How to Start a Business

"To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart." —Thomas Watson Sr

This article will go over every step you need to follow to become the boss of your own business. Not only will we help you know how to start a business, but we'll go over some ways to ensure your business is successful too. 

We live in an age full of entrepreneurs starting their own businesses. In fact, a recent report found that in the US there are 27 million entrepreneurs running their own businesses. 

Learn More About Our Small Business Resources at Check City.

There are so many ways to start and run a business today. And there are so many benefits to running your own business. You can set your own hours! Instead of working the typical 9:00 to 5:00 shift, you can set your hours however you want. 

Do you want to get off work early every Friday? Also not a problem, because you're in charge! When you own a business you become your own boss. With that comes a lot of responsibility, but enough perks to make it worth your while. 

Step 1: How to Start a Business Plan

The very first thing you need to do after you've decided to start your own business is to create a thorough business plan. 

A strong business plan is necessary for business success. 

It's the same reason you need a thorough budget. A budget is a detailed plan for how to have personal monetary success and a business plan is a budget for your business success. 

Conduct business research

Creating a good business plan starts with some detailed research. 

You need a clear idea of what you want your business to be and the market and industry you would be working in. 

You should research, 

  • the market
  • the industry
  • competitors
  • the area 
  • projected costs 
  • projected profits
  • your target audience

Research gives you key insights. If you want to start a restaurant then you should educate yourself as much as possible on good restaurant business practices, your competitors, the costs, etc. 

For example, it might not be a great idea to open your own Italian restaurant in a town that already has a lot of Italian restaurants. But if you provide a new, but equally popular type of restaurant, you're more likely to see success. 

List everything your business will need

A restaurant business has different needs than a clothing business. 

Restaurants need food suppliers, cooks, waiters, a location, a menu, furniture, and decor. Clothing businesses need designers, clothing production, models, a storefront, and clothing racks for displays. 

Take a moment to make a master list of everything your business needs. Don't leave out a single item. 

Include products, services, funds, and staff. 

Start scheduling tasks

Once you have this master list, break each item down into manageable tasks. 

Detail how you'll hire the proper staff, how you'll acquire the services and goods you'll need, and everything else your specific business endeavor require to be a success. 

Start budgeting

Make a budget specifically for your business. It should be separate from your personal finances. 

You need to plan how you'll get the funds to start and how you'll organize all the profits and costs of operations. 

A business budget is going to include sections for, 

  • profits, the business income you can expect each month
  • monthly bills, like rent for the storefront location
  • costs for products and services the business needs
  • employee salaries and benefits 
  • business investments and assets

More simply, you need to organize the funds you have coming into your business and the funds you have going out of your business. 

Business Plan Templates

Having a solid business plan will really make starting your business easier. But first you have to know how to write a business plan. 

If you need a business plan example, you should try downloading our free business plan template. 

On this business plan template, you can easily outline all the important parts of your business plan like the basic plan, business analytics, and a business budget. 

A basic business plan might include plans for the following items: 

  • Mission statement
  • Company description
  • Products and services
  • Industry analysis
  • Market analysis
  • Competitor analysis
  • Marketing plans
  • Management delegation
  • Organizational structure
  • Legal structure
  • Budget
Download a Business Plan Worksheet.
Download a Business Analysis Worksheet.
Download a Business Budget Worksheet.

Step 2: Legal Structure of a Business 

In order to be a legitimate business, every business needs an official legal structure. 

Different legal structures work better depending on the type of business. The legal structure might also affect how your business can operate in your state or how your business gets taxed. 

Picking the right legal structure for your business is crucial in providing your business with the best advantages. 

A business legal structure is also how you protect yourself from liabilities, manage intellectual property, and manage your business's taxes. 

The most common types of legal structures for businesses are sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, corporations, and cooperatives. 

Each business structure comes with pros, cons, and costs to consider. 

Sole Proprietorship is when one person is responsible for the company. 

This means that the owner of the company is responsible for the company's profits and debts. This allows you to be in complete control of your business and is the simplest legal structure you could choose. 

The downside would be that if the business fails, you are the one to take the brunt of that loss. 

Partnership is when two or more individuals own and take responsibility for the business together. If you are going into business with someone else, a partnership is the best way to set up your business's legal structure. 

You can even customize how you set up your partnership. Everything can be shared equally between the partners or one partner can have primary control of the company while the other partner contributes and receives part of the profit. 

How exactly you want to set up your partnership is up to you. 

Limited Liability Company is when owners and shareholders of a company don't have personal responsibility over the profits and debts of a company. 

This business type protects business owners from being personally held accountable for company debts and losses.

Corporation is when a company is set up as a separate entity from the company owners. The company is set up as its own individual.  

This means "The Company" can act on its own. It has its own rights, and can sue, be sued, own and sell assets, and have stocks. 

There are also different subcategories of corporations: 

C Corporations are owned by shareholders and are taxed as separate entities from their owners. 

S Corporations are for small businesses and help them avoid being taxed twice. 

B Corporations or Benefit Corporations are businesses that are for-profit and strive to make positive impacts in the world. 

Closed Corporations are a type of private or family business. 

Open Corporations are on the public market, participate in trade, and allow investing. 

Nonprofit Corporations have tax exemptions because they are not for-profit organizations. Instead they work to help others and benefit society. 

Cooperatives are businesses that are owned by the people they serve. The owners of the business also use the business themselves. 

A cooperative then votes on how the business is run and shares the profits. 

Once you've decided on the business legal structure that makes the most sense for your business you can make your business official: 

Make your business official by registering your business, getting all the licenses and permits you need, getting a tax ID number (TIN) from the IRS, and opening a business bank account. 

Step 3: Get a Business License

Every business will have papers to get in order. There are licenses, permits, trademarks, patents, copyrights, taxes, and insurance that all need to be taken care of. 

Keep in mind that such papers might need to be acquired from the federal, state, and local governments. 

Contact your local and state government offices to get a list of all the legal obligations and paperwork your business will need. 

Here are some examples of basic business paperwork, license, and permits: 

  • Business operation license
  • Federal employer identification number (EIN) or a Tax Identification Number (TIN)
  • A "Doing Business As" (DBA) permit 
  • Zoning and land use permits
  • Health department permit
  • Sales tax license
  • Fire department permits

If your business is selling, making, or dealing with certain products and services, special business licenses and permits might be required by the state. 

You might need to seek a special state license if your business deals with liquor, lottery tickets, gasoline, firearms, medical care, auto repair, real estate sales, tax services, insurance sales, cosmetology, or legal representation. 

You might need to seek a special federal license from specific federal offices if your business deals with investment advising (Securities & Exchange Commission), drug manufacturing (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), preparation of meat products (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), broadcasting (Federal Communications Commission), ground transportation (U.S. Department of Transportation), or manufacturing or selling tobacco, alcohol, or firearms (U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms). 

Step 4: Branding

A big part of making your business a success is great branding. 

Your business can't take off if it doesn't have a name, a logo, or a slogan that customers can easily remember. 

To complete your business's branding consider the following branding items: 

  • Name
  • Logo 
  • Icon 
  • Colors 
  • Fonts 
  • Company personality 
  • Slogan 
  • Brand style guide 
  • Company motto or mission statement

Usually, so long as a company name is available in your state, you can claim it.

Registering your business's name will also help protect your business. 

You can get help registering your business name with the US Small Business Administration.

Then, hire a graphic designer to develop your brand's logo. Your logo is how customers will recognize your brand. They can also help create the fonts, colors, and design of your brand's name. 

For example, when you see the name "Coca Cola," it's usually in the iconic white letters, red background, and cursive font that Coca Cola always uses for their brand. 

You don't just recognize Coca Cola by its name, you recognize it by the visual designs you attribute to the brand as well. 

A brand style guide will then help your company stay consistent in its design, content, and voice. 

Another component of branding is setting up your company's website, signs, and social media platforms. 

Step 5: Advertisement

Now you want to get your brand out there and introduce yourself to the world. 

When advertising, you typically want to target your specific audience. 

For example, Disney is a company that focuses on a younger audience. Because of this their advertising usually involves children, wonder, imagination, and is always appropriate for their younger intended audience. 

There are many ways to advertise your business. You can pay for ads on social media platforms, on billboards, television, or the radio. 

There are also promotional actions you can take to help build relationships with your intended audience. You can have contests, giveaways, sponsor community events, team up with other small businesses, have discounts, or other company events to draw attention. 

All of this requires that you first have a firm understanding of what your audience is like, so that you can cater your advertising efforts toward what will be most effective for them. 

How to Start a Facebook Business Page

A Facebook Business Page is in many ways like a second website for your business.

For some companies, they actually use their Facebook Page as their main website. 

Properly setting up a Facebook Business Page is important because it is where you'll do a lot of advertising, and where a lot of your customers and clients will come to first to get a feel for your brand. 

First of all, you should know that there is a difference between a Facebook Personal Profile and a Facebook Business Page. 

You do not want to use a personal profile for your business. Personal profiles don't have the same useful features that an actual business page provides. 

Business pages are also public, so everyone can see, like, and follow your business's Facebook Page, regardless of whether they're a Facebook Friend of yours or not. 

To set up your Facebook Business Page right now, just go to Facebook's homepage and click "Pages" in the menu. Then choose "Create New Page." 

From there you'll want to fill in all the blanks for your Facebook page by adding a name, a profile image, a cover image, a description of your business, and all the other sections available for you to fill out. 

Once that's done you can publish your page and get started using your Facebook Business Page.  

How to Start a Small Business

Starting your own small business comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. You get to be in charge, but there is a lot to do when managing an entire business. 

There is also a different process necessary depending on the type of business you are starting. 

So if you want to know how to start a cleaning business, the answers you need will look different then the answers you'll need to how to start a photography business. 

Small businesses also have different starting points. Some startups are created by business owners who already have their own funds to put into a new business endeavor. Meanwhile other startups need to figure out how to start a business with no money or learn about starting a business from home. 

The key to small business success is doing all the research you can into your specific industry. 

So if you want to know how to start a clothing business, then learn as much as you can about the clothing business. It might also help to work for a while in clothing companies that already exist to get some real-world experience directly related to your business. 

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Business?

How much money do you need to start a business? 

The answer to this question depends greatly on the kind of business you want to start. 

Selling a product from home that you make yourself will probably cost less than owning and operating an actual storefront. 

By starting a business from home you can cut down on a lot of business costs and fees. 

Otherwise, the studies indicate that around $30,000 is a good number to start with when starting a business.

How to Start a Business with No Money

If you're like many aspiring entrepreneurs and freelancers, you want to know how to start a business from scratch. 

Many entrepreneurs and small business startups need help figuring out how to start a business with no money. 

Sell stuff.

Spring clean your home all while you declutter and make some extra money holding a virtual yard sale. 

You can set up a virtual yard sale on the Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist Classifieds, or OfferUp. 

How to Sell on the Facebook Marketplace:

If you already have a Facebook account then selling items on the Facebook Marketplace will be easy. 

On the top menu of your Facebook page, click on the little market stall to get to the Facebook Marketplace page. You can also get there by going to the side menu and click the "Marketplace" tab. 

Click the "+Sell Something" button and upload all the pictures and prices of what you want to sell. 

How to Post Classifieds on Craigslist:

At the top of the Craigslist page, under the title, you'll find the button "post to classifieds."

Then you'll follow some simple steps like, choosing the state you live in, choosing "for sale by owner" to sell your own things, and filling in all the information your post will need. 

Don't forget to add photos so shoppers can see what the product looks like. 

How to Sell on OfferUp:

OfferUp is an app and website that lets you easily sell your things from home.

OfferUp also has its own messaging system so you don’t have to give strangers your personal information. 

Just pick the "Sell" button on the website or the app and follow the easy steps to get your things up and for sale. Then you just have to wait for the offers to start coming in. 

Mercari is another similar app that lets you sell from home without having to meet up with strangers. You just ship the goods you want to sell through the mail instead.


You can recycle almost anything. All you have to do is find a place that will accept whatever you want to recycle. 

Here are just a few things you can recycle and potentially make some extra money: 

  • old books and textbooks 
  • bottles and cans 
  • used ink cartridges
  • scrap metal 
  • precious metals 
  • old electronics
  • wine corks 
  • cardboard 
  • old batteries
  • old cars and car parts

How to Sell Gold at Check City:

  1. Bring your gold, silver, or platinum to any Check City store
  2. Show a valid state or government ID
  3. We'll weigh and test your gold, silver, or platinum
  4. After we analyze the value, you'll get paid in cash right on the spot
Check City uses the daily NYMEX market value to determine the worth of the gold, silver, or platinum that you bring in.

What You Can Sell at Check City: 

  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Platinum
  • Necklaces
  • Bracelets
  • Rings
  • Dental gold
  • Pendants
  • Coins
  • Chains
  • Earrings
  • Jewelry
  • Watches

How to Start a Cleaning Business 

The first thing you need to do in order to start a cleaning business is figure out how you're going to get all your cleaning supplies and products. 

Buying cleaning supplies for a business can be expensive if you're going to just any supermarket. That's why most cleaning businesses find themselves a supplier where they can buy their cleaning supplies in bulk and at lower costs. 

The second thing you'll do is start building your client basis and establish a working schedule with them all. 

For example, you might clean for a different household each day, and put all your clients on a monthly rotation. 

If you're cleaning offices or other public spaces, you might schedule to clean Office A on Mondays and Wednesdays, and Office B on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

All that's left to do after that is set up a website or a Facebook Business Page so that people can contact and hire your cleaning business. 

How to Start a Tutoring Business

Tutoring is a great way to start making money for free. It's also a great business idea if you want to start a business but don't have any money. 

You can also run your tutoring business all from the comfort of your own home. 

To start a tutoring business you'll need to do the following: 

  • gather resources for yourself and your students
  • develop a curriculum for the courses you'll teach and help tutor for
  • set up and manage a schedule with all the students you're helping
  • determine how you want to interact with your students
  • set the pricing for your tutoring services and start advertising your services

How to Start a Dog Walking Business

Dog walking is another business idea that doesn't require you to spend heaps of money. 

Though it might be tempting to start dog walking today, it is wise to set your dog walking business up as a Sole Proprietorship LLC, making you the head of your business. This will then make it easier for you to get the proper insurance to protect yourself against client's taking legal action against you. 

Other than that, setting up a dog walking business is easy. All you have to do is, 

  • get comfortable dog walking attire
  • have extra leashes and harnesses on hand, just in case
  • have treats and water on hand 
  • keep a schedule for all your clients
  • set pricing for walk lengths and/or dog breeds
  • have some dog walks mapped out for you to use
  • keep a contact sheet of the dog owners
  • keep a record of all your walks

You could also download a Dog Walking App for Dog Walkers:

  • Rover
  • PetBacker
  • Wag!

How to Start a YouTube Business

YouTubers are video entrepreneurs. 

You can make good money with a YouTube channel so long as your content is successful. 

In order to have a successful YouTube channel, you'll want to follow these practices:

  • Pick your genre
  • Know your audience 
  • Create a strong online presence 
  • Create a strong brand
  • Publish videos regularly

Making money with a YouTube channel is all about collaborating with companies, advertising, and creating video content that your audience will look forward to watching.

Professional YouTubers make money a few different ways. 

  • Let companies run ads on your channel  
  • Create and sell your own merchandise  
  • Join a YouTube Partner Program 
  • Do affiliate marketing, where you get paid to use, reference, and review products 
  • Get sponsorships  
  • Get patrons  
  • Book live engagements like giving speeches and presentations 

Some of the most famous and successful YouTubers make up to $22 million a year! 

But this doesn't mean all aspiring YouTubers can find this kind of success. On average, it's much more common for a hard working YouTuber to make around $16,800 a year.

Grants to Start a Business

For many small business entrepreneurs who are starting with nothing, they'll need to acquire funds from grants, loans, or investors. 

You can find grant and funding programs for small businesses through government grants and programs designed to help small businesses. 

The US Small Business Administration has grants and funding for all kinds of small businesses. 

They can help businesses find the right funding for them, they have grants for research and development businesses, grants for exporting, and grants for nonprofit organizations. 

On the US Small Business Administration website, you can even get connected to free business counseling to help you find success. 

When you first get onto the website just select the Business option. 

Then you'll fill out a registration form with information like your name, address, how much money you'll need, and how you'll use the money. 

The form is actually pretty short! Fill it out in just a few minutes, submit it, and then just wait to see whether your application gets approved. 

They even offer training to help you understand the different grants available to you. 

How to Get a Loan to Start a Business

There are also other lenders you can look into for business loans. 

Check City offers a number of loans that you can use to help get your small business off the ground and running. 

Check City has the Personal Loan, the Installment Loan, and the Title Loan

Getting a loan for your business at Check City is easy too. All you have to do is, 

  1. Fill out a loan application in the store or online 
  2. If you're in the store, make sure you bring your photo ID
  3. Submit your application and wait to get approved!

Best Books for Starting a Business

Books can be a great source of knowledge and inspiration. Especially if you're starting in on a new career path of your own making. 

  • Small Business For Dummies by Eric Tyson and Jim Schell
  • The Little Big Small Business Book by Micah Fraim
  • The Small Business Start-Up Workbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Starting the Business You've Dreamed Of by Cheryl D. Rickman
  • The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz
  • The Worst Business Model In the World by Danny Schuman
  • Escape From Cubicle Nation by Pamela Slim
  • Founders at Work by Jessica Livingston
  • The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
  • In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney
  • The Lean Startup by Eric Ries
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey