- Executive summary: Here, you’ll provide an overview of your business and highlight what the business plan will cover.
- Business description: This is a more detailed description of your business, including your goals and the products or services that you’ll sell.
- Competitor analysis: In this section, you will outline important information about your competitors and how your business compares.
- Products or services: Here, you’ll provide a detailed description of the products or services your business is offering.
- Marketing strategy: This is a description of your target audience, including where they’re geographically located, their demographics, and their primary pain points.
- Operations and management: Here, you’ll provide an outline of how you plan to manage and run your day-to-day operations.
- Financial considerations: This is a financial analysis of how you plan to bring money in and the funding that you’ll need to get started.
3. Assess funding
Starting a business is definitely not cheap, so before you can do anything else, you need to assess your funding. You need to figure out how much funding you need to start your business and where it’s going to all come from.
There are a lot of costs that come with starting a business, such as:
- Employee costs: Your business may start off as a one man show, but it’s probably not going to last that way for long. You’re most likely going to need to hire employees eventually, which means you need to account for things like training costs and payroll.
- Inventory: The actual products that you’re going to sell are going to cost money, too. Before you can start making a profit off of your inventory, you need to make sure your products are high quality and up to par for your target audience.
- Rent: If you plan on opening up a brick-and-mortar store, you need to think about how much rent is going to cost you.
- Utilities: In addition to rent costs, make sure you also think about the cost of utilities, like electricity, gas, and water.
- Insurance: It’s very important that you have business insurance coverage to ensure your company and all property are covered in the event of a natural disaster, burglary, or other occurrences.
- Merchandise: In addition to the upfront costs of buying your merchandise, you also need to account for the cost of storing your inventory.
- Technology: Every business needs technology to function, whether that be computers or a retail point-of-sale system.
- Equipment: equipment costs can vary depending on your retail store, but these costs can include printing presses for apparel, software, electronics, devices, and other equipment to operate your business.
- Shipping: If you plan to do any sort of shipping or delivery with your business, you also need to think about how much those are going to cost you.
- Marketing: Marketing is crucial for a business, especially one that’s just starting off, so you need to include marketing costs in your budget, like for business cards, logos, and a website.
Being faced with all those costs is definitely overwhelming, but fortunately, there are various ways you can secure funding for your business, such as:
- Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding is the process of funding a business by raising money from a large number of people. A bunch of people essentially get together to raise enough money to get a business off the ground.
- SBA loans: SBA loans are backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration to help small businesses get the funding they need.
- Investors: There are several ways you can find investors for your small business. Investors can be your friends and family, angel investors, venture capitalists, or private lending institutions.
- Institutional loans: These are loans that come from traditional banks and credit unions, as well as online lenders.
4. Determine your legal structure
Once you’ve determined how you’re going to get the funding for your business, you then need to figure out your legal structure. This step is crucial as your legal structure will determine how you’ll be taxed, what your ownership structure is, and what legal protection you’ll get.
You have a couple of choices for a legal structure, so it’s important to find the right fit for your business. These are the most common business legal structures:
- LLC: An LLC, or limited liability company, is intended to protect the business owner from personal liability for the company’s debts.
- Sole proprietorship: A sole proprietorship is the most common business structure. It’s a type of business that is owned and run by one person and there is no legal difference between the owner and the business entity.
- Partnership: A partnership is a formal agreement made by two people to run and manage a company.
- Corporation: A corporation is when the business is a separate legal entity from its owners.
5. Register your business
In order for your business to be legal, it needs to be registered. Before you can do this, you need to pick a name for your business. You want it to be something that’s unique and reflects your business’s purpose.
It’s important to make sure the name is available to use, which you can figure out with a simple online search. You also need to trademark your company’s name, as well as your products and brand, so you can distinguish your business from others.
Once you’ve picked out a name, you then need to register your business with the government/IRS so you can get your federal tax ID number, or EIN. You can apply for an EIN online through the IRS website.
6. Research retail business laws
In addition to registering your business and getting trademarks, you also need to research retail business laws. There are a lot of retail business laws that you need to know before you can open up your business, such as local permits you may need, business insurance, and labor, environmental, and antitrust laws.
Some states might only require you to get a general business license, while other states may require different or multiple licenses and permits to operate depending on your industry. It’s crucial to research all this information so you can make sure you’re doing everything legally.
7. Find a location
If you’re looking to open a brick-and-mortar retail store, make sure to find a location that works for your company. There are various things to look for in a physical store, including high foot traffic, good parking, accessibility, square footage, and store appearance. You want to choose a location and a store that accurately reflects your brand.
In addition to opening up a brick-and-mortar store, you also need to open an online store. E-commerce is important so that you can increase the range of products and services you sell, expand your business, and communicate directly with your customers. If you do decide to incorporate e-commerce into your business, make sure you figure out the logistics, such as what you’ll sell online and how you’ll sell it.
To start a business online, you first need to build a website and choose a domain name. You’ll then need to grow your customer base, which you can do with social media and email campaigns. You can then use customer insights to build and develop your online store even further.
As a retail business, you’ll need to contact vendors to either help make your product or provide merchandise to resell. The vendors you need will ultimately depend on the type of retail business you want. Finding quality vendors and building relationships with them is one of the most important steps of building a business, as they are who’s providing you with your actual inventory.
There are a few qualities you’ll want to keep in mind when looking for vendors, such as quality, reputation, delivery costs, and customer service. You want to choose a vendor who you can trust and who you know will always deliver exactly what you’re asking.
9. Market your business
Your business isn’t just going to start getting customers the day you open. You need to market your business in order to generate attention. There are various ways you can market your business, such as: