5 steps to getting your small business off the ground

  • Carolyn Cunningham
  • For the AJC
9:52 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017 Local News

Starting your own business can be scary and filled with so many uncertainties and insecurities. 

Many people lack the self-motivation to do it, wondering if their ideas are good enough or will even work in a real-world scenario. There are resources, research and small steps that can offer tools and insights on how to move from thinking about a small business to running one.

A very important part of starting your business is research and planning. Be aware of the many different laws and regulations you must comply with. And, of course, you need to be up to date on your company's industry since standards and regulations change often.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations from the U.S. Department of Labor are a must-know. The fine for a first time OSHA violation can be as much as $7,000.

There are many different business structures, including sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, limited liability corporation, nonprofit corporation and cooperative. Deciding which one you want can be hard, according to sba.gov.

Don't forget the hidden costs. You will be required to pay your own social security and Medicare withholding, as well as federal and state taxes. You also will need to cover the costs of health insurance and retirement benefits for yourself and your full-time employees, depending on your state and the size of your business. Consulting a lawyer can definitely help you understand the tax requirements and employment laws in your state.

You have to really want your business and enjoy it. Otherwise, you'll end up torturing yourself. Have the stamina and determination to be willing and able to work long hours and not get much sleep some nights. Don't give up when something isn't working. Instead find a better way to do it.

The creative process involves problem-solving, making a new product or coming up with a more efficient way to advertise, sell and make a product. Be comfortable with uncertainty and a lack of security, especially financially. Be independent, not needing the approval of others to do something since you're the boss. However, taking advice, listening to your employees and taking multiple perspectives into consideration are signs of good leadership.

Be willing to change your perspective at a moment's notice and act quickly. Find practical ways to implement your ideas in a realistic fashion.

View full experience