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Steps to starting a small business

Norman Eng

Starting and managing a business takes motivation, desire and talent. It also takes research, planning and support along the way.

To increase your chance for success, take the time up front to explore and evaluate your business and personal goals. Then use this information to build a simple business plan that will help you reach these goals.

The process of developing a business plan will help you think through some important issues that you may not have considered yet. Your plan will become a valuable tool as you set out to raise money for your business. It should also provide milestones to measure your success.

Before starting out, list your reasons for wanting to go into business. Some of the most common reasons for starting a business are wanting to be your own boss, wanting to attain financial independence, wanting more creative freedom and wanting to be able to fully exploit your talents and skills.

Next you need to determine what business is “right for you.” Ask yourself a few questions, such as:

  • What do I like to do with my time?
  •  What technical skills have I learned or developed?
  • What do others say I am good at?
  • How much time do I have to run a successful business?
  • Do I have any hobbies or interests that are marketable?

Then you should identify the niche your business will fill. Conduct the necessary research to answer these questions:

  • Is my idea practical and will it fill a need?
  • What is my competition?
  • What is my business advantage over existing firms?
  • Can I deliver a better quality service?
  • Can I create a demand for your business?

The final step before developing your plan is the pre-business checklist. You should answer these questions:

  • What business am I interested in starting?
  • What services or products will I sell? Where will I be located?
  • What skills and experience do I bring to the business?
  • What will be my legal structure? 
  • What will I name my business?
  • What equipment or supplies will I need?
  • What insurance coverage will be needed?
  • What financing will I need?
  • What are my resources?
  • How will I compensate myself?

Your answers will help you create focused, well-researched business plan that should serve as a blueprint. It should detail how the business will be operated, managed and capitalized.

For more guidance and information, visit www.SBA.gov and follow the 10 Steps to Starting a Business. 

The SBA Massachusetts District Office along with resource partners (Massachusetts Small Business Development Center, SCORE and Center for Women & Enterprise) regularly host FREE/low-cost educational workshops that can help you understand the process of starting a business. Please visit any of the resource partners to find out how you can get help launching your business today!

Norman Eng is an economic development specialist and public information officer with the Massachusetts District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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