Making the decision to start your own business can be an exciting, yet overwhelming experience. On the one hand, you are possibly fulfilling a lifelong dream to become your own boss and indulge in your passion. On the other, there are a lot of technical, financial, and administrative aspects to be worked out, leaving you with a lot of figurative plates spinning in the air. To make the process, a little less confusing, here is a step-by-step guide to how to take your business from idea to reality.
1. Draft your business plan
The first step to starting your business will be you creating a detailed plan of how your business will operate. Your plan will include things like a description of products and services, a market analysis, your marketing strategy, structure, and more. The South Carolina Small Business Development Centers (SC SBDC) has created a helpful business plan template that you can download here to act as a guide.
2. Select a business structure
Choosing a structure for your business is an important step in the process, as it will ultimately determine your personal liability as a business owner, as well as your business’ tax liability. Business structures include:
- General Partnership
- Sole Proprietorship
- S Corporation
- C Corporation
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Take the time to research each structure, as well as incorporated vs unincorporated status, and learn their benefits and disadvantages before you commit. Learn more about each structure here.
3. Navigate the South Carolina Tax Code
Fortunately for you, South Carolina has a reputation for being supportive of small business owners, but that doesn’t mean you won't have to do some leg work when it comes to navigating the South Carolina Tax Code and how it affects your business. The South Carolina Department of Revenue (SC DOR) offers some good resources for business owners on understanding taxes.
4. Get your licenses and permits
To legally operate your business in South Carolina, you will need to be in regulatory compliance. Check out SC.GOV for resources on the various licenses and permits you will need for your business, as well as required documentation and fees.
5. Open a business banking account
Another important step involves opening a bank account for your business that is completely separate from any of your personal accounts. The representatives at First Reliance can assist you in opening a business account and answer any questions, making this one of the easiest steps to check off on your list. Click here to learn about our business banking solutions and how they can benefit you.
6. Choose the location for your future business
Establish a location that will encourage traffic for your business. While people are known to go out of their way for certain products and services, the more conveniently accessible your business, the better. Contact a commercial real estate broker for professional guidance to help you find the location that will best serve your business.
7. Establish financing through a reputable lender
Unless you plan to pay for everything out of pocket, you will need to establish a line of credit. First Reliance offers business owners guidance and solutions for financing your business. Click here to learn more about what we can do to support you and your business.
8. Develop an eye catching and user friendly website
For any business to be successful in today’s market, owners must have a strong online presence that begins with an attractive, accessible website that will instill confidence in your tech savvy clientele. Surveys show that an estimated 85% of consumers have already made their purchasing decision before they ever enter a business, so no cutting corners when it comes to developing your company’s website.
9. Get the word out
While the occasional new restaurant can certainly generate buzz in a small town through word of mouth, most businesses are going to have to do marketing to remain relevant and encourage new business (especially from out-of-towners). While there is still a place for traditional marketing with television, radio, newspaper ads, and billboards, there is growing evidence that most consumers initially seek out products and services online, so you will want to ensure that your business is well represented digitally as well.
10. Continue learning
The final step in becoming a business owner is one you never fully complete. As with most things in life, you should continue to grow and explore new opportunities to make your business successful.
While it can be a challenge to get your business of the ground, there is no greater feeling than successfully accomplishing a long awaited life goal. When it comes to your dream, depend on First Reliance Bank to provide all of your banking and financing needs so that you can focus on what’s most important to you, running your business. Contact us today to get started.