How to Start a Business: 8 Critical Steps to Success - BusinessTown

How to Start a Business: 8 Critical Steps to Success

You can succeed in starting a business even without any experience and with very little money. But you need to make really good decisions on a number of important issues. Here’s some quick advice on how you can make the very best choices on these critical issues.

1-Find an awesome business idea

A great business idea is going to make a difference in the success of your business. Yet many entrepreneurs go about choosing a business idea poorly and end up with either a bad business or a business that isn’t well suited for them. Often, they don’t even really choose a business idea. They kind of slowly move towards it without thinking hard about it and without seriously considering alternatives. Maybe they saw that a particular business had a lot of customers. Maybe they heard that a friend of a friend was making a lot of money in a business.

Instead, you should select a business idea carefully. First, you should put together a big list of business ideas that appeal to you. If you don’t start out with a big list of business ideas to consider, you are not going to end up with an awesome one.

Are there really lots of good business ideas that might work for you? Absolutely! And many ideas require little experience or money. I started over 12 successful businesses and most of them I began with under $2,000, usually in fields that I knew nothing about. One of these businesses I later sold for $40 million.

Next, you want to carefully evaluate your favorite business ideas and decide which is the very best one for you. You want to carefully consider factors such as the potential upside of the business, the inherent risk of the business and the suitability of the business for you.

Finding an awesome business idea will be a key element to making your business a big success, so give this process the time and effort it deserves.

For more on finding a business idea check out my course, Start-a-Business 101. In this course, I present hundreds of my favorite ideas. I also give you my 6-step process for finding the very best idea for you.

2-Develop a competitive advantage

Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs fail to truly make their business different from their competitors. They might survive, but often they end up competing on price, struggle to find customers, and suffer from low-profit margins.

It doesn’t have to be that way! A little bit of effort building a competitive advantage into your business will go a long way to making it successful.

Too many entrepreneurs try to compete head-on by being “better” than their competition. Or they simply think they will succeed by working harder and longer. That might work at school or in sports, but not in business. In business, you want to be different and avoid competing directly with the other players.

Competitive advantage has three key components. First, you want to choose a great target market that the existing players are not servicing well. For example, if all the existing restaurants in town serve dinner and lunch, then maybe you want to serve breakfast.

Then you want to “differentiate.” Instead of opening up a bicycle store for the mass market, maybe instead you open up a bicycle store that totally focuses on high-end bicycles for the serious enthusiast.

Finally, you need to clearly and quickly communicate to your audience your competitive advantage. This starts with developing a “Unique Selling Proposition.” A few keywords that convey the core value proposition in a memorable way. The most famous USP is perhaps Federal Express’ “Absolutely, positively overnight.”

Whatever size or type of business you are starting, creating your competitive advantage is extremely important.

For more on creating your competitive advantage, check out my course, Start-a-Business 101. I include an entire module on this critical topic.

3-Carefully create your business plan

A business plan is going to help you build a better business. Even a small, part-time business should have a business plan. If you don’t have a good business plan you will likely end up running your business in a haphazard, disorganized way.

A good business plan carefully evaluates all the key factors in your situation including the market, potential customers, the competition and your strengths and weaknesses. This process then leads to an optimal strategy for your business, along with a cohesive operating plan.

A good business plan should be the central road map of your business.

If you are starting a simple one-person business or for the first stages of planning a larger business, a one-page business plan is all that you need.

For more on creating your business plan check out my course, Start-a-Business 101. I will show you exactly how to create a one-page business plan. You will also get a sample plan and a fill-in-the-blanks template.

4-Develop compelling marketing

The big secret about marketing is that it is hard not just for new businesses, but also for existing businesses. If you try to pretend marketing isn’t hard and you decide you are going to pour all your resources into one unproven marketing direction, you could get into trouble really quickly.

So, what’s the solution? You want to try lots of very different types of marketing. And you want to spend as little money as possible on any one marketing campaign until it is proven to work.

Fortunately, there is a lot of marketing you can do for free.

You can build a simple, but effective, website for free. Then you can optimize it to make sure you show up in Google search results.

There are all kinds of exciting “guerilla marketing” you can do for almost no cost. Examples include posters, discount coupons and networking. They work – I’ve used them all.

You can also create your own ads for search engines or even ads on social media such as Facebook. If you can write one sentence, you can create a search engine ad. If you can upload a picture to the internet, you can create Facebook ads. The beauty about online ads is that you can test them for very little money. So, test everything – the ad copy, the offer and the audience – before you spend much money.

Marketing is too important, too finicky and too different for each business to just hire an outside expert. As the business founder, you need to develop at least a basic understanding of marketing. Then either do it all yourself or hire an expert in a particular expertise, such as search engine optimization.

For more on marketing, check out my course, Start-a-Business 101. This course is chock-full of free and low-cost marketing ideas that are perfect for a new business. I will show you how to create a marketing plan. I will give you my 50 favorite “guerilla” marketing techniques. I will walk you step-by-step through every aspect of digital marketing. And I will show you how to make sales presentations that will make your product or service irresistible.

5-Create financial statements and projections

Do you need to hire someone to do your accounting? No, you can almost certainly do it yourself. The key is to be organized. You need to record every single purchase and every single sale.

You also need to create financial statements and projections. But it’s easy to learn. The most basic financial statement is the income statement. It provides a summary of your revenue, your expenses and your resulting profit over a period of time. You should also create a balance sheet and make future financial projections.

For more see my course, Start-a-Business 101. I will show you how to create your financial statements and projections. And I will provide you with templates and samples.

6-Finance your business

There’s a lot of ways to finance a small business, even a startup. But especially with a startup, you are not going to get money from a traditional bank. You will need to consider alternatives.

You also need to be fully prepared before approaching any potential financing source, including being able to explain how much money you need, how you are going to pay the money back, and why your business is going to succeed. Your background and how you present yourself will also make a big difference.

For more check out my course, Start-a-Business 101. I give you every possible way to finance your business and I explain the ins and outs of each alternative. Plus I show you how to prepare for presentations to potential investors and lenders.

7-Find a great name

It drives me crazy to see business after business with a lousy name! Like anything else, if you give it serious thought and you get some expert advice, you can come up with a great name.

Lots of people make the mistake of naming a business after themselves. For example, “Bob’s Painters.” It just doesn’t sound very professional and it could lead to people avoiding your business.

Other names may not lead to people avoiding your business, but they may not help attract them either. For example, “Belmont House Cleaners.”

But a great name will help attract people to your business and serve as a built-in advertisement for years to come. For example, I like the name that a knitting shop near me chose: Knittin Kitten. This name immediately tells you what the business does. It makes it sound like fun. And it’s easy to remember.

For more, see my course, Start-a-Business 101. I show you the four types of commonly used names you absolutely must avoid. And I give you my 7-step process for finding the perfect name for your business – using techniques similar to those used by professional naming services.

8-Choose to learn

The more you learn about starting and running a business, the more likely you will succeed. And succeed in a big way.

I can tell you that hard work and perseverance can help. But they aren’t enough. You have to make great choices on key decisions along the way. Learning can make all the difference in making those choices.

It’s hard to find the time to learn. We all lead busy lives. But my course, Start-a-Business 101 can provide you a shortcut to learning what you need to know to start a business.

I have carefully included everything that really matters in starting a business. And it is all presented in a logical sequence. You won’t have to spend hours searching around for what you need to learn next.

I present the course material as efficiently and quickly as possible – in short, easy-to-follow videos.

And I include handy tools such as worksheets, templates, checklists, and samples that will save you a ton of time.

You can learn how to start a business in just 10 minutes a day with my course. If you just watch one video (typically 4 to 10 minutes) a day, you can complete the entire course in about 10 weeks.

With this course, you will quickly become a smart entrepreneur with solid knowledge in all areas of starting and running a business.

Click here for more information on my best-selling course, Start-a-Business 101.


About Bob Adams

Bob Adams is a Harvard MBA serial entrepreneur. He has started over a dozen businesses including one that he launched with $1500 and sold for $40 million. He has written 17 books and created 52 online courses for entrepreneurs. Bob also founded BusinessTown, the go-to learning platform for starting and running a business.

We make starting a business simple…

We make starting a business simple….

Learn step-by-step with our video courses

Learn step-by-step with our video courses

 7 day free trial. Then $19.95/mo. Cancel anytime.

 7 day free trial. Then $19.95/month. Cancel anytime.

Our courses will show you exactly how to start and run a business

You won’t have to guess. We’ll show you what to do at every step of the way. You’ll have unlimited access to our short and easy-to-follow video courses.

Our courses will show you exactly how to start and run a business

Start a business you love, earn more money and live the life you want

Start a business you love, earn more money and live the life you want

With our easy-to-follow courses you will quickly learn how to start a business. Even if you’re a beginner, you’ll soon have the knowledge and skills that you need to succeed.

You’ll find a course that’s perfect for you

On BusinessTown you’ll get access to 130+ courses. Business ideas, business plans, marketing, how to get started… No matter where you are in your business journey, there is a course just for you.

You’ll find a course that’s perfect for you

Our courses are taught by real entrepreneurs

Our courses are taught by real entrepreneurs

They’ll share their experience, wisdom and skills with you. And they’ll guide you through every aspect of building your business.

Learn at your own pace and on any device

Take all the courses you want. Anytime. Anywhere. Any device. Watch one video a day (average 7 minutes) or binge watch the whole thing. It’s up to you!

Take all the courses you want. Anytime. Anywhere. Any device. Watch one video a day (average 7 minutes) or binge watch the whole thing. It’s up to you!

You’ll get all the tools you need to succeed

Fill-in-the-blank templates and 50+ other tools will show you exactly what to do at any given step. They will save you time, keep you organized and help you get your business up and running as rapidly as possible. 

Our most popular tools include:

  • 300 Best Business Ideas, 111 pages
  • Business Idea Evaluation Worksheet
  • Ultimate Startup Checklist, 18 pages
  • Business Plan Template, 29 pages
  • Sample Business Plan, 35 pages
  • Marketing Plan Under $2k, 12 pages
  • Financial Statement Templates

Try BusinessTown free for 7 days

 7 day free trial. Then $19.95/mo. Cancel anytime.

 7 day free trial. Then $19.95/month. Cancel anytime.

Explore our 3 leading courses…

This course will teach you all the basics of starting a business.

You will be guided step by step through the entire process of starting a business and becoming an entrepreneur. Our #1 most popular course. 12 lessons. 10 ½ hours.

This course will teach you all the basics of starting a business. You will be guided step by step through the entire process of starting a business and becoming an entrepreneur. Our #1 most popular course. 12 lessons. 10 ½ hours.

Learn how to find a great business idea with this course. 

Discover how to generate awesome business ideas, how to evaluate them, and how to choose the very best one for you. 10 lessons. 2 ½ hours.

Learn how to find a great business idea with this course. Discover how to generate awesome business ideas, how to evaluate them, and how to choose the very best one for you. 10 lessons. 2 ½ hours.

This course will show you exactly how to create an excellent business plan. 

Learn how to build your business plan from scratch! This course walks you through every step and includes a fill-in-the-blanks template and a complete sample plan. 9 lessons. 2 hours.

This course will show you exactly how to create an excellent business plan. Learn how to build your business plan from scratch! This course walks you through every step and includes a fill-in-the-blanks template and a complete sample plan. 9 lessons. 2 hours.

Hi there, I’m Bob Adams, BusinessTown founder, serial entrepreneur and Harvard MBA.

I have started 17 businesses. Most of my businesses I started with less than $2,000 – including one business that I sold for $40 million dollars.

But I was once in your shoes, not sure what to do or how to get started. I had to learn what works and what doesn’t work, sometimes the hard way.

I’ve got great news for you! You’re not going to go through years of trial and error. Because the recipe for business success is waiting for you on BusinessTown.

On Businesstown you’ll get short video courses that will show you exactly what to do at every step of starting your business. From finding your idea to writing your plan and making your first sale, we will guide you through the entire process.

So if you are thinking about starting your own business, take advantage of our 7 day free trial and see what BusinessTown can do for you.

BusinessTown founder Bob Adams’s courses and books have been featured in:

Try BusinessTown free for 7 days

 7 day free trial. Then $19.95/mo. Cancel anytime.

 7 day free trial. Then $19.95/month. Cancel anytime.

How BusinessTown is helping people start their own business:

How BusinessTown is helping people start their own business:

Watch this video and get ready to start a business you’ll love

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Watch this video and find out how you can start your own business.

Learn how to start a business with our video courses

130+ courses

Unlimited access

50+ tools

Templates & more

Discussion board

Get expert answers

 7 day free trial. Then $19.95/mo. Cancel anytime.

 7 day free trial. Then $19.95/month. Cancel anytime.

Frequently asked questions:

BusinessTown is an e-learning platform built for people interested in starting and running a business. 

On BusinessTown, you get unlimited access to 130+ business courses taught by real successful entrepreneurs and highly skilled experts. You also gain access to 50+ business tools and to our discussion board, where you can get expert answers to your business questions.

No matter what you want to learn or where you are on your business journey, there is a course for you. 

Marketing, ideas, financing, planning, naming, how to get started… BusinessTown covers everything you need to start and run your business right. 

The courses are available anywhere, anytime, on any device, and you can take them at your own pace. 

Create your BusinessTown account to get started and try BusinessTown free for 7 days. 

BusinessTown includes unlimited access to 130+ business courses taught by real successful entrepreneurs and highly skilled experts.

You also get full access to 50+ downloadable tools like worksheets, templates, and samples, and to our discussion board where you can get an answer to any business question you have. 

BusinessTown is $19.95 per month. It provides unlimited access to all 130+ courses, all tools, and our discussion board, where you can get expert answers to your business questions.

We offer a free 7-day trial. If you decide that BusinessTown is not for you, then just cancel within 7 days of starting your free trial and you will not be charged at all.

If you wish to cancel your BusinessTown account, you can do so through your account page under the Billing section. 

If you have any questions, email us at bbisson@businesstown.com. We are more than happy to help!

BusinessTown includes 130+ courses on all business topics: Getting started, business ideas, business plans, strategy, marketing, websites, social media, online advertising, finance, accounting, leadership, sales, legal issues, home-based businesses and more!

Looking for a business idea? Why don’t you check out our course How to Find a Business Idea. 

Do you need help creating your business plan? We’ve got you covered. Take a look at our course How to Create a Business Plan.

Do you want to be walked step by step through the entire process of starting a business? Check out our ultimate course, Start-a-Business 101. 

Are you not sure that you are ready to start your own business? Consider our course, What It Takes to Start a Business.

Are you looking for financing for a new or existing business? We offer 5 courses on financing a small business. We suggest you start with the course, How to Finance Your Business.

Do you want to learn about marketing? Because it’s so important, we offer over 30 courses on sales and marketing. Consider starting with the short course, Developing Your Marketing Message.

Want to learn about marketing online? We offer 5 courses on creating websites, 6 courses on digital marketing and 5 courses on promoting through social media. To get started we recommend the course, The Complete Guide to Digital Marketing.

Looking to get inspired and learn how other entrepreneurs succeeded in starting and growing their businesses? We offer several courses on this including, How to Succeed as a Woman Entrepreneur.

Do you already have a business and are looking to improve it? We have several courses on this topic. Try starting with the course, How to Boost Profits.

No matter where you are on your business journey, there is a course for you.   

On BusinessTown you have access to 50+ downloadable tools like worksheets, samples, and templates to help you start and run a business. 

Our most popular tools include:

The Ultimate Startup Checklist, 18 pages 

The 300 Best Small Business Ideas ebook, 105 pages 

The Complete Business Plan Template, 29 pages

Complete Sample Business Plan, 35 pages 

Sample Marketing Plan Under $2k, 12 pages

One Page Marketing Plan Template

One Page Sample Marketing Plan

50 Guerilla Marketing Tactics Worksheet, 8 pages

Business Idea Evaluation Worksheet 

8 Basic Steps to Making the Sale Template

Sales Presentations that Your Customers Will Love Template

Sales Presentation Sample Dialog

50 Ways to Generate Endless Sales Leads Worksheet 

Cold Calling Script Template and Sample

Emails that Land Sales Template and Sample

Voicemails that Get Callbacks Template and Sample

Income Statement Templates and Samples

Balance Sheet Templates and Samples

Cash Flow Templates and Samples

Calculate Depreciation Template

Key Financial Ratios Sample

How I Started a Successful Business with No Money and No Experience, Case Study

Key Questions to Select the Best Business Idea Worksheet

Validate Your Business Idea Worksheet

Using the 6-Step Approach to Choose a Business Idea Case Study

21 Easy-to-Start Part-Time Business Ideas Guide

42 Home-Based Businesses You Can Start Guide

Why I Repeatedly Changed the Legal Entity of My Business, Case Study

Evaluate Customer Segments and Competitors Worksheet

Differentiate Your Business from Competitors Worksheet

How I Differentiated My First Business in a Crowded Marketplace, Case Study

Creating a Press Release Template and Sample

Marketing Bob’s Rent-A-Bike, Case Study

Planning, Designing and Creating Your Website Worksheet

Search Engine Optimization Worksheet

50 Blog Post Ideas Worksheet

50 Creative Online Marketing Ideas Worksheet

Evaluate Potential Names for Your Business Worksheet

How I Financed Buying a Business Case Study

Cover Letter to Seek Financing Sample

Collection Letter Samples

The Four Quadrant Theory of Time Management Graphic

BusinessTown courses will show you how to start your business right and grow it into a highly successful enterprise. 

You will learn from highly experienced entrepreneurs and experts who have been there and done it. You won’t have to learn by trial and error. You won’t have to guess what to do next. BusinessTown courses will guide you through your entire business journey.

Even if you are a beginner you will quickly learn how to start a business you love. If you already have a business, BusinessTown will show how to grow it and make it better.

By just watching one video lesson a day (about 7 minutes average) you can quickly ramp up your business knowledge. No matter where you are on your business journey, there is a course for you taught by an expert on BusinessTown.

What would you like to learn more about today? Starting a business? How to find a business idea? How to write a business plan? How to do your marketing? How to build an online presence? How to get financing? How to prepare financial statements? BusinessTown has courses that cover all these topics and hundreds more.

So if you want to become a smarter entrepreneur and start and build a successful business, you’ll want to start streaming the courses on BusinessTown today.

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