(Family Features) The pandemic has caused many people to reflect and seek out change. One example can be found in the number of new businesses.
According to data from the United States Census Bureau, nearly 5.4 million applications were filed to form new businesses in 2021 – a 35% increase compared to pre-pandemic filings in 2019.
If you’re looking to start a business, one of the biggest obstacles can be knowing where to start. Many opportunities exist for small businesses today, including support and funding for start-ups, especially for minority business owners.
Starting a small business doesn’t have to be complicated. Consider these five steps to get on the right track.
1. Do Your Research
Make sure you understand the current market for your business. This step is crucial to turn an idea into a full-fledged business plan.
Ask questions like:
- Is this product or service in demand right now?
- Are there similar products and services out there, and are they succeeding?
- Can this product or service be delivered safely for employees and customers?
- Could the business support rapid growth if it really took off?
Ask other business owners about challenges and rewards to explore whether this is a good option for you. Use market analysis tools recommended by resources such as the Small Business Administration (SBA) to get to know the market for your business.
2. Write a Business Plan
No business can find funding, investors or partners without a solid business plan. Learning to write a comprehensive plan also forces you to fully think through every aspect of your proposed idea. The SBA can help with research of business plans.
Enlist the help of other business owners during the process, if you can, to understand how their plans helped them and what to avoid.
3. Fund Your Business
Every business needs capital to get started. Your business plan’s financial section should provide a clear idea of the capital you need to launch. Most businesses rely on multiple financial sources, including:
- Personal funds
- Bank loans or personal loans
SBA loans can be one option. For example, Huntington Lift Local Business is a small business lending program focused on serving minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses. A top SBA 7(a) lending program, it has developed creative lending options and other features to help bring relief, recovery and growth to small businesses.
Through the program, businesses can secure SBA-guaranteed loans from $1,000-150,000 with:
- Zero origination fees
- SBA fees paid by Huntington
- Lower credit score requirements
- Free financial education courses
- Checking accounts with 24-hour grace overdraft fee relief and service fees waived for 36 months
- Flexible, longer-term repayment options
“The pandemic has caused people to re-evaluate and seek out a change, with many choosing to start their own business,” said Maggie Ference, Huntington’s SBA program director. “Everyone deserves a shot at success and our program delivers a solution to customers when they need it most, whether for a startup or an established business looking to grow.”
4. Develop a Marketing Plan
Creating a brand identity and communicating it well is crucial to success. Consider hiring or contracting marketing services to help you choose your business name, create a logo, build your website and develop a strategic marketing plan to get the word out about your business.
5. Take Care of Business
Dotting the “I’s” and crossing the “T’s” is necessary for every business. Details include choosing your location and registering your business; applying for required licenses and permits, including federal and state tax IDs; and opening your business bank account. Also consulting with an accountant experienced in helping small businesses can ensure you have your financial ducks in a row.
Starting a small business is a daunting challenge, but it can also be a rewarding opportunity. Taking the time to fully explore and utilize all the resources at your disposal can help your business become successful. Find more advice for small business owners at huntington.com/smallbusiness/small-business-resources.
Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock
Rod is a blogger, writer, filmmaker, photographer, daydreamer who likes to cook. Rod produces and directs the web series, CUPIC: Diary of an Investigator. He is also the editor, producer and administrator of TNC Network.