According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), newly started firms and SMBs account for 60% of all new jobs created in America over the last two decades. Still, research has shown that only a paltry 10% of startups survive over the long term, with 50% failing within the first five years of operation. Despite the high small business failure rate, you can launch a successful business this year. Here are five local business launching tips to get you started:
1. Business Plan
First, prepare a business plan that covers business aspects such as your target market niche, organisational and management structure, capital requirements, product/service offerings, financial projections, market and competitor analysis, and business risks. Without such a plan, it would be virtually impossible to secure funding from angel investors/venture capitalists as well as traditional financiers including banks. A business plan also acts as a road map that you can reference in the future to determine whether your entrepreneurship efforts are headed in the right direction or not. Business plans usually cover a period of 3 to 5 years, but you can cover a longer period if you wish. A formal education can help an entrepreneur especially when it comes to tasks like writing a business plan. Although a college degree helps, there are certainly many famous entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Richard Branson that did not complete their degrees.
Before launching a business, carry out extensive research to identify the most suitable location for your business. This is particularly important because your target market should be able to access your goods/services easily. Although you could carry out market research on your own, you should hire a specialist or purchase location data/reports from companies that offer market research services.
Register your business with the relevant federal and local authorities. It is worth noting that the requirements for registering a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC) vary from state to state. Additionally, tax obligations vary depending on the type of business entity, so you should consult a legal expert before launching a commercial operation.
Obtain all the relevant state, federal, or local permits/licenses after you register your business. Business licenses/permits vary depending on the nature of product/service offerings, market or industry niche, and regulatory requirements. For instance, you would need to apply for a license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) if you intend to start an aviation business. Entrepreneurs dealing with firearms, ammunition, and explosives must comply with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Gun Control Act. This is in addition to acquiring a Federal Firearms License (FFL), Federal Explosives License (FEL), and complying with explosives/firearms industry guidelines.
Make sure you have or can easily access the infrastructure you require to run a fully functioning business. Fortunately, cloud computing has made it relatively easy to set up and run a business thanks to offerings such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS).
Before you launch a business this year, write a detailed business plan, identify a suitable business location, register your business, obtain all the relevant permits/licenses, and acquire the necessary infrastructure.
A Search Engine & Mobile Optimized Website
Of course in today’s market you just cannot get away with not having a website which should ideally be mobile optimized and obviously targeted to your market. Whichever area you may want to get business from be it local, national or international with the latter being the most difficult to succeed in then you need to optimize your website content and the content on the web that refers to your website. If your business model allows it then start locally because the terms that people search for to find your service or product is going to be a lot easier to rank for than national and international. There are many factors to consider when building a site but just because you are going to target local searches first does not mean you cannot plan to go national or international at the same time. You could simply optimize certain pages of your site for local, some for national and some for international but just put more work into the offsite SEO for the local side when you start. Then at least your national pages are getting some age, power and recognition from Google while you continue your first steps and goals.
Citations are places where your business is listed on the web, your name, address, phone number and website url (often referred to as NAP citations). Its a good idea to start getting listed on some of these places and you can optimize them too and often get them to rank alongside your own website taking up competitors spaces. Places like Yell & local directories are great for this and this article here from the Austin SEO Expert Mark Valderrama at Velvet Cloud One entitled “How to rank higher on Yelp” has a great explanation of how to optimize a Yelp listing, its basically an American version of our Yell so the principles are exactly the same for that site and other citations.
Long tail searches are phrases that a user might type in that get a little traffic per phrase but all together can add up and they are easier to rank for. For example someone looking for a web designer might type in “a web designer in Darlington” which is a long tail phrase and might get only a few searches per month because its a small town but if you optimize for it you may catch those few searches, but if you go for just web designer you are going to be up for everyone else going for that same short term in the country/world which will be a lot harder to rank for. Basically walk before you start running, here is a great article that explains this in detail from an expert SEO called Neil Patel entitled “How to generate 20000 monthly search visits through long tail traffic“. Have a read and start to implement a little each day.