Women start businesses at a much higher rate than the national average, according to the National Women’s Business Council. If you are one of those women who are making the leap from worker bee to business owner, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. While it isn’t difficult to start a business, it can be costly if you do not approach it correctly.
Conduct Market Research
Market research is important for anybody who wants to run a successful business. Julia Hartz, co-founder of Eventbrite and one of Fortune’s 2013 Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs, helped found her company after becoming frustrated with trying to purchase event tickets online. Her preliminary market research showed there was an audience that was yearning for a better platform, and she was correct. Eventbrite is now a multi-billion-dollar company.
With market research, there are several questions about your business you need to answer:
- Is there an audience for your service/product?
- Is there room in the market for your business?
- How can you reach your target demographics?
- Who are your potential customers?
- Who are your competitors?
While each industry will have different resources to investigate, here are a few ways you can begin your research for free: contact your local chamber of commerce, mine pertinent market information from government websites, conduct sidewalk surveys, read trade magazines and attend trade conferences.
Write a Business Plan
Jennifer Murray — a co-founder of Painted Fox Treasures, an online interior design store that specializes in farmhouse décor — says that women shouldn’t fear the unknown when starting a business. Writing a business plan will alleviate some fear of the unknown since it allows you to flesh out ideas, set concrete business goals and develop a winning strategy. Think of it as your company’s roadmap.
While a business plan may seem intimidating, you don’t have to have a business degree to create the document. The Small Business Administration’s website will walk you through the process.
Form Your Business
At this stage, you will choose your name and the structure of your business, which will most likely be a limited liability Company (LLC). Companies such as incfile.com and LegalZoom make forming an LLC incredibly easy. They conduct name searches to make sure your business name is available, file papers with the proper state agencies and act as your registered agent.
You will then receive your business license, Employer Identification Number, Statement of Organizer and Articles of Organization — all the paperwork you need to be a legit business. (Some industries, such as childcare operations, require additional licensing and permits.) Costs to form a business vary by state, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $350 to complete the process.
Many people consider forming their business in business-friendly states such as Wyoming and Nevada since those states offer low filing fees, better business protection and ownership anonymity. However, it’s best to consult a business attorney before forming a business out of state.
Protect Your Business
Sandy Rubenstein — the CEO of DXagency, a woman-owned marketing agency whose clients include mega companies such as HBO, MasterCard and Samsung — said it is important to be ready for anything if you want to be successful in business. This would include keeping your business protected.
Before opening the doors to customers, business owners need to think about how to protect their business, clients and employees from identity thieves, cyber criminals and other fraudsters. Outsource your worries to a service such as LifeLock’s Business Solutions, which offers breach protection and other identity theft solutions. They will watch your back so you can concentrate on running your business.