Starting a business takes a lot of planning, research, and fearlessness. One of the hardest parts of the process is just taking the first steps. That is where we come in. BCDA is dedicated to assisting you along this journey from day one. Let us take the guesswork out of where you should begin by giving you a step-by-step process.
Below, we have outlined the steps on how to start a business in Boone County, but make sure to also check out our Energizing Entrepreneurs program. This four-step program will help you take your business idea from vision to reality, plus you will qualify for up to $5,000 in grant dollars.
Step 1: Define and Refine Your Business Idea
Every great business starts with a simple idea. Are you passionate about something that you think others in Boone County will enjoy too? Or, do you see a gap in the market that needs to be filled? Both of these are great ways to begin brainstorming and refining your business idea.
Once you have an idea that you are ready to execute, make an appointment with us at BCDA. We’ll discuss the programs we have to offer and put you in touch with the right people that can help bring your vision to life.
Write a Business Plan
Once your business idea is thought out, start thinking through the details. Having a well-thought-out plan is essential to starting a successful business in Boone County. And it will continue to be your guiding light throughout your years of business.
BCDA offers business plan assistance, which includes access to experts with 20+ years of experience writing and strategizing business plans and ideas. We will walk you through this process so you end up with a solid plan that sets you up for success.
If you want to do more research on your own or get an idea of what business plans look like, the Small Business Association (SBA) has some great resources that you can look through.
Consider Your Financial Plan
It’s time to get a clear picture of your finances. To start, you will need to create a list of your assets and liabilities. This will help you determine if you are financially secure enough to start a business, and you will need this information for the bank if you are looking to obtain financing.
Next, research what it will cost to start your business. Start-up costs to consider include everything you need to do before the first day of business:
- Will you rent, purchase, or build a space? What is the rent or mortgage cost? If purchasing or building, don’t forget to include down payment costs and closing fees.
- Does the space need to be remodeled? You will want to get actual quotes from contractors for labor and materials. Or get material costs if you plan to do the work yourself.
- What is the inventory cost to be fully stocked on day one?
- What type of furniture and equipment do you need?
- What is your monthly and yearly budget?
- Employee salary
- Don’t forget any attorney and accountant fees you may incur during the startup phase.
Remember that BCDA and our business plan experts can help you navigate through this.
Begin Your Market Research
You have probably already initiated some market research, but you will want to start getting into the details. Get specific about who your audience is and research their accessibility in Boone County.
Keep in mind for product-based businesses that foot traffic in smaller communities like Boone County is less than in larger urban areas. This most likely means that you might want to consider adding an alternate sales channel to your plan like a website, selling through social media, or attending trade shows.
Some questions to ask yourself during the market research phase are:
- What products and/or services will you offer?
- Where will you source your products and supplies?
- Once you have determined your products, you will need to reach out to the vendors to start a relationship.
- Who is my competition?
- How will you price your products and services?
- What is the profitability of your business in Boone County’s market?
- How much do you need to sell every month to reach your goals and how will you do that?
Determine Your Legal Business Structure
Now that you have a clear business idea and a solid business plan, it is time to determine how your business will be legally structured. You will want to work with an attorney in Boone County to guide you toward the structure best suited to your business.
To get an idea of the types of legal business structures, check out the SBA’s informational chart below or you can learn more about each of these structures on the IRS website.
Register With The Government And IRS
In order to legally operate your business in Boone County, there are a few business licenses you will need to acquire. Some examples are:
- Articles of incorporation and operating agreements
- Doing business as (DBA)
- Employer identification number (EIN)
- Income tax forms
- Federal, state, and local licenses and permits
Keep in mind that not all of these licenses are required. This will vary depending on the type of business you are starting. Your attorney will be able to help you determine which licenses your business will need and can file the appropriate paperwork for you.
Step 2: Take Action
Secure Financing To Fund Your Business
Boone County has many great banks to choose from that love to support local entrepreneurs. This is the time to sit down with one of them to go over your business plan and request your financing options. If you need help finding a bank in your community, check out our business directory page.
BCDA also has ways to help fund your business. Our Loan Program offers gap financing to help secure your loan through one of the local Boone County banks. Plus, the Energizing Entrepreneurs program was created to help small businesses get started! This program offers a $5,000 grant upon completion of the program’s guidelines. We will walk you through any available funding program during our meeting.
Also, depending on which community your business is in, some of the community economic development organizations also offer financing assistance. BCDA will help you find that information as well.
Find a Location
Finding the right location for your business can be tricky, especially when space is sometimes limited in smaller communities. Luckily BCDA is constantly in contact with building owners and has insights on available properties so we can point you in the right direction.
The easiest way to keep your finances organized from day one is to start with a plan. Will you use financial software like Quickbooks® or will you hire a bookkeeper? There is no right or wrong answer, but you will want to have that answer nailed down before you start your business.
It is much easier to stay organized off the bat than try to play catch-up before tax season.
Protecting your business is an essential step in this journey. You will want to sit down with your insurance agent to go over the best options for your business insurance. This will vary based on your business’s legal structure, but your agent will be able to guide you through this process.
If you need help finding a local Boone County insurance agent, check out our business directory page.
Build Your Team
Building the right team, if applicable, is crucial. Your employees will represent your business and help bring your vision to life. They are an asset to your business so make sure you have a hiring plan in place.
Some things you will need to think about are what salary, benefits, insurance, work schedule, etc. you can offer. Hiring in today’s market can be difficult, so consider what can set your business apart from the others.
It is also important that you have clear roles outlined so that your team knows what is expected of them.
Brand Your Business And Create a Marketing Plan
How will your customers recognize you and how will you get your name out there? That is where branding and marketing come into play.
Branding Your Business
Branding is an important part of your business that a lot of small businesses tend to overlook. Your customers need to be able to identify who you are across a variety of platforms. They do this by recognizing your logo, your font, the color scheme on your marketing materials, and the overall aesthetic of your imagery.
Having a solid brand foundation will help you create marketing materials much easier.
You can DIY your own branding and logo or hire someone to create it for you. Boone County is home to many talented branding and logo experts and we can help put you in touch with them.
Once your branding is complete, it’s time to create your social media accounts and let the world (and Boone County!) know you are coming. When it comes to social media, you don’t have to be everywhere. The most important thing is to be consistent on the platform(s) you choose.
The social media platforms you use depend on your target audience. TikTok will reach Gen Z, Instagram is still loved by millennials and Facebook reaches a more mature audience. There is overlap on each platform of course, but knowing where the majority of your audience spends their time is vital.
Here is what you will need to add to your marketing plan for social media:
- What platforms will you use?
- How often will you post?
- Be realistic because the most important part of having a successful social media account is consistency.
- What content will you produce?
- What value are you hoping to give your audience?
Create a Marketing Budget
Budgets and business go hand in hand, especially a marketing budget. This will give you permission to spend the ad dollars and help spread the word about your business. As well as set firm boundaries when people come calling for donations.
Here is what you will need to add to your marketing plan for traditional advertising:
- Does your audience read the newspaper? Which one(s)?
- Will you advertise on the radio or on satellite radio?
- Will you sponsor podcasts in your niche?
- Do paid social media ads make sense for your business?
- Is influencer marketing something that you want to try?
- What local organizations will you support through donations?
Your Business Website
One question that we get asked quite often is if your business needs a website. While this is completely up to you and your needs, having a business website does help legitimize your business and helps your customers find you from the comfort of their homes.
Step 3: Build a Support System
The journey of an entrepreneur can sometimes feel lonely. Ultimately, you are who everyone wants to talk to when things go right and especially when things go wrong. It is important to build a support system for yourself and your business so you have someone to communicate and collaborate with.
Find a Mentor and Get Involved
Boone County is home to many successful businessmen and women who want to see you succeed. Reach out to someone you look up to and see if they would be willing to mentor you.
Another good way to build relationships in your community is to get involved. There are so many great organizations that are always looking for volunteers. This is a great way to get your face out there and network with your peers.
Join Boone County Emerging Leaders
The Boone County Emerging Leaders program was developed to discover, encourage, and prepare future leaders to take on the various leadership roles in our communities. Participating in this program will not only provide you with high-quality leadership training, but you will also get the opportunity to network with other young professionals throughout the county.
Join an Online Information Group
Having an outsider’s perspective is always a good idea. We encourage you to find online groups within your niche to round out your support system. Facebook is home to many groups like this or we can help point you in the right direction.
The Bottom Line of Starting a Business in Boone County
Starting a business will not happen overnight, but with a joint effort between you and BCDA, your dreams will become a reality. The keys to starting a successful business are proper research and planning, knowing that you will probably need to pivot along the way and lots of support. Once you are operational, use your business plan as your guide, and check out our Grow Your Business page for resources that will help you flourish.