Step 1: Truly Plan Your Business Idea
Your first step building a serious business in The Big Friendly is to come prepared. And don’t worry, the conventional 50-page plans of old aren’t necessary anymore. However you will want to get the basics in order broken into critical sections like our pitch, executive summary, financials (pretty graphs & charts), management setup, basic segmentation/demographics, etc.
Take Action: Check out our 100% free Business Planning Guide designed to get you from A-to-Z as pleasantly as possible. Plus, we provide access to tons of other great tools along the way.
Don’t know what kind of business to start?
Our friends over at howtostartanllc.com have compiled a massive list of business ideas, ranging from personal styling to axe-throwing businesses.
If you’re having trouble finding the perfect business idea for you, we encourage you to check them out!
Step 2: Choose Business Structure & Incorporate
Once you’ve got a viable plan on the table, choose a business structure and register with the state. Doing this will give its own set of rights under the law, for example the right to enforce contracts/defend itself in court. You’ll also be protecting your personal assets like house and car in the process.
Most entrepreneurs form an LLC because it has all the benefits of a Corporation without the disadvantages like double taxation, board of directors or corporate officers. However if you're trying to take your company public or raise substantial outside capital, you should probably form a Corporation.
Take Action: Since this step is so important and expensive if it's not done correctly, we highly recommend investing 10 minutes to go over your options through our business structure comparison guide. You'll get a better idea of the advantages and disadvantages of each while building a solid legal foundation for your business.
Step 3: Sync With The Oklahoma Tax Code
With a low cost of living, low business costs, and great earnings growth Oklahoma’s economy helps you get the most out of your money. It’s also exceedingly startup-friendly and easy to navigate. Should you work with a professional? Sure, if that would make you feel better. But note that the resource below is a great place to start and has everything you'll need.
Step 4: Obtain Proper Licensing/Permits
After registering your business with the state, incorporating, and syncing with the tax system it’s time to handle any licensing or permitting issues. Don’t worry, this part of the process is like a quick bull ride when it’s your first rodeo. As long as you’ve prepared and got your boots on, you’ll be fine.
- For DYI’ers head over to the Oklahoma Dept. of Commerce website and check out their Business Licensing & Operating Requirements.
- If you need help with this step, a Business License Service is what we recommend. They determine everything required on Federal, State, County and Municipal levels, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.
Step 5: Create A Dedicated Business Bank Account
Nice work! Even though this is the easiest part, don't skip it. Do your homework and pick a great banking institution where you can set up dedicated business accounts for your brand. Then you link up an accounting software and you’re golden.
- Shop around at local and national banks to compare features. Typically an online national bank like Capital One or CitiBank will give you the best rates and features.
- User-friendly, fast, secure, tons of automation, easier forecasting, more efficient marketing budgets…the benefits are near endless which is why this startup resource is indispensable. Check out our guide to Business Accounting Software and sync whichever you choose with your new business bank account.
Step 6: Pick A Stellar Oklahoma Location
The state’s a pan with Oklahoma City sitting directly in the center. Everything else, aside from Tulsa, Broken Arrow and Norman are essentially suburbs. And again, everywhere you go you’ll find a great cost of living and lower tax burden than in many other states. Not to mention plenty of chicken fried steak and local brews.
Take Action: We know picking a spot can be tough if it doesn’t somehow happen naturally through your personal/professional networks. If you’d like to brush up on everything that goes into making this decision, refer to our friendly guide on How to Choose the Perfect Location.
Step 7: Finance/Bootstrap Your Platform
Here’s a quote from the Oklahoma Cherokee cowboy, Will Rogers himself, “Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.” Hard to argue with that. It’s the 21st century and Oklahoma is as good a place as any. Question is, how hungry are you and how much fruit can you carry? When it comes time to kick the capital levels up a few notches, you’ve got plenty of options at your disposal. Don’t be shy.
Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like sunsets and ice cream. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.
Step 8: Design & Publish A Business Website
No one’s saying your business website has to be as engaging as a gentle float along the Bricktown canal, but your brand does need one. Maybe all it requires in the beginning is a simple landing page, or maybe a streamlined ecommerce theme? These days there are quicker, less expensive ways to get a great site up and running through affordable business website builders.
Take Action: If you could use some help in this department, we highly recommend looking into a business website builder like Wix or Weebly. They’re both very easy to use and will give you a professional website in less than a few hours.
Step 9: Market Your Business
Absolutely, we’re big fans of digital marketing around here and understand the power of tech-communication tools. But, we also haven’t forgotten the power of forming solid relationships with strategic partners. This takes more than blogs, social media updates, and paid advertising. It means getting clear of our comfort bubbles, reaching out, and forging bonds.
Take Action: Start getting involved and networking. Consider contacting the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center and taking them up on any of their services that sound good. Why not leverage marketing help directly from people who work with the local entrepreneurial communities?
Step 10: Continue Learning & Stay Inspired
At this point it's about keeping your feet planted on the ground, your mind focused on objectives, rallying around and adapting your business plan, and staying motivated during the rough times. Feel free to throw Startup Savant into your toolkit because we know exactly where you're coming from and we're here for you, partner.