The first step toward starting any successful California business is planning. Launching a business without a business plan is like shooting a major Hollywood production without a screenplay — it’s bound to go haywire. Among the things you’ll cover in your business plan are:
This is also when you’ll create your mini-pitch and USP (unique selling proposition). Both of these are intended to concisely describe the mission of your business — the mini-pitch in 1-2 sentences and the USP in just a few words.
Writing a business plan involves much more than the few bullet points we listed above. For a more detailed discussion of business planning, check out our definitive guide.
Once you’ve gotten a better idea of what business planning entails, we highly recommend checking out some software solutions. Taking advantage of business planning software is the most efficient way to create a beautiful, thorough business plan.
Next it’s time to choose a structure for your business and get it registered in California. This is a huge step and it’s important to understand the implications of each business structure before settling on one, so we’ll take a brief look at each.
Read through our comparison guide to learn more about each business structure. Make sure you fully understand the taxes, management, and level of liability tied up with your chosen structure before registering it with the state.
When it comes time to officially form your business, we highly recommend seeking professional help. Using an online filing service is an inexpensive alternative to consulting with a lawyer, and many of them offer other necessary services at low rates when you form your business with them.
Now that you’ve officially formed your business, it’s time to take all the necessary precautions to make sure you’re fully compliant with the federal, state and local government. Here are the best places to find out about each:
No matter what type of business you’re starting, it’s simply not worth the risk of getting a hefty fine — or worse. Put in the effort now to save yourself a whole load of headaches later on!
These companies will do the rest of the digging for you (federal, state and local) and send you all the necessary applications in a tidy bundle, along with helpful instructions on how to fill them out.
The next crucial step in the life of your business is learning proper financial management. Opening a business bank account is an important step for any new business, whether you’re a single-member LLC or a large-scale corporation. Either way, your personal and professional finances should never intermingle.
To open up a bank account for your business, you’ll need to obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number). You’ll use your EIN in place of your social security number so that this account is completely separate from your personal finances.
Once you’ve gotten your EIN, start checking out various banks in your area. When you’re choosing a bank, consider their:
… and whatever other criteria are important to you. Every business has different needs, and it’s important to choose a bank account that meets yours.
Start doing your research on various business bank accounts. Local options, like Banc of California, and national banks, like Capital One, both have their perks. Read some reviews, make some calls, and figure out which one is right for you. Feel free to start off your research with our favorite business bank accounts.
Whichever bank you choose, make sure to sync up your account with an accounting software as soon as you get the chance. It’s never too soon to start organizing your business’ finances!
Now that you’ve got the financial foundation laid, it’s time to start building on it. There are tons of funding opportunities out there — especially in California — but not every approach is right for every business. When choosing a primary funding method, consider:
If you want to maintain full control over your business, seeking an angel investor may not be the right route, since oftentimes they’ll want partial control of the company. If you don’t have any high-value assets you can part with, selling assets to fund your business wouldn’t be the right fit for you.
We go over 10 major funding options and the situations they’re best suited for in our definitive guide to financing a business.
The California Small Business Development Center is a great resource if you need a little assistance coming up with funding opportunities. They’ve got dozens of locations across the state where you can go to discuss potential funding approaches for your business based on all the criteria above (and more).
You’ve gotten the logistical stuff out of the way — now it’s time to start building your brand. There are tons of places where you can assert your brand image, but a couple major ones are your business logo and website.
When you’re crafting your logo, keep the following principles in mind:
For a more in-depth discussion of business logo design, head over to our definitive guide.
Launching a business website is another huge step for your brand, and we think the best way to go about it is by using a website builder. Working on an existing platform like Wix or StudioPress is a much easier and cheaper way to create a professional-looking website than hiring an expert to build one from scratch.
It’s time to market, market, market! This step truly never ends, so it’s in your best interest to get a basic handle on it ASAP.
Whether you’re planning on delegating all of your marketing efforts to a professional or leading the expedition on your own, it’s important to keep a few fundamentals in mind so you can gauge the success of your marketing strategy.
There’s much more to be said about marketing a new business, but these four points are bound to set you on the right track!
It’s clear by now that we’re major proponents of leveraging modern software when starting a business, and marketing is no exception. There are hundreds of programs out there designed to help entrepreneurs like you market their budding businesses, from ROI calculators to social media management tools.
We outline some of our favorites, and discuss small-business marketing in much more depth, in our definitive guide.