New small businesses are always popping up, and many Americans have considered starting one themselves. In fact, a recent GOBankingRates survey found that 54% of people have either considered starting their own business or already own a business.
But starting a business is no easy feat. There’s a lot of trial and error involved, not to mention finding funding and customers. With so many people on the verge of entrepreneurship, we asked experts for their best tips for a successful start.
1. Create a Business Plan
There’s more to planning out your business than just coming up with an idea to sell. Firstly, the business will need a name. Then, you’ll have to start thinking about the goals of this new business. Kelly Mosser, a strategist and coach for women entrepreneurs, said to “map out a strategic business plan that centers around tangible realistic goals you can work toward with confidence.” She also recommends creating “micro goals” that are almost too easy to achieve. All of the business decisions will be based around those goals, so take your time. A good plan includes the business’ mission, vision, goals and measurements for success.
2. Set Up a Business Checking Account
You’ve got your business plan and you’re gaining momentum. With all the excitement and anticipation of this new endeavor, it’s important that you don’t overlook a key step. Now is the time to open your business checking account.
The right business checking account can make life a lot smoother for a new business owner. A business checking account simplifies your day-to-day operations and allows you to separate your business transactions and deposits from your personal accounts. Plus, if you choose the right bank, you’ll be establishing a relationship that may come in handy down the road when you need loans, business credit cards and more.
And guess what: It’s much easier to set this account up before your business is off and running. But how do you choose where to open your account?
You want to find a bank that offers accounts tailored to your small business. BMO offers four small business checking accounts, with each one designed for a different size and type of business.
For example, BMO’s Simple Business Checking is a solid option for a new business owner who wants basic checking services at low fees. This account allows you to make up to 100 free transactions a month1, and the $10 fee is waived as long as you maintain an Average Collected Balance of $100 or more.
Plan to do most of your banking online? BMO’s Digital Business Checking offers unlimited free ACH transactions and incoming wire transfers. As your business grows, you may want to consider moving up to BMO’s Premium or Elite Business Checking accounts to get more free transactions1 and other features.
Business owners with BMO checking accounts enjoy fee-free banking at a network of over 40,000 BMO and Allpoint® registered ATMs nationwide2.
Opening an account is fast and easy and can often be completed online without the need for a branch visit. Once you’re all set up, you’re ready to start putting your ideas into action.
3. Figure Out the Target Market
When it comes to filling out that business plan, you’ll want to decide who your customers will be. Who will be most interested in the services and/or products that you offer?
Joey Sasson, the Vice President of Sales & Logistics at Moving APT, says to focus on the customers. “Your business exists to serve your customers,” he said. “So, always keep them in mind. Every decision you make should be based on what’s best for them. This includes everything from the products you sell to how you communicate with them.”
So if your target market is women in their 50’s, you should tailor your business decisions to maximize engagement with that specific audience.
4. Don’t Assume Social Media Is the Only Marketing Tool
Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are all great means of promoting your business and communicating with customers. But don’t funnel all of your time and money into social media marketing. “To survive, a small business needs to meet customers in a variety of ways – and that means marketing through different channels,” said Corrie Oberdin, a marketing expert who works with small businesses and nonprofits. “Using your website, a newsletter, your local media, online media, networking, and partnering with other businesses are all ways outside of social media that small businesses can market themselves.”
Sasson also believes in diversifying your marketing strategy. He said, “There are many ways to market a small business, so choosing the right mix of tactics for your company is essential. To do that, you must understand your customers’ needs and figure out where they spend their time.”
5. Build a Great Network
Small businesses thrive because of their communities. Starting out, small business owners should focus on hiring talent with good attitudes, and on developing a network of other entrepreneurs. Mosser says to “find a community of like-minded entrepreneurs you can learn from so you don’t have to reinvent any wheels. If there’s someone who’s a few steps ahead of you, reach out to see if you can pick their brain over coffee.”
When it comes to your employees, Sasson says, “Your small business is only as good as the team behind it. Surround yourself with people who are passionate about what they do and who share your vision for the company. When you have the right people in place, even with the hurdles you’ll face, you’ll be able to overcome them.”
1Each additional transaction is $0.40. Transactions means non-ATM deposits, checks deposited, checks paid, and ACH credits and debits, excluding BMO Bill Connect ACH transactions.
2Foreign Transaction Fees will apply at Allpoint® ATMs located outside of the United States.
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