starting a business checklist | how to own a small business

Believe it or not there’s a treasure trove of valuable items being thrown away by big box stores around the world. Electronics stores toss out everything from printer cartridges to tablets, and if you’ve got the stomach for rummaging around in dumpsters you can easily earn a bit (more than you ever thought possible) with this side business idea.
Anyone can sell goods on Amazon, provided you have products to sell (or buy low, then resell). If you’re the type to hit all the local garage sales each weekend, there’s all sorts of valuable things that can be resold online as a side business idea. If you want to step your Amazon selling game up, check out this detailed guide to Amazon and eBay retail arbitrage on Entrepreneur featuring an interview with Julie Becker and several drop-shippers who’ve grown this home based business idea from side business idea into a lucrative money-maker.

It can be helpful to have people who are bright and creative join you for a casual brainstorming session. Start with a simple question like: “What shall we do?” The idea is not to create a business plan, just to generate potential ideas. Many of the ideas will be duds, and there will be quite a few ordinary ones, but a few may emerge that have real potential.
It seems that just about every business I’ve been involved in hires home-based editors, who work on a freelance basis and set their own hours. Generally, this work falls into three categories: 1) Developmental editing or making highly substantive changes; 2) Copy editing or wording and grammar improvements; 3) Proof reading. Many editors specialize in one aspect of editing, others cover them all. You may further specialize such as in technical document editing.
Too many entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to run their business venture out of their personal bank account. It’s super important to create a separate bank account for your business, primarily because it isolates your professional financials and makes them easier to manage and track.
This is a big business with lots of opportunities. It is largely a do-it-yourself hobby, so you make money by selling supplies, expertise or services to scrap bookers. You could give courses or hold events on scrap booking. A common way to break into this business is to hold “scrapbooking” parties. You invite friends and acquaintances to your house, tell them all about scrapbooking, and try to sell the supplies they will need to get started.
Founded in 2003, Small Business Trends is an award-winning online publication for small business owners, entrepreneurs and the people who interact with them. It is one of the most popular independent small business publications on the web.
Team members will complete assessments along the way to ensure their success on the job. After training, you will gain realistic, practical experience with supportive coaching and feedback to meet daily customer service and sales goals
I can barely “cook” a frozen dinner, but you may have the cooking skills that I lack! People will pay good money for a really awesome cake for special occasions. Get some great cake pictures up on your website, promote your skills to event planners and build your clientele!
Get a post office box for your business. This is especially important if you have business cards or will be regularly corresponding through the mail. The simple fact of the matter is that PO boxes look more professional than using your home address.[8]
This is one of the most popular small businesses in the world! And no wonder! Everyone needs to have it done and many people don’t like to do it! It is also a business that can be challenging to get your employees to consistently do a fantastic job. That’s why this business is particularly well-suited for both solo entrepreneurs and an entrepreneur who runs one single crew of cleaners.
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Wouldn’t it be fun to make a gift-basket overflowing with a bunch of carefully selected and really attractive items? Of course, it would! You could have a lot of satisfaction putting together distinctive gift baskets that will delight your customers and bring in sales!
If you want to broaden your services and earn more, you can opt to make the entire house look neat and clean with this side business idea. House cleaning services cover carpets, floors, lawns, garages, windows, walls, and roofs, requiring a whole range of cleaning tools. You can hire maids and janitors to do the actual cleaning while you handle sales, administrative and customer service tasks. Or, you can start small by actually getting your hands dirty as a contractor, learning on the job before launching your own cleaning operations with the help of cleaning business management tools like Swept. Beyond that, I’d recommend checking out Cleaning Zoom’s ultimate guide to starting a cleaning business if you plan on taking this business idea seriously.
It’s hard especially for really small companies to hire someone dependable and that they can trust, to do their cleaning at night in the office alone. That’s why if you are willing to work hard and be dependable, you can make good money at this. I met a fellow who earned an excellent living cleaning offices, and he only worked 4-5 hours a night, and had no employees.
Instead, at least for now, forget branding and unique selling propositions and all the business-identity stuff. And don’t worry about finding the perfect URL or website design or promotional literature. You’re putting those carts way before your business horse, too.
Fancy yourself a poet? You can earn $300 for every poem you write that this greeting card company publishes—not a bad side business idea if you’ve got a way with words and aren’t afraid of rejection on poems that aren’t a good fit.
Virtual Office Temps offers professional business services: clerical support, administration, creativity, management, sales support and personal services. Apply to be a home-based virtual assistant and make $10 – $35 per hour based on the project.
Investment: Startup costs will depend on the type of services you provide. The upfront costs should be lower if the business is nonmedical and assists seniors with basic daily tasks, although training and licensing may still be required.
If you don’t mind parading yourself around in public places as a side business idea, and enjoy a little attention, then working as a human billboard can pay a surprising amount of dividends. Renting out your beard, for example can earn you as much as $5 a day while having a brand logo tattooed on your shaven head for five years could pay as much as $7,000—though this type of earning opportunity is admittedly rare. This business idea is definitely not for the faint of heart, and is a little extreme for me, but nonetheless it’s been done as a side hustle for many people. You can start by holding a placard or wearing a sandwich board. If you think this is a good side business idea, you can go all the way and turn it into a full on small business idea with enough hard work—plus you won’t have to deal with all the issues other more complex businesses have to constantly think about (like reducing churn).
Shop around local banks to see what’s out there. Local banks and credit unions usually have fantastic customer support, so we’d recommend looking into some award-winning Colorado-based banks like Alpine and Bank of Colorado.
Most people, even those many won’t admit it, love moving their bodies. It’s also a great workout. If at some point in your life, you had to hang your dancing shoes for a more sensible office job, there’s nothing stopping you from earning money with this side business idea as a passion project around your day job. Part-time dance instructors get a fraction of the pie that their full-time peers enjoy, but it can add up to hundreds each week if you’re consistent—making for a great side business idea to those with the skills and drive.
Obtain more information about federal and state licensing requirements by clicking the links under Federal Licenses and Permits and State Licenses and Permits, respectively, on the Business Licenses and Permits page [source: SBA].
We offer a unique opportunity with the potential to earn $700 or more weekly working at home online after successfully completing the application process and training. We encourage and invite people with backgrounds in Customer Service or Administrative As…
Of course, you can try your hand at building homes and other large endeavors or you can specialize in smaller projects. Maybe driveways? Patios? Outside waterfalls? Closet renovations? There is no limit to what you can do, but to be highly successful or to build a scalable business I suggest you carefully find a highly profitable niche.
If you want to separate your personal liability from your company’s liability, you may want to consider forming one of several different types of corporations. This makes a business a separate entity apart from its owners, and therefore, corporations can own property, assume liability, pay taxes, enter into contracts, sue and be sued like any other individual. One of the most common structures for small businesses, however, is the limited liability corporation (LLC). This hybrid structure has the legal protections of a corporation while allowing for the tax benefits of a partnership.
My friend’s wife earned an advanced degree in nutrition, put out her shingle, and tried some marketing, but her business progressed very slowly. Then she teamed up with a local gym and her business took off.
Nicole received her Bachelor’s degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the managing editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.
Now that you’ve got the financial foundation laid, it’s time to start building on it. There are tons of funding opportunities out there — especially in California — but not every approach is right for every business. When choosing a primary funding method, consider:
Tired of chasing after paid blogging gigs? Start your writing business by starting a blog! We have a quick and easy tutorial right here — plus you can grab hosting for as little as $2.95 a month with Bluehost.
Protect your LLC status: Having an operating agreement makes your LLC more “legitimate” in the eyes of the court, especially if it is a solely owned LLC. Because there are many different types of business structures, you want to make sure that your LLC is recognized as an LLC and not something different. The formality of an operating agreement insures that your LLC will be seen as an LLC. [19]
People have discovered that they can make so much money at yard sales that they turn it into a regular business, including buying additional merchandise such as at flea markets or online specifically to sell at their yard sales. One town that I vacation in decided that too many people were turning yard sales into a business, and passed an ordinance limiting how many yard sales you were legally allowed to conduct. This is of course another indicator that yard sales can be highly lucrative!
If you keep your money hidden in the attic or earning close to nothing in a savings account, you might want to consider putting it to better use through smarter investing as your side business idea. Sure, there are plenty dangers to look out for, but most personal finance experts will advise you to start learning about the stock market if you want to grow your wealth, and to avoid jumping too heavily into trends like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies without proper understanding.
Before you hit the ground running with your Colorado business, you need to have a business plan prepared. A well-crafted business plan is crucial for securing funding and tracking the progress of your business.
I really like the idea of the outdoor deck business. I envision beautiful wood, wonderfully stained and maybe an attractive awning or roof. Outdoor furniture could be beautifully made out of wood too!
Spend time developing an excellent social media presence. This can be done well before the business is ready, increasing anticipation. Use Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, and any other social media you participate in to build excitement and spread the word. You want to build a buzz so that people will begin following your progress. (Be sure to choose business accounts for your business and keep your personal accounts separate. The messages you send should be tailored differently, depending on which account you’re sending from.)
2. Invent for the market. There are many ways of coming up with new ideas. Many inventors focus on solving a problem or meeting a need. I like to look for sleeping dinosaurs. By that I mean, products that have remained relatively unchanged for decades. For example, I created a profitable business by adding personality to guitar picks. The easiest ideas to license are those that make simple improvements to existing products. So, where can you locate opportunities for innovation?
Totspot is a mom-to-mom mobile marketplace for buying and selling gently used or new children’s clothing.  Totspot users can list clothing items for sale in less than one minute, and all transactions are handled in-app.  Totspot then notifies the seller when their item is purchased.
Turning your favorite craft or hobby into a revenue-generating business idea easily counts among the most fulfilling experiences anyone can have. Just take a look at what Jacob Huss of Soteria Designs is doing wit his hobby of hand-building furniture and wood jewelry. With more and more people demanding a higher degree of personalization in just about anything they own or use, count yourself lucky if your craft happens to be the creation of custom furniture. Not only is the real estate sector regaining its footing, the number of style-conscious customers is also on the rise, creating plenty of room for growth into this business idea.
Although TeleTech offers many customer service jobs at call centers across the U.S., the company also hires at-home workers. Just look for the listings with “work from home” or “Remote” under “Location.”
With the wide array of digital marketing options to consider, not to mention traditional options, local businesses increasingly need outside help to develop and execute the best marketing strategy. To get going in this field you will need to be familiar with the most popular online and offline marketing venues, and be comfortable selling your services to local business people.
The business ideas we’ve covered might be easier to run when it comes to logistics, but that doesn’t make them easy. There are at least three things you should keep in mind as you consider your options, no matter what you decide to start.
You require money to start your business, but how much do you really need? Without a clear idea you run the risk of coming up with an unrealistic valuation of your business, which will put off investors and get your loan application rejected.
Regardless of the business idea you choose for your small town, proper planning is essential to the success of the business. And since owning a small business is both a major lifestyle and time commitment, make sure your choice is one you see bringing you both profit and joy for the foreseeable future.

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  1. Though this might seem like a very niche market for a small town business, the reality is that the vaping industry (and community) is currently exploding in the U.S. To give you a sense of how big the vaping market is, Quartz reported that Yelp has 10,591 “vape shops” currently listed in their database. That’s a huge number, especially considering that the rate of traditional smoking continues to steadily decline. Depending on where you are in the country, however, due to state regulations, opening a vape shop will be easier in some states than in others. So make sure to check out your state’s laws before pursuing this business idea. Resources such as VapeMentors can also help guide you when getting your business up and running.
    SimplyFun – Would you like to play for a living? You can be part of a meaningful movement and earn generous incentives by promoting SimplyFun’s mission of play-based learning. Enjoy a flexible schedule while earning 25-42% commissions, plus bonuses and rewards. Our thorough training program and starter kit provide everything you need to launch your business. Plus, now is the perfect time to join SimplyFun as we continue to grow from our best year ever. Thanks to our innovative approach to direct selling and a talented sales force, we doubled our sales in 2017. You can be part of this continued success by selling award-winning, thoughtfully designed games that teach useful, real-world skills to children of all ages. Ready? Game On.
    Launch your product or your service. When the product is all built, packaged, coded, online, and ready to sell, or when your services are fully worked out and ready to go, hold a special event to launch your business. Send out a press release, announce it to the world. Tweet it, Facebook it, let the word resound to all corners of your market—you have a new business!
    If you enjoy being outside and cleaning, a window washing business might be the right fit for you. You just need some cleaning supplies and outdoor equipment if you plan to work on multi-story buildings.
    With new digital ad options abounding, developing a well thought out advertising program is more complex than ever! Hence, businesses are even more dependent upon third parties such as ad agencies to solve their marketing riddle and bring customers to their door. To get going as an ad agency you will need some broad marketing acumen. However, today no-one can be expected to be an expert in all aspects of marketing, so you’ll also need some contacts to bring in particular expertise when you need it.
    It doesn’t happen overnight, but licensing a foreign product for sale domestically, can be a lucrative business idea that (at times) leads to a big payoff down the road. Invest intelligently, sell a product you believe in, and you can reap the rewards for years to come.
    CrowdFlower is a virtual workspace where you can earn money by completing simple tasks on your computer. Tasks include Internet research, data collection, data categorization, content creation, content moderation, surveys, etc. While I was unable to find any information on pay rates and how and payments are made, CrowdFlower does have an A rating on the Better Business Bureau website and has been featured on sites like Forbes, the LA Times, and Telecrunch.
    Find a unique product category that’s still untapped by the box subscription industry, or find a way to put a new spin on an existing service, and you could have a lucrative business on your hands. Keep it as inexpensive as possible — according to LearnVest, offering cheaper products will help you stand out from the competition.

  2. Software drives businesses today. This is a fact not lost on individuals and companies attempting to earn a profit, make a name for themselves, or simply get things done. As a result, the job outlook for software developers will be much sunnier than prospects for many other occupations—creating massive opportunities for this business idea well into  the future. In fact, it won’t take you long to find a good-paying software development project as a side business idea on sites like Upwork, Guru.com, and Freelancer. LinkedIn also recently launched their brand new freelancing platform, ProFinder which has a dedicated section just for hiring talented software developers.
    If you know a thing or two about paid internet marketing and are comfortable with Google, a great way to make some extra income as a side business idea is to sign a freelance contract to manage a company’s Google Ad Campaigns, and gradually start bringing on more clients as your consulting business grows. Just be sure to brush up on all the right business slang and industry jargon that’s pervasive in the online marketing world before you launch unprepared into this side business idea.

  3. You could try to do this business online…but of course the issue is getting people the right size. You could even send several sizes if they are not sure of their size. Or you could have a storefront. You don’t need a fancy location or expensive buildout. There is a formal wear rental facility near me that has been very successful for decades, and the storefront looks like it was last remodeled about 50 years ago.
    The first step toward starting any successful California business is planning. Launching a business without a business plan is like shooting a major Hollywood production without a screenplay — it’s bound to go haywire. Among the things you’ll cover in your business plan are:
    Everyone knows legal proceedings take forever, can be very expensive, and the outcomes can be uncertain. I became involved in litigation with a service vendor and it looked like we had no alternative but to go to court. However, our opposing attorneys agreed to hire an arbitrator and we ended up with a much better result, with much less time and agony. A great business—and a great service for individuals and businesses.
    Like recycling, this side business idea requires the willingness to get your hands a little dirty. If you enjoy working outdoors, then you can make a pretty good side income cleaning up litter outside retail, office and industrial properties—especially for businesses that have large parking lots that need regular cleaning. Property management companies need their properties maintained litter free and you can do so with an on-foot service using inexpensive equipment like this cheap pick-up tool and a broom. Charge for your time at $35 – $50 per hour and bill your clients the same contract price each month. For even more on how to get started with a litter removal side business idea, check out Cleanlots.
    Many small business owners cover their start-up costs entirely through loans, with the expectation that they will begin paying back the loans with the profits from their new business. New businesses can take months or years to generate a profit, however, and loan payments can really become a millstone around the neck of a fledgling operation.

  4. If you’re one of those people who can’t help but flip through bridal magazines and think about various wedding arrangements in your daydreams, wedding planning might be the perfect thing for you. A great way to get started is to develop a website or blog on the topic, get to know people online, and promote your services at local wedding venues and throughout the community.
    Sole Proprietorship: Consider this the path of least resistance, but know that it comes at a price. If you’re operating without any partners and haven’t registered a formal business structure, you’ll automatically be classified as a sole proprietor and have no liability protection whatsoever. No need to file articles of incorporation/organization, but you might benefit from filing a DBA.
    What is affiliate marketing? You provide links on your website or blog to an affiliate marketing service that sells a third-party product or company that sells their own product. The largest affiliate marketer is Amazon whose commissions are in the 4-4.5% range. Then there are the affiliate marketing services like Click Bank and ShareASale, which offer thousands of products, some of which have commissions as high as 70%. It sounds like an easy way to make money and some people have made a lot of money on it…but many more people have been disappointed by their results. It is very hard to get your website and blog visitors to buy things!
    It should go without saying, but it’s important to pay what you owe — especially when dealing with the IRS. The IRS can impose harsh penalties and even come after a business owner’s personal assets if the owner doesn’t remit payroll taxes on time.
    The traditional 9-5 job in an office is becoming increasingly obsolete, Fast Company reports. Not only are more people in the corporate world doing more from home, thanks to the internet, but side gigs are on the rise. More than a third of us — nearly 54 million people did some freelance work in the past year. That represents a growth of 700,000 more freelancers than the previous year. According to FlexJobs, there are more opportunities opening for full-time remote work, even for those at the executive level. Brie Reynolds, director of online content at FlexJobs, told the magazine: “Professionals who’ve spent years honing their skills and experience don’t need to sacrifice their hard work in order to find better work-life balance.” Analyzing listings from more than 40,000 companies in the FlexJobs database indicates that companies ranging from Dell and UnitedHealth Group to Xerox, SAP, and Salesforce were among the top 25 employers with the most available remote jobs. Although health care, technology, and education are the most well-represented industries, there are also openings in finance, hospitality, and research.
    This is also when you’ll create your mini-pitch and USP (unique selling proposition). Both of these are intended to concisely describe the mission of your business — the mini-pitch in 1-2 sentences and the USP in just a few words.
    The selling costs are remarkably low on the Etsy website. But you will be competing with some awesome looking crafts, so make sure you create some great stuff that is highly distinctive. Then take perfect photographs and write up snappy descriptions. Try to build a following by developing a related line of goods

  5. Did you major in a subject like English, history, or math in college, or do exceptionally well on the SAT exam? Do you have patience with children? If so, you likely have what you need to tutor kids in particular subjects. Seek out parents or teachers and let them know that you tutor students in a certain subject, and offer materials for them to share, and phone calls will often trickle in. You can get going locally or expand across the country by offering to tutor online.
    Starting a microbrewery is not for the faint of heart. It’s also not for those that don’t dream, live, and drink beer like it’s the water of the gods. But if this sounds like you then go for it! Even if it might seem like a saturated industry, the reality is that even though microbreweries are opening at a rate of two breweries per day, it’s just not enough for the demand the industry is seeing. So if you’ve been hesitant to follow your passion, let us just put this out there that this is the time to tap into a business industry that is perfect for a small town.
    Apparently you have to be seen to be appreciated by your coworkers, so, if it’s possible, you might want to get out of the house and show up at the office once in a while. (Plus, you might start feeling a little lonely — and lose a little too much sleep.)
    CrowdFlower is a virtual workspace where you can earn money by completing simple tasks on your computer. Tasks include Internet research, data collection, data categorization, content creation, content moderation, surveys, etc. While I was unable to find any information on pay rates and how and payments are made, CrowdFlower does have an A rating on the Better Business Bureau website and has been featured on sites like Forbes, the LA Times, and Telecrunch.
    Generally, no specific expertise or certificate is necessary to open a company. However, a certificate and experience — and license — may be necessary to operate or sell specific services to the public. Check with the Secretary of State to learn the legal requirements to offer a specialized product or service in your State.

  6. I like this idea! Instead of making the speeches and presentations yourself, you are coaching the presenters. I see this market as largely three-fold. First you have professional speakers who are making or trying to make a living giving paid presentations. Then you have people who are regularly called upon to make speeches or presentations in connection with their business. Then you have the person who occasionally is called upon to make a speech or presentation without being paid for it, but nonetheless wants to improve their presenting skills. This third market is the one I would suggest focusing on, to get started in this business.
    I see this as an arbitrage opportunity. You finance your fitness rental equipment as one package at a low rate, and then you rent it out to your clientele at a much higher rate, providing them a service they can afford. Nice for everyone! My experience in the rental business is you need to pay careful attention to what happens at the end of the rental period—is the equipment still rentable? Is it sellable? And what happens when the equipment breaks down? Work out these details and this could be a solid and very scalable business.
    If you think that starting a gym in a tiny town is a bad idea, think again. Just as the physical body comes in many different shapes and sizes, so do gyms and exercise studios. Though fitness businesses are great small town business opportunities, they are especially lucrative for locations where the weather is colder more months out of the year than not. It’s also worth mentioning that the boutique fitness trend is red-hot at the moment and shows no signs of dying down. The appeal of massive gyms with rows and rows of weights and cardio equipment is losing popularity. Meaning, there is no better time than now to capitalize on the boutique fitness trend.
    On top of just the skill and experience components to being a successful online coach, this side business idea is all about building a community around the help you’re offering and fostering trust with members. Plus, your community members will learn from each other along the way. Creating the space for that community can be as simple as setting up a private Facebook group or choosing a community-building platform like Ning.com that has even more capabilities like using your own custom URL, having internal forums, customized designs, and more.

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