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How to Start a Business: A Step-by-Step Guide


Right now, aspiring entrepreneurs all across the country are planning their paths to business ownership. It's a journey that requires a lot of hard work, and many people end up failing. But if your company survives, the rewards of entrepreneurship are well worth the obstacles you'll face on the road to success.
If you think you're ready to start your first business, here's a step-by-step overview of what you need to do to make it happen.

1. BRAINSTORM IDEAS 

Every new business starts with an idea. Maybe there's something you're really knowledgeable and passionate about, or perhaps you think you've found a way to fill a gap in the marketplace. Wherever your interests lie, it's almost guaranteed that there's a way to turn it into a business.
Once you've narrowed your list of ideas down to one or two, do a quick search for existing companies in your chosen industry. Learn what the current brand leaders are doing, and figure out how you can do it better. If you think your business can deliver something other companies don't (or deliver the same thing, but faster and cheaper), you've got a solid idea and are ready to create a business plan.
Another option is to open a franchise of an established company. The concept, brand following and business model are already in place; all you need is a good location and the means to fund your operation.
David Silverstein, a global business consultant and CEO of operational strategy consulting firm BMGI, cautioned would-be entrepreneurs against starting a business just for the sake of being a business owner: You need a viable business model, not just an idea, he said.

2. BUILD A BUSINESS PLAN
Now that you have your idea in place, you need to ask yourself a few important questions: What is the purpose of your business? Who are you selling to? What are your end goals? How will you finance your startup costs? All of these questions can be answered in a well-written business plan.
A business plan helps you figure out where your company is going, how it will overcome any potential difficulties and what you need to sustain it.
3. BUILD YOUR TEAM

Unless you're planning to be your only employee, you're going to need to hire a great team to get your company off the ground. Joe Zawadzki, CEO and founder of MediaMath, said entrepreneurs need to give the "people" element of their businesses the same attention they give their products.
"Your product is built by people," Zawadski said. "Identifying your founding team, understanding what gaps exist, and [determining] how and when you will address them should be top priority. Figuring out how the team will work together ... is equally important. Defining roles and responsibility, division of labor, how to give feedback, or how to work together when not everyone is in the same room will save you a lot of headaches down the line."

4. BRAND YOURSELF AND ADVERTISE

A great startup idea won't do you any good if people don't know about it. Before you start selling your product or service, you need to build up your brand and get a following of people ready to jump when you open your literal or figurative doors for business.
A company website and social media profiles are practically essential for any small business in today's world. Create a logo that can help people easily identify your brand, and be consistent in using it across all of your platforms. Use social media to spread the word about your new company. You can even use social media as a promotional tool to offer coupons and discounts to followers once you launch. Be sure to also keep these digital assets up to date with relevant, interesting content about your business and industry.

5. GROW YOUR BUSINESS
Your launch and first sales are only the beginning of your task as an entrepreneur. In order to make a profit and stay afloat, you always need to be growing your business. It's going to take time and effort, but you'll get out of your business what you put into it.
Collaborating with more established brands in your industry is a great way to achieve growth. Reach out to other companies or even influential bloggers and ask for some promotion in exchange for a free product sample or service. Partner with a charity organization and volunteer some of your time or products to get your name out there.

Starting a business can be risky and challenging, but armed with the proper tools and information, you can put yourself on the path to entrepreneurship.

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