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Starting a Business

We can accurately say that the prosperity of England’s rogue colony, America, has been built by the ingenuity, hard work, and aptitude of generation after generation of immigrants and home-grown dynamos.


Yet, in many ways, launching a startup is a risky venture. In this country, 69 percent of small businesses survive two years, but there is only a 51 percent chance that these businesses will last even five years. It’s estimated that only 31 percent of small businesses make it to five years. Reasons for small business failure are many. Sometimes entrepreneurs simply get it wrong – they start the wrong business for their area, fail to connect with buyers, or offer a truly inferior product and service. Other times, the math doesn’t work out: there isn’t enough of a cash cushion, loans dry up, and profits do not come in as anticipated. Business owners sometimes get in the way of their company’s success with ills like ego, greed, selfishness, or corruption.   


That being said, small businesses owners who do their research before launching tend to be the ones who survive in this dog-eat-dog world. The old adage “People don’t plan to fail – they fail to plan” is entirely true in this case. This “Small Business Startup Guide” is designed to give you a comprehensive overview of all the steps you’ll need to take to thoughtfully plan your first five years – and beyond.


First, you’ll learn how to create a winning business idea. Sometimes the right idea jumps out and bites you on the nose. You eat, sleep, breathe and promote a certain passion of yours to the extent that you can’t possibly do anything else in life and be fulfilled. Others perhaps know they are born leaders with the right drive, communication style and smarts to build an enterprise from the ground up, but a lucrative opportunity hasn’t yet presented itself. You’ll get ideas on brainstorming for business ideas, as well as learn about a few examples of successful new enterprises and hot industries in 2011. Finding the right business to start is crucial if you don’t want to end up like the Sony Minidisc!


Next, you’ll learn about how to conduct market research and identify your target market. Before you invest your time, money and effort, you want to be sure that there are people who will buy your products or services, after all. We also provide you with a helpful list of market research resources– most of which are low-cost or totally free – to help you learn more about your industry of interest.


Once you have a clear picture of a worthwhile enterprise, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. You’ve probably heard people mention writing a “formal business plan,” but do you really need one? Writing a business plan may not be necessary if you’re starting an online business at home that involves little to no startup funds or if you’re working off your own riches and do not plan to seek outside financing. However, taking the time to craft a business plan can be a great way to understand your industry and get started on creating the mission statement of your enterprise. We’ll discuss tips on writing a good business plan and also the essential sections of a complete business plan.


Before you can get rocking and rolling, you’ll need to decide which type of tax structure you want for your legal business entity. We’ll let you know of the pros and cons of, say, an S Corp versus a C Corp, or a Sole Proprietorship over a Limited Liability Company. Making the right decision will save you money on your taxes and make life simpler for you. We’ll also walk you through times where it’s advantageous to change your tax structure too because nothing is set in stone, especially as your company grows and changes its priorities.


Once you dig into the filing of the Articles of Incorporation to set up your business, you’ll find that you need advice on choosing and registering your business name. With the right name, your enterprise will be memorable, intriguing and profitable, so it’s important to take time in considering this small step. Also, learn what permits, registrations and licenses a new business needs to legally operate in your state. The last thing your new business needs is the local municipalities or the IRS banging down your door, furious that you didn’t take the time to learn basic business protocols!


Then it will be time to consider your prospective business location. Get trusted advice on selecting the perfect place to set up shop. In every town, there are certain buildings that can never their keep tenants. You don’t want to move into one of these doomed spots, but rather, you want a place where your business can burgeon and grow, thanks to heavy foot traffic and easy accessibility. If your startup funds are limited, learn about the pros and cons of starting an online business and get a sense of what businesses fare best operating solely in cyberspace.  


Our small business accounting section will help you organize the personnel you need to ensure financial viability in your crucial early years. You will also work with your marketing department to create a unique selling proposition that captivates audiences and embodies the heart of your organization. Learn which marketing strategies offer new businesses the best bang for their bucks and why big box strategies won’t work.


It is our hope that this guide is a treasure trove of articles, resources and valuable information to help you follow your dreams toward greater economic certainty and freedom. Just as “American” as a good old-fashioned baseball game or grandma’s warm apple pie is the dream of being able to start one’s own business and prosper, beholden to no one and showered with the rewards of capitalism. 


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