Picture Frame Business: You can also make custom picture frames out of various materials and even offer custom framing services.
Once you’ve decided you want to start a small business.
Formulated your business plan, lined up financing, and secured a site.
The time will finally come to actually open up shop.
1. Picture Frame Business
While planning a business may present challenges.
The actual act of opening a business and bringing the business concept to fruition has its own set of difficulties.
To have a better chance of long-term success, you need to get your business off to a good start.
Here are a few tips on how to legally establish your business.
Hire your first employees, spreading the word, and organizing a grand opening.
Picture Frame Business
2. Choose an idea.
It might be a product you’ve always wanted to make, or a service you feel people need.
It might even be something people don’t know they need yet, because it hasn’t been invented!
- It can be helpful to have people who are bright and creative join you for a casual brainstorming session.
- Start with a simple question like: “What shall we do?” The idea is not to create a business plan, just to generate potential ideas.
- Many of the ideas will be duds, and there will be quite a few ordinary ones, but a few may emerge that have real potential.
3. Consider your talents, experience, and knowledge when selecting a concept.
If you have a particular skill set or talent, consider how these resources can be applied to meeting some sort of market demand.
Combining skill and knowledge with a market demand increases your odds of having a successful business idea.
- For example, you may have worked with electronics as an employee for many years.
- You may have noticed a demand in your community for a particular form of electrical work.
- And combining your experience with the market demand can allow you to attract customers.
4. Define your goals.
Do you want financial independence, eventually selling your business to the highest bidder?
Do you want something small and sustainable.
That you love doing and from which you want to derive a steady income?
These are the things that are good to know very early on.
5. Ensure you have a business plan.
A business plan is critical to the success of a business.
And can be seen as a plan that describes your business, products/services, market.
And describes how your business will go about expanding for the next three to five years.
It is essentially a “road map” for your business to follow going forward.
Picture Frame Business
6. Determine the legal structure of your business.
Before starting your business and filing the necessary papers.
It is important to decide on how your business will be legally structured.
Generally speaking, you will be establishing either a sole proprietorship.
Partnership; corporation; or limited liability company (LLC).
7. Create a working name.
You could even do this before you have an idea for the business.
And if the name is good, you may find it helps you define your business idea.
As your plan grows, and things begin to take shape, the perfect name may come to you.
But don’t let that hinder you in the early phases.
Create a name that you can use while you plan and don’t hesitate to change it later.
- Always check to see if the name is being used by somebody else before selecting it.
- Try to create a name that is simple and memorable.
8. Register your business name.
Unless you are running the business under your own name.
Such as “John Smith Painting,” most states require you to register a “Doing Business As” (DBA) name for tax and legal purposes.
Registering a DBA is done with your state government or county clerk’s office.
Search the specific requirements of your state online.
9. Obtain a business license.
The city or county which you operate within will require a business license.
Typically, these forms can be found on the website for your city.
- These forms will require your business type, address, # of employees, EIN, and possibly information regarding revenue (estimations will work fine here).
- Keep in mind that licensing requirements often apply to online and home-based businesses as well as typical brick-and-mortar businesses.
- Requirements do vary according to location, so be certain to contact your local and state government to determine specific requirements.
Picture Frame Business
10. Prepare your site.
Whether you have a physical or virtual business site.
The impression it makes on your initial customers will go a long way toward determining your chances of success.
11. Define your team.
Will you do this alone, or will you bring in one or two trusted friends to join you?
This brings a lot of synergy to the table, as people bounce ideas off each other.
Two people together can often create something that is greater than the sum of the two separate parts.
12. Write an operational plan.
This will describe how you will produce or deliver your product or service and all costs.
- How will you create your product? Is it a service that you are offering, or if it’s more complex— software, a physical product like a toy or a toaster — how will it get built? Define the process, from sourcing raw materials to assembly to completion, packaging, warehousing, and shipping. Will you need additional people? Will there be unions involved? All of these things must be taken into account.
- Who will lead, and who will follow? Define your organization, from the receptionist up to the CEO, and what part each plays in both function and financials. Knowing your organizational structure will better help you plan your operating costs, and fine-tune how much capital you will need to function effectively.
- Getting feedback. Friends and family make great resources for asking questions and getting feedback––don’t hesitate to use them as your sounding board.
- Needing to increase the size of your premises. This happens more often than expected. Once the stock starts piling up, you may find it ends up in your living room, bedroom and the garden shed. Think rental of storage premises if needed.
Picture Frame Business
13. Write the marketing plan.
Your operational plan describes how you will produce your product.
And your marketing plan describes how you will sell your product.
When you create your marketing plan.
Try to answer the question of how you will make your product known to potential customers.
- You will want to include the type of marketing you will use.
- For example, will you use radio ads, social media, promotions, billboards, attend networking events, or all of the above?
- You will also want to define your marketing message.
- In other words, what will you say to convince customers to choose your product?
- Here, you want to focus on your Unique Selling Point (also known as USP).
- This is the unique advantage your product has to solve your customers problem.
- For example, you may be lower cost, faster, or higher quality than your peers.
14. Come up with a pricing model.
Note: Competition isn’t just about the goods or services themselves.
It is also about your social and environmental credibility.
Consumers are increasingly conscious of the need to show that your business is concerned with labor conditions and isn’t damaging the environment.
Certification endorsements from reputable organizations.
Such as labels and stars, can reassure customers that your product or service is more aligned with their values than one lacking the certification.
15. Cover the financials.
The financial statements translate your marketing and operational plans into numbers — profits and cash flow.
They identify how much money you will need and how much you might make.
Since this is the most dynamic part of your plan.
And perhaps the most important for long-term stability.
You should update this monthly for the first year, quarterly for the second year, and then annually after that.
16. Cover your startup costs.
How are you going to finance your business initially?
The bank, venture capitalists, angel investors, Small Business Administration (SBA).
Your own savings: these are all viable options. When you start a business, be realistic.
You will probably not roll out of the gate making 100 percent of whatever you project.
So you need to have enough ready reserve to fund things until you are really up and running.
One of the surest roads to failure is under-capitalization.
- What price do you intend to sell your product or service for?
- How much will it cost you to produce?
- Work out a rough estimate for net profit—factoring in fixed costs like rent, energy, employees, etc.
Picture Frame Business
17. Come up with an executive summary.
The first part of a business plan is the executive summary.
Once you’ve developed the other parts, describe the overall business concept.
How it will be monetized, how much funding you will need, where it stands currently.
Including its legal standing, people involved and a brief history.
And anything else that makes your business look like a winning proposition.
18. Build your product or develop your service.
Once you have the business all planned, financed, and have your basic level of staffing, get going.
Whether that’s sitting down with the engineers and getting the software coded and tested.
Or getting materials sourced and shipped to your fabrication room (aka “garage”).
Or purchasing in bulk and marking up the price.
The building process is the time during which you prepare for market.
During this time, you may discover things such as:
- Needing to tweak the ideas. Perhaps the product needs to be a different color, texture or size. Maybe your services need to be broader, narrower or more detailed. This is the time to attend to anything that crops up during your testing and development phases. You’ll know innately when something needs tweaking to make it better or to make it less like a competitor’s stale offerings.
19. Secure start-up costs.
Most businesses require capital to start. Money is typically required to purchase supplies and equipment.
As well as keep the business operational for the period before your business becomes profitable.
The first place to look for financing is yourself.
- Do you have investments or savings? If so, consider using a portion to fund your business.
- You should never invest all your savings into a business due to the risk of failure. In addition, you should never invest money put aside for emergency savings (experts recommend having three to six months of income put aside for this purpose), or money you will need over the next few years for various obligations.
- Consider a home equity loan. If you have a home, looking to get a home equity loan can be a wise idea, since these loans are typically easily approved (since your home acts as collateral), and interest rates are typically lower.
- If you have a 401(k) plan through your employer, consider borrowing against the plan. Plans typically allow you to borrow against 50% of your account balance up to a maximum of $50,000.
- Consider saving ahead as another option. If you have a job, save a portion of your monthly income over time to cover your start-up costs.
- Visit a bank to inquire about small business loans or lines of credit. When doing this, always visit many providers to ensure you are getting the best rate.
20. Manage your running costs.
Keep a close eye on your running costs and keep them in line with your projections.
Whenever you see something spent wastefully—like electricity, phone plans, stationery, packaging—look around and estimate how much you really need, and minimize or remove the cost in every way possible.
Think frugally when you start up, including renting items instead of purchasing them and using pre-paid plans for services your business needs instead of locking yourself into long-term contracts.
Picture Frame Business
21. Decide how to accept payment.
You will need to do something to get payment from your clients or customers.
You can get something like a Square.
Which is great for small businesses since it requires the minimum amount of paperwork and the fees are minimal.
However, if you feel uncomfortable with technology, you can inquire about a more traditional merchant account.
- A merchant account is a contract under which an acquiring bank extends a line of credit to a merchant, who wishes to accept payment card transactions of a particular card association brand. Previously, without such a contract, one could not accept payments by any of the major credit card brands. However, the Square has changed that, so don’t feel locked in or limited to this option. Do your research.
- The Square is a card swiping device which connects with a smartphone or tablet and turns that device into a sort of cash register. You may have encountered this device in the businesses you frequent, as they are becoming common at coffee shops, restaurants, street food stands and other businesses (look for a postage-stamp sized plastic square plugged into a tablet or phone).
- Note that PayPal, Intuit, and Amazon all offer similar solutions. Make sure to look into all options before making a selection.
- If you are online business, services like PayPal offer an excellent way to receive payment and make transfers.
22. Consider finding an attorney or other legal advisor.
Tip: Choose someone with whom you “click” and who shows that he or she understands your business. You will also want someone with experience in this area, as an inexperienced legal advisor could lead you to legal trouble or even fines and prison time.
23. Get an accountant.
You’ll want someone who can deftly handle your financials, but even if you feel you can handle your own books, you’ll still need someone who understands the tax side of running a business.
Taxes with businesses can get complicated, so you’ll need (at a minimum) a tax advisor.
Again, no matter how much of your finances they’re handling, this should be someone trustworthy.
24. Form a business entity.
You’ll need to decide what type of business entity you want to be, for tax purposes and hopefully to eventually attract investors.
You will do this after you’ve decided whether you will need money from others either in equity or loans and with the advice of your legal and accounting experts.
It is one of the last steps taken before you actually spend money or ask someone for money.
Most people are familiar with corporations, LLCs, etc..
But for the vast majority of small business owners, you will need to form one of the following:
- A sole proprietorship, if you will be running (not including employees) this business on your own or with your spouse.
- A general partnership, if you will be running this business with a partner.
- A limited partnership, which is composed of a few general partners, who are liable for problems with the business, and a few limited partners, who are only liable for the amount in which they invest in the business. All share profits and losses.
- A limited liability partnership (LLP), where no partner is liable for another’s negligence.
25. Picture Frame Business
Get a website.
If you’re selling online, get your ecommerce in gear and either build a website, or have one built for you.
It’s your storefront, so anything and everything you can do to make people want to visit, and want to stay, do it.
- Alternatively, if your business is more oriented toward the “in person” experience, traditional marketing may be just as important. For example, if you’re starting a landscaping business, focus on getting the word out to neighbors before starting a website
- When making a website keep in mind that simplicity and clarity are key. A simple design that clearly states what you do, how you do it, and what you charge is most effective. When making your website, remember to emphasize why your business is the best solution to a clients problem.
26. Hire professional designers.
If you do decide to get a website, make sure it looks professional.
Designers may cost more initially, but a well presented and trustworthy site is essential.
It needs to look professional and work with ease.
If you are including money transactions, invest in security encryption.
And check that your money transfer companies are sound and reliable.
27. Discover your inner publicist.
Tip: Depending on your business, it could be appropriate to have interesting, eye-catching business cards printed.
28. Spend time developing an excellent social media presence.
This can be done well before the business is ready, increasing anticipation.
Use Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, and any other social media you participate in to build excitement and spread the word.
You want to build a buzz so that people will begin following your progress.
Be sure to choose business accounts for your business and keep your personal accounts separate.
The messages you send should be tailored differently, depending on which account you’re sending from.
Picture Frame Business
29. Implement your marketing and distribution plans.
With your product being built or services developed, and a reasonable expectation on when either is ready for selling, begin marketing.
- If you will be advertising in periodicals, they will need copy or images at least two months in advance of publication.
- If you will be selling in stores, get pre-orders sold, and shelf space allocated. If you will be selling online, get that e-commerce site ready to sell.
- If you’re offering a service, advertise in appropriate trade and professional journals, newspapers and online.
30. Secure space.
Whether it’s an office, or a warehouse, if you need more space than your garage or your spare bedroom, now’s the time to get that.
- If you don’t generally need an office beyond your home, but may occasionally need meeting space, there are often places that can address those needs. A quick Google search on “business meeting rentals [your city/state]” will deliver plenty of rental options in your area.
- Be sure to contact your local municipality about zoning laws. Some types of small businesses cannot be ran out of a home, and it is important to ensure your business is operating within its proper zone.
Picture Frame Business
31. Launch your product or your service.
Tip: Hold a party and invite people who can spread the word for you. It doesn’t need to be pricey––purchase the food and drink from bulk discount stores and get family and friends to help with catering (you can give them a product or service in return).
32. Start early.
Don’t wait until opening day, or even until you know when opening day will be.
Be proactive in establishing brand awareness and generating anticipation.
A “coming soon” sign on your in-preparation storefront is a good start, but not enough on its own.
- Preserve the bulk of your initial marketing budget for the Grand Opening, but before that time utilize budget-friendly options like flyers, targeted direct mail, and a social media presence.
- Try to build your brand even before your location is ready. If you’re going to be selling handcrafted necklaces or handmade pierogies, seek out a local craft or food festival where you can set up a table and sell your wares. (Be sure to advertise your forthcoming retail presence.) If you’re an accountant, maybe you can volunteer to offer tax advice at the local community center or library (and hand out business cards).
Picture Frame Business
33. Involve the community.
Establish your connection to the local community from the very start of your business.
Let people envision your business having a positive community impact for years to come.
- Invite the local press to your event, but also other local business and community leaders.
- Network with as many as possible and establish yourself as a member of the local team.
- If possible, align your Grand Opening with a community event, when local crowds will already be gathered. Make it seem like a part of that larger celebration. Sponsor the entertainment at the holiday lighting celebration or midsummer festival. Advertise both your business and your deep connection to the community.