Roles you’ll be expected to play as an Entrepreneur. What does it take to be a Businessman?
How many times have you, or someone you know, said something like “I’ve always wanted to have a business of my own. Something I’d really enjoy doing. Be my own boss.”
Lots of people have the dream, but they get bogged down in the details of how to go about it. While this article isn’t meant to serve as a complete business start-up guide, it will give you an idea of some of the steps involved in starting your own business.
1. Hire Professionals.
The most important professionals you’ll need at the beginning are a lawyer and a chartered accountant. The lawyer can help you decide if you want to be a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, or some other type of company. A good accountant can help you make this decision based on which will be most advantageous to you from a tax angle. A lawyer can also help you register your business and get any licenses and permits you will need, and can advise you about patenting your idea or protecting your intellectual property by requiring everyone you discuss your business with to sign non-disclosure or confidentiality agreements.
2. Make a Business Plan.
You may need to hire a writer or other business professional to help you write a business plan. You’ll need one to help yourself get organized as to what your business’s main purpose or goal will be. This could be anything from serving hot dogs to people outside the home improvement store to providing technology support to major players in the business world. Either way, you need a plan that sketches out how you will proceed toward your goal and an estimate of how much money you’ll need to get there. What will your equipment costs be? Will you be hiring employees? How about renting office space? All of these cost estimates should be included in your Business Plan.
3. Finding Capital/ Finance.
How much start-up money will you need? Do you have savings you can use? Friends or business associates who might want to invest in your venture? Or do you need a bank loan? Whatever the situation, you’ll need to present a copy of your business plan to bankers or investors if you need to borrow money to get your company rolling.
4. Set Up Your Record-keeping System.
A good accountant can advise you on the best record-keeping, software for your business, and help you set up a system for keeping track of payables, receivables, sales tax, payroll, employee benefits plans, and so forth. You will be relying on the accountant for at least your yearly tax return for your business, and possibly for quarterly payroll and sales tax returns. Your accountant can also get you, Permanent Account Number (PAN), Tax Index Number (TIN), Value Added Tax Number (VAT) an EIN number (Employer Identification Number) and a list of other requirements.
5. Find a Location.
Depending on your business, location may be very important. If you need to be visible to the public (say your business is a bookstore or restaurant), then you’ll have to think long and hard about where you should set up shop. Location can make you or break you-and the rent is due no matter which way your fortune turns. You will also need to get a phone, get the utilities turned on, install your furniture and equipment, and get a sign or two that shouts “Hey look! We’re here!”
6. Set Up Accounts with Credit Card Companies.
Every brick-and-mortar business these days takes plastic or they don’t stay in business. You’ll pay a small percentage for every credit or debit card transaction a customer makes. You will need to invest in a method for checking the validity of debit and credit cards-like those “Slide Card Here” machines at cash registers everywhere.
7. Hire Employees.
You may not need to do this step if you’re a one-person operation. Maybe you can get by with just one part-time person to answer phones and do some of the paperwork. Of course, it depends on your business. You can probably run a small bookstore by yourself, but even a tiny restaurant means you’ll need a cook, several servers, someone at the cashier, and so forth. You’ll need to have them complete various forms for the IRS, and you may want to run background checks or at least check some references before you hire anyone.
8. Tax collector.
If you sell goods at the retail level, you’re responsible for collecting a sales tax for various government entities; also, if you have employees, you’re responsible for collecting payroll taxes from them.
With employees, you’ll be responsible for all of the human resources-related functions, including recruiting, hiring, firing, and keeping track of all the benefits information; you’ll be the one filling out all the insurance forms, answering employee questions and complaints, and making the decisions about whether you should change the benefits package you offer your employees.
10. Sales/marketing/advertising executive.
In addition to having to plan your marketing or advertising campaign, you’ll have to carry it out; you may write advertising copy, do some preliminary market research, visit potential customers, and make sure existing customers stay happy; depending upon the type of business you own, you may have to join business groups, attend various breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and just generally network with anyone who could help your business prosper.
Even if you have an accountant, you’ll have to know a lot about accounting; you’ll have to know which records to keep and how to keep them; if you don’t have an accountant, you’ll also have to prepare all of your tax forms, and you’ll have to know how to prepare and interpret all of your own financial statements.
Even with a lawyer, you’ll have to know a lot about the law; if you don’t have a lawyer, you’ll have to prepare all of your own contracts and other documents and understand all of the employment laws if you have employees or want to hire someone.
13. Business planner.
You’ll inevitably want to make changes, perhaps to expand the business or add a new product line; if you want to make a change, it’ll be your responsibility to do it; you’ll have to plan it and execute it, and you’ll have to consider all of the ramifications of your decision.
14. Bill collector.
When customers don’t pay, it’ll be up to you to collect from them; you’ll have to know what you can and can’t do when collecting; you’ll have to decide how best to collect from them and when to give up.
15. Market researcher.
Before you start your business, you’ll have to find out who your customers are and where they’re located; you may also have to conduct market research at various times during the life of your business, such as when you are considering introducing a new product.
16. Technology expert.
As a small business owner, you will probably come to depend upon your computer; you’ll have to fix it when it breaks, install upgrades, and load software; you’ll also have to keep up with the newest products and the latest changes in technology.
Even if you have clerical help, you’ll inevitably do some of your filing, some of your typing, some of your mailing, and some of your telephone answering; even if you have someone else, for example, keep track of overdue accounts; you’ll have to know how to do it so that you can teach them what to do.
We included this list of the important responsibilities of running a business so you can realistically appraise your chances for success. Obviously, much of your time will be spent on the mechanics of complying with the requirements imposed on you as a business owner. If you’re going to succeed, you’ll have to do so in the time that remains. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the cost, in hours, of being in business for you. A person who spends 40 hours a week focused on his or her work will have to work a lot more hours as a business owner to get in 40 hours of activity directly relating to providing customers goods or services. And during the startup period, you’ll probably be the busiest you’ll ever be.
The list above might make you think twice about starting a business of your own. Perhaps you aren’t looking to make such a financial commitment regarding the hiring of professionals, finding a location… And it’s also a big, big risk.
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