A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Start Your Business

If you’re reading this, you most certainly have dreams of launching your own business. Many of us, in fact, do. But usually, the notion that starting a new business requires a lot of effort often stops us from turning the dream into reality. However, all you need is the right plan and knowledge and you can set up your company quite easily.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Help You Start Your Business
Here's everything you need to know.

1. Business Idea

Your first step should be to fully understand your industry. Start by choosing a market and not a product. In order to identify a lucrative market, you can conduct an online search to understand the most pressing needs of consumers. If you then find a supply gap that your business can fulfil, that is the direction you need to head in.
Business Idea
This can help you identify good types of retail. You must also study the key players offering the same or similar products or services. These are your competitors – they give you an idea of the best industry practices. Once you have understood the market trends, you can proceed to develop your business idea. You can personalize your idea and position it in such a way that caters to the market’s needs. However, when deciding on your business idea, you will need to be clear about your objectives such as getting and staying profitable, m aintaining sustainable growth. However, to do this, you will first need to define your target segment (age, geography, and so on), brand representation, and promotional channels.

2. Choosing Business Partners

You have done your research, identified your market position, and have a brilliant idea to start selling. But you can’t do all of it yourself. You need service enablers that can help you kick-start your project. This is where business partners come into the picture. Business partners are an important part of starting your business. The right business partners can take care of everything from imaging and cataloging of your products to advertising and tax registration. This is why it is extremely important to choose your business partners wisely, considering factors such as the extent of services provided, the cost of their services, and guarantee of fulfillment.
Choosin g business partners

3. Business Location

You might need an office/store space if you want to start your business. Approach someone who can give you access to commercial spaces or co-working spaces. Co-working spaces in retail give your workers a functional area to carry out their activities along with value-added amenities such as a cooperative environment, easy scalability of resources, and cost savings through a pay-per-desk model.

With work-from-home being the new norm due to the current pandemic, you can even work remotely. In fact, 57% of small business owners prefer to work from home even after the COVID-19 quarantine is lifted. So, you first need to decide whether a home office, a shared or private office space, or a retail location works best for you.
For any brick and mortar business, finding the ideal retail location is a major decision and typically involves choosing from the following types of retail spaces:
  • Malls
  • Shopping centers
  • Retail outlets
Business location

4. Research and Planning

Simply developing a good business idea isn’t enough. You also have to help that business idea thrive. To achieve success, you have to do some market research. Not doing your market research can harm your business, even before it starts. Your research should provide answers to the following questions:
  • What are the best-selling products or the most in-demand services?
  • Does your product category have demand in the market?
  • Who is your target audience? What is their socio-economic background and demands?
  • Who are your competitors? What are they offering? Who are the market leaders and what makes them leaders?
  • What are the unsatisfied needs of your target audience? How can you fulfil them?
selling online representation of online store
Answering these questions can help you choose the best product for your business. It should ideally be something that plays to your strengths. For instance, if you have expertise in herbal personal care items, you can focus on that rather than selling electronic accessories or smartphones.

Steps of researching and planning your business:

1. Find the right product to sell
2. Understand the demand for the product
3. Analyze your competitors
4. Analyze your target market
5. Identify challenges and ways to overcome them

Once you have decided on your product based on your research, you need a plan to make your business a reality. Your plan must include your business’ vision, mission, objectives, USP, start-up capital, anticipated expenses, desired income, and future milestones. You can also explore some business planning tools to see how you can streamline the process even further.

5. Financial Planning

Starting a small business does not require a lot of initial investment. Make a good assessment of your capital. This will help you define a budget. You can divide your budget into two segments:

> One-time start-up costs for your business – these include the expenses made for getting licenses and permits, equipment, insurance, branding, market research, inventory, property leases, and so on.
> Recurring costs – these include money spent on rent, utilities, production, supplies, travel expenses, employee salaries, and marketing and advertising.

Once you have an idea of how much investment you need, you can consider these options to look for funds:
  • Financing: This include loans from banks and equity investments from financial institutions
  • Small business loans and grants: This type of loan or grant is meant specifically for small businesses, tailored to fit their requirements
  • Angel investments: These are one-time private investments for small businesses and entrepreneurs
  • Crowdfunding: This type of funding is purely based on public support and donations in return for a token of appreciation
  • Bootstrapping: For this type of funding, you need to rely mainly on your personal savings

6. Marketing Plan

A robust online marketing plan is paramount for organizations to gain brand visibility and grow the number of customers. As a part of the plan, organizations must select the right online marketing channel to achieve greater reach and subsequently business growth. These marketing channels include:
  • Pay-per-click marketing: Displaying ads on the search page based on user queries
  • Social media marketing: Placing ads on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or simply posting videos and creatives to promote your products or services on your social media pages
  • Email marketing: Sending emails to your subscribers with product recommendations and offers
Marketing Plan

7. Legal Formalities and Business Registration

In order to start your business, you need to get it registered. A new company registration process depends on where the business is located and its business structure.
Types of company structures include:
  • Sole proprietorship: You alone have complete ownership of your company
  • Partnership: You and your business partners have designated ownership percentage
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): You and your partners own the company but are protected from liabilities and obligations, like a corporation
  • Corporation: A complex structure that considers that liabilities and obligations lie with the company as a whole rather than the owners
Once you have decided your company structure, you can easily complete your company registration by acquiring:
  • A digital signature certificate (DSC)
  • A director identification number (DIN)
  • Registration on the MCA portal or new user registration
  • Certificate of incorporation.
Documents required:
  • Copies of banking, financial, and tax proofs/identifications.
  • A recent copy of energy bill/property tax receipt/water bill to confirm admission to the registered office
  • Tenancy agreement/maintenance bill/sale deed/letter from the landlord
Other necessary registrations:

GST registration

The goods and services tax (GST) is levied on certain goods and services sold for domestic utilization as a value-add tax. It is paid by the customers but is submitted to the Government by the companies that are selling these services or goods.
If you sell products that fall under the ambit of GST or if you have an annual turnover of Rs. 40 lakh and above, you will need to submit a Goods and Service Tax Identification Number (GSTIN). However, for all North-eastern states and other hill states, Rs 10 lakh is the turnover threshold for GST registration. If you do not have a GSTN, you can apply for new GST registration through an online process. If your product is not covered under GST, then you would merely need to have your PAN card details.

Documents required for GST registration:
  • PAN card
  • Proof of business registration
  • Identity proofs
  • Address proof of persons in charge (electricity bill, rent agreement, ownership documents, property tax statements, etc.)
  • Business address proof
  • Bank account statement (cancelled cheque or an extract from passbook)
Business Registration

Business name registration

Your company name is your unique identity. Thus, it is an important part of your brand image and must be protected. Trademark registration would safeguard your brand image in today’s world of cut-throat competition. Once you decide on your company name, you must undergo trademark registration so that no one can use it or copy it without authorization.

8. Sell on E-commerce Marketplaces

Your business can benefit from an online presence, whether you are selling a tangible item or advertising your services. An online presence ensures that your business is accessible by consumers 24/7 and increases your audience and customer base. There are many ways to increase your web presence – you can create your company’s website or sell on popular marketplaces like Amazon. Besides, you can even register on online marketplaces as a service provider (for example - Service Provider Network). Selling on an e-commerce platform will provide you greater reach, increased sales, improved customer service, and seamless deliveries at minimum costs.

9. Hire Employees

Identify functions where you need a specialist to take on accountability. This will help you achieve the desired results in order to grow your business. See the positions, job responsibilities in your company that have to be filled.
For example, ‘Do you need an accountant?’ ‘Do you need inventory management specialists?’ If you have started a wellness center - then you will need to hire hair experts or beauticians to provide the service. Then comes searching for these specialists/professionals.

You can either:
  • Hire someone on your own by placing an ad online and in newspapers or
  • Engage a third-party employment agency to find people.
Hire SPN
In these few simple ways, you can get your business up and running. You might not require all the steps, but at least some of them will help you. Continue reading our blogs to know more about how to grow and expand your business past your competition.
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