By: Jessica Goodman
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had the Sunday scaries. As in, those sinking, pre-Monday feels you get before another week at your whatever job. Yeah, it can be a slog — one you needn’t do any longer. If you’ve ever fantasized about being your own boss or setting your own hours, there is a solution. A good one: Start your own business.
There’s never been a better time for a woman to strike out on her own. In 2017, there were 11.6 million female-owned companies in America, generating an astonishing $1.7 trillion in profits, according to American Express. Women now make up 40 percent of new entrepreneurs. Why can’t you be one of them?
You just need the right tools, people, and yes, money on your side…and this comprehensive guide. It’s time to turn those Sundays into can’t-effing-wait-for-Mondays.
Always known you’d kill it as a personal trainer or long dreamed of opening a coffee shop? Get it, girl. But if you’re struggling to define the something you want to start, follow these steps.
Find Your Idea
Ask yourself: What’s missing in my area? What do friends always complain about? “Go into the world looking for problems,” says Amy Wilkinson, a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and author of The Creator’s Code. “When you find solutions, that’s where your business idea will be.” Maybe your town has great hiking trails but no tour guides or your city has a dozen yoga studios but no cycling classes. Just pick something you’re actually into, says Wilkinson. “When it’s your company, you need to be committed.”
Then, figure out who you’re up against, says Tina Wells, CEO and founder of Buzz Marketing Group. If you want to open a gluten-free pizza shop, list every pizza place within 10 miles, then tally how many do gluten-free. None? You’re good to go. But if you’ll be competing with two spots in the next town, think again. (If you’re dead set on slinging that GF crust, you must have stuff that sets you apart: original toppings, 24/7 delivery, etc.)
Finally, ID your customer. “If you can’t name your first five customers right away, yours isn’t a good idea,” says Wells. So if you’re starting an SAT tutoring service, you should be able to say, “My friend Maria’s sister would pay for this. Ditto my cousin Nikki.”
Write A Legit Business Plan
One study found that 78 percent of unsuccessful companies crash because they didn’t ace this crucial step. “But you don’t need an MBA to write a good one,” says Elizabeth Gore, president of Alice, a digital business adviser for women. You can download easy-to-follow templates from Alice, the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA), or the Kauffmann Foundation’s FastTrac. Spend extra time on the below key factors, and seek help from SCORE, a nonprofit that matches entrepreneurs with mentors.
The Mission Statement
It should be hyperspecific and short — a few sentences max, says Gore. The tone needs to match the overall vibe of your brand.
The Background Research
To nail this section, you’ll need to amass in-depth details on similar businesses. If you’re opening a smoothie shop, go to every existing one you can and take notes on how long it takes customers to be served, what menu items are most popular, how many employees work at any one time, prices, and how the space is laid out. Are customers taking selfies? If so, perhaps your joint will feature a graphic selfie wall. Insta-success.
The Financial Proposal
Create Excel docs with estimates of how much money you’ll need to launch, how much you expect to make in the first year, how much you expect to spend in the first year…and whether you’ll break even or make a profit. In 2002, when Jeni Britton Bauer started Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in her home in Columbus, Ohio, she asked herself: How much can I charge for ice cream? If I got 10 people to buy from me every day, how much would we make? Would that total be enough for me to buy ingredients, pay myself, and pay back any loans?
Make It Official
Settle on a name that’s short, unique, and easily searchable. Try to think in two syllable words (á la Starbucks, Twitter, Facebook, Tinder). Bonus points for wording that carries personal meaning you can later use to promote your brand’s backstory. Go to USPTO.gov to see if someone has already trademarked your first choice. If not, apply ASAP with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on the same website.
Then, register your business with state and local governments to make it totally legal. The whole process should cost about $300. (Google “[your state] SBA” for help.)
And lock down a URL. Typically, [brand name]+[industry] setups work well (for example, MILKmakeup.com). But check what’s available by searching the WHOIS.net database. Claim your domain name via host sites like NameCheap, DreamHost, or GoDaddy, all of which charge around $15 a year.
Next, get an Employer Identification Number. You’ll need one to open a business bank account, apply for licenses and permits, and pay taxes. Apply for free at IRS.gov.
Then you can open a work-only bank account. Use this — not your personal one — to pay for legal and insurance fees, manufacturing costs, office supplies, and whatever else you need to keep the lights on. And once you launch, apply for a business credit card, which tends to have higher credit limits than personal cards.
Continue onto Cosmopolitan to read the complete article.