5 Things You Need To Know Before Starting a Business

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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Intuit QuickBooks and #WeAllGrow Latina Network. The opinions and text are all mine.

I fail at personal phone calls.

Everyone who makes up my personal circle of family and friends can attest to this. Even my kids will tell you I don’t do phone calls.

I’m a texting kind of mom.

Yesterday was a different story. Once in a blue moon, I take a few hours and make some calls and catch up with my peeps. So I spent an hour catching up with my friend of over 20 years, Niki, and then I made several more calls.

My last call was with another friend, Jesse, who asked me several questions about starting a business.

One of her questions was, “What if I’m not cut out for this stuff?”

If you’re not sure whether you want to take the plunge and start a business, check out this post, 5 Signs You’re an Entrepreneur. You’ll figure out very quickly if starting a business is right for you.

After leveling with her about the non-sexiness and real work involved, she wasn’t phased and was still raring to go. Her next question was, “Where do I start?”

So I gave her a few tips and a breakdown of the 5 things she will need to work on to get her business going.

Here’s my list with some great FREE resources from Intuit QuickBooks, the #1 accounting solution for small businesses.

#1 Creating a Business Plan

The first thing you need to do is get your ideas down on paper and build out a business plan. You cannot skip this step. I have seen so many business ventures fail simply because they did not have a well thought out business plan. If you can’t or won’t write a BP for your venture, then you really have no business being in business.

You have to be able to communicate your ideas and processes for yourself and others. Creating a business plan will enable you to think through, research and forecast many important things like:

The QuickBooks Resource Center has a great article on the 7 Elements of a Business Plan which include:

  • Executive Summary
  • Business Description
  • Market Analysis
  • Organization Management
  • Sales Strategies
  • Funding Requirements
  • Financial Projections

Do yourself a favor and spend a good weekend reading up on these, making notes and planning your research. As you go through these steps, you will learn more about your new business and what you need to plan for.

Once you are ready to create your business plan, head on over to Bplans.com and get a free business plan template to fill out.

#2 Picking the right structure

Another thing to think about is your business structure. The three main types of structures are Sole Proprietorship, Corporation and a Limited Liability Company. Each one has a specific function. For example, did you know that when you start a business, if you file zero paperwork, you are automatically considered a sole proprietorship?

There really are no benefits that I know of to choose sole proprietorship, since you miss out on many tax benefits and the protections of an LLC or corporation.

For example, if someone wants to sue your business, and you are a sole proprietor, all of your assets are at risk. That means your car(s), house, kids’ college funds, anything you own.

Read on about the different business structures and pick the one that’s right for you.

#3 Getting Funding

Once you have your business plan completed, you will know how much money you will need to get started. Remember you want to have enough to take you through the months or even years of the startup phase where there may be no profit.

The most common mistake new business owners make is not securing enough money to cover expenses until the venture becomes profitable.

You have several options, like tapping into family and friends, using your credit cards, finding a government loan, getting alternative or conventional loans. Each has it’s benefits and disadvantages, so it’s a good idea to learn about each option and the pros and cons.

Click here to learn about your options for securing funding for your new business.

#4 Picking a Location

I started my first legitimate business with my brother, Gene, when I was 23. By legitimate, I mean, it wasn’t two scrawny immigrant kids trying to sell stuff to our neighbors. We had a lot of those.

We opened an internet cafe that we thought would be a hit. We were both completely clueless and ended up singing a lease for a spot in a little shopping center that had zero traffic. We didn’t discuss or research things like street traffic and demographics of the area.

We worked really hard and poured everything we had both financially and energy-wise into it, it failed miserably. But we did take away some great lessons and we were young enough to start another venture that did succeed soon after.

Had we done our research on finding the right location, we could have avoided the miserable failure. Then again, we made so many mistakes with that cafe that we were probably doomed either way.

Do yourself a huge favor and research and educate yourself about the location.

Danay and Gene Escanaverino Zyber Center

#5 Know Your Numbers

I hate doing my finances.

There I said it.

I hate it, but I have to deal with it. I have someone who handles this for our business now, but when I was a solopreneur I did it myself. As much as I absolutely couldn’t stand it. So make sure you have a good grasp on your finances.

Invoicing

You need to get paid. Make sure you invoice your clients in a timely manner and follow up on those invoices as well. No one wants to make the “where’s my money” phone calls, but as a business owner you need to get over that asap. Check out 20 ways to get clients to pay their bills and invoices faster.

Use this free tool to build an invoice template.

Cash Flow

KNOW your cash flow. You can’t make any decently informed decisions without knowing where you stand financially at any given moment.

Here is a free cash flow template with examples. Use it.

Taxes

I know, it’s an ugly word. It will be even uglier if you don’t handle them. You know what I’m going to say. Suck it up and just get ‘er done.

Make sure you know about the 10 tax deductions every freelancer needs to know. One of my favorites is “Personal Development” (ie. learning and honing your craft).

Bonus Tip

Caffeine is a magical elixir that makes the hard work possible. Make sure you have oodles of coffee, soda or tea, whatever your caffeine poison is and get to researching and writing out your business plan. The only thing stopping you from creating a business is you.

And more coffee.

Don’t forget to check out Intuit QuickBooks on Facebook and Instagram for some awesome inspiration.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Intuit QuickBooks and #WeAllGrow Latina Network. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Post Author: Danay Escanaverino

Danay Escanaverino is a Latina entrepreneur, mom, avid traveler, tech geek, history buff, blogger and ADHD poster child
She is CEO of LunaSol Media and Founder of HispanicYa! Follow her on Google+ , Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat

41 thoughts on “5 Things You Need To Know Before Starting a Business

    Scott

    (April 3, 2017 - 8:56 am)

    Is it my imagination, or are your missing #4?! Scrolled back and forth and don’t see it there?!

      Danay Escanaverino

      (April 3, 2017 - 11:10 am)

      It’s there, but I had 3 and 4 inverted. Thanks for catching that. That’s the clincher about proofreading. No matter how many times you re-read your stuff, it’s always better to have another set of eyes. It would have been preferable before posting, but oh well, better late 😉

    Angela Puder

    (April 3, 2017 - 4:47 pm)

    I am in the process of starting my new business. It’s a cleaning company and I didn’t even think to do a business plan for this type of company. I am glad I found your website.

    Brandy Champeau

    (April 3, 2017 - 5:09 pm)

    Interesting tips. Dealing with finances for me is the worst. I would rather just create and craft. However, that would be a terrible way to run a business.

    Veronica

    (April 3, 2017 - 6:29 pm)

    This info is gold. Back in Mexico I used to know all this, but when I moved here I started from 0 and now that I have this guide, I feel more prepared. Thank you!

    Krysten

    (April 3, 2017 - 10:26 pm)

    I think that creating a business plan is one of the most important steps to creating a business. I have a friend who failed to write out her business plan and her first business failed. I feel like she didn’t know where she was going, so she just started going in circles.

    Kelly @ XterraWeb

    (April 4, 2017 - 1:09 am)

    These are great tips. I like how they are linked together with an underlying theme of research and education. I know many people who start businesses and don’t have everything in order like this. I took an entrepreneurship business course in college, and it is surprising how many people don’t create even a basic business plan or conduct appropriate research (e.g., your example about location and demographics). I like the personal touch you added with the tips.

    Natalie

    (April 4, 2017 - 5:01 pm)

    This is such valuable information. I do not own a business but have thought of it, so this post is really helpful.

    Fabiola Rodriguez

    (April 4, 2017 - 6:20 pm)

    My husband and I had to go through several failed businesses before we learned the importance of having a business plan. It’s tempting to skip this part and just start doing things, but that’s a recipe for failure. Doing taxes was another important lesson. Nowadays, we rely on the services of CPA for this. Wish we would’ve done that with our other failed ventures!

      Danay Escanaverino

      (April 6, 2017 - 6:10 am)

      I bet the failures taught you a lot though! I look at mine as nice, heavy chunks of wisdom wrapped in the bad stuff lol.

    robin masshole mommy

    (April 5, 2017 - 7:44 am)

    Yes, yes, yes. Everyone needs to sit down and make a business plan before they start. It saves time and possibly money in the long run!

    Helen Vella

    (April 5, 2017 - 7:53 am)

    Very valid points and without which you have no direction and therefore success can be hit or miss. Many of the clients I coach have no idea about how to put together a simple mission statement never mind a business plan. LOL Great post as always.

    sprintshopping

    (April 5, 2017 - 8:02 am)

    I would like to suggest one change in this, that I encountered at the time of starting my own business. Before the funding part, location is most important. Coz related to location only you’ll get funds

    Amber Myers

    (April 5, 2017 - 8:02 am)

    What great tips. I don’t have a business, but these all sound like important things to do if you have one!

    Scott

    (April 5, 2017 - 9:40 am)

    There you go – #4 is there now! And yes, location, location, location!

    Jessi Joachim

    (April 5, 2017 - 10:07 am)

    I am more of a texter than a caller as well lol. These are really awesome tips, my husband is actually working on trying to open up his own business.

    Emma

    (April 5, 2017 - 1:25 pm)

    I dont mind the finance bit – it’s the asking for help and approaching other people that I find hardest. I guess with a strong business plan etc you’d be a lot more confident doing that!

    Jessica

    (April 5, 2017 - 3:13 pm)

    Coming up with a business plan, as well as a disaster recovery plan I think are really important for any business. They do take a lot of time and effort to produce, but will give the business a real chance of success, rather than going for it without research and planning.

    Ana De- Jesus

    (April 5, 2017 - 5:27 pm)

    I think we are all capable of starting our business but it is how we utilize it that determines whether it becomes a success or not. I always believe that having a good plan and drafting out proposals is a good start x

    AJ

    (April 5, 2017 - 6:39 pm)

    These are excellent tips. We are in the process of starting a business, and I will definitely be saving this post for future reference!

    Author Brandi Kennedy

    (April 5, 2017 - 7:59 pm)

    You have some really great tips here – and I agree with you about the importance of a business plan. You really can’t get anywhere without having at least SOME clue of where you’re going.

    MUD By Shaun

    (April 5, 2017 - 10:45 pm)

    True. The only thing stopping you is “you”. When I stopped making excuses, I was able to do more planning and work done to create my blogs.
    Tea is my preferred caffeine poison. Just thought I should share hehehe.

    Bel

    (April 5, 2017 - 11:03 pm)

    This is so true, most people just jump in with the idea of making money that they forget the basics that they require.

    David Elliott

    (April 6, 2017 - 12:41 am)

    These are great ideas for starting a business for sure. I know I am really bad at drawing up a business plan and putting on paper my ideas and where I want to go with a business. But I know it’s something I definitely need to do. This is really sage advice.

    Laura

    (April 6, 2017 - 1:33 am)

    And be financially prepared if it fails. Sadly most small businesses do.

    Carol Cassara

    (April 6, 2017 - 2:51 am)

    I am currently on the verge of launching my business and I couldn’t agree more with this list. It’s important to know all of these things in order to have a successful launch.

    Victoria Fillippo

    (April 6, 2017 - 10:33 am)

    Your post it’s really useful… we are new bloggers and also are really tempted about starting a business, but clueless about where to… The best it’s that we never thought about most of those points as location, funding and structure… no idea!
    Thank you for this post!

    Ladies Pass It On

    (April 6, 2017 - 12:45 pm)

    What fabulous and practical advice thank you! I have always ran my own businesses but there is always more to learn! I also fail at phone calls by the way….

    Richard Bivins

    (April 6, 2017 - 5:47 pm)

    knowing your numbers and having the correct funding is key. My first business failed because I didn’t have either of those right and I made too many assumptions that turned out to be wrong. My advice, whatever you think the funding should be… double it.

    Echo

    (April 6, 2017 - 9:36 pm)

    These are some awesome tips! A lot of these, I hadn’t even thought about! Thank you!

    Megan

    (April 7, 2017 - 12:09 am)

    These are all on point! FINANCES! It’s a necessary beast.

    Stacey

    (April 7, 2017 - 10:07 am)

    All so important especially funding and having a good business plan. You can’t get one without the other..

    Terri Beavers

    (April 7, 2017 - 12:52 pm)

    These are some really valuable tips. If I ever start my own business I know how to get started after reading your post.

    Apolline Adiju

    (April 7, 2017 - 2:30 pm)

    I still do not understand how people get started without a business plan. To me, it is the pillar to your success and should be well researched.

    From Jess to You Services

    (April 7, 2017 - 6:00 pm)

    These are some really good tips and/or reminders to those who already have a business. It’s always nice for refreshers so you can stay on track.

    blair villanueva

    (April 8, 2017 - 12:31 pm)

    Am also thinking of opening my home busines and i believe i need moe research and study for what i want and plans for it. Kudos for your post.

    Jennifer L

    (April 8, 2017 - 8:55 pm)

    These are all some amazing and sound advise. It’s definitely necessary to be prepared and to know our numbers.

    Carmen

    (April 8, 2017 - 11:09 pm)

    so helpful and timely for me. We are on the verge of starting our own business and even though we are scared, we are so excited about the possibilities of taking the leap. Thanks for providing this valuable information!

    blair villanueva

    (April 10, 2017 - 4:43 am)

    I agree with coffee. Sometimes i meet my new prospective clients for coffee, because its more relax and we can discuss further.

    Danielle

    (April 10, 2017 - 10:34 am)

    I kind of learned location is a big factor just from seeing multiple businesses come in and go from the exact same space over a short period of time. After about three different businesses coming and going, it was pretty apparent that particular space didn’t have the right foot traffic for those particular businesses.

    Emma

    (April 11, 2017 - 6:22 am)

    Expenses and finances are my downfall too but I’m really trying to be more organised with my filing as it makes things so much easier at the end of the month. Organisation really is the key to running a business

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