3 Things You Need to Know
Entrepreneurship is where value is created in the US economy. The importance of innovative business start-ups really goes without saying. The amount of real innovation and invention that comes out of new businesses is unrivaled in the market. One problem most entrepreneurs have though is being entirely too focused on their product or service (this is really a strength too) but fail to pay enough attention to the formalities required in business – like registration, administration and marketing. Luckily, there are plenty of simplified options for these and services to help complete your non-value added functions.
Registration: Registration is important for any business because it is the start. It provides you a business entity and offers protection. The process begins when you have an idea for your business. Once you’ve decided whether you are going to provide a service, product or mixture of the two, then you have to think about the business name.
Think about naming your business just like you would name a child. When people are expecting a baby, parents go out and talk to friends and family about names, read books on names and search on the internet. Parents are astounding researchers! You should provide the same care and attention to naming your business. Try to make sure your business name is catchy but simple, and make sure it applies to your business. This will ensure it conveys the meaning of your business and is easy to remember. Also, make sure it is browser friendly and can easily be attached with a “.com” so it is easy to get to the website.
Once you’ve come up with the name, decide what kind of business you want to have. You have three options – Sole proprietor (just yourself owning the company), partnership or corporation. They depend on the type of business protection you’ll need. There are plenty of articles written on this, so if you need more info just search “legal business structures” in the Google search box below this article. If you plan on being a sole proprietor, prepare yourself for filing a DBA form and submitting it to the state (click here to find your state’s information). You can also trademark your name on U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website. If you are independently running your start-up, that’s essentially all you have to do! There is more filing for the other business entities but we’ll visit that in another post.
Administration: Don’t get slammed by mismanaging your accounts and consider the benefits that come with having your own business. You need to be saving receipts for your business expenses at all times. You’ll want an accurate and simple book keeping system so that you can just file expenses and go. Automated income recording shouldn’t be too difficult if you are working with electronic money because your accounts will automatically record that. If you are accepting cash, make sure this is all documented as well.
Some of your typical activities can be tracked as a business expense too, because you are now a business entity. Your means of transportation and fuel can be tracked as business expenses if they are getting you to work or to clients, or doing anything business related. To give you an idea about how flexible business related travel is a magnetic logo on the side of your car advertising your company counts no matter what you are doing!
Understand the tax system that your business falls into. This will help you plan out your actual after-tax profits and make sure that you do everything in a legitimate manner. If this sounds too complicated, it may be worth consulting tax accountants or lawyers to help you plan. It is better to be safe than sorry as they say, and there is a lot of fine print that you read over so you may want help.
Marketing: The curse of the inventor is that they think everyone else thinks like an inventor, which is just sadly not the case! Most people think like … well most people and inventors can sometimes distance themselves from the average thought processes. This is why superior products like a remote control that will turn on the TV, control the microwave, dim the lights and a million other things sell less than an inferior remote with simple on/off, volume and channel buttons.
So you can see why some entrepreneurs may need to pay a little extra attention to marketing. It is essential to consider the market and product (or service) simultaneously. Then you have to show your product in the right way. It isn’t as simple of a process as most people look at it. It would be perfect if it was as easy as product – website – Facebook page – TV ad – money but we do not live in a perfect world. Instead you have to pay very careful attention to your website. Make sure you are listing products and services on your website that people are looking for, in the way they are looking for it! Most traffic comes to your site from search engines so if the way you label things doesn’t match up to the way people are looking then there is a major disconnect and people won’t find you!
There is also the possibility of not having to go online, although this is rare. A website is such a beneficial feature today that there are really few occasions where you wouldn’t benefit from it. But if your services are local and your market doesn’t use the internet often, then don’t worry too much about it. There are traditional tools at your disposal to fit all budgets. An example of how your thought process should be would be as follows:
My product (retirement homes) – My market (elderly people) – My market’s habits (coffee in the morning at the local diner) – My Advertisement placement (diner placemats)
However, if your market is global and they are internet savvy then by all means invest heavily in your online presence. In fact, that previous example probably looks more like this:
My Product (retirement homes) – My market (the children of elderly people) – My market’s habits (online shopping) – My advertisement placement (Search engines via SEO and PPC methods)
Well, in these cases these are really the decision makers and not the market but the point is still the same. It is interesting how that example works, but there are many more segment examples like this that are at first, counter-intuitive. Think about it, who is your target market then for a children’s toy?
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