After the last couple of years, launching a business might not be at the top of your to-do list for 2023. Let’s be honest. There’s never a right time to jump into the business world. But if you take the proper steps, 2023 could be the perfect year to start your business.
As a proud business owner, I know what it takes to start a business and want to help make your new business a success. So, I’ve put together a list of nine things you’ve got to do before launching your business in 2023.
9 Things To Do Before You Launch Your Business
As a serial entrepreneur, I don’t just love running a business, I loved starting them, too. There’s nothing like the excitement of putting a business together and the joy that comes with that first sale. If you want to get to that first sale, keep these nine things in mind.
1. Do Your Research
Now, when I say “Do your research,” I don’t mean that you should go buy a journal and a pen and start jotting down the first thing that comes to mind. I mean real-deal research. You’ve got to know what your market is and who your customers are before you can even think about selling something like a newfangled widget—or a journal and a pen to jot down ideas with.
Once you know your market and prospective customers, ask yourself the following questions. (You want your answers to be a resounding “Yes!”, by the way):
- Do I believe in my business idea?
- Can I sell my product or service?
- Is my business idea simple?
It may go without saying, but I’ll say it just in case: You have to believe in your business idea. If you don’t believe in it, who will? No one, that’s who. When standing out from the crowd, a unique product or service and a simple business idea can help more than you can imagine.
2. Put Together A Business Plan
Think of a business plan as a road map for your future success. It lets you know where you’re going and gives you a way to get there. It’s also a great way to attract investors and lenders before you have a proven track record. A good business plan lets everyone know you are more than ready to take the leap into the business world.
A business plan puts what you know about your industry and market into action. For a business plan to be worth your time, include these seven things:
- Executive summary
- Company description
- Market analysis
- A description of what your business offers
- Your marketing strategy
- Funding requests
- Financial projections
- Documentation for your research
3. Choose A Business Structure
You’ll have to choose a business structure for your business to become a reality. A business structure affects every part of your business, from your taxes to your liability (aka your legal exposure). So, choose wisely. And if you want to change things in the future, there may be extra paperwork to worry about.
Here are the business structures you can choose from:
- Sole proprietorship. Sole proprietorships are the most common business structure. As the name suggests, a sole proprietorship has only one owner—you. While this may be a great option for many small businesses, there are some drawbacks. With a sole proprietorship, your personal and business assets and liabilities aren’t separate. In other words, your business isn’t a separate business entity. Sole proprietors are also liable for their business’s debts, losses, and legal liabilities.
- Partnerships. Partnerships are either general or limited. To qualify for a partnership, your business must be owned and operated by at least two individuals. As the names suggest, a general partnership means that responsibilities are generally shared between partners, while a limited partnership also has limited partners with no power to make decisions.
- Limited Liability Company. A limited liability company (LLC) may be the best of all worlds. You get the advantages of other business structures and limited liability coverage. LLCs are separate legal entities, which means LLC owners have financial and legal protection.
- Corporation. Similar to LLCs, corporations are independent legal entities and provide the strongest protection from personal liability. If you plan on expanding your business and adding shareholders in the future, keep corporations in mind. There are two types of corporations to choose from: C Corp and S Corp.
4. Choose A Business Name And Register Your Business
Now’s the time to dot your i’s and cross your t’s. In your business name, that is. Your business name is the first thing your customers know about your business, so it’s pretty important. (No pressure!). Choosing a business name doesn’t have to be complicated. Choose one that represents your business, your brand, and what you offer customers. Once you’ve decided on the right name, you’ll have to register it with the appropriate federal, state, and maybe even local agencies.
Let’s look at an example of what this means. If you decide to open an LLC, you’ll have to file articles of organization and an LLC operating agreement with your state. Even if you only use a doing business as (DBA) name as a sole proprietor, you may need to register your new name with the state, count, or city where you do business.
If you’re confused about registration, check in with the Small Business Administration.
5. Get Federal And State Tax IDs
When you launch your business, you’ll want to hire employees and pay federal taxes, right? Right. Your business needs an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to open its doors. You must apply for an EIN with the IRS. And don’t worry—applying for an EIN is free (music to every entrepreneur’s ears!).
What’s so important about an EIN when launching a business? If you don’t have one, important things simply don’t happen, like hiring and paying employees, opening a business bank account, and applying for the right licenses and permits.
Depending on your state, you also need a state tax ID number. Make sure you know your state’s laws regarding income and employment taxes. Check in with your state government for more information.
6. Apply For Licenses And Permits
Are you planning on launching an agricultural business in 2023? What about a commercial fishery? Since a federal agency regulates both businesses, they’ll need specific licenses and permits to stay in operation.
Don’t forget that federal agencies aren’t the only ones that require licenses and permits. State, county, and sometimes city agencies also require you to do some legwork. In other words, you have some research to do to make sure you have all the licenses and permits you need. Check in with your state, county, and city agencies to see if there are any licenses and permits you need for your business.
7. Open A Business Bank Account
Now that you’ve registered your business and filed for the right tax IDs, licenses, and permits, there’s only one more thing to do. Before money starts changing hands, open a business bank account.
You might be wondering if a business bank account is the right thing for your business. It probably is. A business bank account helps you keep your personal and business funds separate, making it easier to track how your business is doing.
Depending on your business structure and name, you may have to open a business bank account. When are you required to open a business bank account? When your business is a separate legal entity or when you operate under a doing business as (DBA) name.
8. Create A Website
In bygone years (when lamps still used whale oil and bread cost $0.07), a business could get along fine without the internet. Well, not anymore.
A business website is just as important as your storefront. It’s one of the easiest ways for customers to learn more about your business and get a hold of you if they need to. So, don’t let this opportunity go to waste.
A business website should be simple, informative, and on-brand. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. The truth is, the less complicated it is, the better.
Here are some things to include on your business website:
- Business name
- Products and services
- Hours of operation
- Address and map
- Contact information
Of course, you can add all types of things, like product pictures, an online marketplace, and user reviews. They aren’t required, but it does tip the scales in your favor for sales. Amazon is huge for a reason.
Want to take your business’s online presence to the next level? Think about jumping into social media. But, before you do, make sure you find the platform that matches up with your brand or industry.
Here are some good questions to ask:
- Which platform do prospective customers use?
- How does the platform help showcase my products and services?
9. Hire Trusted Advisors
I know. I know. You thought we’d done everything to launch your business, right? Close. We’ve got one more thing to cover. You’re the best candidate to run your business. Otherwise, someone else would be doing it. But you may not be at the top of your game when it comes to the law or bookkeeping.
If you want your business to succeed, hire advisors you trust. They’ll be worth every penny. Promise.
Here are a few types of advisors you may want to think about hiring:
- Insurance brokers
- Tax specialists
- public relations
It’s possible that you don’t need advisors just yet, but it’s never too early to start up a business relationship.
What To Look Out For In 2023
If you start counting small business owners’ problems since 2019, you might run out of fingers AND toes. COVID-related shutdowns and the reduced sales that came after reopening. Labor shortages. Supply chain disasters. Rising prices for fuel and gas. Malware and phishing scams. The list goes on and on.
Nobody has a crystal ball to see into the future, but we can learn from issues in the past. So, with the past in mind, here are the top four things you should look for in 2023:
- Ongoing supply chain issues. Forty-four percent of procurement leaders expect our supply chain worries to ease by the end of 2023, which means there’s a chance that the supply chain will affect your first year in business. Talk to prospective suppliers and see how the supply chain has affected them. Also, think about diversifying your suppliers from the get-go. More suppliers may help you avoid supply chain issues in the future.
- Growing cyber threats. Forty-three percent of all data breaches target small businesses. Not good. Check out the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) for some good tips to help protect your business.
- Extreme weather. Extreme weather was all over the news in 2022, which means that American businesses often had to deal with the aftermath. Whether it’s heat waves, wildfires, floods, or tornadoes, it’s best to be on the lookout and have action plans and insurance already in place. And if disaster does strike, you may be able to take advantage of tax relief in emergency situations.
- Fuel price fluctuations. It’s no secret. Fuel prices can soar one day and dip the next. To protect yourself from price fluctuations, drive slower to conserve fuel and stop letting your business vehicle idle when you can.