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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  1. How to Market Your Small Business

    Kody Wirth

    Feb. 21, 2024

  2. How to Use Coupons for Your Business

    Jonathan Griffit

    Feb. 21, 2024

  3. How to Start Inventing Things and Get to Market

    Candice Landau

    Feb. 21, 2024

  4. How to Do Market Research

    Noah Parsons

    Feb. 21, 2024

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Create Your Business Plan

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Aspiring female entrepreneur thinking of a business idea.

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.

Interconnected cogs working together. Represents deciding on a business model that will generate revenue.

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.

A series of price tags. Represents setting prices for your products or services.

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.

Female african american entrepreneur climbing up the side of a mountain. Representing the need to create a business plan to guide your journey.

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.

Gavel and podium. Represents the legal requirements to start a business.

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.

Guidebook with money on top. Represents mapping out your small business finances.

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.

A series of buildings along a street. Represents selecting a business location.

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.

Line up of diverse people. Represents building the right team for your business.

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.

Bullhorn making noise. Represents marketing and promote your business.

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.

Rows of lightbulbs with dollar signs. Representing tips and ideas to help you start a business.

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.

Male entrepreneur with swhoopy hair and wearing a white t-shirt. Flexing his right bicep and laughing because he's confident in his ability to run a business.
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Start a business FAQ

To start a business, you’ll need to:

  1. Identify and validate your business idea
  2. Conduct market research
  3. Select a business model and pricing strategy
  4. Write a business plan and financial plan
  5. Select your business structure
  6. Register your business
  7. Obtain licenses and permits
  8. Select an online or physical location
  9. Start building your team if necessary
  10. Promote your 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.