users can boost sales with fully integrated Facebook and Instagram ads directly from their website builder.

Email marketing: A highly effective tactic, email marketing can promote your brand and build engagement . Using this method, you can reach customers directly, build a loyalty program and customize messages based on their individual interests. Wix users have access to a free email marketing tool with customizable templates, simple editing interface and advanced analytics.

Content marketing: This involves crafting and sharing valuable and relevant content in order to draw in your target audience. It can be done in a variety of ways, including publishing a blog, creating a podcast or making a YouTube channel. Use any of these outlets to share business updates, distribute relevant industry related news and build connections with potential customers.

Word of mouth: Positive word of mouth can give your brand's reputation and credibility a boost, increasing customer loyalty and customer acquisition. It’s a cost-effective strategy that can create a ripple effect, reaching a broader audience and generating organic growth for businesses.

Bear in mind that finding the right marketing strategy may take some time, experimentation and patience. But, Erin notes, consistency is key: "Whether you’re engaging customers online or offline, remember that consistency is worth its weight in gold. Even if you’re just starting out, try experimenting with different marketing tactics to see what works. As your sales grow, direct a greater portion of your revenue for your marketing budget and keep building.”

Market your business

14. Build a team

As your business grows, it may be difficult for you to play multiple roles—which is where hiring employees and delegating tasks comes in. Even if you decide not to hire in-house staff, you may find yourself needing extra assistance from freelancers or independent contractors.

Read also: Human resources guide

When you begin the hiring process, factor in your budget, your needs and the company culture you want to portray. Creating a well-defined vision statement will help you find the right people to satisfy all of these requirements.

There are many effective ways to source talent for your team. A few ideas to get you started:

Online job platforms: Websites like Indeed, LinkedIn and Glassdoor offer job posting services where you can find potential team members.

Local job boards: Many communities have local job boards or websites where businesses can post job openings to attract candidates from the area.

College career centers: Contact career centers at local colleges and universities to connect with talented students or recent graduates seeking employment opportunities.

Networking events: Attend industry-specific business networking events or job fairs to meet potential candidates face-to-face and discuss job opportunities.

Social media: Utilize social media channels like Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram to reach out to a broader audience and attract job seekers.

Freelance platforms: Websites like Upwork, Freelancer and Fiverr offer access to freelancers who can work on specific projects or provide specialized skills.

Industry-specific forums or groups: Join online forums or social media groups dedicated to a particular industry to discover talented professionals interested in relevant job opportunities.

Building a team for your business

How to start a business FAQ

How do you start a business as a beginner.

To start a business as a beginner, follow these essential 14 steps:

How much money do you usually need to start a business?

How do you get money to start a business, do you need a business degree to start a business, what do you need to start a business, can you start a business with no money, how to start a business online, how to start a business as a teenager, how to start a business as a student.

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You have a winning idea plus the passion and skills to make it a success. But the process of actually getting your business off the ground can be overwhelming. Trust us, you’re not alone.

In partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Upnetic (an online services platform for small business owners, startups and entrepreneurs), ADP® has created an e-book that provides a roadmap to business ownership. We also collaborated on a webinar offering advice for those who are launching or relaunching a business in the wake of the pandemic . As you continue to perfect your business idea, here are a few things to keep in mind to help you get off to a smart start.

i am planning to start/open a small business on

What do you need to start a small business?

Every successful business started from the ground up. No matter how eager you are to get a product into market, taking the time to create a solid foundation now will help increase the chances of your business surviving long-term. Some of the basic things you may need to start a small business include:

  • Idea backed by market research
  • Business plan
  • Funding and bank account
  • Business structure (corporation, LLC, etc.)
  • Doing business as (DBA) name
  • Employer identification number (EIN)
  • Business location
  • Licenses and permits
  • Insurance policies

What is a good business to start?

A good business to start is usually one that fills an unmet consumer need. Think of any everyday problem that’s yet to be solved or ways to improve an existing solution by making it faster, cheaper or easier to use. Preferably, your idea should be something that you’re passionate about or have some existing level of expertise.

Choosing the entrepreneurship that’s right for you will also depend on your financial situation. Some businesses, such as dog walking, have low start-up costs, while others, like a restaurant, may require considerable investment. And if you’re looking for a get rich quick scheme, you may be disappointed. Most small businesses take considerable time and effort before turning a profit.

Starting a business from home

Many entrepreneurs start a small business because they like the idea of working from the comfort of their home and setting their own hours. And while this is a great perk, it also limits the type of business you can create. Manufacturing products, for example, might not be feasible from your living room. Additionally, you may need to consider the zoning and legal restrictions in your particular neighborhood, and how your business will affect your neighbors and those who live with you.

How to start your own small business

Taking an idea to market or making a dream become reality typically takes a series of carefully planned business decisions. While not every business follows the same path, most take some of these steps:

Step 1: Perform market research around your idea

Market research can help you mitigate risk because it lets you know how much of a demand there is for your product or service and the level of existing competition. It also provides demographic information on your target customers, such as their income and where they live.

You generally have two options when it comes to research – review existing sources or conduct your own analysis. Relying on previously gathered data can save you time and money, but it might not be current or specific enough to your target clientele. If you start your research from scratch, you have the advantage of engaging with customers directly through focus groups, one-on-one interviews and surveys.

Step 2: Create a business plan

A business plan explains your goals and how you hope to achieve them. If you need funding for start-up costs, many investors will want to see your plan so they can assess your potential profitability. Business plans can also help you attract partners and employees.

Business Plan

When creating a business plan, you can take a traditional approach or create something lean. Traditional plans have comprehensive details and are often required to achieve a business loan. Lean plans, on the other hand, are shorter and may use more charts than written copy. They’re often ideal for simple business models that plan to start up fast.

Whichever plan you choose for your new business, most include at minimum:

  • A description of your product, it’s value proposition and how you plan to market it
  • How much investment you require and the amount of revenue you expect to make
  • Your target audience and the customer experience

Step 3: Finance your business

Start-up costs are one of the obstacles that sometimes prevent people from ultimately pursuing their dream. The good news, however, is that even if you don’t have much money at your disposal, there are several ways to fund your business, including:

  • Bootstrapping Self-funding is advantageous because you maintain complete control of your business. On the downside, it sometimes comes with the highest personal financial risk.
  • Venture capital investments Venture capitalists or “angel investors” may be willing to fund your business, but they usually expect membership on your board of directors or some stake in the company. You may need a detailed business plan to secure a capital investment.
  • Small business loans If you don’t have enough money, but still want to keep full ownership of your business, a loan might be advantageous. Be prepared to show banks and credit unions a comprehensive business plan, as well as your estimated expenses and financial projections.
  • Crowdfunding Some people invest in a business in exchange for perks, as opposed to a share of the profits or company ownership. Because these perks are usually merchandise or name recognition, your business may need to be in the general consumer product or creative industries to take advantage of crowdfunding.

Step 4: Choose your business structure

How you plan to structure your business – sole proprietor, corporation or something in between – will typically have legal and tax implications for the foreseeable future. That makes this decision a critical one. Some of the more popular business structures are:

  • Sole proprietorship This is the most common structure for solo entrepreneurs or “solopreneurs.”
  • Partnership If you are starting a business with one or more individuals, then a partnership structure might be right for you.
  • Limited liability company An LLC blends the limited liability features of a corporation with the tax efficiencies and operational flexibility of a partnership.
  • Cooperative A cooperative is a business or organization owned and operated for the benefit of those using its services. Companies in health care, retail, agriculture, art and restaurant industries fall in this category.
  • Corporation Corporations are more complex from a legal and tax standpoint and are therefore more common among larger companies.
  • S corporation Eligible domestic corporations can sometimes avoid double taxation (one tax for the corporation and another for the shareholders) by electing to be treated as an S corporation.

Step 5: Choose your business name

After you’ve determined your structure, it’s time to decide how your business will be recognizable to the public. Your business name should:

  • Reflect your brand and values
  • Convey the services you provide or products you sell
  • Work as a logo and resonate on social media and other marketing platforms

You’ll also want to make sure your business name isn’t already taken. Contact your state filing office or search your state’s online database to verify availability. Even if the name isn’t in use, it may still be protected under trademark, so you may also want to check with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) .

Once you’ve settled on a name that suits your organization and confirmed its availability, you should trademark it and purchase a recognizable version of it as a domain name. Then, create a presence on social media channels (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) by opening accounts with your business name.

Additionally, some business structures require a doing business as (DBA) name, which is a fictitious or assumed name that’s different from your business entity name. A DBA may sometimes be necessary to open a business bank account.

Step 6: File registration documents

Registering your small business with the government may not always be necessary, but it might avail you to personal liability protection and legal and tax benefits.

Federal registration Other than a tax ID number, you usually don’t need to register your business with the federal government unless you’re applying for tax exempt status or trademark protection.

State registration You may be required to register in the state where your business was formed and any other states that you operate in, also known as foreign qualification. Registration documents vary by state and business structure, but most typically ask for:

  • Business name
  • Owner or management structure
  • Name of registered agent
  • Total number and value of shares, if applicable

Local registration Most local governments don’t mandate that businesses register with them, but certain business structures may need to apply for licenses or permits.

Step 7: Apply for EIN or Tax ID

As soon as your business is registered, you might want to apply for an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. This number is necessary so you can file your federal taxes, hire employees and in some cases, open a business bank account. You can apply for an EIN on the IRS website .

In addition, some states have their own tax ID numbers, which you may need to pay state income tax and unemployment tax. Check with your state for the specific application process, or try ADP’s payroll tax registration services .

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Step 8: Open a small business bank account

You’re going to need somewhere to deposit all those hard-earned dollars, but what type of account best fits your current requirements and future goals? Given that you’re just starting out, you may need:

  • A simple checking account with no or low monthly fees
  • A bank that offers convenient locations and hours of operation
  • Online banking and mobile apps to help you manage your money on the go
  • Loan products should you need some growth capital now or in the future

How to open a bank account

After you’ve found a bank that suits your needs, gather the necessary paperwork to open a business account:

  • Official business formation documents
  • EIN or tax ID numbers
  • Business name and location
  • Date the business was established
  • Business owner’s Social Security number, address and date of birth

How to apply for financing

Particularly at the start, you may need to apply for a business line of credit to keep things moving. These short-term loans are useful for bridging temporary working capital needs, such as inventory purchases or operating expenses.

To apply for a line of credit you usually need to provide the bank with proof of revenue. If approved, they may set a limit, which like a credit card, allows for continuous borrowing and repayment within the agreed duration of the loan.

Step 9: Obtain any necessary licenses or permits

Before you open for business, take a moment to make sure that you have all the correct licenses, permits and insurance policies to operate legally. The last thing you want at this stage is to be shut down by a government agency.

Which licenses and permits do you need?

If your business operates in certain industries, such as agriculture and broadcasting, you might need a federal license. Other industries, like health care, typically require professional licenses. Even if you don’t fall into one of these categories, you may need some form of permission to conduct business. Freelancers and consultants, for example, sometimes have to have a home occupation permit.

Which insurance do you need?

Your insurance needs will depend on what type of business you have, but there are also requirements that vary from state to state. Examples of types of insurance you may need to consider include:

  • Workers’ compensation Mandatory in most states, workers’ compensation provides coverage for on-the-job injuries or illness. Employees typically receive wage replacement and medical benefits in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of their right to sue for negligence.
  • General liability insurance This insurance usually covers accidents, injuries and claims of negligence.
  • Product liability insurance Often essential for businesses in manufacturing or distribution, product liability helps protect against financial loss due to a defective product that causes injury or bodily harm.
  • Professional liability insurance If you provide a service, professional liability, or errors and omissions insurance, helps safeguard you from malpractice and negligence lawsuits.
  • Commercial property insurance Property damage and loss caused by fire, smoke, storms, vandalism and other events are usually covered by commercial property insurance.
  • Business owner policy Designed for small and medium-sized businesses, BOP combines general liability insurance and property insurance into a single, more cost-effective policy.

Step 10: Choose your accounting and payroll system

Before you make an initial sale or hire your first employee , you most likely need a method of managing your finances and paying the people  who work for you. You can tackle these important tasks yourself using spreadsheets, hire an accountant or work with a payroll provider .

If you’re a solo operation or only have a few employees, a manual approach to payroll may save you money . It is, however, time consuming and comes with the most risk because you could be fined for mistakes . Hiring an accountant might give you more peace of mind, but they’re usually expensive and you may lose some control of the process. A payroll provider , on the other hand, is often the best of both worlds, giving you control and risk reduction, while also saving you time.

Payroll providers like ADP offer products that in most cases, can automatically pay your employees, file taxes on your behalf and help you comply with applicable government regulations. Our payroll  also seamlessly integrates with many types of accounting software  so you can manage your finances from one place.  A provider like ADP serves business of all sizes so whether you need payroll for a small business  or something larger, we can help. 

Step 11: Create a web presence

Since most customers use the internet to search for goods and services, a helpful and attractive website can be an integral piece of your marketing strategy. The ideal web presence should:

  • Engage your target audience
  • Include key terms for search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Display your business logo
  • Have creative content
  • Integrate social media channels

Although there are some platforms that allow you to build a site with little or no development knowledge, it may be worth hiring a professional if you want to present a truly polished image of your business. Look for digital agencies who specialize in helping small businesses because they’re usually more likely to understand your needs and meet your budget requirements.

Starting an online business

A website is even more critical if your business will be conducted entirely online. You have several options in this regard:

  • Ecommerce store Sell your own inventory of products directly to customers.
  • Drop shipping Work with a third party distributor to fulfill your sales orders.
  • Affiliate marketing Drive traffic to ecommerce sites and make commission on sales.
  • Blogging Create engaging content that generates revenue from advertisements.

Step 12: Choose retirement and health insurance plans

You might want to review your health insurance and retirement plan options as soon as possible because they can help you attract employees. Even if you don’t or won’t have employees, you may still want to consider benefits for yourself as the business owner.

How to choose a health insurance plan

When shopping for health insurance , look for a plan that:

  • Meets your desired level of coverage (medical discount, limited or full-feature plan)
  • Compiles with the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
  • Offers access to all the services you need (specialists, mental health, etc.)
  • Has co-pays, deductibles or out-of-network expenses within your budget

How to choose a retirement plan

When considering retirement plans, small businesses generally have three options:

  • Simplified employee pension plan (SEP-IRA)
  • Solo 401(k)

Each of these retirement plans has different contribution limits. To determine which makes sense for you, consider your savings goals, the time scale and if you anticipate needing access to the money before retirement. Consult with a small business banker or financial advisor or visit the IRS website for more help making an informed choice.

How to start payroll for a small business

To get started with payroll , whether you’ve chosen to do it yourself  or work with a payroll provider , you may need to:

  • Apply for tax ID numbers
  • Gather employee information (Forms W-4, I-9, etc.)
  • Create a payroll calendar
  • Have a method of tracking employee hours
  • Open a separate bank account for payroll

How to pay employees

You can compensate your employees using paper checks, direct deposit and alternative methods, like paycards . But how do you get from the first day of a pay cycle to the all-important pay day? Following these basic steps may help:

  • Determine employee hourly wage
  • Track hours worked
  • Calculate gross pay
  • Withhold pre-tax voluntary deductions, such as health benefits
  • Deduct mandatory payroll taxes
  • Withhold post-tax deductions, such as garnishments
  • Distribute payment and paystub
  • Keep detailed payroll records

This process may sound simple, but it often becomes complex as you hire more employees. Working with a payroll provider may save you time and prevent costly mistakes.

How to do payroll for self-employed

If you’re a solopreneur or independent contractor, you can usually pay yourself directly from your profits. Depending on your total earnings, however, you may have to pay income tax and self-employment tax, which is a combination of Medicare and Social Security taxes. These taxes are, in most cases, filed quarterly using IRS Form 1040-ES .

Starting a small business FAQs

See what other entrepreneurs ask about starting a small business:

Can you start a business with no money?

As long as you’re willing to put in the effort, it may be possible to start a business with limited or no funds. Service-based businesses are sometimes a good option for cash-strapped entrepreneurs, especially if you have expertise in a specific area or already own the tools needed to perform the job. Product-based businesses usually require more capital, but you can still pursue them in some cases by starting a service business and using the profits to launch a product. Along the way, you typically need to do all the work yourself and may have to keep your existing job to avoid financial hardship.

What is the easiest business to start?

Businesses where you perform a service – landscaping, graphic design, consulting, etc. – are usually the easiest to start because they require the least initial investment. They also tend to be more profitable compared to product-based businesses that have overheard expenses. And if you choose a service  that suits your existing skill set, you can sometimes be up and running fairly quickly. Another advantage to service-based businesses is that many of them can be done as a side job, so there may be less financial risk.

How much does it cost to open a business?

Startup costs generally vary greatly depending on the type of business you plan to open. Some businesses need office space, others require specialized equipment and most today need a website. As an entrepreneur, you need to carefully estimate these expenses ahead of time. This will help determine how you’ll finance your business and may reduce your chances of running out of money before you turn a profit.

This article provides practical information concerning the subject matter and is provided with the understanding that ADP is not rendering legal advice or other professional services. It is recommended that you consult with a professional advisor for your particular business needs.

All insurance products will be offered and sold only through Automatic Data Processing Insurance Agency, Inc., (ADPIA) its licensed agents or its licensed insurance partners; 1 ADP Blvd., Roseland, NJ 07068. CA license #0D04044. Licensed in 50 states. All services may not be available in all states. ADPIA is an affiliate of ADP, Inc.

This Site may contain links that will let you access other Web sites that are not under the control of ADP. The links are only provided as a convenience and ADP does not endorse any of these sites. ADP assumes no responsibility or liability for any material that may be accessed on other Web sites reached through this Site, nor does ADP make any representation regarding the quality of any product or service contained at any such site.

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Start Your Business

Ready to start your business? Learn how to develop a great business idea, research customers, set up your legal structure, and plan for the future with these startup resources.

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Questions to ask before starting a business

What are your strengths and weaknesses.

Your strengths and weaknesses will impact how effectively you operate as an entrepreneur. If you aren’t aware of what they are, then you’ll struggle to identify opportunities and problems before it’s too late.

Have you talked to the right people?

Don’t go into business alone. No, you don’t need to find a partner, but it’s worth chatting with people you trust to see how they respond to your idea and gather any advice they may have before starting.

Why are you starting a business?

Your reasons for starting a business will impact how likely you are to see it through. When the going gets tough, if you don’t have a firm reason for why you’re doing this, then you’ll struggle to keep going.

How much will it cost to start?

The cost of starting a business varies depending on the type, your location, and many other factors. The important thing is that you don’t just guess and actually budget and forecast your expenses beforehand.

Do you have a good business idea?

A good business idea is something that people want, and that solves a problem in their lives. If you’re unsure that your business does that, then you need to get out and validate it with potential customers.

Who are your competitors?

No business lacks competition. You need to know who they are, what they offer, and anything else that tells you how to position your business to be competitive.

Should you quit your job?

It can be tempting to go all in on a business idea immediately. However, entrepreneurship is hard and risky, and it may not be the wisest choice to cut your primary source of income. To know if it is the right time, you need to determine when your business will be profitable and sustainable.

How will you make money?

The business model is surprisingly overlooked by many business owners. They get caught up in the idea and the allure of entrepreneurship but fail to determine how they will make money. Don’t reinvent the wheel and explore some common options to see what fits your business.

12 steps to start your business

Stairs leading up a mountain. Representative of the steps you take before starting a business.

1. What to do before starting a business

Why are you starting a business? What does it take to be successful? Could you start with a side hustle? Let’s help you answer these and other vital questions before setting up your business.

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2. Find the right business idea

Once you know why you want to start a business, it’s time to find your idea. Learn what it takes to develop a good idea and explore our curated lists of potential business ideas that may be a good fit.

A series of lightbulbs with checkmarks. Represents checking if your business idea will work.

3. Validate your business idea

How do you know if your business idea will work? By testing it out and verifying that you’re solving a real problem for real people. Here’s what you should do after coming up with your business idea.

Large magnifying glass surveying a city. Represents conducting market research to understand your customers, competitors, and industry.

4. Conduct market research

Who are your customers? Who are your competitors? What does the industry look like? Will you be able to successfully enter this market? These are necessary questions to answer through a bit of research.

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5. Select your business model

How will you make money? This is answered with your business model, which covers how your costs, revenue streams, and customer expectations work together. And you don’t have to start from scratch—check out these common types of business models.

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6. Price your products and services

What are your customers willing to pay? It’s difficult to know when starting out, but don’t let that stop you. Learn how to set initial prices and compare common pricing models that may work for your business.

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7. Write your business plan

You need a business plan before starting a business. This isn’t about checking a box but improving your understanding of what it takes to run a successful business.

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8. Make your business legal

Before setting up shop, you must check all the necessary legal boxes. Don’t worry about spending hours researching—we’ve compiled the most common legal requirements.

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9. Set up your finances

You need a firm grasp of your startup costs and funding needs. Which requires you to forecast your sales, expenses, and cash flow. That may sound daunting, but we’ve broken it down into steps to follow and even cover setting up accounting and payroll systems.

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10. Choose a business location

Will you be selling online? Running a traditional brick-and-mortar location? Maybe a bit of both? You need to consider where and how you’ll sell your products. Explore what to look for in a physical retail location and how to make a splash online.

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11. Put together your team

Learn when it’s the right time to hire, what makes a good employee, and how to successfully grow your team. Even if you’re running a business solo, you should know how your team will grow.

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12. Market your business

Learn the basics of creating a small business marketing plan, including what to prepare beforehand and how to track the impact of your marketing efforts.

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Tips to start your business

Looking for additional guidance to help get your business off the ground? We’ve rounded up our favorite tips and resources from entrepreneurial experts to do just that.

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Start a business FAQ

What are the basic steps to start a business?

To start a business, you’ll need to:

  • Identify and validate your business idea
  • Conduct market research
  • Select a business model and pricing strategy
  • Write a business plan and financial plan
  • Select your business structure
  • Register your business
  • Obtain licenses and permits
  • Select an online or physical location
  • Start building your team if necessary
  • Promote your business

How much money do you usually need to start a business?

The amount of money needed to start a business varies greatly depending on the type and scale of the business. It could range from a few hundred dollars for a home-based service business to several thousand or even millions for a manufacturing or tech startup. 

You must carefully consider and forecast your startup costs and cash flow to fully understand how much money you need to start.

What should I do first when starting a business?

The first step in starting a business is identifying a viable business idea and conducting market research to understand the demand, competition, and potential challenges. Additionally, it’s worth self-reflection to determine if you want to jump into entrepreneurship.

What do I need to start my first business?

At a minimum, you’ll need a business idea, a business plan, capital, a legal structure, a registered business name, necessary licenses and permits, a business bank account, and an accounting system.

How can I start a business with no money?

Starting a business with no money can be challenging but not impossible. You can consider service-based businesses that require minimal upfront costs. You can also minimize your upfront investment by starting your business as a side hustle while retaining a full or part-time job.

What 3 things make a business successful?

A clear and compelling value proposition, a strong understanding of the market and customers, and effective management and operations are three key elements that contribute to business success.

How can I start a simple business?

Starting a simple business often involves offering a service based on your skills or interests. This could be anything from pet sitting to graphic design. The key steps include identifying your service, understanding your market, setting prices, and promoting your business.

How do I start a beginner business?

As a beginner, start with a business idea that aligns with your skills and passions. Conduct market research, write a one-page business plan, and test if your idea resonates with your target customers. Start small, learn from the experience, and gradually grow your business.

How to start a business with only $100?

With only $100, consider a service-based or online business that requires minimal startup costs. This could be a consulting service, online tutoring, freelance writing, or selling handmade products. Use social media and free online tools for marketing and management to keep costs low.

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Wondering how to start a business? Starting your own business can be a rewarding endeavor, requiring careful planning, dedication, and a strategic approach from the beginning. If you’re interested in business ownership but aren’t sure where to start, this guide has you covered.

Refer to the Table of Contents to navigate through the key steps and strategies for starting your business.

Table of Contents

How to Start a Business

Though every business start journey is different, there are several steps that apply to most entrepreneurs, from finding your business niche to marketing your products and services. The business start process involves choosing a viable idea, market analysis, and securing financing. Following our detailed steps to start a business will ensure you cover all essential aspects, from legal registration to market entry, providing a clear roadmap for launching your venture.

We’ve laid out this entire to do list/ startup checklist in the 10 steps below!

Deciding what business to start is a commitment that will be with you for a long time. Make sure you choose one that appeals to you and makes sense for long term success.

1. Brainstorm to Find the Right Business Idea to Begin

Before starting a business, it’s important to have a strong business idea. A successful business idea should be unique and innovative, and the concept should provide value to potential customers.

Some business owners start something that’s never been done before, while others venture into an existing industry and simply find one or two ways to stand out. Buying into a franchise system, or franchising can streamline the startup process by providing a ready-made business model and support network (Check out our franchise guide for more on selecting the right options). However, if you come up with something truly unique, consider patenting an idea to protect your business.

As you narrow down your business concept, here are some qualities to prioritize:

  • Simple and clear – A good business concept should be easy to understand and explain to others.
  • Unique – A good business concept should be different from what is already available in the market.
  • Scalable – A good business concept should have the potential to grow and expand over time.
  • Profitable – A good business concept should be able to generate enough revenue to cover costs and make a profit.
  • Sustainable – A good business concept should be able to operate over the long term without running out of resources.

Popular Types of Business Startups to Consider

If you need inspiration to kick off your new business venture, here are some popular business ideas to consider:

  • E-commerce Store – An e-commerce store is an online platform that allows businesses to sell products or services to customers over the internet. E-commerce stores can be created for various types of businesses and niches, and they can be set up on platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce. Online stores can be run from anywhere in the world, making them a great option for entrepreneurs looking to work remotely.
  • Freelance Service – Freelance services offer specialized skills and expertise to clients on a project basis. Freelancers work independently and can offer services such as writing, graphic design, programming, or photography. Freelance services are becoming increasingly popular due to the growth of the gig economy and remote work opportunities.
  • Food Truck – A food truck is a mobile food business that can sell various types of food. These trucks can be found at festivals, markets, and street corners, and can offer a range of cuisines from fast food to gourmet fare. A food truck can be a great business opportunity for entrepreneurs who love cooking and want to bring their cuisine to the masses.
  • Home-based Daycare – A home-based daycare provides childcare services in a home setting. This type of business can be ideal for stay-at-home parents or caregivers who love working with children. Daycare providers must comply with state regulations and requirements and ensure that they have appropriate insurance coverage.
  • Personal Trainer – Personal trainers provide fitness coaching and training services to clients. Personal trainers can work with individuals or groups and may specialize in areas like weight loss, strength training, or endurance training. This type of business can be started with minimal equipment and can be operated from a home gym or a rented space.
  • Virtual Assistant – A virtual assistant offers administrative and support services to businesses and entrepreneurs remotely, including tasks such as scheduling, customer support, bookkeeping, email management, social media management, and more.
  • Bed and Breakfast – A bed and breakfast provides lodging and breakfast to guests in a home setting. Bed and breakfasts can offer a more intimate and personalized experience compared to traditional hotels and can be located in urban or rural areas. This type of business can be ideal for individuals who enjoy hospitality and have a spare room or two in their homes.
  • Pet Grooming – A pet grooming business offers grooming and care services for pets. Grooming services can include bathing, nail trimming, hair cutting, and more. This type of business can be ideal for individuals who love animals and want to work with them on a daily basis.
  • Cleaning service – A cleaning service provides the cleaning and organizing services to homes and businesses. This type of business can be operated solo or with a team and can specialize in residential or commercial cleaning. Cleaning services require little overhead costs, making them an ideal option for those looking to start a business with low startup costs.
  • Event Planning – Event planning involves helping clients plan and execute events. Event planners can work with clients to plan weddings, conferences, parties, and other special occasions. This type of business requires strong organizational and communication skills, as well as attention to detail.
  • Consulting – A consultant offers expertise and advice to businesses and individuals. Consultants can specialize in various areas including marketing, finance, human resources, operations, or economic development. This type of business can be ideal for individuals with years of experience in a particular field and who want to help others succeed.
  • Food Delivery – A food delivery business delivers food to customers who order online or via phone. Food delivery services can be offered for various types of cuisine, including fast food, pizza, Chinese food, and more. This type of business can be started with minimal startup costs, as delivery drivers can use their own vehicles and equipment.
  • Social Media Management – Social media management involves managing businesses’ social media accounts. Social media managers can create and publish content, engage with followers, and analyze performance metrics to improve social media strategies. This type of business can be ideal for individuals who are skilled in social media marketing and have a strong understanding of different social media platforms.
  • Tutoring – Tutoring involves offering one-on-one educational services to students. Tutors can specialize in various subjects, including math, science, language, and test preparation. Tutoring services can be offered in-person or online, making it a flexible business opportunity for individuals who enjoy teaching.
  • Graphic Design – Graphic designers create visual designs for businesses and individuals, helping to establish a strong brand identity through branding, web design, print design, and more. This type of business can be ideal for individuals with strong creativity and design skills who enjoy working on a variety of projects.
  • Landscaping – Landscaping involves providing landscaping and gardening services to homeowners and businesses. Landscapers can offer services such as lawn care, garden design, tree trimming, and more. This type of business can be ideal for individuals who enjoy working outdoors and have experience in gardening and landscaping.
  • Mobile Car Detailing – A mobile car detailing business provides car cleaning and detailing services at clients’ locations. Mobile car detailers can offer services such as washing, waxing, and interior cleaning. This type of business can be started with minimal equipment and can be operated from a home garage or rented space.
  • Personal Shopping – Personal shoppers offer shopping services to individuals and businesses. Personal shoppers can help clients find the perfect outfit for a special occasion, or they can help businesses source products and supplies. This type of business can be ideal for individuals with a passion for fashion and shopping.
  • Subscription Box – A subscription box business sends monthly boxes of curated items to subscribers. Subscription boxes can include a variety of products, such as beauty supplies, food, clothing, or pet products. This type of business can be ideal for individuals who enjoy sourcing and curating unique products.
  • Web Development – Web developers design and develop websites for businesses and individuals. Web developers can specialize in front-end or back-end development, or they can offer full-stack development services. This type of business can be ideal for individuals with strong technical skills and a passion for web design and development.
  • Drop Shipping – This business model allows you to sell products without needing to hold inventory. With this method, you partner with suppliers who handle the inventory and shipping process while you focus on marketing and customer acquisition. If you want to learn how to start dropshipping, check out our comprehensive guide on “ How to Start Dropshipping ,” which provides step-by-step instructions on setting up and running a successful dropshipping business.

This is but a small sample of what is available out there, and remember you can always come up with a new business no one has thought of, too.

Choose a Name for Your Business

How do you start a business? Choosing a name is just the first of many pivotal decisions ahead. Once you have a general idea, it’s time to consider how to come up with a business name . A solid name is distinctive and memorable. Bonus points if the name makes it obvious what products or services you sell and is easy to both say and spell. You can also test potential names with customers to see how they react.

Once you settle on an idea, perform a preliminary search on Google, the Secretary of State database for your state, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) site . A no-conflict, free trademark search will let you see if business names are available in all 50 states. You can also look into how to buy a business name if your choice is taken but not currently in use.

If you don’t find the name, you can go to your local county clerk’s office and file a “Doing Business As” (DBA) or a “Fictitious Business Name” (FBN). The DBA and FBN protect against name theft and it lets people know who actually owns the business. Additionally, reserve your business name as a website domain and on various social media sites, even if you’re not set on using every popular site right away.

2. Write a Solid Business Plan

A business plan is your company’s guiding document. A business startup faces many challenges, including market entry, competition analysis, and building a customer base.

Embracing the lean startup methodology, which emphasizes adaptability and customer feedback, can help your business navigate these challenges.

Here’s a list of elements to include in your business plan:

  • Executive Summary: Summarize your business’s mission, vision, and goals, providing an overview of your entire plan. Highlight your company’s unique selling points and future growth potential.
  • Company Description: Detail your company’s background, structure, and the problem it aims to solve. Explain how your products or services fill a gap in the market or serve a target audience.
  • Market Analysis: When conducting Market Analysis, it’s essential to adopt a systematic methodology that encompasses industry trends, target market behavior, and competitor benchmarking.
  • Business Model: Outline how your company will generate revenue, specifying the pricing, distribution channels, and customer acquisition strategies. Include your value proposition and competitive advantage.
  • Products and Services: It’s very important to describe your offerings in detail when you start a business. Emphasize their benefits and unique features. Explain how they address customer needs and differentiate them from competitors.
  • Your Break Even Point: Calculating your break-even point is important for strategic planning and investor confidence. Conducting a break-even analysis is also important for any business, as it precisely calculates the sales level needed to cover costs, guiding pricing and financial strategies.
  • Marketing and Sales Strategy: Develop a plan for promoting your business, reaching your target audience, and converting leads into sales. This will help you have a more in-depth knowelege of how to launch effectively. Consider advertising, public relations, social media, and other tactics. Have a brainstorm session to generate creative and effective promotional ideas that resonate with your target audience.
  • Startup Costs and Financial Projections: Calculate the initial investment required to launch your business, and provide a detailed breakdown of projected expenses and revenues. Include income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow forecasts.
  • Management and Organization: Present your company’s leadership team, their roles, and their experience. Describe the organizational structure and any key personnel you plan to hire.
  • Exit Strategy: Outline possible exit scenarios for your business, such as mergers, acquisitions, or public offerings. This demonstrates foresight and provides a roadmap for potential investors.
  • Appendix: Include any supplementary information, such as resumes, legal documents, permits, or industry research, to support your plan and provide additional context.

Research Your Competitors and Your Customer Base

Understanding your competition is key to the success of your business. So a thorough evaluation of your market should be part of this planning stage. Here’s how to conduct market research and target the right audience: Market research is a cornerstone of your business planning, providing the data needed to make informed decisions about your product, pricing, and promotional strategies.

  • Primary Research: Conducting primary research involves gathering first-hand information directly from competitors, potential customers, and local businesses. Visit their establishments, interact with their customers, and attend industry events to gain valuable insights. Collect data by surveying your target audience and analyzing their preferences and pain points. Primary research helps to validate assumptions and uncover new opportunities in the market.
  • Secondary Research: Secondary research involves analyzing existing information from external sources, such as market reports, industry publications, and competitor websites. Study their marketing materials, customer reviews, and social media presence to gauge their brand image and customer satisfaction. This research helps you understand the current market trends, assess competitor positioning, and identify areas for improvement.
  • SWOT Analysis: A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis allows you to evaluate the competitive landscape systematically. Learning How to perform a personal SWOT analysis can help you identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses by examining their products, services, pricing, marketing strategies, and customer service. With a SWOT analysis, you can explore market opportunities and potential threats, such as emerging trends, shifts in consumer behavior, or new regulations. A comprehensive SWOT analysis will provide a clear understanding of your competitive advantages and areas for growth. Check out SWOT analysis examples online to see how to create your own.
  • Understanding Market Needs and Customer Behavior: When launching a new business, it’s essential to deeply understand your target market’s needs and behaviors. To begin your entrepreneurial journey, it is essential to conduct thorough market research to gather insights about your potential customers – what drives their purchasing decisions, their preferences, and their pain points. Use surveys, focus groups, and market analysis tools to collect this vital information. This understanding will inform your product development, marketing strategies, and customer service approach, ensuring that your offerings resonate well with your intended audience.

3. Sort Out Your Business Finances

By keeping a close eye on your business costs, you can identify areas to optimize, reduce expenses, and make informed decisions for the future. Here are some practical steps to help you sort out your business finances, ensuring you maintain a healthy cash flow and stay on top of your business costs.

Proper accounting practices are essential not just for compliance but also for gaining insightful financial data to guide your business decisions. Make sure you consider the implications of income tax early in your planning process to ensure compliance and optimize your financial strategy.

Start a Business Bank Account

Opening a separate bank account for your business is essential to keep your personal finances separate from your business transactions. This separation simplifies bookkeeping, tax preparation, and provides a clear financial overview of your business operations.

To start a business bank account, research various banks in your area and their offerings. For example, some banks may offer many options for small business loans and credit cards, while others may prioritize things like online and mobile banking. Once you choose a bank that best fits your needs, gather the required documents (such as business registration and tax identification) and visit the bank to open the account.

Set up your business finances carefully, it can mean the difference between success and failure.

Consider Business Credit Cards

Acquiring a business credit card can help streamline expenses, provide additional financing, and offer valuable rewards. It allows you to separate personal and business expenses, making bookkeeping and tax preparation easier. A business credit card can offer more than just a convenient payment method; it can also help you manage cash flow and build your business credit history.

Moreover, some cards offer cash back, travel rewards, or other benefits tailored for businesses. Research different credit card companies and their offerings, considering factors such as interest rates, fees, and reward programs. Choose one that aligns with your business needs and spending habits to maximize benefits.

Select an Accounting Software

Investing in accounting software or hiring a skilled bookkeeper is a smart move for any business owner, as it simplifies financial management, bookkeeping, and tax preparation. Selecting the right accounting software early on can save you time and help avoid financial management errors as your business grows. The best accounting software for small business users automates processes, reducing the chances of human error and saving time.

Some popular accounting software options include QuickBooks, Xero, and FreshBooks, each offering various features to cater to different business needs. Evaluate your requirements and choose software that provides the necessary tools to manage your finances effectively, ensuring the long-term financial health of your business.

Determine Your Break-Even Point

Understanding your break-even point is crucial for any business, as it indicates the level of sales necessary to cover your costs without generating a profit or loss. This financial metric can help you set realistic sales targets and effective pricing strategies.

To calculate your break-even point, divide your fixed costs by the contribution margin (selling price per unit minus variable cost per unit). Knowing this figure will assist in making informed financial and operational decisions for your business.

4. Fund Your New Business – Bank Loan and Beyond

Starting a new business often requires capital, making it crucial to manage your money wisely across all phases of development. Exploring options like bank loans, venture capital, or crowdfunding can provide the necessary resources for your venture.

Methods to finance a new business include bootstrapping, venture capital investments, crowdfunding, business lines of credit, and business loans and grants. Understanding these options will enable you to choose the most suitable approach to fund your business.


Bootstrapping is the process of self-funding your business using personal savings, assets, or reinvesting profits. Bootstrapping, or self-funding, allows you to maintain complete control over your business, emphasizing fiscal prudence from the outset. This is an especially popular option for low-cost business ideas

Bootstrapping can be a slow process but provides a solid foundation for business growth. Entrepreneurs choosing this method must be prepared to manage their finances carefully and make sacrifices to invest in their venture.

Venture Capital Investments

Venture capital (VC) investments involve obtaining funds from investors in exchange for equity in your business. VC firms typically target high-growth, innovative companies with the potential for substantial returns.

This funding option can provide a significant financial boost, but entrepreneurs should be prepared to share decision-making power and potentially relinquish some control over their businesses. Networking and creating a compelling pitch are essential to attract venture capital investments. The structured setup of corporations and scalability appeal to investors looking for high-growth opportunities.


Crowdfunding involves raising funds from a large number of people, typically through online platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo.

This funding method allows entrepreneurs to showcase their business idea or product to potential backers, who contribute money in exchange for rewards or equity. Crowdfunding can not only provide capital but also help validate your idea and generate interest from potential customers. Check out our post on What is Crowdfunding ? for more on this option.

Business Line of Credit

A business line of credit is a flexible financing option that allows businesses to access funds up to a predetermined limit. Entrepreneurs can borrow and repay funds as needed, only paying interest on the amount utilized.

This funding method can help manage cash flow fluFctuations and cover short-term expenses, making it an ideal solution for businesses with variable financial needs.

Business Loans and Business Grants

Obtaining a small business loan or grant can provide the necessary capital to fund your venture. Business loans, available through banks or alternative lenders, require repayment with interest over a specified period.

Business grants, on the other hand, are non-repayable funds typically offered by governments or non-profit organizations. Research available options, prepare a strong business plan, and demonstrate financial responsibility to increase your chances of securing a loan or grant for your business. Explore financing options offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), which provides loans and grants tailored for small businesses.

5. Choose a Business Structure

What is the right business structure for you? The structure you choose will impact taxes, financing, compensation, and insurance. Not to mention the risk and liabilities of your personal assets.

When you Choose a Business Structure, it’s pivotal to briefly discuss how different structures impact the management and oversight of finances, directly influencing fiscal responsibilities and tax obligations. Choosing the right business structure is crucial when you start business planning.

Another point to remember when choosing your structure is the variations from state to state. Mak When choosing a business structure, consider a corporation for its benefits in liability protection and potential tax advantages, especially if you’re planning to seek significant investment.

Consider forming a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) if you’re starting a business with partners and want to prfotect your personal assets while enjoying the flexibility of partnership taxation.

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) combines the liability protection of a corporation with the tax efficiency and operational flexibility of a partnership.

Be sure to find out how the common business structures like sole proprietorship are applied in your state to protect yourself from legal and tax liabilities.

Before choosing, get familiar with all the potential options below. You may also consult an accountant or business consultant for guidance. When you start a small-business, it’s especially important to choose the right business structure. Consider the following elements when making your decision:

  • Your financing needs and options.
  • How you want to pay taxes.
  • The kind of liability protection you need.
  • What kind of administrative complexity can you handle?

Keep in mind that you will need to fill in an article of incorporation for certain business structures like corporations for legal recognition.

Sole Proprietorship

This is the simplest business structure. The profits and debts of a sole proprietorship company are the responsibility of one person. As such, the owner is personally liable for any debts.

This means creditors can come after your personal property and savings and you are personally liable for any lawsuits brought against the business.

A sole proprietorship is easy to set up, low cost and has an easy exit. When it comes to taxes, all you need to do is to keep track of all the business’ income and expenses. At tax time, just report it on Schedule C with your personal tax return.

Doing Business As (DBA)

“Doing Business As” (DBA) or a “Fictitious Business Name” (FBN) registration is not technically a legal structure. It allows you to conduct business under a name other than your own.

Although a DBA is more common among sole proprietors, LLCs, corporations, and partnerships can all file to get a DBA.

States have different DBA requirements, so make sure you comply. For instance, New York State has specific DBA filing requirements.

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC is a cross structure combining the best features of partnerships and S Corps. It provides owners, called members, with the liability protection of corporations while allowing earnings and losses to pass through to the owners as income on their personal tax returns.

Single or multiple members can be part of an LLC, and the profits and losses don’t have to be divided among members equally. A single-member LLC can be taxed as a corporation or an individual using the Schedule C form. A multi-member LLC, on the other hand, is taxed as a partnership with the K-1 form.


A corporation is an entity that is separate from its owners with its own legal rights. A company structured as a corporation can sue, be sued, own property, and sell its ownership in the form of stocks.

There are several types of corporations:

  • C corporations – Owned by shareholders, they allow an unlimited number of investors and are taxed as separate entities.
  • S corporations – Are designed for small businesses to avoid double taxation. It doesn’t file its own taxes and profits are passed through and reported on the personal income tax return of the shareholders. An S corporation has employment and profit taxation rules as well as strict ownership laws.
  • B corporations – Are for-profit entities structured to make a positive impact on society. They are also known as benefit corporations.
  • Closed corporations – These are not publicly traded companies and they benefit from limited liability protection. Compared to publicly traded companies, they have more flexibility.
  • Open corporations – Are traded on a public market by allowing anyone to invest in them.
  • Nonprofit corporations – Are formed to serve the public good and they have tax exemptions to help with that goal.


A partnership is an unincorporated business owned by multiple people or other businesses. The profits in partnerships are divided among owners and it is reported on their tax returns.

Some of the different types of partnerships are general partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships (LLPs), and limited liability limited partnerships (LLLPs).

If your business goes beyond a sole proprietorship, make sure you are fully aware of your liabilities. Find qualified experts to guide you while you are on your way to starting a perfect business.

Want to learn more? Take our business structure quiz to learn what kind of business organization is right for you.

6. Register Your New Business

Registering a new business is a very important step for startups and involves several important steps, including obtaining a business license, registering with the federal and state government, getting an Employer Identification Number (EIN), obtaining the necessary insurance, paying taxes, and acquiring professional licenses.

Obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a necessary step for tax purposes and when planning to hire employees.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify your business for tax purposes. It’s needed for various reasons, such as filing taxes, hiring employees, opening a business bank account, and applying for business licenses or permits. It also establishes your business as a separate legal entity to maintain financial separation between your personal and business finances.

You can apply for an EIN directly through the IRS online, or by fax, mail, or phone.

Tax Documents

As a business owner, it’s essential to understand and fulfill your finance and tax obligations. This includes filing taxes, paying self-employment tax, and staying informed about any changes in tax laws or regulations. Understanding your tax obligations, including sales and use tax, is vital for operating legally and efficiently

  • Filing Taxes : All businesses are required to file taxes annually with the federal and state governments. The type of tax forms you’ll need to file depends on your business structure (e.g., sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation). It’s crucial to maintain accurate financial records and file your taxes on time to avoid penalties.
  • Self-Employment Tax : If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to pay self-employment tax in addition to income tax. Self-employment tax covers Social Security and Medicare taxes for self-employed individuals. It’s important to calculate and pay these taxes to ensure you’re contributing to your future Social Security and Medicare benefits.
  • Sales and Use Tax : Depending on your business’s location and the products or services you offer, you may need to collect sales tax from customers and remit it to your state or local government. Be sure to register for a sales tax permit if required and stay up-to-date on your state’s sales tax laws.
  • Employment Taxes : If your business has employees, you’ll need to withhold and pay employment taxes, which include federal income tax, Social Security and Medicare taxes, and state income taxes (if applicable). You may also need to pay state unemployment taxes and other employer-specific taxes.

Professional Licenses

Some businesses may require professional licenses or permits to operate legally. Here are a few common examples:

  • Health Department Permits : Businesses in the food industry, such as restaurants, bakeries, and catering companies, often need health department permits to ensure they meet sanitation and food safety standards.
  • Alcohol Licenses : Businesses that sell or serve alcohol, such as bars, restaurants, or liquor stores, must obtain an alcohol license or permit from their state or local government.
  • Building Permits : If your business requires construction or renovations, you may need to obtain building permits from your local government to ensure that your project complies with building codes and regulations.
  • Occupational Licenses : Some professions, such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, and real estate agents, require specific occupational licenses to practice legally. Check with your state’s licensing board or agency to determine the requirements for your profession.

Business Insurance

Insurance is a vital aspect of protecting your business from potential risks and liabilities. There are several types of business insurance to consider, depending on your industry, location, and specific needs:

  • General Liability Insurance : This insurance covers your business against claims related to property damage, bodily injury, and personal injury resulting from your business operations. It is essential for most businesses, as it protects against common risks and potential lawsuits.
  • Property Insurance : Property insurance covers your business’s physical assets, such as buildings, equipment, and inventory, against damage or loss caused by events like fire, theft, or natural disasters. This insurance is crucial for businesses with significant investments in physical assets.
  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance : If your business has employees, workers’ compensation insurance is typically required by law. This insurance covers medical expenses, lost wages, and disability benefits for employees who are injured or become ill as a result of their job.
  • Professional Liability Insurance : Also known as errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, this coverage is designed to protect your business against claims of negligence or mistakes made while providing professional services. It’s particularly important for businesses that offer specialized services or advice, such as consultants, lawyers, or architects.

7. Source Products and Equipment for Your Business

The best places to source products will vary depending on your industry, target market, and business model. Thoroughly research your options and consider factors such as product quality, cost, shipping times, and supplier reliability when making your sourcing decisions.

Choosing suppliers and vendors well is one key to success. On-time delivery and stable costs are both important.

By carefully selecting your product sources, you can build a strong foundation for your business and offer products that appeal to your customers. Managing your inventory efficiently is crucial for product-based businesses, ensuring you meet demand without overstocking. Here are some popular options for sourcing products:

  • Domestic Manufacturers and Wholesalers : Sourcing products from domestic manufacturers and wholesalers can provide several benefits, including shorter shipping times, lower shipping costs, and easier communication with suppliers. Additionally, products made domestically may be perceived as higher quality by customers. To find domestic manufacturers and wholesalers, you can attend trade shows, join industry associations, or search online directories and marketplaces.
  • Overseas Manufacturers : Many businesses choose to source products from overseas manufacturers, particularly in countries like China, India, and Vietnam, due to lower production costs. Working with overseas manufacturers can result in significant cost savings, but it may also present challenges, such as language barriers, time zone differences, and longer shipping times. To find reputable overseas manufacturers, you can attend international trade shows, use online platforms like Alibaba and Global Sources, or work with a sourcing agent.
  • Private Label Manufacturers : Private label manufacturing allows you to source products that are already being produced and rebrand them with your company’s name and logo. This approach can save time and resources, as you won’t need to invest in product development or manufacturing. To find private label manufacturers, you can search online directories, attend trade shows, or contact manufacturers directly to inquire about their private label services.
  • Dropshipping Suppliers : Dropshipping is a business model where you sell products without holding inventory. Instead, you partner with a dropshipping supplier who handles product storage, packing, and shipping on your behalf. This can be a cost-effective way to source products, as you don’t need to invest in inventory or warehousing. To find dropshipping suppliers, you can use platforms like Oberlo, SaleHoo, or Spocket, or search for suppliers within your industry.
  • Marketplaces and Online Retailers : Online marketplaces and retailers like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy can be great sources for niche or unique products. These platforms allow you to buy products at wholesale prices and sell them through your own online store. Keep in mind that competition can be high on these platforms, so it’s essential to find ways to differentiate your products and brand.
  • Local Artisans and Craftsmen : For businesses looking to source unique, handmade, or artisanal products, working with local artisans and craftsmen can be a great option. By partnering with local creators, you can support your community and offer one-of-a-kind products to your customers. To find local artisans, you can visit craft fairs and farmers’ markets or search online platforms like Etsy.

Manage Your Supply Chain and Cost

Supply chain management involves coordinating with suppliers, managing logistics, and navigating international trade regulations. A robust supply chain management strategy helps mitigate risks like delays and shortages, ensuring smooth operations and customer satisfaction.

Source Equipment and Software

Businesses that aren’t product-based don’t need to worry about inventory. But These businesses still often need to invest in equipment and/or technology to successfully manage their operations. Sourcing these purchases early can help you manage costs and select the best possible investments for your business goals.

8. Select Your Business Location

Today’s businesses can be established in the digital or physical world. Some businesses need a large commercial storefront or office space, while others can make do with a home office and a few freelancers around the globe. Selecting the general type of location is the first step and will significantly affect your business model. Then it’s time to narrow down commercial spaces if that’s the route you choose. Here are some tips to consider:

Consider Whether a Commercial Space is Necessary

Some businesses require a storefront or physical office space right away. Aside from retail businesses and those with obvious needs, many office-based businesses might choose to do business in person to encourage collaboration or productivity. Other benefits of having a physical space include fostering a sense of community and providing a professional space to welcome clients and/or partners.

However, doing business virtually is also a viable option. Many sole proprietors simply work from a home office or coworking space to save money. This format also allows businesses to build their teams with top talent from around the world since they can easily work remotely using virtual collaboration tools. Additionally, many businesses start out operating virtually and then invest in a physical space later once finances allow.

Determine Whether to Buy or Lease

For those looking for a brick-and-mortar location, it all starts by deciding whether you want to lease or buy your commercial property. There are tax implications for the decision you make, so consult your legal and financial advisors to make the best decision.

If you plan on leasing, go through the agreement thoroughly and make sure you understand it fully before you sign the contract. There are many clauses in lease agreements. If you don’t have the expertise, seek legal advice before you sign.

For those buying, work with a commercial realtor in your area to find spaces that fit your needs and guide you through the process.

Choose the Right Space to Start

The location you choose should address some, most, or even all of the needs of your business. Here are some questions to consider as you narrow your search:

  • Is the price affordable?
  • Is the location known for the products and services you offer, and does it complement your business?
  • Are there suppliers and distributors for your industry close by?
  • Is the area a business hub the city is pushing with future growth opportunities?
  • Is there any future development planned in the area or region?
  • Does the location have a good reputation?
  • Is it secure? What is the crime rate?
  • What is the skill base in the area?
  • Does the space have the right infrastructure in place to accommodate your operations?
  • Are the local zoning regulations in line with your business?

9. Find and Hire Employees

Building a strong team can significantly impact your company’s growth, productivity, and overall work culture. Providing health insurance and benefits can attract and retain top talent, ensuring that your team remains healthy and motivated.

In this guide, we will discuss how to find new staff, manage payroll, and provide health insurance and benefits.

Find New Staff

There are several options for advertising job opportunities and finding new hires. Here are a few to consider:

  • Job Advertisements : One of the most effective ways to find new employees is by posting job advertisements on various online platforms, such as job boards like Indeed, Monster, or LinkedIn. Be sure to create a clear and detailed job description that outlines the required skills, qualifications, and responsibilities. This will help attract qualified candidates and make it easier to filter through applications.
  • Networking : Networking can be a powerful tool for finding potential employees. Attend industry events, trade shows, and conferences to meet professionals in your field. Also, leverage your personal and professional networks, including friends, family, and colleagues, to spread the word about job openings at your company. Social media platforms like LinkedIn can also be useful for connecting with potential candidates.
  • Recruitment Agencies : Partnering with a recruitment agency can help you find qualified candidates for your new business quickly and efficiently. Recruitment agencies have access to extensive talent pools and can help match your job requirements with suitable candidates. They can also assist with screening and interviewing applicants, saving you time and resources.

Set Up Business Payroll

Once you hire your first employee, you need a payroll system to manage and streamline their compensation. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Setting Up Payroll : Managing payroll is a critical aspect of running a business with employees. Using services like ADP to set up a system can help you track employee hours, calculate wages, withhold taxes, and make payments more efficiently. You can choose to manage payroll in-house using software like QuickBooks or outsource it to a payroll service provider. Be sure to research and follow federal, state, and local payroll laws and regulations. Choosing insurance options as part of employee benefit packages is also very important.
  • Withholding Taxes : As an employer, you are responsible for withholding federal and state income taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, and any other applicable taxes from your employee’s wages. Be sure to obtain the necessary tax forms, such as W-4 and W-9 forms, from your employees when they are hired. Stay informed about current tax rates and requirements to ensure compliance.
  • Paying Employees : Establish a consistent pay schedule for your employees, such as weekly, biweekly, or monthly. Make sure to pay your employees on time and provide them with detailed pay stubs that outline their earnings, withholdings, and any deductions. Keep accurate records of all payroll transactions for tax and legal purposes.

Offer Health Insurance and Benefits

Many employers must offer health insurance and benefits to full-time employees. These elements can also help you attract and retain top talent. Here’s what you should know:

  • Health Insurance Options : Providing health insurance is an essential aspect of attracting and retaining quality employees. Research the different types of health insurance plans available, such as Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs), or Health Savings Account (HSA) compatible plans. Choose a plan that fits your budget and meets your employees’ needs.
  • Employee Benefits : In addition to health insurance, offering additional benefits can help make your business more appealing to potential employees. Consider providing benefits such as paid time off, retirement plans, flexible work arrangements, or professional development opportunities. Tailor your benefits package to the needs and preferences of your target employees to maximize its appeal.
  • Legal Requirements : Be aware of any legal requirements for providing health insurance and benefits, particularly if your business has a certain number of employees. For example, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), businesses with 50 or more full-time employees are required to offer health insurance to their employees. Familiarize yourself with federal, state, and local laws related to employee benefits to ensure compliance.

Navigate Remote Work Dynamics

With the rise of remote work, understanding how to manage a distributed team effectively is essential. This includes selecting the right communication tools, establishing clear remote work policies, and fostering a strong virtual team culture. Embrace strategies that ensure productivity and collaboration, while also supporting work-life balance for your team members.

10. Market and Expand Your Business

Determining how to grow a small business can vary based on your industry and business goals. For example, some may target new customer segments while others may diversify product offerings or launch new marketing campaigns.

Both marketing and expansion efforts require ongoing analysis, adaptation, and innovation to ensure long-term success in an ever-evolving marketplace. Here are some methods you might consider as your business grows:

Develop a Brand Identity

Developing a strong brand identity is essential for differentiating your business from competitors, building customer trust, and creating a memorable experience. Here are some key steps to develop your brand identity:

  • Define your target audience: Identify your ideal customers, their demographics, preferences, and pain points. This will help you create a brand that appeals to them. Knowing your customer base deeply through market research and direct engagement is key to creating offerings that meet their needs and exceed expectations.
  • Establish your unique selling proposition (USP): Determine what sets your business apart from others in your industry. Your USP should showcase the unique value you offer to customers.
  • Create a compelling brand story: Craft a narrative that encapsulates your brand’s mission, values, and purpose. This story should resonate with your target audience and be consistently conveyed across all marketing channels.
  • Design a memorable logo: Your logo should be visually appealing, unique, and reflective of your brand’s personality. Invest in professional design services to create a logo that represents your business well.
  • Develop a consistent color palette and typography: Choose a set of colors and fonts that reflect your brand’s personality and use them consistently across all marketing materials and platforms.
  • Establish brand guidelines: Develop a comprehensive brand style guide that outlines your brand’s visual elements, voice, tone, and messaging. This guide will help ensure consistency across all channels and touchpoints.
  • Register a ‘Doing Business as’: When establishing your brand identity and legal presence in the market, registering a ‘Doing Business As’ (DBA) can be a strategic step. This not only secures your business name but also enables you to conduct business under a name that aligns with your branding efforts, without the need to create a formal legal entity.

Create a Marketing Plan for Launch and Beyond

A marketing plan is a strategic document that outlines your business’s marketing goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics. It serves as a roadmap to help you achieve your marketing goals and measure your progress. Here’s a list of what should be included in a marketing plan:

Marketing brings customers in your door, whether it's advertising, public relations or social media, craft your messages to appeal to your targeted customer.

  • Executive Summary : This section provides a high-level overview of your marketing plan, summarizing your objectives, strategies, and key takeaways.
  • Market Analysis : Conduct an in-depth analysis of your industry, market trends, and competitors. This will help you identify opportunities and threats, as well as understand the competitive landscape. Thorough research is important for understanding customer needs and market gaps.
  • Target Audience : One of our main tips for starting a business is to define your target customers, including their demographics, preferences, and pain points. This information will guide your marketing efforts and help you tailor your messaging.
  • Marketing Goals and Objectives : Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) marketing goals and objectives that align with your business’s overall goals.
  • Marketing Strategies : Outline the high-level strategies you will use to achieve your marketing goals, such as content marketing, social media marketing, or email marketing.
  • Marketing Tactics : List the specific tactics and channels you will use to implement your marketing strategies. This might include blog posts, social media posts, or email newsletters.
  • Marketing Budget : Determine how much money you will allocate to your marketing efforts and how you will distribute those funds across different marketing channels and tactics.
  • Performance Metrics : Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you track your marketing efforts’ success and measure progress toward your goals.
  • Implementation Timeline : Create a timeline for executing your marketing tactics, including milestones and deadlines.
  • Review and Adjustments : Establish a process for regularly reviewing your marketing plan’s performance, making data-driven adjustments, and updating your plan as needed.

Improve Customer Experience and Engagement

In the digital age, customer experience is king. Focus on creating seamless, engaging experiences across all touchpoints – from your website and social media to customer service interactions. Use social media platforms to build brand awareness and engage directly with your customers, creating a community around your products or services.

Use customer feedback to continuously improve and personalize the experience. Remember, a delighted customer is not just a repeat customer but also an advocate for your brand. After meticulous planning, you’ll be positioned to launch your business effectively.

Network and Build Business Relationships

Strong business relationships and networking are invaluable for business growth and support. Networking can unlock many opportunities for your startup business, from partnerships to fundingAttend industry events, join professional organizations, and engage in online forums. These connections can lead to new business opportunities, partnerships, and valuable mentorships.

Set Up a Business Website

A well-designed and user-friendly business website is a necessary part of establishing an online presence, attracting customers, and promoting your products or services in today’s digital ecosystem.

  • Choose a domain name : Select a domain name that is easy to remember, reflects your brand, and ideally includes relevant keywords. Register your domain through a domain registrar like GoDaddy or Namecheap.
  • Select a web hosting provider : Web hosting providers offer storage space and services needed for your website to be accessible on the internet. Choose a hosting provider that meets your needs in terms of speed, reliability, and support, such as Bluehost, SiteGround, or HostGator.
  • Pick a website builder : Website builders like Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress offer user-friendly tools and templates for creating and customizing your website. For e-commerce businesses, utilizing platforms like Shopify with features like breadcrumb navigation enhances user experience and site structure.
  • Design your website : Create a visually appealing and easy-to-navigate website that reflects your brand identity. Prioritize user experience by using a responsive design, clear navigation, and engaging visuals. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly, as an increasing number of users access the web through mobile devices.
  • Develop website content : Create informative, relevant, and engaging content for your website, focusing on your target audience’s needs and preferences. Make sure your content is well-organized, easy to read, and includes keywords to improve search engine visibility.
  • Optimize for SEO : Implement search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to improve your website’s visibility in search results. This includes using relevant keywords, creating quality content, optimizing meta tags, and building a strong backlink profile.
  • Integrate analytics : Track your website’s performance and user behavior by integrating analytics tools like Google Analytics. This will provide insights into user demographics, traffic sources, and user engagement, helping you make data-driven decisions for your website.

Expand Internationally

Selling internationally exposes your business to new markets, increasing your customer base and revenue potential. Embracing global expansion can lead to business growth, risk diversification, and a competitive edge. Here are some steps you must navigate in order to reap these benefits:

  • Market research : Conduct thorough research on potential target markets, evaluating factors such as consumer preferences, local competition, and cultural differences. This will help you tailor your marketing efforts and product offerings to resonate with international customers.
  • Regulatory compliance : Familiarize yourself with the legal and regulatory requirements of your target countries, including import/export laws, taxes, and customs regulations. Ensure your business complies with all relevant laws to avoid fines or other penalties.
  • Payment processing : Offer a variety of secure payment options that cater to the preferences of your international customers. Consider partnering with payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe, or Adyen, which support multiple currencies and international transactions.
  • Currency conversion : Display prices in local currencies to make it easier for international customers to understand the cost of your products or services. Use currency conversion tools or plugins on your website to provide accurate, real-time exchange rates.
  • Shipping and logistics : Develop a reliable and cost-effective shipping strategy for international orders. Partner with reputable shipping carriers and consider using fulfillment services like Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) or ShipBob to streamline your logistics.
  • Website localization : Adapt your website’s content, design, and language to cater to your target international markets. Use tools like Google Translate or work with professional translators to offer your content in multiple languages.
  • Customer support : Provide multilingual customer support to address the needs and concerns of your international customers. Consider hiring native speakers or using translation tools to communicate effectively with customers in their local language.
  • Marketing and promotion : Develop tailored marketing strategies for each international market, taking into consideration local preferences, language, and culture. Leverage local social media platforms, influencers, and advertising channels to reach your target audience effectively.

What Tools Do You Need to Start a Business?

Starting a business requires a combination of planning, research, and the right tools to help you streamline your operations and increase efficiency. Here is an expanded list of business tools that can support the many different aspects of your new business:

Software and apps are key to running your business. Don't rush to choose, figure out what you need to keep your business running smoothly, even if it's analog.

  • Business Plan Software : A solid business plan is crucial for outlining your objectives, target market, and financial projections. Business plan software like LivePlan, Upmetrics, or Bizplan can guide you through the process and help you create a professional-looking plan to present to potential investors or lenders.
  • Accounting and Bookkeeping Software : Keeping track of your business finances is essential. Tools like QuickBooks, Xero, or FreshBooks can help you manage your income and expenses, generate financial reports, and simplify tax preparation.
  • Project Management and Collaboration Tools : Streamline your team’s communication and project management with tools like Trello, Asana, or Basecamp. These platforms enable you to assign tasks, track progress, and collaborate with your team in real time.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software : CRMs like Salesforce, HubSpot, or Zoho CRM can help you manage and nurture customer relationships, track leads, and analyze sales data to optimize your sales process.
  • Email Marketing Software : Stay connected with your customers and promote your products or services with email marketing tools like Mailchimp, Sendinblue, or Constant Contact. These platforms offer email templates, automation features, and analytics to help you optimize your campaigns.
  • Social Media Management Tools : Simplify your social media marketing efforts with tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, or Sprout Social. Schedule posts, monitor engagement, and track analytics across multiple social media platforms.
  • Eommerce Platforms : If you plan to sell products online, consider using e-commerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, or BigCommerce to build and manage your online store.
  • Payment Processing Solutions : Accepting payments from customers is crucial for any business. Payment processing tools like Square, Stripe, or PayPal can help you process payments securely and efficiently.
  • Inventory Management Software : Keep track of your stock levels and streamline your inventory processes with tools like TradeGecko, Zoho Inventory, or inFlow Inventory.
  • Human Resources (HR) Software : Manage employee data, benefits, and payroll with HR tools like Gusto, BambooHR, or Zenefits. These platforms can help you stay compliant with labor laws and ensure smooth HR operations.
  • Website Builders : Create a professional-looking website for your business with user-friendly website builders like Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress.
  • Analytics and Reporting Tools : Monitor your business’s performance and make data-driven decisions with analytics tools like Google Analytics, Tableau, or Looker.
  • Video Conferencing and Communication Tools : Stay connected with your team and clients through video conferencing and communication platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Slack.
  • Graphic Design Software : Create eye-catching visuals and marketing materials for your business with design tools like Canva, Adobe Creative Cloud, or Figma.
  • Time Tracking and Productivity Tools : Monitor your team’s productivity and optimize work processes with time tracking tools like Toggl, Time Doctor, or Clockify.

These are just a few of the many tools available to support your new business. By investing in the right tools and technologies, you can streamline your operations, save time and resources, and set your business up for success. And always be on the lookout for new technologies to improve your operations.

Start a Business with These Helpful Resources

One way to ensure the success of your business is to take advantage of all the resources that are available to you. Public and private organizations as well as nonprofits offer everything from financial help to education, mentorship, and much more. Here are some of the many resources that are available to you as a budding entrepreneur.

  • SCORE: SCORE provides free business advice and mentoring from experienced business owners and professionals.
  • Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA offers resources and support for small businesses, including loans, counseling, and training.
  • StartUpNation: StartUpNation offers resources, advice, and tools for starting and growing a small business.
  • Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs): SBDCs offer free business consulting and training for small business owners.
  • National Association of Small Business Owners (NASBO): NASBO offers resources, advocacy, and support for small business owners.
  • National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO): NAWBO offers resources and support for women-owned businesses.
  • Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC): WBENC offers resources and support for women-owned businesses, including certification as a women’s business enterprise.
  • Bplans: Bplans offers business planning resources, including templates, guides, and examples.
  • AngelList: AngelList offers resources for startup funding and connecting with investors.
  • Crunchbase: Crunchbase offers insights and data on startups and investors.
  • HubSpot: HubSpot offers resources for marketing, sales, and customer service, including software and training.
  • Mailchimp: Mailchimp offers email marketing tools and resources, including templates and guides.
  • Hootsuite: Hootsuite offers social media management tools and resources for businesses of all sizes.
  • Fundera: Fundera offers resources and tools for small business funding and loans.
  • Nav: Nav offers resources and tools for small business credit monitoring and financing.
  • Yelp: Yelp offers resources for business owners to manage and promote their online reputation.
  • LegalZoom: LegalZoom offers legal resources and services for small business owners, including incorporation and trademark filing.
  • UpCounsel: UpCounsel offers legal services for businesses, including contracts, intellectual property, and employment law.
  • QuickBooks: QuickBooks offers accounting and financial management tools and resources for businesses of all sizes.
  • Google Analytics: Google Analytics offers insights and data on website traffic and user behavior.
  • Canva: Canva offers design tools and templates for creating graphics and marketing materials.
  • Trello: Trello offers project management and collaboration tools for teams.
  • Zoom: Zoom offers video conferencing and communication tools for remote teams and meetings.
  • Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA): The MBDA offers resources, training, and financing support for minority-owned businesses.
  • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): The VA offers resources and support for veteran-owned businesses, including access to capital and procurement opportunities.
  • National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC): The NMSDC offers resources and support for minority-owned businesses, including certification as a minority business enterprise.
  • Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO): The AEO offers resources and support for microenterprises and small businesses, including training, financing, and networking opportunities.
  • Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM): The EXIM offers resources and support for small businesses looking to export their products or services, including financing and insurance.
  • U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC): The DOC offers resources and support for businesses looking to export their products, including export counseling and market research.
  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO): The USPTO offers resources and support for businesses looking to protect their intellectual property, including patent and trademark registration.
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): OSHA offers resources and support for businesses looking to ensure a safe and healthy workplace, including training and compliance assistance.
  • Economic Development Administration (EDA): The EDA offers resources and support for businesses looking to create jobs and spur economic growth in their communities, including financing and technical assistance.
  • Small Business Investor Alliance (SBIA): The SBIA offers resources and support for small businesses seeking investment and growth capital, including education and advocacy.

How to Start a New Business FAQs

How can i start my own business with no money.

This is a very common FAQ. You CAN start a small business without any money, but you must bring other equity into the equation. For example, you might bring knowledge and expertise into an online consulting business, or you may turn an unused part of your home into an Airbnb business. Other free business ideas include dog walking, house sitting, blogging, and social media influencing.

See our free checklist for more on how to start a business with no money

Can I start a business with $1,000?

The answer is yes, you can start a business with $1,000. This generally requires starting an online or service-based business.

Online businesses like virtual assistant services, web design, ecommerce sites, and online courses can all be started for under $1,000. In-person service-based businesses like event planning, cleaning and errand services, and personal chef businesses are also quite affordable.

Be sure to check out our related article 25 Businesses You Can Start For Less Than $1,000  for more information.

What business is best for beginners?

Factors such as your skills, interests, budget, and market demand will greatly dictate what the best business for beginners is.

Some low-cost businesses that require minimal investment and have relatively low risk include home-based business ideas like dog walking, cleaning services, and lawn care. Online businesses such as e-commerce stores, dropshipping, affiliate marketing, and digital product creation can also be easy for beginners.

Do you need a business credit card?

While having a business credit card can be helpful for managing expenses and building credit for your business, you will not always need one to start a business. In fact, many small business owners use their personal credit cards to cover expenses when starting out.

However, it’s important to keep business and personal expenses separate, as this can make accounting and tax filing easier.

If you decide to get a business credit card, shop around for the best rates and rewards and use it responsibly to build your business credit history.

Do you need a business degree to start a business?

While a business degree can be helpful in starting and growing a business, it is not a requirement to become a successful entrepreneur. Many successful business owners do not have a formal education in business but instead rely on practical experience, industry knowledge, and a willingness to learn and adapt.

However, it’s important to have a basic understanding of business concepts such as accounting, marketing, and finance. This can be achieved through self-education, attending workshops or seminars, or working with a mentor or advisor.

Do you need a special license or permit to start a small business?

The licenses and permits required to start a small business vary depending on the type of business and the location. Some businesses may require specific licenses and permits from state and local agencies, such as a food service permit or professional license.

Businesses that handle hazardous materials or operate in regulated industries often require additional permits. It’s important to research the requirements in your specific industry and location and obtain any necessary licenses and permits before starting your business. Failure to do so can result in fines, legal issues, or even the closure of your business.

Working with a professional advisor can help ensure that you are in compliance with all necessary requirements.

How do I price my products and services?

To price products and services, calculate the total cost of materials, labor, and any other resources that go into your operations. Then project how many products or services you intend to sell each month to cover those expenses. This is just your break-even point. You should also consider the perceived value of your goods and services and look at what competitors are charging. If you offer extra value in some way, it’s often wise to charge a bit more. However, some businesses set themselves apart through affordability.

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Checklist for Starting a Business

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The checklist below provides the basic steps you should follow to start a business. This list should not be construed as all-inclusive. Other steps may be appropriate for your specific type of business.

Information about specific industries can be found at the Industries/Professions  webpage.

Each state has additional requirements for starting and operating a business. For information regarding state-level requirements for starting a business, please refer to your state's website.

Refer also to the Small Business Administration's 10 Steps to start your business .

  • Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) if applicable
  • Select a business structure
  • Choose a tax year
  • If you have employees have them fill out Form I-9 PDF  and  Form W-4
  • Pay your business taxes

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How to Start a Business: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Table of Contents

  • You should prepare thoroughly before starting a business, but realize that things will almost certainly go awry. To run a successful business, you must adapt to changing situations.
  • Learning how to start your own business involves conducting in-depth market research on your field and the demographics of your potential clientele is an important part of crafting a business plan.
  • In addition to selling your product or service, you need to build up your brand and get a following of people who are interested in what your business offers.
  • This article is for anyone who wants to learn how to start a business.

Starting a business can be hard work, but if you break down the process of launching your new company into individual steps you can make it easier. Rather than spinning your wheels and guessing where to start, you can follow the tried and true methods of entrepreneurs who’ve done it successfully. If you want to learn how to start your own business, follow this 10-step checklist to transform your business from a lightbulb above your head into a real entity.

  • 11 Things To Do Before Starting A Business
  • Tax and Business Forms You'll Need To Start A Business
  • 20 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting A Business

How to start a business

1. refine your idea..

refine your business idea

If you’re thinking about starting a business, you likely already have an idea of what you want to sell online , or at least the market you want to enter. Do a quick search for existing companies in your chosen industry. Learn what current brand leaders are doing and figure out how you can do it better. If you think your business can deliver something other companies don’t (or deliver the same thing, only faster and cheaper), you’ve got a solid idea and are ready to create a business plan. 

Define your “why?”

“In the words of Simon Sinek, ‘always start with why,’” Glenn Gutek, CEO of Awake Consulting and Coaching, told Business News Daily. “It is good to know why you are launching your business. In this process, it may be wise to differentiate between [whether] the business serves a personal why or a marketplace why. When your why is focused on meeting a need in the marketplace, the scope of your business will always be larger than a business that is designed to serve a personal need.” 


Consider franchising.

Another option is to open a franchise of an established company. The concept, brand following and business model are already in place; you only need a good location and the means to fund your operation.

Brainstorm your business name.

Regardless of which option you choose, it’s vital to understand the reasoning behind your idea. Stephanie Desaulniers, owner of Business by Dezign and former director of operations and women’s business programs at Covation Center, cautions entrepreneurs against writing a business plan or brainstorming a business name before nailing down the idea’s value.

Editor’s note: Looking for a small business loan? Fill out the questionnaire below to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

Clarify your target customers.

Desaulniers said too often, people jump into launching their business without spending time to think about who their customers will be and why those customers would want to buy from them or hire them.

“You need to clarify why you want to work with these customers — do you have a passion for making people’s lives easier?” Desaulniers said. “Or enjoy creating art to bring color to their world? Identifying these answers helps clarify your mission. Third, you want to define how you will provide this value to your customers and how to communicate that value in a way that they are willing to pay.” 

During the ideation phase, you need to iron out the major details. If the idea isn’t something you’re passionate about or if there’s no market for your creation, it might be time to brainstorm other ideas.

Tip: To refine your business idea, identify your “why,” your target customers and your business name.

2. Write a business plan.

graphic of two people standing in front of a graph

Once you have your idea in place, you need to ask yourself a few important questions: What is the purpose of your business? Who are you selling to? What are your end goals? How will you finance your startup costs? These questions can be answered in a well-written business plan . 

Fledgling business owners can make a lot of mistakes by rushing into things without pondering these aspects of the business. You need to find your target customer base. Who is going to buy your product or service? What would be the point if you can’t find evidence of a demand for your idea? 

Conduct market research.

Conducting thorough market research on your field and the demographics of your potential clientele is an important part of crafting a business plan. This involves conducting surveys, holding focus groups, and researching SEO and public data. 

Market research helps you understand your target customer — their needs, preferences and behavior — as well as your industry and competitors. Many small business professionals recommend gathering demographic information and conducting a competitive analysis to better understand opportunities and limitations within your market. 

The best small businesses have differentiated products or services from the competition. This significantly impacts your competitive landscape and allows you to convey unique value to potential customers.

Consider an exit strategy.

It’s also a good idea to consider an exit strategy as you compile your business plan. Generating some idea of how you’ll eventually exit the business forces you to look to the future. 

“Too often, new entrepreneurs are so excited about their business and so sure everyone everywhere will be a customer that they give very little, if any, time to show the plan on leaving the business,” said Josh Tolley, CEO of both Shyft Capital and Kavana. 

“When you board an airplane, what is the first thing they show you? How to get off of it. When you go to a movie, what do they point out before the feature begins to play? Where the exits are. During your first week of kindergarten, they line up all the kids and teach them fire drills to exit the building. Too many times I have witnessed business leaders that don’t have three or four predetermined exit routes. This has led to lower company value and even destroyed family relationships.” 

A business plan helps you figure out where your company is going, how it will overcome any potential difficulties, and what you need to sustain it. When you’re ready to put pen to paper, use a free template to help.

3. Assess your finances.

graphic of a businessperson standing in front of graphs

Starting any business has a price, so you need to determine how you will cover those costs. Do you have the means to fund your startup, or will you need to borrow money? If you’re planning to leave your current job to focus on your business, do you have savings to support yourself until you make a profit? Find out how much your startup costs will be. 

Many startups fail because they run out of money before turning a profit. It’s never a bad idea to overestimate the amount of startup capital you need, as it can take time before the business begins to bring in sustainable revenue. 

Perform a break-even analysis.

One way you can determine how much money you need is to perform a break-even analysis. This essential element of financial planning helps business owners determine when their company, product or service will be profitable. 

The formula is simple:

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  • Fixed Costs ÷ (Average Price Per Unit – Variable Costs) = Break-Even Point

Every entrepreneur should use this formula as a tool because it tells you the minimum performance your business must achieve to avoid losing money. Furthermore, it helps you understand exactly where your profits come from, so you can set production goals accordingly. 

Here are the three most common reasons to conduct a break-even analysis: 

Ask yourself: How much revenue do I need to generate to cover all my expenses? Which products or services turn a profit, and which ones are sold at a loss?

Ask yourself: What are the fixed rates, what are the variable costs, and what is the total cost? What is the cost of any physical goods? What is the cost of labor?

Ask yourself: How can I reduce my overall fixed costs? How can I reduce the variable costs per unit? How can I improve sales? 

Watch your expenses.

Don’t overspend when starting a business. Understand the types of purchases that make sense for your business and avoid overspending on fancy new equipment that won’t help you reach your business goals. Monitor your business expenses to ensure you are staying on track.

“A lot of startups tend to spend money on unnecessary things,” said Jean Paldan, founder and CEO of Rare Form New Media. “We worked with a startup with two employees but spent a huge amount on office space that would fit 20 people. They also leased a professional high-end printer that was more suited for a team of 100; it had key cards to track who was printing what and when. Spend as little as possible when you start, and only on the things essential for the business to grow and succeed. Luxuries can come when you’re established.”  

Consider your funding options.

Startup capital for your business can come from various means. The best way to acquire funding for your business depends on several factors, including creditworthiness, the amount needed and available options.

  • Business loans. If you need financial assistance, a commercial loan through a bank is a good starting point, although these are often difficult to secure. If you cannot take out a bank loan, apply for a small business loan through the S. Small Business Administration (SBA) or an alternative lender. [Read related article: Best Business Loans ]
  • Business grants. Business grants are similar to loans, but do not need to be paid back. Business grants are typically very competitive and come with stipulations that the business must meet to be considered. When securing a small business grant , look for ones specific to your situation. Options include minority-owned business grants, grants for women-owned businesses and government grants .
  • Startups that require significant funding up front may want to bring on an angel investor . Investors can provide several million dollars or more to a fledgling company in exchange for a hands-on role in running your business.
  • Alternatively, you can launch an equity crowdfunding campaign to raise smaller amounts of money from multiple backers. Crowdfunding has helped numerous companies in recent years, and dozens of reliable crowdfunding platforms are designed for different types of businesses. 

You can learn more about each of these capital sources and more in our guide to startup finance options . 

Choose the right business bank.

When you’re choosing a business bank , size matters. Marcus Anwar, co-founder of OhMy Canada, recommends smaller community banks because they are in tune with the local market conditions and will work with you based on your overall business profile and character. 

“They’re unlike big banks that look at your credit score and will be more selective to loan money to small businesses,” Anwar said. “Not only that, but small banks want to build a personal relationship with you and ultimately help you if you run into problems and miss a payment. Another good thing about smaller banks is that decisions are made at the branch level, which can be much quicker than big banks, where decisions are made at a higher level.” 

Anwar believes that you should ask yourself these questions when choosing a bank for your business: 

  • What is important to me?
  • Do I want to build a close relationship with a bank that’s willing to help me in any way possible?
  • Do I want to be just another bank account, like big banks will view me as? 

choose your vendors

Ultimately, the right bank for your business comes down to your needs. Writing down your banking needs can help narrow your focus to what you should be looking for. Schedule meetings with various banks and ask questions about how they work with small businesses to find the best bank for your business. [Read related article: Business Bank Account Checklist: Documents You’ll Need ]

4. Determine your legal business structure.

graphic of a businessperson sitting at a laptop near signs

Before registering your company, you need to decide what kind of entity it is. Your business structure legally affects everything from how you file your taxes to your personal liability if something goes wrong. 

  • Sole proprietorship: You can register for a sole proprietorship if you own the business independently and plan to be responsible for all debts and obligations. Be warned that this route can directly affect your personal credit.
  • Partnership: Alternatively, as its name implies, a business partnership means that two or more people are held personally liable as business owners. You don’t have to go it alone if you can find a business partner with complementary skills to your own. It’s usually a good idea to add someone into the mix to help your business flourish.
  • Corporation: If you want to separate your personal liability from your company’s liability, consider the pros and cons of corporations (e.g., an S corporation or C corporation ). Although each type of corporation is subject to different guidelines, this legal structure generally makes a business a separate entity from its owners. Therefore, corporations can own property, assume liability, pay taxes, enter contracts, sue and be sued like any other individual. “Corporations, especially C corporations, are especially suitable for new businesses that plan on ‘going public’ or seeking funding from venture capitalists in the near future,” said Deryck Jordan, managing attorney at Jordan Counsel.
  • Limited liability company: One of the most common structures for small businesses is the limited liability company (LLC). This hybrid structure has the legal protections of a corporation while allowing for the tax benefits of a partnership. 

Ultimately, it is up to you to determine which type of entity is best for your current needs and future business goals. It’s important to learn about the various legal business structures available. If you’re struggling to make up your mind, discussing the decision with a business or legal advisor is a great idea.

Did you know? You need to choose a legal structure for your business, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or LLC .

5. Register with the government and IRS.

graphic of a person sitting at a laptop in front of an eagle crest

You will need to acquire business licenses before you can legally operate your business. For example, you must register your business with federal, state and local governments. There are several documents you must prepare before registering.

Articles of incorporation and operating agreements

To become an officially recognized business entity, you must register with the government. Corporations need an articles of incorporation document, which includes your business name, business purpose, corporate structure, stock details and other information about your company. Similarly, some LLCs will need to create an operating agreement.

Doing business as (DBA)

If you don’t have articles of incorporation or an operating agreement, you will need to register your business name, which can be your legal name, a fictitious DBA name (if you are the sole proprietor), or the name you’ve come up with for your company. You may also want to take steps to trademark your business name for extra legal protection. 

Most states require you to get a DBA. You may need to apply for a DBA certificate if you’re in a general partnership or a sole proprietorship operating under a fictitious name. Contact or visit your local county clerk’s office to ask about specific requirements and fees. Generally, there is a registration fee involved. 

Employer identification number (EIN)

After you register your business, you may need to get an employer identification number from the IRS. While this is not required for sole proprietorships with no employees, you may want to apply for one anyway to keep your personal and business taxes separate, or to save yourself the trouble if you decide to hire someone later on. The IRS has provided a checklist to determine whether you will require an EIN to run your business. If you do need an EIN, you can register online for free. 

Income tax forms

You must file certain forms to fulfill your federal and state income tax obligations . Your business structure determines the forms you need. You will need to check your state’s website for information on state-specific and local tax obligations. Once you set this all up, the best online tax software can help you file and pay your taxes quarterly and annually.

“You might be tempted to wing it with a PayPal account and social media platform, but if you start with a proper foundation, your business will have fewer hiccups to worry about in the long run,” said Natalie Pierre-Louis, licensed attorney and owner of NPL Consulting. 

Federal, state, and local licenses and permits

Some businesses may also require federal, state or local licenses and permits to operate. Your local city hall is the best place to obtain a business license. You can then use the SBA’s database to search for state and business type licensing requirements. 

Businesses and independent contractors in certain trades are required to carry professional licenses. A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is one example of a professional business license. Individuals with a CDL can operate certain types of vehicles, such as buses, tank trucks and tractor-trailers. A CDL is divided into three classes: Class A, Class B and Class C. 

You should also check with your city and state to find out if you need a seller’s permit that authorizes your business to collect sales tax from your customers. A seller’s permit goes by numerous names, including resale permit, resell permit, permit license, reseller permit, resale ID, state tax ID number, reseller number, reseller license permit or certificate of authority. 

It’s important to note that these requirements and names vary from state to state. You can register for a seller’s permit through the state government website of the state(s) you’re doing business in. 

Jordan says that not all businesses need to collect sales tax (or obtain a seller’s permit).

“For example, New York sales tax generally is not required for the sale of most services (such as professional services, education, and capital improvements to real estate), medicine or food for home consumption,” Jordan said. “So, for example, if your business only sells medicine, you do not need a New York seller’s permit. But New York sales tax must be collected in conjunction with the sale of new tangible personal goods, utilities, telephone service, hotel stays, and food and beverages (in restaurants).”

6. Purchase an insurance policy.

graphic of a businessperson in a suit in front of a large insurance form

It might slip your mind as something you intend to get around to eventually, but purchasing the right insurance for your business is an important step to take before you officially launch. Dealing with incidents such as property damage, theft or even a customer lawsuit can be costly, and you need to be sure that you’re properly protected. 

Although you should consider several types of business insurance , there are a few basic insurance plans that most small businesses can benefit from. For example, if your business will have employees, you will at least need to purchase workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance.

You may also need other types of coverage, depending on your location and industry, but most small businesses are advised to purchase general liability (GL) insurance, or a business owner’s policy. GL covers property damage, bodily injury, and personal injury to yourself or a third party.

If your business provides a service, you may also want professional liability insurance. It covers you if you do something wrong or neglect to do something you should have done while operating your business.

7. Build your team.

graphic of a group of businesspeople gathered around a table

Unless you’re planning to be your only employee, you’ll need to recruit and hire a great team to get your company off the ground. Joe Zawadzki, general partner at AperiamVentures, said entrepreneurs need to give the “people” element of their businesses the same attention they give their products. 

“People build your product,” Zawadzki said. “ Identifying your founding team , understanding what gaps exist, and [determining] how and when you will address them should be top priority. Figuring out how the team will work together … is equally important. Defining roles and responsibilities, division of labor, how to give feedback, or how to work together when not everyone is in the same room will save you a lot of headaches down the line.”

8. Choose your vendors.

graphic of a businessman in front of business profile cards

Running a business can be overwhelming, and you and your team probably aren’t going to be able to do it all on your own. That’s where third-party vendors come in. Companies in every industry, whether that’s HR or business phone systems , exist to partner with you and help you run your business better. For example, with a business phone system, you can design an IVR system to automatically route your callers to the right representatives.

When you’re searching for B2B partners, choose carefully. These companies will have access to your most vital and potentially sensitive business data, so finding someone you can trust is critical. In our guide to choosing business partners , our expert sources recommended asking potential vendors about their experience in your industry, their track record with existing clients, and what kind of growth they’ve helped other clients achieve. 

Not every business will need the same type of vendors, but there are common products and services that almost every business will need. Consider the following functions that are a necessity for any type of business.

  • Enabling multiple customer payment types: Offering multiple payment options will ensure you can make a sale in whatever format is easiest for the target customer. Compare options to find the best credit card processing provider to ensure you’re getting the best rate for your business. That’s because small business credit card processing is often a direct route to more revenue and a larger customer base.
  • Taking customer payments: Set up a point-of-sale (POS) system so that you have a state-of-the-art interface for making sales. The best POS systems couple this payment technology — which largely overlaps with credit card processing — with inventory management and customer management features. As such, POS systems are especially important if you plan to sell products instead of offering services.
  • Managing finances: Many business owners manage their own accounting functions when starting their business, but as your business grows, you can save time by hiring an accountant , or by choosing the right accounting software provider .

9. Brand yourself and advertise.

businessperson at a computer in front of a large lightbulb icon

Before you start selling your product or service, you need to build up your brand and get a following of people who are ready to jump when you open your literal or figurative doors for business.

  • Company website: Take your reputation online and build a company website . Many customers turn to the internet to learn about a business, and a website is a digital proof that your small business exists. It is also a great way to interact with current and potential customers.
  • Social media: Use social media to spread the word about your new business, perhaps as a promotional tool to offer coupons and discounts to followers once you launch. The best social media platforms to use will depend on your target audience.
  • CRM: The best CRM platforms allow you to store customer data to improve how you market to them. A well-thought-out email marketing campaign can do wonders for reaching customers and communicating with your audience. To be successful, you will want to strategically build your email marketing contact list .
  • Logo: Create a logo to help people easily identify your brand, and use it across all of your platforms.

Keep your digital assets up to date with relevant, interesting content about your business and industry. According to Ruthann Bowen, chief marketing officer at EastCamp Creative, too many startups have the wrong mindset about their websites. 

“The issue is they see their website as a cost, not an investment,” Bowen said. “In today’s digital age, that’s a huge mistake. The small business owners who understand how critical it is to have a great online presence will have a leg up on starting out strong.” 

Creating a marketing plan that goes beyond your launch is essential to building a clientele because it should continually get the word out about your business. This process is just as important as providing a quality product or service, especially in the beginning. 

Ask customers to opt into your marketing communications.

As you build your brand, ask your customers and potential customers for permission to communicate with them. The easiest way to do this is by using opt-in forms of consent. These forms allow you to contact them with further information about your business, according to Dan Edmonson, founder and CEO of Dronegenuity. 

“These types of forms usually pertain to email communication and are often used in e-commerce to request permission to send newsletters, marketing material, product sales, etc. to customers,” Edmonson said. “Folks get so many throwaway emails and other messages these days that, by getting them to opt in to your services transparently, you begin to build trust with your customers.” 

Opt-in forms are a great starting point for building trust and respect with potential customers. Even more importantly, these forms are required by law. The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 sets requirements for commercial email by the Federal Trade Commission. This law doesn’t just apply to bulk email; it covers all commercial messages, which the law defines as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.” Each email violating this law is subject to fines of more than $40,000.

Tip: Create a strategic marketing campaign that combines various marketing channels, like a company website, social media, email newsletters and opt-in forms.

10. Grow your business.

graphic of a businessperson in a suit flying hear up arrows and graphs

Your launch and first sales are only the beginning of your task as an entrepreneur. To make a profit and stay afloat, you always need to be growing your business. That takes time and effort, but you’ll get out of your business what you put into it. 

Collaborating with more established brands in your industry is a great way to achieve growth. Reach out to other companies and ask for some promotion in exchange for a free product sample or service. Partner with a charity organization, and volunteer some of your time or products to get your name out there. 

While these tips will help launch your business and get you set to grow, there’s never a perfect plan. You want to ensure you prepare thoroughly for starting a business, but things will almost certainly go awry. To run a successful business, you must adapt to changing situations. 

FAQs about starting a business

What are the four basics for starting a business.

The four basics for starting a business are your business name, business structure, business registration certificate and all your other licenses. You must take the proper legal and regulatory steps in each of these four areas before you launch your business. Obtaining external funding and putting together a business plan are also smart moves, but they aren’t legal prerequisites.

How can I start my own business with no money?

You can launch a successful business without any startup funds. Work on a business idea that builds on your skill set to offer something new and innovative to the market. While developing a new business, keep working in your current position to reduce the financial risk.

Once you’ve developed your business idea and are ready to start on a business plan, you’ll need to get creative with funding. You can raise money through investments by pitching your idea to financial backers. You could also gather funding through crowdsourcing platforms like Kickstarter, or set aside a certain amount of money from your weekly earnings to put toward a new business. Finally, you can seek loan options from banks and other financial institutions to get your company up and running.

What is the easiest business to start?

The easiest business to start is one that requires little to no financial investment upfront, and no extensive training to learn the business. A dropshipping company, for example, is one of the easiest types of new business to launch. Dropshipping requires no inventory management, which saves you the hassle of buying, storing and tracking stock. 

Instead, another company fulfills your customer orders at your behest. This company manages the inventory, packages goods, and ships out your business orders. To start, create an online store by selecting curated products from the catalog available through partners.

Which types of businesses can I start from home?

In today’s world of remote work, you may be thinking of an online business idea . Any online-only business that doesn’t require inventory should be easy to start from home. Ideas that fall within this category include but aren’t limited to copywriting businesses, online tutoring operations and dropshipping businesses. Anything you’re good at or passionate about that you can do from home, and for which demand exists, can make for a great home business. 

When is the best time to start a business?

Each person’s ideal timeline for starting a new business will be different. Start a business only when you have enough time to devote your attention to the launch. If you have a seasonal product or service, then you should start your business one quarter before your predicted busy time of the year. Spring and fall are popular times of year to launch for nonseasonal companies. Winter is the least popular launch season because many new owners prefer to have their LLC or corporation approved for a new fiscal year.

Max Freedman and Skye Schooley also contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.


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Business planning, website development, product or service selection, marketing and promotion, is it a good idea to start an online business, can i start an online business with $100, what are different types of online marketing strategies, the bottom line.

  • Small Business
  • How to Start a Business

Starting an Online Business: A Step-by-Step Guide

Crafting a Winning Business Plan: Setting Goals and Strategies

i am planning to start/open a small business on

Katie Miller is a consumer financial services expert. She worked for almost two decades as an executive, leading multi-billion dollar mortgage, credit card, and savings portfolios with operations worldwide and a unique focus on the consumer. Her mortgage expertise was honed post-2008 crisis as she implemented the significant changes resulting from Dodd-Frank required regulations.

i am planning to start/open a small business on

If you want to get into the online business game, it’s a good time to start. The COVID-19 pandemic reshaped online consumer spending, including how people shop online and how they research products.

Today, 76% of Americans buy products online. Furthermore, roughly a third of people purchase items online weekly. From setting up an ecommerce business to offering web design services, there are countless avenues to explore as an entrepreneur.

Below, we’ll walk through each step to building an online business.

Key Takeaways

  • When starting an online business, comprehensive market research is critical for identifying your target audience and learning how to resonate with your customers and understand their needs.
  • Creating a business plan is an important step for outlining your business goals. It also includes your product description, target market, and financial projections, among other core components.
  • Building your website involves setting up a domain name, finding a hosting company, and designing a strong website with consistent branding that allows your customers to navigate it intuitively.
  • Choosing the right product or service to sell is essential. It’s important to think about how you’re addressing an unmet need.
  • Several digital marketing strategies can be utilized, from content marketing to paid advertising, to help your business grow.

Successful online entrepreneurs study hard in order to have a thorough understanding of their market. This is important for knowing exactly how to reach your target market , because these are the people who will buy your products and drive your business growth.

At its core, market research is about understanding your customers’ needs, pain points, and solutions. It is designed to help your business better meet these needs.

Steps to Conduct Market Research

Market research involves understanding key aspects of your current and future customers. To get a clear sense of your target market, outline the characteristics of your audience—for example, age, location, gender, income, job title, and key pain points.

Once you have identified your target audience, conduct research on the following topics, which will tell you about how they make decisions and how you can better position your business:

  • What are the challenges that your target market faces?
  • Where do they research a given product or service?
  • What are their views on pricing for this product or service?
  • What factors influence their decision to make a purchase?
  • Who are your competitors?

To put this market research into action, there are a number of different avenues you can take:

  • Focus groups
  • Competitive analysis
  • Brand awareness research
  • Market segmentation research

Consider the following questions that may be asked in an interview or focus group to learn more about your audience:

  • “How do you search for that product?”
  • “How useful was it?”
  • “What words do you use when you search on Google?”

When you have completed your market research, identify what you have learned as well as your next steps based on these insights.

Creating a business plan is a key first step for all business owners . It is important for companies looking to secure funding resources. It also serves as a blueprint to summarize your key business objectives and goals.

To write a business plan , incorporate these eight main sections, which are often found in traditional templates:

  • Executive summary : This is typically a one-page section that explains your objectives and includes your mission statement, core team, and why your company is positioned for success.
  • Company description : This describes what you offer, your competitive advantages, and your business goals.
  • Market analysis : This is where you explain your target market, market size, market trends, and competitive landscape.
  • Organization and management : Explain who is working on your team and their professional background and experience.
  • Service or product line : Describe the product or service you are offering, including any copyright or plans for patenting.
  • Marketing and sales : Discuss your marketing and sales strategy. Discuss your pricing, key metrics, and sales plan.
  • Funding request : If you are a company looking for funding, here is where you outline the capital you are requesting and where it will be allocated.
  • Financial projections : Include projections for your company’s revenue and expenses. Consider including an income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement in this section.

A business plan is important because it helps clarify your action points, who you are, and what you offer, all in a coherent template.

Getting your business online is the next key step. In an ever-changing environment, it is important to know the tools, trends, and strategies for building a strong online presence to allow your business to grow.

Registering Your Domain

The first step is registering your name, or your website address. This can be in the form of your business name “.com.” To purchase your domain name, you can go to sites like GoDaddy or Namecheap . If you decide to build your website using WordPress, you will need to use a site such as these to host your website.

Web Hosting Companies

Alternatively, you can buy your domain name at a hosting company. These are companies like Shopify , Wix , or Amazon Web Services , that may also offer tools to build your website and release content on them. 

Website Design

A well-designed website is important for many reasons. Using a website builder, such as Mailchimp or Squarespace , can allow you to choose a theme, customize your pages, create relevant content, and set up a payment page.

Other key aspects of your website design include its functionality, simplicity, and ease of use. Allowing your potential customers to navigate the site intuitively will be key to their experience. Brand consistency—in your logo, colors, and typeface, for example—is also key to creating a unified brand.

Another essential part of website design is its mobile application. You’ll want to ensure that your website runs smoothly on mobile, that images load properly, that the text is legible, and that buttons are intuitive to click.

This step focuses on how to choose the right product or service to sell. At the heart of this choice is the goal of solving a customer’s problem. But there are a number of strategies you can use to identify your product idea.

For example, you might consider analyzing companies with high-profit margins, products that align with your passion, burgeoning trends, items trending on online marketplaces, and/or customer reviews.

With this in mind, analyze how this product will get to your customers. Additionally, you may consider products that are not available in stores in your local market but are offered in communities such as Europe or Japan, for example.

Marketing strategy and promotion is an essential driver of business growth. As the digital landscape evolves, it’s important to have an effective marketing plan that resonates with changing consumer preferences and needs.

Here are questions that companies can consider as they create their marketing strategy, navigating today’s environment:

  • Impact, value, and growth : What are the goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) that will measure success for your business? How will you explain the value that the business provides to its customers and/or society? Create an “elevator speech”—a 30-second description of what you offer and why it’s special.
  • Customer need and brand promise : How does the brand meet a customer’s need through its products and services?
  • Customer experience : How will the business deliver the best experiences at each stage of the customer journey?
  • Organizational model : How will the business operate to serve the customer with the most impact?

These will help you understand what types of strategies can have real impact.

Types of Marketing Strategies

Consider the following digital marketing strategies that can be used for your online business:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Paid advertising
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Content marketing
  • Influencer marketing

Each of these presents a different way to reach your target audience, drive conversions, or build brand awareness, depending on your marketing goals.

You need to determine that for yourself. But before starting an online business, it’s important to assess the time, investment, and resources you’ll need to get it off the ground. While the barrier to entry can be quite low, it’s worth considering your goals and strategies for making it a reality.

However, compared with starting up a traditional brick-and-mortar business, the risks of launching an online business may be reduced due to lower upfront costs such as rent, staff, and materials, among others.

The short answer: yes. While it depends on the type of business you hope to pursue, there are many ways to set up an online business at very little cost. For example, you could offer your services doing freelance work, photography, bookkeeping, or personal training. The primary costs involved include setting up your business website, which can cost as little as $2 to $20 each year with companies such as GoDaddy.

There are a number of digital marketing strategies that online businesses can use, such as content marketing, email marketing, paid advertising, SEO, and influencer marketing. Each of these strategies can be useful, depending on your product and goals.

Starting an online business can be a powerful way to launch a new product or service while reaching a wider audience. With market research, a solid business plan, a strong website, and a digital marketing strategy, you can get started in growing your company effectively. As customers increasingly make decisions virtually, building an online business is vital to any business owner’s success.

Pew Research Center. “ For Shopping, Phones Are Common and Influencers Have Become a Factor—Especially for Young Adults .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Market Research and Competitive Analysis .”

U.S. Small Business Administration. “ Write Your Business Plan .”

Ogilvy. “ Getting Future Ready with Marketing Transformation ,” Page 15.

GoDaddy. “ How Much Does a Domain Name Cost? Find Out! ”

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Last Updated: April 27, 2024 Approved

This article was co-authored by Christine Michel Carter . Christine Michel Carter is a Global Marketing Expert, Best-Selling Author, and Strategy Consultant for Minority Woman Marketing, LLC. With over 13 years of experience, Christine specializes in strategic business and marketing consulting services including market analysis, organizational alignment, portfolio review, cultural accuracy, and brand and marketing review. She is also a speaker on millennial moms and black consumers. Christine holds a BS in Business Administration and Art History from Stevenson University. She is a leader in multicultural marketing strategy and has written over 100 articles views for several publications, including TIME and Forbes Women. Christine has worked with Fortune 500 clients such as Google, Walmart, and McDonald’s. She has been featured in The New York Times, BBC News, NBC, ABC, Fox, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and Today. There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 88% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 151,381 times.

Once you’ve decided you want to start a small business, formulated your business plan, lined up financing, and secured a site, the time will finally come to actually open up shop. While planning a business may present challenges, the actual act of opening a business and bringing the business concept to fruition has its own set of difficulties. To have a better chance of long-term success, you need to get your business off to a good start. Here are a few tips on how to legally establish your business, hire your first employees, spreading the word, and organizing a grand opening.

Legally Establishing Your Business

Step 1 Ensure you have a business plan.

  • How to Write a Business Plan offers much useful information on the process, such as: determining your potential market and its viability; identifying your business' initial needs and start-up costs; identifying potential investors; establishing your business strategy and marketing plan; and creating a clear, concise document that ends with your "executive summary," in which you essentially "sell" your business to investors and interested parties.
  • See the following wikiHow articles for more information on How to Start a Small Business; starting up a small retail business such as a bakery; and the specifics of starting a business in California, for example, among others.
  • To make sure you’re ready to open up, consult the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 10-part checklist for starting a business. [1] X Trustworthy Source U.S. Small Business Administration U.S. government agency focused on supporting small businesses Go to source Each part of the checklist is summarized in the following three steps below.

Step 2 Determine the legal structure of your business.

  • A sole proprietorship is owned and run by one person, and there is no distinction between the owner and the business. This means that all the business' profits, losses, debts, and liabilities are your responsibility. Choose this if you are the sole owner and want full responsibility for the business.
  • Partnership: A partnership occurs when two or more people share ownership. In a partnership, each partner has equal share (unless specified) in the profits, liabilities, and management of the business. This can be useful in terms of pooling capital and expertise to start the business.
  • Corporation: A corporation is an independent legal entity owned by shareholders. Generally, this structure is not appropriate for small businesses.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): An LLC is similar to a partnership, except members are protected from personal liability for actions of the LLC. For example, if the LLC is sued, the personal assets of the partners are typically exempt. If you are worried about personal exposure to lawsuits or debts arising from your business, this may be a good option.

Step 3 Form the necessary legal structure.

  • Forming a sole proprietorship is most simple, as it involves no formal action. Simply obtain your EIN (described below), establish a business name (described below), and your can include your business income on your personal tax return.
  • LLC's, Partnerships, and Corporations are slightly more involved to form, requiring specific paperwork. To learn the details on each, check the SBA website, or contact the SBA.

Step 4 Obtain a tax identification number.

  • Note that if you are starting a partnership or a sole proprietorship, it is not necessary to obtain an EIN. However, it can be wise to do so anyway. Without an EIN, your business will be identified by your Social Security Number (SSN) for tax purposes. Keeping your SSN private reduces the odds of identity theft. [5] X Research source .

Step 5 Register your business name.

  • Establishing a DBA name usually just takes minutes to complete, and is especially useful if you have a sole proprietorship. This allows you to have a business name separate from your personal name. When you form a sole proprietorship, the business name will automatically default to your personal name unless you file a DBA.

Step 6 Obtain a business license.

  • These forms will require your business type, address, # of employees, EIN, and possibly information regarding revenue (estimations will work fine here).
  • Keep in mind that licensing requirements often apply to online and home-based businesses as well as typical brick-and-mortar businesses. Requirements do vary according to location, so be certain to contact your local and state government to determine specific requirements.

Step 7 Inquire as to other necessary permits.

  • Contact your local government's permitting bureau or similar authority, or seek out the local chamber of commerce or business association for advice.

Step 8 Establish a bank account for your business.

  • To open a business account, simply contact your local bank or credit union.

Step 9 Contact a small business lawyer or accountant for further guidance.

  • A professional can guide you through which forms to fill out, and can also help you draft important partnership documents. For example, forming an LLC or Partnership involves documents specifying what ownership is attributed to each partner. This must be specified in a legally valid form.

Preparing To Open Your Business

Step 1 Determine employer responsibilities.

  • One of your central obligations to ensure that employees are eligible to work in the United States. To do this, you must complete "Form I-9" within three days of hiring a new employee. Completing this form will require you to submit documents to verify your employees citizenship and confirm their eligibility to work in the United States. The form can be downloaded on the U.S. Immigration and Customs website. Note that you do not need to submit this form with the Federal Government, but you do need to keep it on file for three years after the date of hire or one year after the date of termination, whichever is later.
  • Make sure to register for Workers Compensation Insurance with your state's Workers Compensation Insurance Program.
  • When hiring an employee, they must provide you with a signed Form-W4 before they begin employment, which you must send to the IRS. This allows you to withhold federal income tax.
  • Further information regarding hiring and employer responsibility are available on the SBA website ( https://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business/establishing-business/hiring ).

Step 2 Hire the right people.

  • Ideally you can find someone who is familiar with the business — someone who has twirled dough if you’re opening a pizza shop, for instance — but even more important is finding a person who is willing and eager to learn. You need employees who want to learn to do things (and represent your business) your way.
  • You do have to be willing to let go a little, however. This business has been your baby for a long time, but as you let it out into the world, you’ll need help taking care of it. Look for employees who are eager to contribute ideas and adapt as the business goes through its early growing pains.
  • Do your homework. Look over resumes. Call references. Don’t just hire your nephew to make your brother happy. (Wait until your business gets on its feet.)
  • Key questions like "Can you provide an example of a problem that you successfully solved?" may offer insights into a potential employee's ambition, ingenuity, and work ethic. [6] X Research source . Keep in mind that such questions are common, however, and the interviewee may have prepared stock answers already. (An inability to answer effectively is thus a bad sign.) In addition, try to think up a few problem-solving hypotheticals, for instance, that are specific to your small business.

Step 3 Prepare your site.

  • If your business involves a storefront — a candy shop or used-book store, for instance — set up your space to represent your vision for the business. Coordinate color patterns and décor with your logo, for example, or consider personalizing it with family photos to establish your essential connection to this business. Consider hiring a professional interior designer and/or decorator.
  • A web presence is becoming (if not already) essential for any new small business, so don’t take this aspect for granted. Especially if your business has a substantial web-based component, make your site intuitive, manageable, and suited to the brand identity you want to build. Hiring a professional web designer may be a good idea.
  • If your budget is tight, and/or your business does not require a traditional storefront, don’t overspend on a fancy space. A local coffee shop can make a good place to meet clients, or you can rent a space as needed for such gatherings. Wait until your business has a solid foundation before expanding into a nicer space.

Step 4 Consider a “soft” opening.

  • Restaurants are probably the best-known example of businesses that often have soft openings — dry runs of dinner service with invited guests, maybe even just friends and family. But the concept can work with just about any small business. Send your new landscaping company’s crews out to work on your local relatives’ houses, lure your friends in with free pedicures, or convince your book club to come in and discuss their life insurance needs.
  • Open officially for business without great fanfare, maybe for a week or two before your (well-advertised) Grand Opening. Customers will probably just trickle in, but that will make it easier to practice getting things right before the hopeful rush of customers to come.

Spreading the Word

Step 1 Start early.

  • Preserve the bulk of your initial marketing budget for the Grand Opening, but before that time utilize budget-friendly options like flyers, targeted direct mail, and a social media presence.
  • Try to build your brand even before your location is ready. If you’re going to be selling handcrafted necklaces or handmade pierogies, seek out a local craft or food festival where you can set up a table and sell your wares. (Be sure to advertise your forthcoming retail presence.) If you’re an accountant, maybe you can volunteer to offer tax advice at the local community center or library (and hand out business cards).

Christine Michel Carter

  • One suggestion is to dedicate 20% of your first year’s marketing budget to your Grand Opening. This amount should be significant enough to spread your message widely at a time when your ads are likely to be their most effective, but at the same time isn’t an “all your eggs in one basket” situation that leaves you with limited ability for subsequent advertising. [10] X Research source
  • Spend, for example, $4,500 advertising your Grand Opening, because that amount should be sufficient for two media buys. If that amount is beyond your reach, you may be able to utilize a mix of flyers, direct mailings, promotional items (balloons, banners, etc.), and a “sign spinner” at a busy intersection for around $1,500. [11] X Research source
  • This, of course, assumes you have a fairly large marketing budget of $22,500 ($4,500 is 20% of $22,500). Since many businesses have much smaller marketing budgets (maybe only a few thousand dollars), always work within whatever 20% of your marketing budget is.

Step 2 Use traditional media.

  • Before tossing radio aside as an outdated media format, note that some three-quarters of U.S. adults listen to radio at least occasionally, and often do so when driving somewhere. Thus, radio can be a particularly good advertising method for retail stores and restaurants. Target your advertising by format (Top 40, Country, Talk, etc.) and time of day to maximize impact. [12] X Research source
  • Newspapers are popular among over-35 adults, but even a decent percentage of younger adults read a paper occasionally. Newspapers are still a cost-effective way to reach thousands of potential customers.
  • You can also hire a press release agency to help you out. Press release agencies publish articles about your business on hundreds of relevant news sites that can have millions of monthly readers, making it easier for you to gain exposure for your brand.
  • Consider including coupons as well; they provide not only motivation to visit but a tangible connection between a potential customer and your business. It is also easy to track their effectiveness, as more coupons coming in mean they are doing their job. [13] X Research source
  • You may assume that TV advertising is beyond your small business budget, but there are options for producing and placing lower-cost ads, sometimes with the assistance of the local broadcast network. Consider bunching your ads during programs relevant to your targeted customer base — TV judge shows for a legal practice or the nightly news sports report for a golf training academy, for instance — so that you seem like a major sponsor. [14] X Research source

Step 3 Use social media.

  • The appeal of social media advertising is its low cost and direct connection to potential customers, but remember that the trade-off is likely to be a greater time commitment. Do a detailed analysis of your targeted and existing customer base and try to coordinate your brand identity and message across platforms. [17] X Research source
  • With the ever growing number of social media platforms, you may feel the temptation to be active in as many as possible. But don’t spread your business (or yourself) too thin. If your salon targets 40-something moms who likely use Facebook, focus your energies there. Don’t get caught up in posting all the time; a few times a week will likely suffice. You’ll be plenty busy with all the other details of opening your business. [18] X Research source
  • There are, however, ways to link multiple social media platforms. Consider this option if you can manage it without, again, spreading yourself too thin at a very busy time.
  • Social media presence is especially important if your business is online based. In addition to social media, consider internet advertising using technology like Google Adwords. Adwords allows an ad from your business to pop up whenever a user searches particular key words on google. When somebody clicks on your ad, you pay. For an online based business, this can be especially important since it communicates your business to the broader internet. It is also important for traditional brick-and-mortar businesses too, since it reaches an audience that primarily is exposed to the internet as opposed to other forms of media. [19] X Research source

Opening for Business

Step 1 Consider when to make your opening “grand.”

  • Schedule your Grand Opening for a day and time that suits your product or service — a Saturday morning for a diner; a Friday evening for an ice cream parlor; early evening for a martial arts studio. [20] X Research source

Step 2 Make it an event.

  • Use the term “Grand Opening” in your marketing — it makes it seem more special than just an “open for business” notice. Create excitement by offering prizes, giveaways, demonstrations, special deals, etc., for visitors that day. [21] X Research source
  • Hire a photographer to capture the event for media (traditional or social) consumption. Bring in live entertainment, extra staffing, even security if you expect an especially large crowd. [22] X Research source
  • If your business and/or its location aren’t conducive to a large public Grand Opening, consider having an event more along the lines of a “launch party” at a nearby restaurant, banquet hall, etc.

Step 3 Guarantee a positive customer experience.

  • Have extra staff on hand to make sure customers don’t have to wait too long for service or attention.
  • If parking may be an issue, try to work out arrangements beforehand with other businesses or community groups — perhaps setting up satellite parking at a nearby church, for instance.
  • Send attendees home with a token of your appreciation — ideally something with your logo on it — along with a coupon / special deal for a return visit.

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Alena Le Blanc

Invest in tools that simplify working with clients. As a stylist, I rely on styling platforms for mood boards and outfit planning. I also use CRM software to manage client information, appointments, and communication efficiently. Try out different options until you find the best fit for your business and industry.

Step 4 Involve the community.

  • Invite the local press to your event, but also other local business and community leaders. Network with as many as possible and establish yourself as a member of the local team. [24] X Research source
  • If possible, align your Grand Opening with a community event, when local crowds will already be gathered. Make it seem like a part of that larger celebration. Sponsor the entertainment at the holiday lighting celebration or midsummer festival. Advertise both your business and your deep connection to the community. [25] X Research source

Expert Q&A

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  • ↑ https://www.sba.gov/content/follow-these-steps-starting-business
  • ↑ https://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business/choose-your-business-stru
  • ↑ https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/apply-for-an-employer-identification-number-ein-online
  • ↑ https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/how-to-start-a-small-business-in-a-few-hours.html
  • ↑ http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/241524
  • ↑ http://fitsmallbusiness.com/grand-opening-ideas/
  • ↑ Christine Michel Carter. Global Marketing Expert. Expert Interview. 30 September 2020.
  • ↑ http://fitsmallbusiness.com/radio-advertising/
  • ↑ http://fitsmallbusiness.com/newspaper-advertising-costs/
  • ↑ http://fitsmallbusiness.com/tv-advertising/
  • ↑ http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/231515
  • ↑ https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-guide-small-businesses/
  • ↑ http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelfertik/2014/08/21/is-social-media-worth-it-for-small-businesses/
  • ↑ https://www.google.ca/adwords/how-it-works/
  • ↑ http://www.signs.com/blog/the-ultimate-guide-to-grand-openings-for-bricks-and-mortar-locations/
  • ↑ http://www.grandopeninghelp.com/

About this article

Christine Michel Carter

To open a small business, start by coming up with a business plan, which will serve as a road map for your business during the first few years. Then, legally form your business as either a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a corporation, or a limited liability corporation. Once you've formed your business, register it and obtain all of the necessary licenses and permits. From there, you can start hiring employees, setting up a website, and preparing for the launch of your business. For more tips from our Financial co-author, like how to market your business, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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70 Small Business Ideas for Anyone Who Wants to Run Their Own Business

Meg Prater (she/her)

Published: March 19, 2024

A good business idea may seem hard to come by, but with some planning and preparation, you can easily launch a small business to supplement your income — or become your own full-time boss.

Small business ideas symbolically showing the spirit of a small business

Maybe you already have an idea of the business you’d like to start. But while you might feel ready for a new venture and passionate about your idea, you might be looking for some direction.

Access Now: Free Business Idea Database

To help get you started, here's a list of small business ideas separated into a few sections:

  • What makes a good small business?

Best Small Business Ideas

Best businesses to start with little money, home business ideas.

  • Online Businesses Ideas

Easy Businesses to Start

Business ideas for students, creative small business ideas, how to start a small business at home, starting a small business: faq.

The first step to becoming a successful entrepreneur is finding a business idea that works for you. In this article, you’ll find dozens of small business ideas you can start from home and scale up as your clientele grows. Let’s get started.

What makes a good small business idea?

Not all small business ideas are made equal: Some require more effort and funding than others, while some can be launched with few resources — or resources you already have. As a potential small business owner, you’ll want to save as much money as possible on training, rent, supplies, and other necessities.

Let’s go over what makes a good business idea:

  • Requires little to no training . A good small business idea will ideally leverage your existing field of expertise and require little to no training. That will not only shorten your time-to-launch, but also lessen your expenses, since training courses can cost a significant amount of money. Plus, you’ll be more confident offering services that you feel prepared to deliver.
  • Requires low setup costs. Your business should be cheap to start. Maybe you only need to purchase a website domain or buy a desk for your garage.
  • Requires little hands-on inventory or supply management . A great business idea needs few supplies and little inventory management. If you want to sell physical goods, you can either try drop-shipping and manually make goods in small batches.
  • Is based online . The best small business ideas are based online and can be carried out from your personal computer. This will automatically lower your commuting costs and give you greater flexibility over your personal and work life.
  • Can sustainably be managed by few people . As a small business owner, you won’t have the funds to hire other people to help you run your business — at least not at first. A good business idea should give you the ability to run your business on your own.

i am planning to start/open a small business on

Free Business Startup kit

9 templates to help you brainstorm a business name, develop your business plan, and pitch your idea to investors.

  • Business Name Brainstorming Workbook
  • Business Plan Template
  • Business Startup Cost Calculator

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Airbnb Co-founder, Brian Chesky, said, “If we tried to think of a good idea, we wouldn’t have been able to think of a good idea. You just have to find the solution for a problem in your own life.”

If you’re like Brian and you’ve already thought about a solution for a problem you encounter in your life — or you’re on the path to doing so — then starting a small business may be in your future. It may also be for you if you dream of clocking out of your nine-to-five job for the last time and becoming your own boss.

Below, we include the best ideas for you to start your small business — with resources and examples to help you get started.

1. Handyman

i am planning to start/open a small business on

8. Life/Career Coach

If you have experience navigating career, personal, and social transitions successfully, put it to good use as a life or career coach. Many of us are looking for guidance in our careers — and finding someone with the time to mentor us can be tough.

Life/career coaches don’t come cheap, but they are able to offer clients the intense and hands-on training and advice they need to make serious moves in their personal and professional lives. After all, everyone needs some uplifting advice from time to time.

To start your life/career coaching business with confidence, you can look for a certification program (like the Life Coach School’s or Diane Hudson’s ), then apply your skills as you acquire new clients.

i am planning to start/open a small business on

A resume writing business is economical, has few overhead costs, and has few educational requirements. We still recommend having an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree and a few resume samples on hand. If you still feel that you need to brush up on your resume writing skills, you can take a course like Coursera’s or LinkedIn Learning’s .

Once you’ve gotten resume writing down, you can expand your business to include cover letter writing and even offer career coaching services in conjunction with these services.

10. Freelance Writer

If you have writing skills , there’s someone out there willing to pay you for them. Write blog posts, magazine articles, and website copy galore — just make sure you have a body of work built up to share with potential clients. Even if you create a few sample pieces to have on hand, they’ll help exhibit your work and attract new business.

To become a freelance writer, it’s essential to choose a specialty. For instance, you might choose to only write for publications in the healthcare industry (maybe because you were previously a healthcare worker) or focus on lifestyle publications. Whatever the case, specializing will help you find your niche market and gain confidence as a new freelancer writer.

There are no educational requirements for freelance writing, but you do need strong writing skills. It also helps to enjoy writing. While certification may be beneficial, getting practice and writing every day is more important. Try these writing prompts to start.

11. Landscaper

Mowing, tree-trimming, and seasonal decor are all neighborhood needs. If you have or can acquire the equipment, a landscaping business can be a lucrative affair. It’s also a great choice if you enjoy doing it for your own home and have a good eye for landscape design.

The good news is that you can start small. For instance, you could offer your neighbors seasonal planting services and start with a few perennial plants, or simply offer mulching services.

To grow your landscaping business, you should consider taking some formal training. The following organizations offer courses:

  • New York Botanical Gardens

After completing a course and getting enough experience, you can apply for a certificate from a landscaping organization. While a certificate isn’t necessary to work in the field, it can build your credentials and help you make industry connections to take your landscaping business to the next level. The Association of Professional Landscape Designers offers one potential certificate you could pursue.

Some states require licensure, especially if you’ll be using pesticides and fertilizers. Be sure to review the requirements for your state.

Learn some of the basics now with this video on landscape design from Lowe’s:

12. Videographer

Video production requires you to have invested in the equipment up front, which can be quite expensive. But that’s also what makes your services so valuable. Make sure you have a reel of your work to share or create a website with several selections of your work available for interested viewers.

There are no educational or licensure requirements for starting a video production business. As with writing and other creative arts, though, it pays to specialize. Real estate videos differ radically from wedding videos, and wedding videos differ radically from in-studio interviews and testimonials. By specializing, you target a highly specific customer who’ll benefit the most from your services, and you can also skill-up more effectively in one shooting style.

While you can find general classes on videography, you should consider taking a class in the type of videography you’d like to do. For instance, you could take The Complete Wedding Videography Course .

Hot tip: If you’re interested in specializing in video marketing, check out The Ultimate Guide to Video Marketing and download our starter pack below.

→ Access Now: Video Marketing Starter Pack [Free Kit]

13. Photographer

Start by conducting photo shoots for your family and friends. As you build a body of work, ask for referrals and reviews. Photography businesses often grow by word of mouth, so create a Facebook page where you can tag recent clients. Photos where you tag those clients will show up in their friends’ newsfeeds, where they can view your work. You can also ask them to leave reviews on your Facebook business page.

Like with a video production small business, you’ll want to specialize. Will you do product shoots or portraits? How about wedding or fashion photo shoots? Once you specialize, you’ll be able to create a body of work that most accurately represents your strengths.

There are no educational or licensure requirements for starting a small photography business. Still, we recommend investing in a few photography courses, especially if you haven’t used your camera in a while. Some courses you might start with include:

  • Cornell’s Digital Photography Certificate Program
  • New York Institute of Photography’s Course

From there, seek courses that help you build skills in your chosen specialty.

If you’re not sure where to start with freelance photography, take a look at Erica Clayton’s journey into the business below. Her advice? Give yourself a firm deadline to turn a profit.

14. Bed and Breakfast Owner

i am planning to start/open a small business on

Some consulting industries are more competitive than others, so be sure to complete your research before starting a small consulting business. One way to find out how competitive a consulting niche is by doing keyword search . If your target niche is highly searched or is already dominated by big companies, you may have a harder time breaking in. You can use keyword research tools to uncover keyword volume and local demand.

If there’s room for you to enter the market, the next step is to land your first clients. Be sure to participate in local networking events covering your niche and reach out to potential prospects through cold calling and emailing. Investing in dedicated sales software can also help measure and improve your emailing strategy, as well as keep track of worthwhile leads.  

12. Event Planner

An event planning business is an excellent choice if you have great organizational and interpersonal skills, and it’s relatively cheap to start. You might choose to specialize in a specific type of event — like weddings or company meetings — or set yourself up as an event planner of all trades.

The good news is that event planners are always in demand. It’s not an easily automated job, so this small business idea is set to thrive regardless of the digital landscape. To start, you’ll want to look for a platform that will easily allow you to advertise your availability, such as event planner directories like Eventective and WeddingWire .

If you’re highly organized, detail-oriented, and have experience planning large events, it might be time for others to benefit from your skills.

13. Personal Assistant

Personal assistants help business owners and executives take care of administrative tasks. To launch a freelance personal assistant business, you should leverage networking opportunities on LinkedIn and attend small business events at local chambers of commerce. Most local business owners might not even know they need a personal assistant until you market your services to them.

If you’re an organized, highly-detailed person, the life of a personal assistant might be for you. Don’t want to be tied to one office or person all day, every day? Consider becoming a virtual assistant, which allows you a more flexible work environment.

To become an assistant, choose a niche — will you be helping women business owners specifically? Do you have a specific field of expertise, like bookkeeping? A website can also go a long way, and be sure to print business cards for you to hand out during networking events.

14. Consignment Shop Owner

If you have an eye for style but don’t want to invest in the inventory of a brand-new boutique, consider starting a consignment shop. It will allow you to curate a collection of clothing that matches your goals and aesthetic without the overhead of a boutique selling entirely new garments.

The beauty of a small consignment business is that you can now start one online. You can sign up on a platform such as Poshmark , Depop , and even Etsy , then easily start selling your own used fashion from home.

Once you’ve defined your niche — such as vintage clothing, unique locally made art, or colorful shoes — you can begin sourcing new products from your local stores and thrift shops.

15. Caterer

If the personal chef gig is too restrictive for your schedule, consider catering instead. Pick your projects, work on fewer but larger events, and hone in on your time management skills.

Becoming a caterer is a natural step for those who are used to cooking for large events — for instance, you may have already catered your friend’s wedding or brought a 20-person meal to a potluck (that counts, too!).

It’s essential that you have enough temperature-regulated storage for the meals prior to each event, and that you arrange for reliable, temperature-controlled transportation to and from your home kitchen. Alternatively, you can lower your costs by inviting customers to pick up their order at your home.

16. Gym Owner

Kickboxing gyms, yoga studios, CrossFit, oh my! Turn your passion for fitness into a community for others by creating your own gym — start one from the ground up, become an affiliate, or open a franchise location.

Available franchise opportunities include Anytime Fitness, Orangetheory Fitness, Pure Barre, Planet Fitness, Crunch Fitness, and more. Be prepared to take out a loan to finance your franchise — most agreements start with fees upward of $20,000. But the payoff can be tremendous due to brand recognition. You’ll have no trouble recruiting new members as long as you use local marketing strategies .

Alternatively, you can create a local studio, but ideally, it should be for a specific activity instead of general fitness. Yoga, pilates, bootcamp-style gyms, and martial arts perform well as independent fitness studios.

17. Boutique Agency Owner

What’s your specialty? Whether it’s marketing, social media, or PR, it might be time to start your own agency. Many other small businesses need this type of help but don’t have the resources or volume to necessitate a full-time position.

To start an agency, you would ideally have worked in your specialty for a number of years. You should also be prepared to interface directly with clients, fulfill their requirements, and temper their expectations (if they want results in an unreasonably short amount of time).

Consider building a small team and learn from other entrepreneurs who’ve successfully started their own agencies, like Duane Brown of Take Some Risk .

18. Coffee Shop Owner

Turn your caffeine addiction into something a little more lucrative. Opening a franchise or buying an existing shop are lower-risk entry points to the coffee game, but they usually require a little more cash upfront. Starting a shop from scratch requires more planning and work — but it also maximizes your earning potential in the future.

A coffee shop is an excellent fit if you already have a full-time remote job and wish to supplement your income with a small business. You can manage the coffee shop as you work at one of the tables, but be sure to have the budget to hire an experienced barista who can pick up the slack.

If you would like to open a coffee shop and run it full-time on your own, you’ll need to undertake barista training, understand worldwide coffee sources, and have excellent customer service skills.

19. Moving Company

A truck, moving equipment, manpower, and the correct permits and insurance are the building blocks of starting your own moving company . Before you buy your first fleet of trucks, however, start small with a moving van and keep your costs low.

Still sound like too much of an initial investment? Consider offering packing services only, which have a much lower financial barrier to entry. You can partner with moving companies and offer to do their packing, or have them refer clients to you.

You could even take a niche approach to the industry as Astro International has by offering international moving services.

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2. Vending Machine Owner

Since 2015, the growth rate for vending machine businesses has increased 1.4%. Even as social distancing restrictions are still in place, this business can still be lucrative if you choose the right locations. High-traffic is key — places like hospitals, schools, and community centers are smart places to start placing your machines to generate enough revenue to cover cost and turn a profit.

3. Social Media Manager

Do you have a knack for social media? As a social media manager, you can use your skills to manage the social media accounts for companies and even individual people. Influencer marketing has become more common and many influencers rely on marketing agencies or employees to help them run their social channels.

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Online Business Ideas

If you want a business idea that you can run entirely online, check out the ones below. These ideas are ideal for those looking for a passive income stream. In other words, you shouldn’t need to do too much manual work to launch these businesses from your home or preferred business location.

1. Become an online reseller.

To become an online reseller, all you need is some business savvy and some funds to invest in product stock from manufacturers — or, of course,the willingness to sell your own used items. Generally, this is a low-touch but high-performance way of creating a passive income online business.

Online resellers usually use a platform, such as Facebook Marketplace or Amazon Sellers, to sell either their own or manufacturers’ stock. The benefit of using Facebook Marketplace is that you can begin today with your own Facebook account, and simply list items that you already own.

Interested buyers typically drive directly to your home for pick-up — but if you’re not interested in human interaction, you can leave it outside and have the buyer pay via an online platform.

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Blogging is one of the most accessible small businesses to start, and there are countless niches to choose from. That said, because there are many blogs online, you’ll need to learn blog SEO and keyword research to ensure your audience finds you. That way, you actually make money out of your blogging efforts.

The great news is that a small blogging business has a ridiculously low overhead. All you need is a custom domain and your time for writing blog posts. Although finding the right topic ideas and outlining your posts may seem challenging at first, especially if you’re new to writing, you can let a blog ideas generator do most of the grunt work for you.

These tools leverage Artificial Intelligence to help you brainstorm ideas and set up your content structure. That way, you can kickstart your creative juices and begin writing about what you love right away. 

5. Home-Baked Goods Seller

Warehouse-made, store-bought chocolate chip cookies will never compare to a batch made with love in someone’s home. Simple desserts can be easily baked and packaged to sell at local events or around your neighborhood. Use custom labels and watch the word spread about your goods!

You can begin a baked goods business easily by opening a Facebook and Instagram profile. Facebook and Instagram are both excellent platforms to market your goods, show pictures of your previous baked products, and even showcase happy clients.

Build a loyal following slowly, and save on costs by asking clients to drive to your home to pick up their order. Choosing a niche can be helpful here, or baking in a specific style that can’t be found at grocery store bakeries. The overhead can be especially low if you already have most essential baking supplies.

6. Ecommerce Store Owner

Do you create, collect, or curate anything special? Consider starting an ecommerce store and turning your hobby into a full-time job. Whether you need somewhere to sell all that pottery you’ve been making, or an excuse to search for the sports memorabilia you love tracking down, an ecommerce store can make it financially viable for you to pursue your passion.

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Starting an ecommerce store is simple and easy. You can set up a shop using an ecommerce website builder , all of which start at a minimal monthly subscription (some even start at free). Be sure to take good photos of your products and write descriptive product pages .

If you don’t have inventory, you can always own an ecommerce store by using dropshipping . Instead of creating and shipping your products yourself, you’ll instead partner with a dropshipping website and have them mail out the orders directly to your client.

7. House Cleaner

With a low barrier to entry, house cleaning can be a great way to start doing what you love — soon. Consider advertising to homes in your neighborhood and get more bang for your buck by earning a few small businesses as clients as well. They’ll usually bring in a higher paycheck for a similar amount of work.

To become a house cleaner, you should be prepared to invest in cleaning supplies and accessories, or be willing to use your own. If you plan to serve small businesses, you should buy industrial janitorial supplies so you can get work done more effectively.

Need some inspiration? This small business cleaning service grew virtually overnight on Instagram after their content went viral during the pandemic.

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Learn more about choosing the right structure for your business from the Small Business Administration.

6. Create a business bank account.

Once you have a legally formed business and have been issued an Employer Identification Number (EIN), open a bank account specifically for your business. Having a business bank account is essential for keeping your personal and business finances separate which can help you gain an accurate picture of your business’s cash flow and financial health.

Additionally, keeping your personal and business finances separate makes bookkeeping and tax preparation easier.

Many banks offer business checking and savings accounts. Business checking accounts typically do not have a limit on the number of transactions that can take place, and issue a debit card that can be used for making business purchases. However, these checking accounts do not accrue interest.

Business savings accounts typically earn interest over time but have a limited number of transactions that can occur each month. When you’re just starting out, look for a business bank account that does not have a minimum balance requirement so you are not penalized for having low funds as you work to build your business.

7. Determine if your business idea works well from home.

Ask yourself whether your business idea will work well from home. Some businesses simply aren’t suited to be based from home. If you want to run a dog boarding center but live in an apartment without a backyard, you might want to consider a dog walking business instead.

8. Set up an office.

If your business idea is well-suited for being run from home, it’s still important you have a designated workspace. While a home office might not be possible, consider setting aside a corner in your living room or putting a desk in your bedroom for a space that inspires you and creates the conditions for success.

Need a more professional space? If you conduct client-facing work requiring you to be on video calls, no one wants to see your rumpled sheets in the background. Check out local coworking spaces for memberships that earn you access to conference rooms, desk space, and more.

9. Get to work!

You’ve put in the hard work, but I’ve got bad news — it’s only going to get harder. But most entrepreneurs will agree that the payoff of being your own boss, making your own hours, and working on projects that you’re passionate about will pay dividends for the rest of your life.

What are the types of small businesses?

The types of small business structures are sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies (LLCs), and corporations.

  • Sole Proprietorship — The simplest type of business structure is a sole proprietorship, which is also the easiest to start. As a sole proprietor, you are personally responsible for the business's liabilities and profits, and you have complete control over your business. If you are a solopreneur, you are automatically considered a sole proprietor.
  • Partnership — A partnership is a business model involving two or more individuals who agree to share the business‘s profits and liabilities. Each partner contributes to the business and shares the risks and rewards. It’s essential to have a partnership agreement that defines each partner's roles and responsibilities to ensure clarity and prevent potential misunderstandings.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) — An LLC, or limited liability company, is a common option for small businesses because it protects its owners by separating personal assets from the company's liabilities. To form an LLC, the business owner must file the required paperwork with the state.
  • Corporation — A corporation is an independent legal entity distinct from its owners. It provides limited liability protection to its shareholders, who are not held personally accountable for the company's debts. Corporations have formal requirements and often raise capital by issuing stocks or shares.

Which business type is best?

The best business type is a limited liability company (LLC). Operating as an LLC means that your personal assets are separate from your business assets. If your business goes bankrupt, your personal holdings won’t be affected. That said, it’s also one of the costlier types, requiring a fee paid to the state.

The easiest business type to start is a sole proprietorship. The main downside is that there’s no differentiation between you and your business.

It's crucial to seek advice from legal or accounting professionals to determine the best business structure based on your unique needs and objectives. Each structure has advantages, legal requirements, tax implications, and flexibility considerations.

How do I create a business idea?

To create a business idea, determine your skill set, work preferences, startup budget, and available resources. It’s important to strike the right balance between what you can feasibly offer and what you can feasibly afford in the short and long term.

We recommend starting with your skill set so that you can easily determine the niche in which you can effectively compete. For instance, if you have ample experience as a writer, you might consider starting a freelance writing business. But if you know you’d prefer to work with clients face-to-face, you might choose to start a ghostwriting business instead. That’s why it’s so important to take your work preferences into account, as well.

After that, take a look at your budget and determine the type of business you can start based on the resources at your disposal. For instance, you might not be able to afford a physical office or location, so a location-based business will likely not be a good fit. In that case, starting an online business is your best option.

What resources or tools can I use to refine and validate my business ideas during the brainstorming process?

Online market research tools like Google Trends, Keyword Planner, and SEMrush can provide insights into market demand, competition, and keyword trends related to your business niche. Industry reports and market analyses from reputable sources such as IBISWorld, Gartner, Statista, and industry-specific publications can offer valuable data and trends to inform your decision-making. Ensure you know the industry risk before embarking on your small business venture.

→ Download Now: Market Research Kit [Free Download]

Additionally, joining entrepreneurial communities, forums, and social media groups can provide opportunities to seek feedback, network with like-minded people, and gain insights from experienced entrepreneurs. Finally, consider conducting surveys or interviews with potential customers to gather feedback and validate your business concept before investing significant time and resources.

What are some of the most successful small businesses?

Every small business has the potential to be successful and profitable, provided it’s backed by a strong product-market fit and a robust business plan . These two elements are essential. Maybe postnatal services are one of the most successful small businesses to launch, but if you live in an area with declining population or a large elderly population, then that small business idea won’t yield a high return on investment.

Think carefully about the market where you’re launching your business, and you’ll be more than likely to see lasting success.

What are the top growing small businesses?

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Home > Business > Business Startup

Small Business Owners Weigh In on the Realities of Starting a Business

Tiffani Sherman

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Syndicated from The Penny Hoarder

What are some keys to small-business success ? We talked to a few small-business owners to find out, and I am sharing a bit of what I learned when I went out on my own six years ago.

I decided to try working as a reporter and producer on a full-time freelance basis. I knew about writing and producing, but I had a lot to learn about running a business.

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Small businesses in the United States

There are 33.2 million small businesses in the United States, which the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy’s 2022 Small Business Profile defines as businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

Most of them, roughly 32.5 million, have either no employees or between one and 19 employees.

Just less than half or 46.4% of employees in the U.S. work for a small business.

Success isn’t always easy. The report says between March 2020 and March 2021, 1.1 million businesses opened, while 965,995 closed. Keep in mind, that was during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why start a small business?

For business owners, there’s a desire to make decisions for yourself and do what you want to do.

Steve Dunn is a mediator based in Charlotte, North Carolina. For 21 years, he was both a litigator and a mediator at a law firm. He left the firm in 2019 to go it alone as a mediator.

“I realized that I had this dream to be a full time mediator and knew if I was going to do it, I needed to make myself do it by just jumping into the deep end of the pool,” Dunn said. “So I went to my partners and gave them six months notice.”

Sometimes, the entrepreneurial spirit has always been present, like for Jennifer Marcus, the co-owner along with her husband, Heath, of Mad Science of Hampton Roads in Virginia.

“[My husband] grew up in a family of business owners and saw a lot of ups and downs. He knew there are great parts about it and some really hard parts,” Marcus said. “I think it really appealed to us to control our own destiny, not have a boss, be able to set goals and reach them, and create something on our own.”

Other times, life gives you the kick in the butt you need to make a decision to go out on your own. That’s what happened to me when the funding ran out for the project I was working on for 14 years as a full-time employee at a college.

I had to find something to do, and since I love to travel, I decided to try something I could do from anywhere and take time off when I wanted to. That meant working for myself.

For Jeanine Blackburn, she wanted to help fulfill her daughter’s vision.

Jeanine Blackburn is the CEO and co-owner with her daughter Alyson Blackburn of Kolor-N-Kiln paint-your-own pottery studio in a mall in Pittsburgh, PA.

They opened their doors in June 2013 after Jeanine Blackburn was downsized from a corporate job and Alyson Blackburn was graduating from college.

“It was never my dream to be an entrepreneur. I liked having a guaranteed paycheck. I just kept stepping out on faith,” she said. “I had some money set aside and I was just thinking what better way to invest in my daughter’s dream. I said I’ll try it and if it doesn’t work, I could always go back to what I know.”

Deciding what kind of small business to open

Deciding what kind of business to open can sometimes be a challenge. There are all kinds of possibilities. Do you follow your passion and try to find a way to make money at it? Do you open a franchise of something that already exists? Do you do something else entirely?

For Dunn, he knew mediation was what he liked about his law firm job, so finding a way to do that full time was his goal.

“I had a moment where I realized how much I really hated the litigation aspect of my job. A light bulb went off and I realized I didn’t have to do this,” he said. “It was a moment of clarity about how unsatisfied I was with what I was doing.”

Opening a franchise was the best option for Jennifer Marcus. She and her husband, Heath Marcus, opened their location in 2008 after Heath left a military job and Jennifer wanted to reenter the workforce after staying at home with three small children.

“We were ready for a new challenge and a new adventure,” she said. “But we were nervous about not having a steady paycheck and a lack of financial security, which is super common. … We thought there was a little bit more of a safety net in some ways if you’re following a pattern that someone else has set for you.”

They started looking at all kinds of franchises and even met with a franchise attorney who suggested they look for an established brand with franchising experience that did not have a location in their area.

“Mad Science had been franchising for about 20 years already and had franchises all over North America and the world, but none in our part of Virginia,” Marcus said.

Finding funding

It’s not cheap to open a new business, no matter what it is. There are startup costs .

Even as a writer, I realized I needed big things like business insurance and smaller things like a good computer with my own software licenses and paper and printer ink to get things going.

Everyone we talked with said knowing how much you can spend on opening the business is important.

“We put all our eggs in that basket,” Marcus said. “[My husband] left his government job and worked full time with Mad Science. I did not have an income because I was a stay-at-home mom and I worked part time in the business. We couldn’t live off that income so we took out loans.”

Even after covering expenses and making a profit from the beginning, a change was necessary.

“We were running up the credit cards a little too much and we thought we needed to figure something out,” she said, adding that’s when she started working for Mad Science full time while her husband took a job outside the business.

A stock deal that came with being downsized from her job helped Blackburn fund Kolor-N-Kiln.

“When we opened, I was nervous. I was excited. I was anxious. I just spent all of this money and was wondering what would happen if nobody shows up,” Blackburn said. “How do I get paid?”

Luckily, people showed up.

“On grand opening day, we were jam-packed.”

Choosing a location

We’ve all heard location, location, location when referring to the success of just about anything.

For owning a business, it can be about a physical space to open a shop, start a restaurant, or provide a professional service.

It can also be about finding the right place to do paperwork and administrative tasks.

The Blackburns needed to find a place for their pottery studio that had enough space, was easy to access, had enough parking, and was within their budget .

“I did a ton of research, driving around, trying to find every pottery studio I could find and visit,” Blackburn said. “I brought back a lot of data because that's my background and then figured out if it would work. We wrote down ideas and brainstormed almost too much about what it could look like.”

The result was a 1,100-square-foot storefront in a strip plaza with room for 35 people inside.

“We opened on faith. To be 100% honest with you, we opened with a lot of, ‘let’s do it and see if it works,’” she said. “If it doesn’t, we could tweak it.”

The current mall location became available later, and Kolor-N-Kiln moved to a much bigger 5,700-square-foot space.

While Marcus knew her business was primarily going to be instructors going to various locations, they decided to get an office space.

“You can absolutely run Mad Science out of your house, but having three little kids, we just wanted to go to work somewhere,” she said. “We wanted to make it really professional.”

Realities of business ownership

As a business owner just getting started, you’re your own marketing and sales department, IT department, scheduling department, accounting and invoicing department, and much more.

“What I regret is you don't think about the number of hours you've been managing the business,” Blackburn said. “When you work for somebody else and they’re only open from 8 to 5, you only work 8 to 5. When you own your own business, you don't get a break. You don't get to take a day off not thinking about the business.”

She said it’s important for you and everyone around you to prepare for the amount of work it takes and that it will take many more hours than you think.

“There are so many little things that can fall through the cracks,” she said, and suggests making lists and keeping a detailed calendar of what needs to be done.

At first, Dunn said he thought it would be fun to do everything himself. He even learned how to do his own web page.

“It was like a new challenge. I kind of embraced the idea that I could do everything just exactly the way that I wanted to do it,” he said, adding he soon realized how much the assistants at his law firm used to do for him, like scheduling and invoicing .

“It quickly became a chore and was something I did not enjoy and did not want to do. The newness and freshness wore off very quickly.”

That’s about the time Miles Mediation & Arbitration approached Dunn about joining their team as a contractor, not an employee. For a percentage of revenue, they now handle those kinds of things, provide office space, and do the website and some marketing, leaving Dunn to do the mediation he enjoys.

Marcus knew from the beginning employees were necessary.

“We knew right away that we were not going to try to do everything ourselves and we were going to hire people to work for us,” she said. “There were other franchise owners who did everything themselves for the first year or two, and we knew that was not going to work for us. We wanted to have weekends with our kids.”

I still do all of the administrative tasks myself, and I need to make sure I need to set aside time for them.

Being prepared for downturns

All of the business owners we talked with were up and running successfully before COVID-19 became part of our lives in March 2020.

As we all know, the pandemic forced everyone to change and pivot.

Preparing for the worst is something Blackburn says all business owners should do. While nobody wants to think about a doomsday scenario for your business, she says the fact she has always planned for the worst things that could happen helped her weather the pandemic and anything else that might come along.

“When you’re opening a business, you need to know your backup plan and a pivot plan,” she said. “If the business is not going anywhere, when is it time to bail out? You have to have an entrance plan and an exit plan.”

She said the plan doesn’t need to include everything, but it should lay out the triggers of when it might be time to say goodbye.

“Is it when I’m broke and owe everybody and am still borrowing money to stay afloat? That’s not success.”

You are only one person

No matter if you handle everything yourself or hire people, all the business owners we talked with said knowing your limits and making sure you have time for yourself is important.

“I beat myself up a lot that I wasn’t working hard enough for many years. I was learning how to be a working mom and I was learning how to be a business owner and that was a double whammy,” Marcus said. “I was working towards building something that might eventually produce a steady paycheck, so it felt even more key that I was giving it all my time.”

After a period working late into the night and being exhausted, reality hit.

“I looked at myself in the mirror, and said, ‘Jen, don’t beat yourself up. You don’t need to work at nine o’clock at night. It’s okay to go to bed,’” she said. “I wish I could have learned sooner to put my own rest first. You need time off.”

Dunn said he wished he realized earlier he couldn’t be everything to everyone.

“My initial vision as a mediator was to be the mediator for all occasions like a Swiss Army Knife of mediation, available for any case, anywhere, anytime, anything you need,” he said. “What I eventually realized is that it was much more productive for me to focus on what I actually know and what I'm actually known for, rather than trying to be all things to all people, and that is employment law.”

Enjoy the ride

Everyone we talked with said the efforts they have put into their businesses have been worth it.

“In a couple of years, I would like to step completely out of it and let it be a company [my daughter] runs. It’s her legacy,” Blackburn says. “She can grow it and do whatever she wants to do with it. It’s like a movie where the man and woman ride off into the sunset. I’m looking for my husband and I to ride off into the sunset. I want to hand it over to my daughter 100%.”

For Dunn, the ability to control his calendar is a huge bonus.

“I can decide when I am available and when I am not. I have never had that. I can schedule a vacation.”

It took a while, but Marcus said she finally found balance.

“It’s okay to work a half day and go get a massage or have lunch with a friend if you’re a business owner. You’re the boss,” Marcus said with a laugh.

For me, I realized I really can work from anywhere and nobody needs to know where I am. As long as I have a phone, a computer, and internet, I’m good.

Tiffani Sherman is a Florida-based freelance reporter with more than 25 years of experience writing about finance, health, travel and other topics.

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Tips for Starting a Small Business

I t is a great way to start a new business. Where do you start? There are many ways to create a business. You also need to consider several important factors. Follow our guide to help you take the guesswork and increase your chances of success. You'll be guided through every step, from defining your idea to registering, starting, and growing your company.

Be Prepared Before You Start: Have the right mindset

Publicity is often drawn to exciting stories of overnight success. However, it's not always that easy—they can't see all the work you put into planning, building, and positioning for a public launch. Remember to stay focused on your own business journey and not compare your success with someone else's.

Consistency Is Key

New business owners are initially motivated and energized but become frustrated as soon as that motivation fades. It's important to develop habits and routines that will help you keep going when motivation is low.

The Next Step

Some entrepreneurs jump in without thinking and just make things as they go. Some business owners are stuck in analysis paralysis and need help getting started. You may be a mix of both, and that's where you should be. To achieve any personal or business goal, it is best to list all the steps necessary to reach that goal. Order the steps according to what must happen first. Some steps can take only a few minutes, while others may take hours. It is important to take the next step.

What is your top tip for launching a small company?

We asked entrepreneurs and business leaders for tips on launching a small business. Following a few tips can help you start your own small business.

Ask for Help:

Asking for help is the best advice I can give anyone wanting to start a small company. Nobody should try to reinvent the wheel on their own. If you're stuck with your business plan and don’t know what to do next, ask other entrepreneurs or mentors for their advice. Many people are willing and ready to assist you.

  • Alex Johnson, CEO of Man and Van Star

Define and Embed Your Core Values: 

Establish clear core values that resonate with your mission and vision from the outset. These values will be your north star, guiding decision-making, shaping your company culture, and informing how you interact with customers and stakeholders. At Pumex, our commitment to excellence and customized solutions has defined our brand and consistently driven us to exceed client expectations.

  • Chris Bourn, Chief Marketing Officer at Pumex

Embrace Your Unique Vision: 

Your business should reflect your passion and unique perspective. Especially in creative industries, distinguishing your brand with a clear, compelling vision is crucial. It's not just about what you do; it's about how you do it differently and better. In my journey, ensuring that Musa Art Gallery stood out for its unique approach to storytelling through design was fundamental to our success.

  • Thery Benjamin, CEO of Musa Art Gallery

Surround yourself with experts:

You can't do everything. There are many aspects to running a small company. Look for professionals with different skill sets who are eager to work in an entrepreneurial environment. By combining your expertise, your team and you can help your business get off to a good start.

  • Adam Jacobs, The Managing Director of Hunter Talent

Understanding the Financing Role

There are many options for financing a startup, from venture capital through a local bank loan to an unsecured loan. You can challenge yourself by deciding which financing option will be best for your business and when you should seek funding to help fuel growth. Small businesses that develop a financing plan can execute a better strategy to scale up with their capital requirements.

  • Matt Jones, The CEO of Wonder Days

Market Research

Conducting thorough market research ensures your solution addresses a real problem. Following this, crafting a clear, concise business plan is essential, outlining your vision, mission, objectives, and the strategies to achieve them. At Big Ben, we champion innovation and efficiency, integrating these values from the inception of our business strategies. 

  • Ben Johnson, The CEO of Big Ben

Strong Brand Identity and Company Culture: 

Your brand is not just a logo or a website; it's the experience you deliver. From the outset, define what your brand stands for and ensure this is reflected across all aspects of your business. Simultaneously, build a company culture that empowers and motivates your team. At Flower Delivery, our passion for floral excellence and commitment to joy and satisfaction are at the heart of everything we do, driving our success and resonating with our customers.

  • Sarah Fletcher, CEO of Flower Delivery

Reduce Uncertainty and Increase Certainty

Reduce your uncertainty when starting a business. Does my idea work? Is this product a good fit for the market? Does my marketing plan work? There are many questions and few answers. It's normal for new businesses to have many questions. There wouldn't be any opportunity if all were clear at the beginning. You should still focus on reducing the uncertainty of your business by validating assumptions as early as possible. Run tests and engage in conversations with potential clients as early as possible.

  • Johnny Austin, The Owner of Sell My House Fast Puyallup

Don't Be Afraid To Hire Professionals

I recommend hiring a professional to help you launch a new company. Many business owners may be talented in their field but need to learn how to start a new business. Professional assistance can save time by reducing research and ensuring you know what to do and when. This also reduces the risk of not knowing the federal, state, or local regulations required by the industry. It will also save you money over time as a professional can provide cost-effective, best-practice solutions.

  • Chris Langley, Owner of Composite Doors

Know Your Audience

You may be putting a lot of effort into your company and yet it is not growing. You may be putting all your effort in the wrong direction. It's important to know the market in which you plan to launch your business and your target audience. Consider your product or service's needs to determine your target audience. Then, identify the pain point and determine who is experiencing it. If you want to start a company that creates websites, the next step is to determine who would need a website but would need help creating one. Your target audience in the example above is most likely small business owners. Understanding your target audiences can help you advertise more effectively as you will know who you are targeting and how to reach out to them. You'll also save money by not wasting it on uninterested audiences.

  • Elia Guidorzi, The CEO of TECHNI Waterjet

It is a great way to start a new business. Where do you start? There are many ways to create a business. You also need

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Travel Agency

Back to All Business Ideas

How to Start a Travel Agency

Written by: Carolyn Young

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by: David Lepeska

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

Published on December 13, 2021 Updated on May 8, 2024

How to Start a Travel Agency

Investment range

$2,150 - $10,600

Revenue potential

$78,000 - $300,000 p.a.

Time to build

0 – 3 months

Profit potential

$62,000 - $90,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Who doesn’t love to travel? But most of us do not love the endless research, planning, and booking required, which sometimes feels like it takes more time than the vacation itself. This is precisely why the $35 billion US travel agency industry has been booming of late, and why it offers a real opportunity for the travel-minded entrepreneur.

By starting your own online travel agency, you can shoulder travelers’ burden and ease their anxiety, allowing them to enjoy their holiday while you make a healthy profit. And thanks to the post-pandemic boost, now is a great time to get in on travel.

Of course, starting a travel agency will not be a vacation – it will take diligence, patience, and strong guidance. Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place, as this step-by-step provides all the information you need to develop and launch your new travel agency and give you a head-start on your entrepreneurial journey.

Step by Step Business values real-life experience above all. Through our  Entrepreneur Spotlight Series , we interview business leaders from diverse industries, providing readers with firsthand insights.

Uncover the secrets to building a thriving travel agency with our interview with Casey Halloran of Costa Rican Vacations .

Aspiring travel entrepreneurs will find valuable insights in our interview with Augustin Ndikuriyo on building a thriving African wildlife tour business .

Looking to register your business? A limited liability company (LLC) is the best legal structure for new businesses because it is fast and simple.

Form your business immediately using ZenBusiness LLC formation service or hire one of the Best LLC Services .

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons.

Every business has its pros and cons, and a travel agency is no exception. You should weigh these carefully to decide if the business is right for you.

  • Flexibility – Work from anywhere, even while traveling!
  • Minimal Training – Get accredited for free online
  • Travel Discounts – Travel agents get top deals and reduced prices
  • Demanding Work – With clients around the world you’re on call 24/7
  • Fierce competition – Top sites like Expedia, travel networks, advisors, and more

Travel agency industry trends

The US travel agency industry expanded an impressive 75% in the decade leading up to 2020, which saw a massive pandemic-driven downturn. 

In 2021, many travel agents saw a surge in business as travelers unsure of all the constantly changing Covid-19 rules and restrictions turn to them for help, rather than booking their own trips. Global travel advisor InteleTravel experienced a 35% increase in business, not from the disaster year of 2020, but from 2019, which had set records.(( https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/14/travel/summer-vacation-travel-agents.html ))

Consumers are also turning more and more to online travel agencies, with a study by Expedia showing a 25% increase in the use of online agencies in 2020 alone. Brick-and-mortar agencies seem to be a dying breed, with British travel icon Thomas Cook closing in 2019.(( https://advertising.expedia.com ))

Industry size and growth

travel agency industry size and growth

  • Industry size and past growth – Market research firm IBISWorld values the industry at nearly $48 billion in 2022.(( https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/market-size/travel-agencies-united-states/ ))  
  • Growth forecast – The industry is expected to grow further as the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a 5% annual growth through 2030 in the employment of travel agents.(( https://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/travel-agents.htm )) 
  • Number of businesses – More than 73,000 travel agencies are operating in the US.(( https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/number-of-businesses/travel-agencies-united-states/ ))
  • Number of people employed – The industry employs more than 250,000 people.(( https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/employment/travel-agencies-united-states/ ))

Trends and challenges

travel agency industry Trends and Challenges

Trends in travel agency industry include:

  • Home-stay rentals like Airbnb(( https://stepbystepbusiness.com/business-ideas/start-an-airbnb-business/ )) outperformed hotels in 27 top markets during the pandemic
  • Book-now-pay-later options, such as those offered by Expedia and Booking.com, are gaining popularity
  • Travel agencies undergoing digital transformation in response to the growing demand for online services

Challenges in travel agency industry include:

  • Rising gas prices are impacting travel behavior
  • Compliance with global Covid-19 protocols
  • Keeping up with digital marketing opportunities

What kind of people work in a travel agency?

travel agency industry demographics

  • Gender – 76% of travel agency managers in the US are female, while 24% are male. (( https://www.zippia.com/travel-agency-manager-jobs/demographics/#gender-statistics ))
  • Average level of education – 64% of travel agency managers hold a bachelor’s degree.(( https://www.zippia.com/travel-agency-manager-jobs/demographics/#degree-level-types ))
  • Average age – The average age of a travel agency manager is 51 years old.(( https://www.zippia.com/travel-agency-manager-jobs/demographics/#age-statistics ))

How much does it cost to start a travel agency?

The startup costs for a travel agency range from about $2,000 to $10,000, with an average of around $6,000. The high-end includes the rental of office space and a larger marketing budget, but you could easily run your online travel agency from home to cut costs.

How much can you earn from a travel agency?

travel agency business earnings forecast

The commission paid to a travel agency by travel vendors such as airlines and hotels is generally about 10%. Some travel agents also charge a nominal consultation fee for each booking, typically between $30 and $50. Those will be your two revenue streams.

The average cost of a one-week domestic vacation is $1,500 per person. The profit margin for a home-based travel agency is usually about 80%. With an office and staff, your margin will likely drop to about 30%.

In your first year or two, you could work from home and sell five two-person vacations each week. At a 10% commission, this would mean $78,000 in annual revenue. You’d have about $62,000 in profit, assuming an 80% margin.

As your brand gains recognition, sales could climb to 1,000 two-person vacations a year. At this stage, you would rent an office and hire staff, reducing your profit margin to 30%. With expected annual revenue of $300,000, you would make about $90,000.

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a travel agency. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Competition – Big and small online firms; self-booking travelers
  • Client Acquisition – Time and marketing will be required to build a reputation

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Step 2: hone your idea.

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a travel agency, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.

Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.

Why? Identify an opportunity

As a travel agency, you need to find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition. Research online travel agents and booking platforms to see their offerings and prices, while keeping an eye out for something that might be missing.

Perhaps you could specialize in travel to an under-appreciated region, such as Southeast Asia, and build a network of relevant contacts and vendors. Or you could focus on finding travelers the most incredible home-stay rentals at the best prices.

i am planning to start/open a small business on

You could specialize in family vacations, corporate retreats, or honeymoons. The potential niche options in the travel industry are nearly endless.

What? Determine your products or services

Travel can involve many facets, and you can handle some or all of them, in addition to flights, lodgings, and car rentals. These might include:

  • Booking tours and excursions
  • Dining recommendations/reservation
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa and emergency services

How much should you charge for travel agency services?

Travel vendors, such as hotels, airlines, and car rental firms, pay a commission to travel agents that’s generally about 10% of the booking. For instance, if you book a $1,200 flight on Turkish Airlines for your client, Turkish Airlines will give you, the travel agent, a $120 commission.

As a result, booking flights with a travel agent sometimes costs the traveler slightly more than booking directly with the airlines or through a travel site like Expedia or Orbitz. Thus, to attract customers and boost sales travel agents rely on discounted travel packages.

For instance, a return flight from Chicago to Cancun and a 6-day stay at a four-star all-inclusive resort, plus ground transport, might cost a traveler $1,000 or more to book directly. But travel agents get significant discounts from vendors because they place volume orders, so you’d be able to offer this trip as a $599 package deal.

Even after paying your commission, the traveler still saves a chunk of money by using your services, rather than booking themselves. And keep in mind, the discounts offered by vendors are likely to increase as you become a more established agent. You may be able to negotiate commissions from tour operators and excursion companies as well.

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Your target market will depend on the concept you’ve chosen for your agency. If you’ve decided to specialize in family vacations, you’ll be targeting parents. You might find them on sites like Facebook or LinkedIn, rather than Instagram or TikTok.

Where? Choose your business premises

In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your travel agency grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers and may need to rent out an office. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on Craigslist , Crexi , and Commercial Cafe .

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed

travel agency business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Travel Agency Name

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
  • The name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “travel” or “bookings”, boosts SEO
  • Choose a name that allows for expansion: “Wanderlust Adventures” over “Beach Bum Vacations” or “Honeymoon Haven Agency”
  • A location-based name can help establish a strong connection with your local community and help with the SEO but might hinder future expansion

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Find a Domain

Powered by GoDaddy.com

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that set your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Travel Agency Business Plan

Here are the key components of a business plan:

what to include in a business plan

  • Executive Summary: Present an overview of your travel agency, highlighting its focus on providing personalized travel planning and booking services for various types of travelers.
  • Business Overview: Describe the services of your travel agency, including custom travel itinerary planning, booking accommodations, flights, and special experiences.
  • Product and Services: Detail the range of travel packages offered, such as luxury vacations, adventure tours, and corporate travel services.
  • Market Analysis: Assess the current travel market, identifying target customer segments like families, honeymooners, or business travelers.
  • Competitive Analysis: Compare your agency to others, focusing on your unique offerings like specialized destinations, personalized service, or exclusive deals.
  • Sales and Marketing: Outline your strategy for attracting clients, using methods like online marketing, partnerships with travel providers, or attending travel expos.
  • Management Team: Highlight the experience and expertise of your team in travel planning, customer service, and business management.
  • Operations Plan: Describe the process of service delivery, from client consultation to trip execution and post-travel follow-up.
  • Financial Plan: Provide an overview of financial aspects, including startup costs, pricing strategy, and anticipated income.
  • Appendix: Include supplementary documents such as travel industry certifications, partnership agreements, or detailed client testimonials to support your business plan.

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to travel agencies.

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your travel agency will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.

Here are the main options:

types of business structures

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC , which just needs to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization , and answer any questions you might have.

Form Your LLC

Choose Your State

We recommend ZenBusiness as the Best LLC Service for 2024

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number , or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

i am planning to start/open a small business on

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist , and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

types of business funding

  • Bank loans : This is the most common method, but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans : The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan .
  • Government grants : A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Venture capital : Offer potential investors an ownership stake in exchange for funds, keeping in mind that you would be sacrificing some control over your business.
  • Friends and Family : Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding : Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal : Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best options, other than friends and family, for funding a travel agency. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.

Step 8: Apply for Travel Agency Licenses and Permits

Starting a travel agency requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ( OSHA ), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package . They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account .

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your travel agency business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

types of business insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.

You may want to use industry-specific software to manage bookings and scheduling, such as TravelPerk , TravelCEO , and TravelOperations .

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks , Freshbooks , and Xero .
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.

You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace . This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

Your website should showcase your offerings, customer testimonials, and detailed information about destinations.

Your clients are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization ( SEO ) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.

Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  • Leverage Social Media : Use platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest to share stunning travel imagery, customer stories, and travel tips. Engage with your audience through regular posts, stories, and responses to comments.
  • Content Marketing : Start a blog or a YouTube channel providing valuable content like travel guides, tips, destination reviews, and travel trends. This not only helps in SEO but also establishes you as an expert in the field.
  • Build Partnerships : Collaborate with local businesses in your chosen travel destinations, such as hotels, tour operators, and local attractions. This can lead to exclusive deals or packages that you can offer to your clients.
  • Email Marketing : Collect emails through your website and social media channels and send out regular newsletters with travel tips, special offers, and new package announcements.
  • Customer Reviews and Referrals : Encourage your clients to leave reviews on platforms like TripAdvisor or Google. Word-of-mouth referrals are powerful, so consider offering incentives for referrals.
  • Attend Travel Expos and Events : Participate in travel expos, seminars, and networking events to build contacts and stay updated on the latest industry trends.
  • Offer Personalized Services : Tailor your services to meet individual client needs. Personal touches can make a big difference in the travel industry.
  • Utilize Paid Advertising : Invest in targeted ads on social media and Google to reach potential clients. This can be particularly effective when you have special offers or new packages to promote.
  • Stay Informed and Flexible : The travel industry is dynamic, so it’s important to stay informed about global travel trends, destination updates, and customer preferences.
  • Sustainable and Responsible Travel : With growing awareness about environmental and cultural impacts, promoting sustainable and responsible travel practices can set your agency apart.

Focus on USPs

unique selling proposition

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that set it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your travel agency meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your travel agency could be:

  • Travel to Asia’s best secret destinations
  • The best local insights and insider adventures
  • Vacations for the whole family, from grandma to the baby!

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a travel agency, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in travel agencies for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in travel. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.

Step 12: Build Your Team

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a travel agency would include:

  • Travel Agents – sales and bookings
  • General Manager – scheduling, accounting, staff management
  • Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media, other marketing

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed , Glassdoor , or ZipRecruiter . Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.

Step 13: Run a Travel Agency – Start Making Money!

Owning a travel agency means sharing the joy of travel for a living. What could be more fun? It’s also a huge, high-growth industry that you could tap into and grow a profitable business. Startup costs are low, and all you need is a simple accreditation — there’s no real training required. You just need a good concept for your agency and a great marketing plan. Having a strong online presence in this digital age is also an absolute must.

You’ve started off on the right foot by reading this guide, and now you’re ready to begin your trip to entrepreneurial success!

  • Travel Agency Business FAQs

If you run your online travel agency from home, you could have profit margins of up to 80%. Costs to run your travel agency are very low, and you’re paid around a 10% commission on everything that you book. As a home-based, one-person show, you could make $60,000 per year to start, and much more once you’re established.

Consumers are turning to online travel agencies more and more, which you could easily run from home. If your business grows fast and you need to add staff, you may want to have an office.

Some consumers prefer the personal service of a smaller online agency that can offer more local, personal insights about travel destinations. The key is to differentiate yourself in some way. You could specialize in certain locations, a specific type of lodgings, such as cabins, or in a type of vacation such as corporate retreats.

Travel agencies engage in activities such as providing travel advice, booking travel arrangements, managing logistics, and offering specialized services tailored to clients’ needs.

Effective marketing strategies for a travel agency include building a strong online presence, targeted advertising, content marketing, collaborations and partnerships, and leveraging customer referrals and reviews.

Running a travel agency can have challenges due to intense competition, evolving industry dynamics, regulatory considerations, seasonal fluctuations, and the need for customer satisfaction and crisis management. 

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  • Decide if the Business Is Right for You
  • Hone Your Idea
  • Brainstorm a Travel Agency Name
  • Create a Travel Agency Business Plan
  • Register Your Business
  • Register for Taxes
  • Fund your Business
  • Apply for Travel Agency Licenses and Permits
  • Open a Business Bank Account
  • Get Business Insurance
  • Prepare to Launch
  • Build Your Team
  • Run a Travel Agency - Start Making Money!

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Waitrose has become the only supermarket to receive a royal warrant from the King. 

The recognition means the company has regularly provided the royal household with products for at least five years. 

It also means it can use the King's coat of arms on packaging, as part of advertising or on any stationary it creates. 

Waitrose was first granted a royal warrant in 1928 for supplying King George V with groceries and cleaning materials.

"We are honoured and proud that His Majesty has granted us his warrant," James Bailey, executive director of Waitrose, said. 

"It means the world to all of us, and our farmers and suppliers. There couldn’t be a more powerful symbol of our commitment to service and quality, and our determination to have the highest environmental and animal welfare standards." 

Waitrose was previously granted a royal warrant by the late Queen in 2002 and the King when he was Prince of Wales in 2010.

The Queen has also granted her first royal warrants, picking seven companies, including luxury department store Fortnum & Mason and the florist that supplied her coronation flowers, Shane Connolly & Company. 

The royal nod could be bad news for customers, however, with a brand finance expert telling Sky News that having a royal warrant allows firms to charge a price premium.

David Haigh said his company's research estimated this to be "between 10% and 25%".

A royal warrant says a company or a product is luxurious, high quality and sustainable, he explained. 

He estimates the scheme is "worth billions to UK companies and… therefore it's a very high value to the UK economy".

"And one of the reasons for that is that a lot of foreign tourists and buyers have a preference for royal warrant holder products. We found that 100% of Chinese buyers would pay in excess of 10% for a royal warrant holder product."

Read more on the Queen's choices here :

Gordon Ramsay's restaurants tripled losses to £3.4m last year, as the chef warned businesses in the industry were facing a "challenging" climate. 

The chef's group spent millions opening five new restaurants in 2023, including a Lucky Cat in Manchester, a Bread Street Kitchen in Battersea Power Station and a Street Pizza in Edinburgh. 

Sales at his wide-ranging establishments rose, however, by 21% to £95.6m in the year to August, according to The Telegraph. 

"It's been a really hard-fought year, but at the same time an exciting year, and in tough times it amazes me how strong and vibrant our industry is," Ramsay told the news outlet. 

"It's challenging out there and businesses are battling to stay afloat, rising costs, rent and food costs, multiple strikes. It's a battle" 

He was optimistic, however, saying there hasn't been "so much passion and vibrancy" in the industry since he opened his first restaurant in 1998.

"We've still got something wonderful to celebrate, and I truly believe the industry has never been so exciting."

Once the UK's favourite alcoholic beverage, beer's popularity seems to be fading among the younger drinking generation... 

In fact, only 30% of people aged 18 to 24 ever drink it, according to a study commissioned by the Society of Independent Brewers. 

Instead, younger drinkers say they prefer drinking spirits, wine and cider. 

Pub visits appear to be suffering as well, with almost a quarter of the 2,000 people surveyed saying they have never visited their local. 

SIBA's 2024 Craft Beer Report paints a more positive picture for small and independent brewers, however, with more than 55% of beer consumers saying they now drink "local craft beer". 

It also found average beer production volumes among independent breweries has risen by 14% since last year - a return to pre-pandemic levels for the first time in 4 years. 

"Demand for local, independently brewed beer in the UK is strong, with independent brewers reporting production volumes up by 14%, meaning they have returned to 2019 volumes again," Andy Slee, SIBA's chief executive, said. 

But, he said, it's time for "cautious optimism" only, with the industry still plagued with a number of issues. 

"The short-term issue for small independent breweries isn't demand; it's profitability, rising costs and financial pressures such as lingering COVID debt," he said. 

"Far too many breweries are simply trying to survive rather than thrive, so while there are many positives signs highlighted in the report, for now it's cautious optimism."

Earlier this year, our Money reporter Emily Mee explored whether the UK's big night out culture was dying out. 

Nightlife experts warned we're losing one club every two days at the moment - and if we stay on this trajectory, we will have none left by 2030.

You can read more about her findings here...

A total of 583 skyscrapers are "queuing up in the pipeline" to be built across central London, a development thinktank has said. 

That is more than double the 270 built in the past decade. 

In the eastern borough of Tower Hamlets alone, 71 tall buildings were completed in that time that time, the report by New London Architecture found. 

A further 24 were in the City of London and 27 in Canary Wharf and Isle of Dogs. 

The report said the rapid change has been fuelled by a "burgeoning demand" for office and residential space, overseas investment and a supporting planning environment. 

"Tall buildings have changed the face of London substantially over the last 20 years and will continue to do so - the pipeline that NLA has tracked means there is at least 10 years' supply that has already been defined," Peter Murray, the organisation's co-founder, said. 

"London's population continues to grow, passing the 10 million mark at the end of this decade.

"We'll still need tall buildings; and NLA will continue to keep a close watch on what's going on." 

Restaurants might only be able to open three or four days a week due to staffing problems, Michel Roux Jr has warned. 

Speaking to The Telegraph as he gears up to open his new restaurant Chez Rouz, the Michelin starred chef admitted the industry needs to change to accommodate flexible working hours. 

"Just because I worked 80 hours a week or more doesn't mean the next generation should," he said. 

"Quite the contrary. That is something that we have to address in our industry."

But, he warned that the move will come at a cost... 

"It will mean ultimately that going out is going to be more expensive, and that maybe your favourite restaurant is no longer open seven days a week - it's only open three or four days a week," he said. 

The industry is known for its long, unsociable working hours, and Roux Jr explained that the real issue hit after the pandemic, with people no longer wanting to work weekends. 

"People don't want to work unsociable hours and would rather work delivering parcels as and when they want to. It's as simple as that," he added. 

Earlier this year, Roux Jr said goodbye to his famous restaurant Le Gavroche in London. 

It had been opened by his father Albert Roux and uncle Michel Roux in 1967. 

Now, he said it's "brave" to open a new restaurant, with the market "very, very tough". 

"I really feel for anyone that is brave enough to open up a restaurant now. It's incredibly difficult," he added. 

Chez Rouz at The Langham in Marylebone, central London, is due to open on 22 May. 

By James Sillars , business news reporter

A pause for breath on the FTSE 100 after a 3% gain over the course of past week that took the index to a fresh record closing high.

The rally of recent weeks - significant for London's standing and pension pots alike - has been broad based and reflects several factors.

A major driver has been sterling's weakness versus the US dollar.

The US currency has been strong as the Federal Reserve, its central bank, has hinted it will be some time yet before it begins to cut interest rates.

Language out of the Bank of England last week sparked a flurry of bets that UK rates could be cut as early as next month.

A weaker pound boosts dollar-earning constituents on the FTSE 100 because they get more for their money when dollars are converted to pounds.

Also at play is the view that UK stocks represent good value, as they are cheaper compared to many of their international peers.

A few moments ago, the FTSE 100 was trading 6 points lower at 8,423.

A major talking point is the possibility of the Chinese fast fashion firm Shein listing in London.

According to Reuters, the company has shifted its focus to the UK after receiving a lukewarm reception in the United States.

The news agency, citing two sources, reported that Shein was stepping up its preparations for an initial public offering in London that would be expected to be one of the biggest carried out globally this year.

By Emily Mee , Money team

No one likes the date in their calendar when their MOT rolls around. 

But to make things a little less stressful, consumer expert Scott Dixon - known as The Complaints Resolver - has given us some tips on what to look out for to help your vehicle pass with flying colours. 

Some of the most common failures are faulty steering, brakes, suspension, worn or damaged tyres, cracked windscreens and faulty lights. 

Mr Dixon recommends you get your car serviced a couple of weeks before your MOT, in case there are any complex or costly issues. 

This will give you time to get them fixed and get your car through first time without any advisories. 

Aside from taking your car for a service, there are also some easy checks you can run yourself... 

Listen for unusual clunks while you're driving - this could be a sign of a damaged suspension. 

You could also check by pushing the car down on each corner. It should return to normal without bouncing a few times. 

Another option is to look with a torch under the wheel arch, as this should reveal any obvious defects. 

Blown bulbs are a common MOT failure, but they're cheap to fix. 

Walk around your car and check all the bulbs are working - this includes the headlights, sidelights, brake lights, indicators and the number plate bulb.

Mr Dixon says it's "not an easy job" to change the lightbulbs yourself on most modern cars, as the MOT will also check the positioning of the light. Therefore he recommends getting this done professionally. 

Squealing or grinding noises may be a sign your brake pads need replacing. 

You should also check whether your car stops in a straight line, or whether it pulls in different directions. 

Don't forget about the handbrake, too. Test it out on a slope and see if it securely holds the car. If it doesn't, you should get it adjusted. 

It's easy to check if your wipers work okay, but you should also make sure to inspect the blades for tears and rips. 

They should be able to clean the windows with no smears. 

Mr Dixon says you don't need to pay Halfords to change your wiper blade as you can "do it yourself in seconds". All you need to do is look for a YouTube tutorial. 

He also recommends buying the Bosch wiper blades, as he says these are good quality and will also be a sign you've looked after your car well when you come to sell it. 

One thing to look out for is tread depth. You can do this by looking for the "wear bar" that sits between the tread. 

If it's close to 1.6mm and is low, you should get the tyre replaced so it's not flagged as an advisory. 

Also check for perished tyre walls, which can happen when a vehicle is standing for any length of time. 

Uneven tyre wear is another potential issue, and if there are signs of this you should get the tyre replaced and tracking and suspension checked. 

These must be in good condition and working order, with no tears or knots. 

Registration plates

Your number plates should be clean and visible with a working light bulb at the rear. You may need to give them a wipe and replace the bulb if necessary. 

This should be in good condition, without damage such as loose bumpers or sharp edges. 

Mr Dixon advises against using automatic car washes during your car's lifetime, saying they "wreck your car". 

"It's not just your paintwork but they can also damage the wiper blades and the bodywork," he says. 

Check for warning lights

You'll need to take your vehicle to a trusted garage or mechanic for this. 

Exhaust emissions

Some diesel vehicles can fail their MOTs based on emissions. To avoid this, you can buy a fuel treatment pack and take your car for a good run to clear the fuel lines and tank.

Driving for at least 30 to 50 minutes at a sustained speed on a motorway or A-road should help to clear the filter. 

You should make sure the driver's view of the road isn't obstructed, so check for stone chips at eye level and remove any obstructions such as air fresheners and mobile phone cradles. 

What else should you think about? 

Make sure your car is clean beforehand, as a tester can refuse to do your MOT if the vehicle is filthy and full of rubbish. 

Giving your car a clean can also give you a chance to inspect it, Mr Dixon says. 

Another thing to do is to check last year's MOT for any advisories that might crop up this time. 

These potential issues will still be there - so it's best not to ignore them. 

You can check your vehicle's MOT history using  https://car-check.co.uk . 

Every Monday we get an expert to answer your money problems or consumer disputes. Find out how to submit yours at the bottom of this post. Today's question is...

I have worked at a bank for 24 years - the facilities are outsourced. This new company is bringing in a system where the staff have to click in and out and are then paid by the minute? Is this allowed? Amber

Ian Jones, director and principal solicitor at Spencer Shaw Solicitors, has picked this one up...

Your rights depend on your contract and what it says about payment. Does it specify an annual salary, or payment by time? Does it allow for changes to how payment is calculated?

If the contract does not allow for this type of payment, your employer may be trying to vary the contract of employment unlawfully.

If you're directly employed by the bank, and your pay arrangements are changing because of a new monitoring system, this would be an internal contract variation. If you work in the facilities department and the new contractor is taking over as your employer, the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) 2006 may apply. 

In this case, your current terms, conditions and previous service will transfer to the new employer.

TUPE may make the issue sound more complicated but, in practice, either way the changes will be valid only if the employee agrees to them.

If you have not agreed to the change, then this could be a breach of contract. This could give rise to a successful claim in the civil courts or the employment tribunal. 

If the breach is serious (for example, you're paid less than agreed in the original contract) and you resign in response, this could amount to constructive dismissal for which a claim can be made in the employment tribunal. 

It would be sensible to get the contract reviewed by a solicitor for advice. But act swiftly - if you continue working for the employer, you are effectively waiving the breach and accepting the change to your contract.

To make it possible to pay by the minute, employees may be monitored while at work. When collecting and processing data and using it to make a decision, the employer must comply with data protection laws. If not, the employee could be entitled to compensation, depending on the breach, or the employer could be at risk of a sanction by the regulator the Information Commissioner's Office.

This feature is not intended as financial advice - the aim is to give an overview of the things you should think about.  Submit your dilemma or consumer dispute via:

  • The form above - make sure you leave a phone number or email address
  • Email [email protected] with the subject line "Money blog"
  • WhatsApp us  here .

Please make sure you leave your contact details as we cannot follow up consumer disputes without them.

We're back for another week of consumer news, personal finance tips and all the latest on the economy.

This is how the week in the Money blog is shaping up...

Today : Every week we ask industry experts to answer your Money Problems . Today, a reader's employer is bringing in a new clock-in system to pay workers by the minute - but is this allowed?

Tuesday : This week's  Basically...  explains everything you need to know about the PIP. 

Wednesday : We speak to one of London's top chefs for his Cheap Eats at home and in the capital.

Thursday : Savings Champion  founder Anna Bowes will be back with her weekly insight into the savings market.

Friday : We'll have everything you need to know about the mortgage market this week with the guys from Moneyfacts.

Running every weekday, Money features a morning markets round-up from the  Sky News business team  and regular updates and analysis from our business, City and economic correspondents, editors and presenters -  Ed Conway ,  Mark Kleinman ,  Ian King ,  Paul Kelso  and  Adele Robinson .

You'll also be able to stream  Business Live with Ian King on weekdays at 11.30am and 4.30pm.

Bookmark  news.sky.com/money  and check back from 8am, and through the day, each weekday.

The Money team is Emily Mee, Bhvishya Patel, Jess Sharp, Katie Williams, Brad Young and Ollie Cooper, with sub-editing by Isobel Souster. The blog is edited by Jimmy Rice.

Be the first to get Breaking News

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Procrastinator's guide to Indiana's election: How to vote and what races are on the ballot

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It's officially election week, which means it's time to make a voting plan for the May 7 primary election if you haven't already. Polls are open from 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. local time Tuesday.

IndyStar pulled together a primer of what you need to know in order to vote if you live in Central Indiana.

Live Election Day updates: How are polls today? What are voters saying about the Indiana primary?

IndyStar Election Night Live: Join IndyStar journalists, local pundits May 7 for live analysis of the primary's biggest races

How do I know if I'm registered to vote?

Voters can double check they are registered by going to indianavoters.in.gov and entering in their information.

If you are not yet registered to vote, it's too late to do so for the May primary. However, you can still register to vote in the November general election by going to indianavoters.in.gov .

Where can I vote?

In Marion County, voters can can cast a ballot at any vote center on Election Day. A list of available locations, as well as a map of sites, can be found at vote.indy.gov/vote-centers . Boone, Hendricks, Morgan, Johnson, Shelby and Hancock counties all allow voters to go to any vote center in the county as well.

Hamilton County residents have to vote at their assigned locations. You can find your voting location at indianavoters.in.gov .

What else to know before you head to the polls

  • Decide which party you want to vote for: In Indiana, voters don't register with a particular political party, which means once you get to the polls, you'll have to tell the poll workers whether you want to pull a Republican or Democratic ballot. What you pick will impact the number of contested races you get to vote on.
  • Bring your ID : Indiana law requires voters to show a government-issued photo ID that displays your name, photo and an expiration date of the last general election or later. Student IDs from an Indiana state school, not a private university, will work as long as they meet the above criteria.

What races will be on my ballot?

This year the following elected positions are up for election:

  • President of the United States
  • U.S. Senate
  • U.S. House of Representatives
  • State representatives
  • State Senate (half of the seats)
  • Other local races

But, not everyone will have a choice for every elected position. Some races are uncontested or feature no candidates. You can see who all will be on your specific ballot at indianavoters.in.gov .

Who is running for governor?

U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, former Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers, Fort Wayne entrepreneur Eric Doden, former Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill and mom-of-five Jamie Reitenour are running for governor on the Republican ballot.

IndyStar profiled each of the Republican candidates:

  • Read Braun's here .
  • Read Chambers' here .
  • Read Crouch's here .
  • Read Doden's here .
  • Read Hills' here .
  • Read Reitneour's here .

Jennifer McCormick, the former state schools superintendent, is the only choice on the Democratic ballot for governor.

Will I have a choice for U.S. Senate or president?

That depends on whether you pull a Republican or Democratic ballot.

For president, President Joe Biden is the only choice for the Democratic nominee. Meanwhile, Republicans can technically choose between former President Donald Trump and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley . Haley, though, dropped out of the race after she had qualified for Indiana's ballot.

For U.S. Senate, U.S. Rep. Jim Banks is the only Republican candidate who will be on the ballot. Democrats will have a choice between Rep. Marc Carmichael and Valerie McCray.

What other races should I read up on?

The following primary congressional races are poised to be competitive, two of which are located in central Indiana.

  • Republican 3rd Congressional District primary : With Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Banks running for one of Indiana’s U.S. Senate seats, eight Republican candidates are running for the northeast Indiana district. Nonprofit executive Tim Smith, former Allen County Circuit Court judge Wendy Davis, former 3rd District Rep. Marlin Stutzman and state Sen. Andy Zay had raised the most money by mid-April, including personal loans.
  • Republican 5th Congressional District primary : Nine Republican candidates are running for the this district, which stretches from Hamilton County north to Grant County. U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz and Noblesville State Rep. Chuck Goodrich are the frontrunners, according to internal polling.
  • Republican 6th Congressional District primary: U.S. Rep. Greg Pence decided not to seek reelection in this district that includes the southern portion of Marion County, which has led to a contentious Republican primary between seven candidates . Former Republican mayoral nominee Jefferson Shreve, state Rep. Mike Speedy, state Sen. Jeff Raatz, former lawmakers John Jacob and Bill Frazier, businessman Jamison Carrier and Darin Childress are running.
  • Republican 8th Congressional District primary : U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon is also not seeking reelection. Seven Republicans are running for the southwestern Indiana district. State Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, and former U.S. Rep. John Hostettler are the frontrunners.

There are a number of competitive Statehouse races , too. Three Hamilton County Republican primary races feature no incumbent lawmaker this year, due to the departures of state Reps. Jerry Torr, Donna Schaibley and Chuck Goodrich.

You can read all of IndyStar's election coverage here.

Contact IndyStar government and politics editor Kaitlin Lange at [email protected] or follow her on  X  @Kaitlin_Lange .


  1. 10 Ways to Start a Small Business

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    1. Establish a marketing budget. The run-up to opening and first few months of operation may very well make or break your new small business, so make sure you give your initial marketing push a strong effort. One suggestion is to dedicate 20% of your first year's marketing budget to your Grand Opening.

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