A photo of women jogging, representing starting a business
Photo by Fitsum Admasu on Unsplash
Pre-Startup Startup

So You’re Thinking of Starting a Business… What Are the First Steps?

Got a great business idea for 2022 but don’t know where to start? Take some advice from those who have been there.

It’s a brand new year, and with the new year comes new business ideas. Have you got one? Great. So how do you get started? It’s commonly said that the first step is the most difficult one to take. Still trying to figure out your first step towards starting a business? This group of entrepreneurs is here to help you set your journey in motion. Here’s how they took that first step:

Develop a business plan

Michelle Roshanzamir, Consultant/Producer at MVR Creative, a business consultancy based in Los Angeles:

“When I decided to start my business, the first steps I took included starting to develop a business plan, determine a name and file the paperwork. While I had a general sense when first starting, it took some time to narrow down who I’d be working with and what, more specifically, I’d be offering.”

Leslie Polizzotto, Co-Founder of The Doughnut Project, owner of two handcrafted doughnut stores in New York City:

“When we decided to start The Doughnut Project, the first steps me and my co-founder (who left the business in Sept. of 2020) took was to create an entity and develop an operating agreement which governs the way the business would operate. We then began writing a business plan. We used the online template LivePlan, which helps guide you to all of the information and data you need to research and obtain.

While we were writing the plan (this took a long time), we also researched to determine that no one else had the name so that we could trademark our name and logo which is now part of our intellectual property that we license. After we had the business plan complete, we proceeded to raise friends and family capital (in addition to our own capital). Once we raised enough capital to start spending (according to our operating agreement) we found a space and signed a lease. After six months of renovations, we opened in October of 2015.”

Conduct market research

Ayden Berkey, Co-Founder of Access Scholarships, an online scholarship resource platform launched in 2020:

“The first thing I did once I fully committed to launching Access Scholarships was to conduct thorough market research in a few different areas.

First, I thought long and hard about my audience and went through the process of creating some user personas. Luckily, being that Access Scholarships is a resource for students (and I was a student at the time), I didn’t have to go very far to get some relevant opinions and ideas on how to structure the site and what to include.

Also, when I came up with my business idea, we were very much in the middle of COVID, and it felt like so many people my age were turning to the internet and social media to kickstart their brands. So, another thing I knew I had to consider when starting a business was how I would convey the value of my content and resources to stand out from the rest of the creators out there.

After that phase, I spent many hours looking at the websites I would be competing against in the scholarship and college resource space and clearly identified how I would differentiate my platform and brand from theirs. To do this, I did what any Gen Z-er would do: scroll through TikTok! TikTok is where all of the latest and greatest creators (in literally every space) are congregated, so by doing this type of market research, I was getting a better idea of what strategies I should and shouldn’t adopt, and what type of approach I should go with to reach the greatest number of students in the higher education space.”

A graphic of connected profile photos, representing a network for starting a business
Graphic by Gordon Johnson on Pixabay

Cultivate your network

Carrie Horn, Founder and Principal of Bold Story Marketing, a marketing consulting business based in Denver, CO:

“Honestly, the first thing I did was come up with my business name, Bold Story, and create an Instagram handle! I knew that I could leverage my personal network to build my business network and that’s just what I did! Next, I planned ten meetings with women who I think are total boss ladies in the marketing business in Denver and I joined a group of independent PR consultants.

Why? I knew that was no longer going to be in the office environment, but that I would still need my people to turn to when I had questions or needed a consult! Also, I started to gather other creatives in the gig economy. I know that my skill set doesn’t cover all the services [that] I want to provide to my clients, and I need to bring in other experts like designers and website builders to have a full service offering to attain bigger projects.”

Seek out helpful resources and mentors

Constanza Roeder, founder of CEO of Hearts Need Art, an arts nonprofit based in San Antonio, TX: 

“When I first felt called to start a nonprofit, I had no idea where to start. I’m a millennial, so I [searched on Google] ‘how do you start a nonprofit?’ I found many resources that walked me through the process. [This] search led me to a resource called SCORE, a national nonprofit that helps mentor people who want to start a business or nonprofit. My SCORE mentor and other nonprofit founders helped me navigate the legal process to register Hearts Need Art as a nonprofit.”

Consult experts for advice

Rachel Ford Hutman, Founder and CEO of Ford Hutman Media, a communications firm based in San Diego, CA:

“The first thing I did, before I even decided to start my own company, was to talk to entrepreneurs who had done this before. There is no point in re-inventing the wheel. You can and should learn from others. I asked a lot of questions and was vulnerable. I admitted what I didn’t know. When you ask people questions, they are very willing to share their experiences with you.

Once I decided that I did want to do it, I spoke with past clients and contacts to gauge interest in working with me. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and that gave me a lot of confidence that I would have the clients I needed to be successful.

The last thing was having the faith in myself to know that I could do anything I put my mind to. I had to just jump off and trust myself.”

Hire a business coach

Morgan Blackman, holistic wealth coach and Founder and CEO of Holistic Bucks Coaching in Barrie, Ontario, Canada:

“The very first step to starting this business was hiring a $3,000 Instagram business coach, and I would hands-down do it all over again.

Hiring a business coach really took the guesswork out of having to spend months trying to figure out how to market my coaching services and convert clients from social media. Within the first month of hiring her I landed my first beta-client, and by the time the 3 months was over had

worked with over 4 clients and went on to eventually land even more.

I just celebrated earning my first $10k month last month, and I can’t help but thank my first business coach for giving me the necessary foundation to soon become a six-figure online coach.”

Set a goal and commit to it

Beret Loncar, Owner of Body Mechanics Orthopedic Massage, a luxury clinic in Manhattan: 

“Three best pieces of advice: 

  1.  Say it out loud and set the goal. It is real and it is happening. 
  2.  Make it scale-able. I did a lot of research on costs for my operations and figured out exactly what the tipping point for failure was. I set all of my business up so that if the worst-case scenario happened, it would not be the WORST. 
  3.  Some will disagree on this, but you need to be fully committed, so quit your job. It might be nice to have a safety [net], but if you want to succeed, you need to have no other option other than making it work.”

Got your own tips for starting a business? Leave your ideas in the comments below.

About the author

Nicole DeSimone

Nicole DeSimone is a writer based in the Boston area. She earned a B.A. in English and Journalism from Simmons University. In addition to reading and writing, she loves dance, nature walks, and old movies. You can always email her at nicole.desimone4@gmail.com.

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