How to Start a Business in 5 Steps - BusinessTown

How to Start a Business in 5 Steps

What if you started your own business?

Starting your own business is the best way to build something exciting, to become wealthy, and to be completely independent!

“Starting my own business sounds kind of cool… But wait, that’s crazy I have no idea how to do that!”

My name is Bob Adams and I know how you feel. Once, I was in your shoes, thinking about starting my own business but being scared because I had no idea what to do!

But let me tell you…you can start your own business!

Starting a business has NEVER been easier. There are lots of good businesses you can start with little money or experience.

Once you know that you want to be your own boss, you need to get your battle plan together. One of the biggest challenges is knowing what to do and knowing how to do it right.

That’s where I come in. In this article, I’m going to walk you through the 5 main steps you need to complete to start your own business.

INSIDER TIP – Once you learn the basics of how to start a business the whole thing will seem a lot easier.

Why should you listen to me?

I have a Harvard MBA. I have also started 17 successful businesses including one I started with $1,500 and later sold for $40 million dollars.

I’m Bob Adams. I’m a serial entrepreneur and Harvard MBA. I’ve started dozens of businesses and helped millions of entrepreneurs with my books and courses.

Let me tell you, hard work is an important ingredient for business success. But even more importantly, you need to first learn some of the basics about starting a business. In particular..

You need to nail down the first critical steps.

Starting a successful business is like building something. If the foundations are weak, then the whole building will later crumble.

Here, the foundations of your business are these few critical steps that you are going to follow now. If you start your business on a strong foundation it will likely be highly successful for many years to come.

In this article I will help you understand the most important steps in starting your business and how to address each of them.

Let’s get started.

INSIDER TIP – Following these 5 steps is a great way to start ahead of most entrepreneurs. You will avoid the main rookie mistakes and make the right decisions from the start.

1 – Commit to your business

So you want to start a business. That’s wonderful and I’m proud of you. But wait… Do you really want it?

Let me rephrase this, are you really committed to your future business? Are you ready to do whatever it takes to succeed?

Before going further, you need to know that starting a business will require some dedication and sacrifice. You might have to work long hours, cut down your personal expenses, or take out a loan for example.

Also, you will need to truly try to make the best possible decisions on the most critical issues for your business. You need to be willing to learn what these critical issues are and how to make the best choices on these make or break decisions.

business idea consulting Bob Adams
If you want to start a business then you can make it happen. However it is going to take some effort. But if you have the drive, the rest will follow.

Hey! I have never said that it was going to be easy. Everybody would be a millionaire if it was the case. But it is 100% doable if you commit to your business, learn about how to start a business right, and try as hard as you can! If you have the drive, the rest will follow, believe me.

Millions have done it, I’ve done it, and you can too!

IMPORTANT – You don’t need a lot or money or experience to start your own business. If you are willing to work hard and keep learning, you can make it happen.

2 – Choose the best business idea for you

Alright! Once you are sure that you really want to start your own business, the next step is choosing the best business idea for you.

Wait a minute…

Let me make myself clear. I didn’t say find any business idea. A random idea probably won’t cut it. It may likely fail. You need to carefully pick the best business idea out there if you want to maximize your chances of business success.

Some business ideas are simply much more difficult to succeed at than others. And some business ideas are going to be a poor match for you.

Choosing your idea is probably the most important decision when starting a business. It is absolutely crucial and will have a direct impact on your chances of success.

Many people make the mistake to think that to succeed in a big way, a business idea needs to be a brand new concept, for example an I-tech device or an App addressing a totally new need. But that’s not true!

Your idea doesn’t need to be a brand new tech concept or fancy software to become a successful business. Holly Christensen – who we interviewed on BusinessTown –  runs Dune Jewelry. She makes her products with sand from beaches all around the world.

There is an endless amount of proven business ideas that have made thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs rich before. I know because I have succeeded in more than a dozen of them including businesses as diverse as bicycle rentals to a book publishing business.

But how do you go about choosing the best business idea for you?

My personal advice is to generate as many business ideas as possible and then pick the one that’s the best fit for your personality, skills, and the market.

Before choosing your idea for good, don’t forget to test it and gather some outside feedback.

Don’t hesitate to spend a lot of time on this first step. Like I told you before, it is very important to make the right decisions early on if you want your business to succeed.

WARNING – Choosing a great business idea that is a also a good fit for you is the foundation of your business. However many entrepreneurs do not give it the attention it deserves.

3 – Differentiate your business and create your strategy

Now that you have your business idea in mind you need to differentiate your business and come up with a strategy.

Differentiating your business is important. Here’s how to do it.

First, you need to answer this question: Who am I targeting and why would they do business with me instead of my competitors?

Having a clear answer to this question is crucial. A lot of entrepreneurs fail because they don’t give enough thoughts to this particular step.

To answer this crucial question, you need to research the market and the competition and find the underserved spot where you can fit in.

Here is my personal take on competitors: the best way to deal with them is to not compete with them in the first place.

For this, you need to be unique! Try to find your own target audience and niche. Identify your audience paint points and address them in a remarkable way you know they will care about.

My friend Rudy Glocker founded his own apparel company: Burgeon Outdoor. He made it different by focusing entirely on environment and community conscious outdoor enthusiasts. 

You need a short business plan.

Once this is done, you need to put together a short business plan.

There, you should compile every key strategic decision you are making about your business.

This includes but is not limited to: your target market, your competition, your differentiation, your team, and how you will operate.

It doesn’t have to be long. For my own businesses, a one-page business plan did the job when starting out.

What’s important is that you can easily refer to your strategy and make changes as your business evolves.

Knowing who your target market is and how you are different from your competitors is extremely important.

You don’t want to be one of these businesses that launches blindly in an oversaturated market. You might fail or you might not. But at best you will likely suffer from weak customer loyalty and low-profit margins, and never reach your full business potential.

IMPORTANT – After choosing your idea, you need to find your target market and differentiate yourself from your competitors. Why would people do business with you?

4 – Get the money you need to start your business and learn how to project your finances

At this point, you want to think about your business finances. How much money do you need? Where are you going to find it? How are you going to create your financial projections?

Find out how much money you need and how to get it.

Let’s get started.

First, you need to know how much money you need to launch your business and operate it for a few months. It is important you include enough to make sure your business doesn’t run out of cash before revenue starts coming in!

If you can’t cover this amount yourself, then you need to think about getting outside financing for your business.

There are many options a business owner can consider when looking for outside funds. My personal advice is to approach your family and friends first. Then, for a startup, I would turn to angel investors.

It would be nice to get money from more traditional banks or even online lenders, but your business will usually need a little bit of operating history to get money from these sources.

Laundromats – like this one I ran across in New Hampshire – are an example of easy to finance businesses. But no matter what business you are starting, you can find a way to finance it.

Crowdfunding could work for many businesses, and venture capital is a possibility if your business has extremely high growth potential.

Before approaching any potential investor or lender, get your ducks in order! Have your business plan, including your financial projections, ready to go! And be prepared to answer the different questions that you are likely to face.

How do you project your finances?

You need to be able to project your finances to make presentations to potential investors to get money to start your business. Being able to track and project your finances will also help you run and plan your business better.

Start by learning how to put together an income statement, also called a profit and loss statement for your business.

Then, learn how to assemble a balance sheet, which is a snapshot picture of the financial situation of a business at any one point in time, including all assets and liabilities.

Next, you should learn how to create “pro-forma” which simply means “future” income statements and balance sheets.

Finally, you should learn how to create cash flow projections, showing when cash will be flowing in and out of your business.

All of this financial stuff may sound difficult if you haven’t done it before. It may take a little while to get a handle on it, but it’s not that tricky! If you can add 2 plus 2 and get 4 most of the time, you’ve got what it takes to be able to master business finance!

INSIDER TIP – Doing your own accounting and projecting your finances might sound tricky, but it is very doable. It will help you run and plan your business better.

5 – Develop your marketing and find your first customers

Now it’s time to plan how to reach out to your target audience. You need to make them aware that you have the perfect solution to their problem and get them to buy your product. That’s where marketing and sales come in.

Here’s the one crucial thing you need to know about marketing…

Before you get excited about your brand new online ad or attention-getting publicity stunt, let me tell you what I think is the most important thing about marketing. This is something I truly wish I knew when I started off as an entrepreneur.

Marketing is hard. VERY hard. Even seasoned marketing professionals fail all the time.

What you need to do is carefully test different approaches with small amounts of money. The last thing that you want is to spend your precious cash on a marketing strategy that is generating no revenue whatsoever!

bulletin board
Marketing is hard. That’s why I like to experiment with cheap guerilla marketing tactics like posting flyers on bulletin boards.

Now that you understand the true nature of marketing, you can start building your plan.

To get started, answer the following questions:

  • How can you reach your target market?
  • What is your goal?
  • What’s your budget?
  • What’s your message?
  • What are your channels?
  • What are your creatives?

So start by answering these questions, and you will be well along your path to creating a winning marketing plan that will succeed in pulling in customers.

Just like your business plan, your first marketing plan doesn’t have to be extremely long to be meaningful and valuable. But it needs a huge amount of thought.

Don’t forget that marketing is complex. Chances are that no matter how carefully you plan it out, your first marketing efforts still might not work at all.

Don’t get discouraged! Keep experimenting, but with very small amounts of money…until you find the winning formula!

WARNING – DO NOT spend large amounts of money on your marketing before you test it with a small budget. Marketing is tricky and your first strategy might not work at all!

Anyone can sell! Here’s how to do it.

Now let’s talk about sales.

Are you still here? I’m asking you this because most people are afraid of selling. Are you? Well, I have two news for you, one good and one bad.

The bad one first…. As a business owner, you likely have to do at least some type of selling. You may well be the first sales person for your business.

Now the good one! Selling is not that complex, and once you get past the intimidation and the fear of being rejected, it’s actually very doable… even if you thought you never could sell!

The secret to selling is simple. You need to have an organized sales process. Let me explain.

You need to carefully analyze each step of the sales process and optimize them all.

Here are a few critical steps of a classic sales process:

  • Finding your sales points
  • Preparing your sales materials
  • Searching for prospects
  • Reaching out to them and then following up

You will want to spend a lot of time working on your sales process. Making sales is incredibly important for most businesses. It will generate the revenue you need. If you do it well, you could make A LOT of money.

Here’s my final advice when it comes to selling. View the sales process not as trying to convince a prospect to buy something they don’t want, but instead as trying to inform them about your great product or service that you believe could truly help them.

So, in a nutshell, get prospects and leads that match your target market and tell them how you can address their pain points.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are 5 major crucial steps to starting your own business:

  • Commit to your business
  • Choose the best business idea for you
  • Differentiate your business and create your strategy
  • Get the money you need and learn how to project your finances
  • Develop your marketing and find your first customers

Success in business will require more than hard work and good luck, it also requires making the best decisions from the start. In addition to these 5 critical steps, there are a ton of other issues and things to do when starting a business. Just wrapping your head around these decisions is a lot of work.

You need to identify and learn about each step in starting a business. You have to make the right decisions from the start if you want your business to succeed! Remember, if the foundation is weak then the business will crumble.

I strongly believe that you are much more likely to be highly successful in business if you learn about business before you start and that you carefully plan out every step of the business in advance. In other words first “plan the work” then “work the plan.”

Starting your own business may sound like a dream, but I’m telling you, it is possible! You just need to follow the right advice and make the right decisions.

Don’t spend your whole life wondering if you could have done it…Instead just do it! Start by learning more.

I promise you, there is nothing better than being your own boss and building a highly successful business you can be proud of.

INSIDER TIP – Check out my article The 100 Steps to Starting Your Own Business for a comprehensive guide detailing absolutely everything you need to cover to start a successful business.

Start Streaming the Courses on BusinessTown

Learn how to start and run your business by watching the many courses on BusinessTown including Start-a-Business 101, How to Create a Business Plan and The Complete Guide to Digital Marketing. You can try BusinessTown for free.


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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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:

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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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