So you’ve opened the doors, booked some clients, and are on your way to being a full-fledged badass business owner. Right? You think you have everything under control until you start hearing terms like “LLC” or “balance sheet” thrown around and suddenly, running a business seems a lot more daunting than just working with clients.
We’ve all been there. Running a business is no easy feat, and with so many moving pieces it’s easy to miss a step or two. Never fear, bossy lady! I’m here to give you a basic, simple rundown of everything you absolutely need in order to make your business a true success.
One: Set Your Structure
Are you a one-woman show working as a sole proprietorship? Or a small team that loves the coverage of an LLC? General partnership, S corp, C corp, there’s an option for everyone! Each one has its own value and perks, so make sure you’re picking the business structure that will work best for you and adapt as you grow.
Two: Make It Legal
I can’t tell you how many people I come across that have a successful business, but have never filed a DBA! Filing a “doing business as” statement with your county is one of the most-missed steps for business owners. If you don’t file a DBA, someone can take your business name, so it’s important to protect yourself. Also, if you’re not a corporation or an LLC, you won’t be able to open a business bank account or receive money under your business name until the DBA is established.
Three: And Then Make It Legal Some More
Registering for an Employee Identification Number and a business license are two of the most commonly overlooked, but necessary components of a business. An Employer Identification Number (EIN) helps you separate yourself from your business. You’ll need it if you plan to incorporate your business or open a business bank account. Additionally, You may need one, if not several, business licenses for your startup, depending on your industry and where you are located. Most licenses are at the state or local level. Here in the United States, the SBA has a helpful business license and permits tool.
Four: Create A Business Plan
Even if you’ve been in business for awhile and consider yourself a seasoned business owner, you should always, and I mean always, have an up-to-date business plan. It’s easy to convince yourself that you don’t need a business plan, but creating a business plan with financial projections forces you to think through details. Keep your plan a living breathing thing that you revisit and adapt regularly.
Five: Define Who You Are
Outlining your mission statement and defining your core values before getting in too deep will be a huge win for your business. Every decision you make for your business should be based on and in line with your mission statement and core values. You should hire, fire, review and reward based on your core values and every partnership or collaboration you enter into should be in line with your mission statement.
Six: Set Your Target Market
Figuring out who your ideal client is and who you should be marketing your business to will save you a ton of time, money and effort. Figure out who your products or services are intended for, what the demographics are and how to reach them, and you’ll be sitting pretty.
Seven: Implement Operations
How are you going to run your business? Creating documented processes and internal management systems will make your life so much easier (hello, AislePlanner!). If you’re like me, having systems that integrate seamlessly is the only way to keep a business running smoothly.
Eight: Bring On The Financial Systems
You were waiting for this one, right? Financials are such a sore spot for most creative entrepreneurs because they can be a hassle, especially if you’re not a numbers gal. But I’m here to tell you that you absolutely have to have a streamlined financial system in order for your business to scale and grow. If Venmo and a spreadsheet are how you’re handling your finances, we need to have a chat.
Nine: Set Your Goals!
Your business plan should be the perfect jumping off point for setting some goals. Start with larger, big picture goals and break those down into manageable, smaller goals that you can accomplish in shorter periods of time. I always recommend working on a quarterly system, because it allows you to set realistic deadlines for your goals and also have a landscape view of what you’ll be working towards.
Running a successful business is a lot. You have to wear a ton of different hats and juggle all the different aspects of your business. Chances are, if you’re not a marketing guru, financial genius and an operations expert, you might need a little help. Some of these steps will be quick and can be done now, while others will take some thought-planning – perfect for those slower months! Be sure to download the checklist to get started and get your act together!