How to Start a Business in 2014

Entrepreneurship is a hot topic in today’s society. The number of people starting businesses this year will likely be the highest ever, so I figured it was high time that I write an in depth guide to starting a business in 2014. Business isn’t something that can be learned over night, nor is the learning the most important part in all honest. Building a business takes time, sweat, and persistence. If you want to be able to call yourself a successful entrepreneur, you’ll have to earn that title.

However, it really isn’t that complicated of a thing to do (depending on the industry you are in obviously), and can be extremely rewarding. So here is my guide on how to start a business in 2014.

Refine Your Idea

Before you get started, you’ll obviously need to have some sort of idea to run with. It doesn’t have to be unique (in fact, the best ideas usually aren’t), it doesn’t have to be super creative, but put some effort into this. Here are some good starting points for you if you don’t know what you want to do yet:

Once you have a general idea of what you want to do, you should seriously consider niching down. What I mean by that is to focus on doing one specific activity for one specific group of people.

For example, if you want to start a freelance web design business, focus on one type of business to design web sites for, like maybe dentists. Or if you are thinking about doing landscaping, focus on a specific type of landscaping. There are endless possibilities, and it is better to be seen as the niche expert than a general business that doesn’t specialize in what a customer needs.

Plan

Many people think that they need to write a massive business plan if they want to start a business. However, this simply isn’t true anymore. In the modern day business culture, there is no reason to write a massive plan full of projections that are based on nothing more than conjecture. Your time and energy are better spent on proving you have a viable business model. This is oftentimes called the Lean Startup approach. You can read more about it here.

In essence, what you want to do is come up with a minimum viable business model which you can test. For instance, you may think your freelance writing business will do very well if you approach bloggers and pitch them to accept your writing. You would then test this by actually trying it, and if it worked you would scale the business. This is the basic formula that your business should follow regardless of the industry or scale.

Get Legal

You’ll of course need to legally file your business before you do almost anything else. While most businesses are legally Sole Proprietorships, I highly recommend that you file as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), regardless of what your business is. An LLC will protect you from personal legal liability in case your business gets sued, which is incredibly important for any business.

Say you get sued because you messed up installing a sink in a home, causing thousands of dollars in damage. The owner then sues you. If your business is a Sole Proprietorship, they can go after both the businesses assets, and your PERSONAL assets. That means they can take your house, car, and anything else you own. However, an LLC makes it so the business is liable for itself, and the owners are not legally required to pay such debts.

Raise Money

With most businesses, you will have to raise some sort of capital. For many, the traditional first route of using your own money, along with that of friends and family, will work totally fine. If you need more money than what you can raise that way, look into bank financing, angel investing, and venture capital, all of which can be ways of raising substantial money. If your business is centered around some type of creative project, the rise of Kickstarter has also made crowd-funding a viable option.

Start Marketing

Once you’ve made the necessary investments, you’re ready to start marketing. This will of course vary widely depending on what kind of business you are starting, but the key is to simply make it happen in some form or another, which is what most people tend to do.

If you want to learn more about starting a business, here is Noah Kagan (founder of App Sumo) discussing the subject:

Good luck in starting your business this glorious 2014!


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