Are you ready to leave the rat race behind and focus on your dream career? Learning how to become a business owner could help you achieve that goal. You do not have to wait for the perfect moment to launch your business either.
In fact, the majority of small business owners had little more than a high school diploma and $10,000 to their name at launch. Many got started with far less — and yet, you would never know it looking at their empires today.
So, all you have to do now is kick doubt to the curb and start pursuing your passions to make your dream career a reality. Get started with this guide on how to become a small business owner in the United States.
If you are not currently working your dream job, you are definitely not alone — only 20 percent of people actually are. But slogging away at a job you are not passionate about is not a requirement in life. You can break away from it all and pursue your passions by becoming a business owner. And the sky is the limit in what you can do.
Dream careers abound in this day and age, giving you ample options to choose from. Look inward to see what path calls you most. If you see yourself helping people, creative small business ideas that might work for you include:
For those who would rather work with animals, there’s pet sitting, dog walking, and many other rewarding pet careers. Simply dare to dream and you will undoubtedly land on your ideal career path.
Whether you land on one ideal path, or have several options in mind, you will need to verify each one is a viable business idea with market research. First, take an in-depth look at the market to determine if there is room for your business and enough customers interested in those services.
Then, see who your main competitors will be, both in and outside the industry. Check out their share of the market and all the things they are doing right — and where they might be missing the mark. Look at their product and service features, pricing structure, and other ways they offer value to their customers. As you explore all these areas, you will start to see where you can improve on their model and gain a competitive advantage.
You can then go one step further in vetting your business ideas with a SWOT analysis. Assess all the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for each one using a SWOT analysis template. Your efforts will create a big picture overview of all your creative business ideas, so you can pick the one with the most potential for success.
Once you are confident you have found a viable business idea, you can move forward in preparing yourself for your dream career. With most small business owners having not much more than a high school diploma, completing years of college is not absolutely necessary. Simply earning a certificate from a comprehensive training program can provide all the knowledge and skills you need.
The U.S. Small Business Administration also offers many free self-paced online courses to help people learn how to become a successful business owner. But they do not provide instructor support with their content. For the additional support, such as teaching assistance and mentorship, choose an online certificate course that provides access to helpful faculty members.
No matter your dream career path, there are courses you can take to build the skills and knowledge you need to excel. A clear view of all your business owner responsibilities will come into line as you move through the training and certificate courses.
As you move forward in starting a small business, you will need to draw up a detailed business plan. This plan will act as your map to success, providing the guidance you need in the first five years running your business. You can review sample business plans to gain inspiration, then simply follow their format to create your own.
When complete, your business plan should have an outline of your:
Your business plan should also identify all your startup costs and expected ongoing expenses. Then, build a budget around those calculations and use that to guide your pursuit of appropriate funding.
Over 55 percent of small business owners start their companies with as much as $25,000, while 24 percent launch having invested nothing at all. No matter where you fall in that spectrum, you will need to identify where you might source the funding needed to launch and run your company.
Along with startup capital, you need to think about the funds you might need to weather disasters, such as product loss or equipment failure, or simply grow your business. Potential funding sources for small businesses includes:
Each of these requires a different approach, so take the time to see which options make the most sense for your needs. Then, add your preferred funding sources to your business plan and complete the required steps to source the funds you need.
Across the United States, 42 percent of small businesses are S-corps, while 23 percent are LLCs. But those are not the only structures you have to choose from. You can also elect to set up your business as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or C corporation.
Each of these business structures come with different tax rates and funding options plus alter your personal liability. Since it is not easy to find your ideal business structure or change things in the future, it is usually well worth bringing in an advisor to help make this decision. You can work with an attorney or business consultant, for example, to weigh the pros and cons of each option in regard to your business idea.
You will need a unique business name and branding elements to help you stand out from the crowd. With over 500,000 new businesses opening every month, this can prove difficult. But with a little reflection on your company mission and goals, you can zero in on just the right business name.
Then, while learning how to start a small business, check to make sure it is available by:
After confirming your business name is available, you can start dreaming up branding elements, such as your logo and color scheme. Talented branding experts at Fiverr, Upwork, and similar sites can help you create the perfect elements for your company. As you start to visualize your brand, this is where it all starts to come together for you in learning how to become a business owner.
In the United States, you will need your business structure, name, and location to officially register your company with the state. These factors will not only determine how much paperwork you need to fill out, but also the fees due for your registration.
In most US locales, the office for the Secretary of State handles the registration process. Either call them or the Department of Revenue to see how you should register your company in your area. Remember to repeat the registration process for each state where you will conduct business.
Most US companies do not need to register with the federal government, though exemptions do exist. If you are going to file for tax exempt status, for example, then federal registration is required.
Immediately after completing your business registration, you will need to file for your federal tax ID number, also known as your Employer Identification Number (EIN). With this number, you can:
In getting ID numbers for your US-based business, you can simply apply for your federal ID number online through the IRS website. If you will need to pay state taxes, you will need to get an ID number from your state office as well.
In order to remain in compliance with all your local, state, and federal laws, you may need to apply for additional licenses, permits, bonds, and insurance. Federal licensing requirements tend to go by business activity types with only certain industries affected, such as:
Local and state licensing and permit requirements similarly vary by industry and location. So, you will need to check with your local office to see which ones you need. Furthermore, you will likely need to renew your licenses and permits annually, so check back to ensure you remain in compliance.
Companies in certain industries, such as house cleaning businesses, also need to be bonded and insured. Valid up to five years, the bond protects your clients and gives them peace of mind while working with you. If anything goes awry, they know this coverage gives them recourse. The insurance, on the other hand, offers you similar protection from serious losses due to situations outside your control.
Before you can start taking payments from your clients, you will need to open business checking and savings accounts. Although a great idea for most, it is a requirement for certain business structures. To maintain the separation between business and personal liability, LLC owners must keep absolutely all finances separate, for example. They can only accomplish that goal with both business and personal bank accounts.
While working on opening a business, research the banks in your area and choose one with a focus on serving small businesses. Look for minimal fees, competitive interest rates, and perks galore for maintaining good standing. As you compare their terms, remember to think of things like their hours, locations, and ATM availability as well. This will help ensure they are a convenient option as well as a financially-sound one.
By this point, you are ready to set out and find clients, which you can accomplish with an effective marketing plan. As with learning how to become a business owner, learning how to build a marketing plan is definitely a long process. But it is also equally well worth the time.
You will need to learn about the digital and traditional marketing methods that you can use to promote your business. Some of these methods may include:
Selecting your perfect marketing mix will help you attract new clients to your business, helping you grow and thrive in your industry. Of course, you can also elect to simply hire a marketing team to bring in the leads and help you get established as a successful business owner.
Now that you know the fundamentals of how to start a business, you can move through the steps to realize your dreams. Your dream career will start to come into focus as you create your business name, register your company, and advertise your services. And it all starts with a great idea.
If you already have a creative business idea mind, you can get started with the comprehensive training courses from IAP Career College. Through our online certificate courses and master certification programs, you can learn all the skills and knowledge you need to excel in your dream career. So, take a look at our extensive course offerings and sign up today to start working on becoming a business owner.