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Timothy R
By: timothy-ronaldson
Read in 34 minutes

How to Start a Small Business: The Ultimate Guide to Success

Do you want to learn how to start a small business? The idea of being your boss is very attractive, after all. 

If you have the desire, the dedication, and the right resources, you can start your own business and finally be in control of your professional life.

If you’re ready to learn more about starting a business, follow our below guide to starting a running a business.

Get Funds To Start Your Business!

woman that knows how to start a small business

How to start a business as an immigrant

Steps To Start A Small Business

If you want to learn how to start a small business, follow these steps.

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1. Decide If You Really Want To Start A Business

Who doesn’t want to be their own boss? 

It’s something that many people desire for their professional life. But are you prepared for everything that goes into starting a business? 

Do you have the right idea, the proper funding, and the dedication it will take?

One of the first steps to starting a small business is to consider these questions carefully.

Pros of starting a small business

These are some of the pros of starting a business: 

  • You will be in control of most aspects of your work and life.
  • You don’t have to take direction from other people.
  • In many cases, you get to decide what work you want to do, what work you don’t, and how you want to do it.
  • When you open a business, you can make a real difference in your community and family.
  • And, if you have a great idea, you can make positive changes in humanity, too. That’s not an understatement either, as many entrepreneurs have done just that.

Risks of starting a small business

Knowing how to start a business isn’t all fun and games. 

  • Learning how to start a small business (and also doing it) takes a ton of work, time, and dedication. 
  • Starting and managing a business can take over your life at times.
  • You’ll be taking a considerable financial risk when you open a business. No matter how small, it costs to own a business. The main reason businesses fail is that they don’t have adequate funds.

#CaminoTip
Sometimes, the best way to finance a business venture is to get a small business loan.

idea lightbulb

2. Find And Refine Your Business Idea

After you’ve committed to opening a business, it’s time to find and refine your business concept. 

Everything starts with an idea. Then, you’ll have to come up with it and refine it into something that can result in profits. 

The good news is that your business idea doesn’t have to be truly unique. 

For example, if you’re good at painting houses or have years of experience as an accountant, you can start a small company around those ideas. 

You won’t be the first person to start these types of businesses. Yet, you can still have a successful business and separate yourself from potential competition.

The best idea for you will be a personal and individual decision.

How to find ideas to start a small business

If you want to learn how to start a small business, you might also be on the lookout for business ideas. First, start with things you are good at and like to do.

You don’t have to open a business in an industry you have experience or generally love, though. 

Some of the most successful entrepreneurs identified a prime opportunity in a particular market.

Many business owners will identify one or more types of industries with many opportunities. How? They research current market trends.

Analyzing the market is a great place to start, as it could help you identify an idea that will result in one of the most profitable businesses.

It would be best if you also considered whether you want to start a business with employees from the get-go or whether you’re going to do it all on your own.

#CaminoTip
The best way to start a small business is to take a systematic and well-thought-out approach.

closed cardboard box

3. Develop Your Product Or Service

The next step in how to start a small business is to put your idea to the test. In other words, you should develop your product or service further. 

So, critically analyze your idea to see if it would work—or, more simply, whether it would make for a viable business. 

A great place to start is to present your business idea to friends, family members, and colleagues to get their feedback. However, friends and family members may be hesitant to give genuinely objective opinions.

Brutally honest, objective feedback is what you’ll need to refine your business idea for a product or survey. That’s why it’s a better idea to gain feedback from people you don’t know, too. 

If you can afford it, conduct market research. Hire a market research firm to help develop your business idea. If that’s not in the cards—and don’t worry, it’s not for many people—you can conduct the market research in other ways.

Post your business idea on social media. Include polls so that people can tell you whether your product or service interests them.

You can also seek guidance from local business organizations and groups to gather similar feedback.

Developing your product is crucial when learning how to start a small business.

"Hello I'm" sticker

4. Choose A Business Name And Define Your Brand

First off, you need to define what your brand will be.

For example, are you a cleaning business that only uses organic products? If so, that’s an essential aspect of your brand and something you should probably incorporate into your business name.

A business name can go a long way in determining your company’s success. So, take some time to think about a good business name.

  • Your company name should reflect who you are and what you do.
  • It shouldn’t be confusing.
  • It doesn’t have to be catchy, but it certainly can be. 

brown briefcase

5. Choose A Legal Business Structure

A vital aspect of learning how to start a small business is following legal regulations. 

To operate your business legally, you’ll have to establish a business structure per the Internal Revenue Service rules.

#DidYouKnow
The IRS is the agency you will report and pay taxes to. 

How you pay taxes, and certain advantages you can realize, will depend on the initial business structure you choose.

Many business owners will opt for a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a Sole Proprietorship. These are the two most straightforward business structures. 

You could choose a Partnership if your company is a joint venture with an equal partner.

Or you can even choose C Corporation or S Corporation as your business structure, but those are typically for larger companies.  

Differences between DBA, Sole Proprietorship vs LLC, and Corporation

pen writing on a piece of paper

6. Write A Business Plan

No matter how small your operation, preparing a formal business plan is always a great idea. 

A formal business plan will serve as the blueprint for your success. Then, as you grow, you can always refer back to it to help keep you on track. And, of course, don’t forget to revisit it where needed.

Also, the business plan is something you can show to potential investors if you ever want to raise capital. It tells them you know how to start a small business.

Potential investors will almost always want to see it to help them decide whether your business is a good fit for them.

Lastly, if you’re ever looking into getting a loan to start a small business (and even a grant or some other government aid), you might need to submit a business plan.

#DidYouKnow
Camino Financial won’t ask you for a business plan to approve a commercial loan.

stack of dollar bills

7. Assess Your Finances And Get Funding

Almost all businesses will need funding to get off the ground. 

Of course, you could start your venture with little or no capital investment. But you’ll still want to assess your finances to see how you’ll handle potential slow times.

Analyze your personal financial situation and your business financial situation separately. Then, decide how—if at all— the two will intermingle. 

If your business requires upfront capital to get off the ground, you have a few options.

Startup funding

How to start a small business? Well, with capital!

There are many options to get startup funding

Unfortunately, funding from traditional financial institutions can be tough to get. Big banks often require either significant collateral—such as your home—or an excellent personal credit score to get approved (or both!). 

Another problem you may face is that very few traditional banks lend to new businesses.

#DidYouKnow
Personal loans are great alternatives to get startup funding.

There are also government loans for starting a business venture.

The SBA also provides startup-specific funding programs that could work for you. The problem is that these government loans for starting a small business usually require a very high credit score.

Luckily, you will have other options. For example, Camino Financial offers small business loans to start a business geared explicitly toward new entrepreneurs like yourself. 

Our Solopreneur loan is an excellent option for startup funding to get your business off the ground.

Get Approved For A Loan Today

Grants to start a small business

Grants are great options because you won’t have to repay the money if you meet the specific requirements.

#DidYouKnow
Grant requirements are usually very stringent. Thus, they are hard to get.

These could be available through the SBA, the US Chamber of Commerce, or local organizations.

Depending on your location and what industry it’s in, you could have a decent amount of options for grants to start a small business.

These grants aren’t always abundant, though, so you’ll have to do extensive research into what might be available for you.

#DidYouKnow
Starting a business with no money is possible (although very complicated and not that recommended.). It’s called bootstrapping.

gavel and block

8. Legal Requirements For Starting A Small Business

There are things you’ll have to do before you can legally begin operating.

The exact process you’ll need to take will be slightly different based on your location (state or locality) and industry. But don’t worry, there are the general steps you can follow.

Registering with the government

The first step is registering a business at the state level. 

In most states, you can register your new business with the Secretary of State’s office or the Department of the Treasury.

You’ll need to provide them with your

  • your legal name
  • your address
  • other identifying information
  • the name of your business
  • its address
  • its industry
  • the legal structure you are choosing

Once the process is complete, you’ll receive a certificate of formation from the state, as well as a company number. Then you can continue to the next step on how to start a small business.

#DidYouKnow
Today, many states offer the ability to complete the entire registration process online. 

Getting a Federal Tax ID

Once you have registered your business with the state, you’ll need to obtain a federal tax ID, also known as an Employer Identification Number (EIN). 

The EIN will, in essence, act as the Social Security number for your business.

You’ll use it any time you’re opening a business bank account, credit card, applying for a loan, or filing taxes (both federal and state taxes).

Knowing how to get a tax ID is crucial if you want to learn how to start a small business.

Fortunately, you can register for your EIN entirely online. 

You need the same basic personal and business information you used to register the company with the state. It will not cost you anything to obtain an EIN.

#CaminoTip
Don’t forget you also need permits and licenses.

Commercial Driver’s License

If you are driving specific vehicles as part of your business, you’ll need to obtain a commercial driver’s license. You can get it through your local motor vehicle agency.

This license is only necessary if you use a vehicle for business purposes, such as delivering goods or operating specific machinery. You will not need a commercial driver’s license if you are driving to and from an office or store, for example.

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9. Get Extra Help To Set Up Your Business

Many people think they know how to start a small business, but they don’t realize they cannot do everything alone.

There are certain aspects of running a business that other people would handle better. Especially if you want to be successful.

  • You may need the services of a lawyer, for example, to help with creating initial business documents, filing specific paperwork, or drawing up contracts. 
  • A bookkeeper can help you manage your back-end operations. 
  • An accountant will help you file taxes and put you in the best potential tax situation.

Many of these people you can hire on a contractual basis. It could be a one-time job (such as a lawyer) or ongoing. In other words, you don’t need to hire them as employees.

There are many local professionals you can contract to help you on the side, or you can find potential help online on freelance websites.

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10. Get The Tools You’ll Need

Every business venture requires at least some tools.

If you know how to start a small business, then you understand these aren’t necessarily physical tools such as a hammer and screwdriver. Instead, they’re anything that helps you accomplish the work you set out to do.

All companies today can benefit from purchasing specific software. 

  • Word processing and spreadsheet programs can be very helpful in organizing finances, basic business data, and crafting marketing messages. 
  • If you’re handling accounting on your own, purchase accounting software. 
  • A customer relationship management (CRM) program helps manage the sales funnel of all your customers.

There are also basic office supplies needed to start a small business. 

The tools could include computers, a business phone, a printer and paper, envelopes, postage, and more. 

Depending on your industry, you may also need specific machinery or tools. 

Having the proper tools from the get-go will help you avoid scrambling to find them when you need them. 

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11. Set Up Your Bank Account

One of the top things to learn about how to start a small business is to separate your personal finances from your business finances. 

#DidYouKnow
Not separating your finances has a name: commingling, and it’s a dangerous practice.

You should open a business bank account. 

After you have formed your business legally and obtained your EIN, you can go to a local bank and open a dedicated business bank account

This bank account is where all your business transactions should go through. 

Deposit every dollar you bring in from the business into this account. Every bill you pay should come out of this account.

Separating your business finances in this way will make it easier to make informed business decisions. It’ll also help when it’s time to file your taxes.

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12. Find A Business Location

What you need in a business location will depend on what type of business you’re running.

You’ll want a location that is close to your target customers and has enough space for an upfront storefront as well as a back-office.

For example, let’s say you want to learn how to start a small business in the retail industry. First, you’ll want to find a suitable location that ideally has a lot of foot traffic.

You may require a more commercial location if your business doesn’t have customers coming in. The area doesn’t need to focus on foot traffic but on space and cost.

Working from home

You could also opt to work from home, depending on the industry you choose. 

Even if you do have a physical business location, you could still decide to do your back-end work from your home. It could be more convenient and allow you to spend more time with your family and reduce overhead costs.

Whatever the reason, it’s always a good idea to set up a dedicated space in your home to use as your office, if that’s feasible. That way, you’ll be able to separate your personal space from your business space.

#CaminoTip
Yyou can take a tax deduction for home office expenses. If you plan to get them, though, you should talk with a certified public account who could help you through the process.

website in a computer

13. Build A Website

All businesses should have a robust website.

No matter the industry, most potential customers will use the internet to find out more about a business. 

Whether they’re looking for reviews, menus, services offered, or simple contact information, people will turn to the web to find out more.

If you don’t have a website, or if it isn’t well-designed, customers are not as likely to trust your business.

As you’ll quickly learn how to start a small business, trust will be a significant determining factor in your business’s success (or failure).

First, set up a dedicated website for your business. Then, build a comprehensive marketing and branding plan, which we’ll talk about in more detail in a bit.

3 employees

14. Plan Workload And Hire Employees

The only way to wrap your head around the actual work your company will require is to create a plan. 

At first, a lot of this might be conceptual. That’s why it’s a good idea to map out everything that will go into the average job—and what help you’d need to complete everything up to standards.

This plan will help you determine what employees you might need to hire and when you’d need to hire them

Some companies will need to hire employees for the very first client they get. Others might hold off until they reach a certain number of consistent clients.

Either way, planning for the workload will help you determine the timing of hiring. That way, you can stay ahead of the game instead of scrambling to complete jobs.

supplier with box

15. Choose Your Vendors And Suppliers

Many businesses will need tools and materials to run their business. That’s where vendors and suppliers come in.

Choose your vendors and suppliers carefully. Vet them from the beginning and negotiate the prices and contracts you set up with them. 

If you find yourself on unfavorable terms with vendors and suppliers, turning a profit could be more challenging. Make sure you get favorable terms to maximize your return on investment.

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16. Purchase Insurance Policies

Getting insurance is essential when starting a business, but unfortunately, it’s a step many ignore.

Almost all businesses should purchase some form of a business insurance policy. Here’s a quick guide:

  • General liability insurance will help protect the business from claims revolving around a bodily injury, property damage, or personal injury.
  • Commercial property insurance will protect the building and equipment you rent or own. 
  • Business income insurance helps replace any income you lost due to property damage. 
  • Professional liability insurance will help cover you if someone files a lawsuit against the services or products you provide. 
  • Workers’ compensation insurance will come into play if your employees get injured or sick while on the job. The coverage will provide them with several benefits.
  • Also, consider data breach insurance, commercial umbrella insurance, or commercial auto insurance.

Talk to a local insurance agent if you are unsure which insurance policies would be suitable for your company. If you tell them you’re learning how to start a small business, they’ll know exactly how to help you.

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17. Launch Your Business

After all the prep work, it’s finally time to launch your business! 

You could host a ribbon-cutting ceremony if you have a physical location. It’s a great way to not only celebrate your opening but market your business, too.

Get in touch with your local town government or business organization, and they’ll help you set up a small event—many times for free. 

Now is the time when you want to start attracting clients, too. 

Offer special deals, discounts, or promotions for the first so many customers. It’s an exciting time, for sure.

hand holding bullhorn

18. Marketing And Branding

An idea only truly becomes a business when you secure clients or customers. 

You need to market and brand your business to your target customers. Luckily, today, you can do a lot of this for free or with minimal investment.

Create free accounts on social media platforms for your business. Then, start localizing your page by posting relevant content to entice people to become customers. Finally, create marketing materials such as flyers and business cards that reflect your brand.

#CaminoTip
Your marketing messages should all match, as should the words, fonts, and colors you use. 

Consider crafting an advertising plan that works alongside your general free marketing efforts.

Marketing could include:

  • purchasing advertising in local newspapers or print publications
  • billboards
  • radio or TV ads
  • digital ads

Marketing your business will all help you gain more notoriety. But, along the way, make sure that you’re staying true to your brand, which you should have detailed in your business plan.

person paying money

19. Pay Your Taxes

Every business has to file and pay taxes. 

The IRS requires you to pay estimated taxes every quarter when you’re self-employed. Since you won’t have taxes automatically taken out of a paycheck, as you would if you were a W2 employee, you’ll need to pay these taxes four times per year.

An accountant can help you to set up your quarterly estimated tax payments. 

That’ll include filing the proper forms and sending in the adequate amount, depending on your projected income. 

The accountant will also help you ensure you don’t miss your tax deadlines.

Then, once a year, you’ll have to file both personal and business taxes. You can include the latter in your personal taxes based on your business structure. 

Again, an accountant can help you do this all properly.

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20. Grow Your Business

Learning how to start a small business doesn’t end when you cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony. You need to work hard every day to keep it strong and healthy. 

But most importantly, if you want to run a sustainable business for the long term, you’re going to need to grow it.

This could be as simple as obtaining new customers. But, unfortunately, it can also be as complicated as launching new product lines or expanding.

Marketing, customer satisfaction, and reputation management will always play important roles. But, so, too, ensuring you can handle an increased workload.

Having plans in place will help you on your journey. When you’re well-prepared for the future, you’ll be able to expand to greater heights.

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BONUS. Tips For Starting A Small Business

This guide to starting and running a small business wouldn’t be complete without some bonus tips to help you in your journey.

  • Understand your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Use a business loan calculator to see how much money you need and if you can pay it.
  • Always be passionate.
  • Get help when needed.
  • Understand you will start small (growth comes later).
  • Don’t let mistakes or hard times bring you down.
  • Always keep learning.
  • Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
  • Learn from successful business owners that have come before you.
  • Never underestimate the competition.
  • Be open to feedback from anyone.
  • Don’t forget ALL the legal requirements for starting a small business; they are more important than you think.
  • Opening a business has some risks; make sure you’re willing to go up against them.

man that has learned how to start a small business

How to start a business with a tax number

Are You Ready To Start Your Business?

Many people want to be their own boss, but few actually know how to start a small business. 

However, if you follow the guide we have laid out for you above, you can achieve your dreams of being your boss and setting your own path in life today.

You’ll probably find that getting a loan to start a business is the best way to get off the ground.

In these times, getting capital from Camino Financial could be an excellent option for you.

We designed our loans with you in mind. As a result, it’s easy to qualify, and we offer many options for repayment. We don’t require extensive credit history, and we even accept ITINs instead of an SSN.

We can offer you from $1,500 to $7,500 to start your business.

Every day, we work to live up to our motto of “No Business Left Behind” by providing outstanding loan products. We also share educational resources to help people learn how to start a small business and make it profitable.

Apply for a loan with Camino Financial today so you can kick-start your dreams of owning a business.

Apply now!

 

How To Start A Small Business: FAQs

How do you start a small business?

When you learn how to start a small business, there are many steps you’ll have to take, from refining your business idea to getting permits and setting up marketing campaigns. And of course, don’t forget to get funding.

We have provided 20 tips above that are a great guide to opening and running a business.

Why should I start a small business?

If you want to be your boss and have control over your professional life, then starting a business could be great for you.

You can gain a lot of pride when you accomplish great things by starting and running a successful company.

Who can start a small business?

Anyone can start a business if they have the right attitude, approach, and support. You can do it, too, if you put your mind to it.

We recommend you learn how to start a small business beforehand, though.

What does it take to start a small business?

Opening a business takes a lot of planning and hard work.

It takes a systematic approach and a relentless, “can-do” attitude.

It also takes time, of course, dedication, and, in many cases, money.

Yes, there are some businesses you can start with no money. But the truth is that eventually, all successful business ventures will need to invest some money into their operation.

How can I start my own business with no money?

Good news, it’s certainly possible, depending on the type of business you want to create and the resources you already have.

Many industries would take little investment to start, including being a freelance writer or even a landscaper.

If you want to grow a small business with limited resources, you’ll need to maximize everything at your disposal. For instance, you can market your business for free on social media.

What do I need to start a small business?

When looking for things you need to start a small business, remember that it all begins with a well-thought-out and tested idea.

Then, select a name, form your business, market your services, and gain customers.

What is the easiest business to start?

The easiest types of businesses to start are those you can run independently.

When you’re a solopreneur, for example, you won’t have to rely on other people to get your business going or to run it on a day-to-day basis.

While this might not be the long-term arrangement that you prefer, it’s potentially the most accessible type of business to start.

When is the best time to start a business?

That depends on the type of business you’re starting.

For example, if it’s a landscaping business, you could gain a lot of work in the spring, summer, and fall, while winter might be more challenging.

By contrast, winter could be very profitable if you’re starting an HVAC business.

Consider and research the type of business you want to start to find the perfect time to do it.

How do I start a small business from home?

The power of the internet makes starting a business from home very simple.

You could register your business and even gain a tax ID number online, depending on where you live. Once you’ve done that, you can get to work.

How to start an online business?

Starting an online business is in many ways the same as opening a business in any other industry.

The most significant difference, of course, will be the fact that you won’t need a storefront or office, necessarily.

Having a robust online presence will be even more critical than a brick-and-mortar business.

What are the most successful small businesses?

Some of the most successful business ideas are:

  • business consulting
  • IT support
  • cleaning services
  • accounting and tax preparation
  • real estate

There are plenty of other ideas to start a small business that can be wildly successful, too. However, the best company to start is one you take the time to nurture.

What resources do you need to start a business?

If you want to learn how to start a business, you need to find the right resources for you. Our guide above will help you get through some of the main steps you need to take.

You should also partner with networking groups in your area, other business owners. Also, seek assistance from free resources such as the Small business Administration (SBA) or a Chamber of Commerce.

How to get a loan to start a small business?

If you’re looking into getting a loan to start a business, you should ensure you have all the proper documentation required.

  1. Find a solid lender online or at a traditional financial institution
  2. Apply through an easy online form
  3. Await your decision
  4. Get your money

At Camino Financial, we can offer you startup loans with minimal requirements. So apply today and start making your business a reality.

 

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