While many successful entrepreneurs claim starting a business is easy, it does require the willingness to work hard and devote a lot of time to helping your business get off the ground, at least in the beginning. You must also have a viable idea and demand for your product or service. If you are starting a business with no money, you will need all that and a really well-developed plan for launching and running your business. Note, however, that the information presented here is intended to serve as a guideline only and in no way guarantees the success of your endeavor.
Determine what kind of business you wish to start. For example, if you have a specialized skill or trade, consider a consulting business or training/coaching business, or offer your concrete skills in computer repair, desktop publishing, photography, etc., independently. Additionally, keep in mind that home-based service businesses are often the easiest to start with no money, such as courier/delivery services, housesitting or petsitting, professional organizing or event planning, or personal services like shopping and running errands. Any business where you are selling a product may require start-up capital to create and/or stock your product.
Write out a business plan. Your plan should include what service you will offer and how much you will charge, as well as sample contracts, ideas for running your business, and all of the steps you will need to take to ensure your business is legal. You will also want to come up with a plan for advertising your business. If you intend to submit your business plan as part of a request for a small business loan, seek the advice of a legal/business professional to ensure your plan meets the loan application requirements.
Begin your business as a sole proprietorship and transition to an LLC or corporation once you've begun making profits, if desired. In California, a sole proprietorship does not have to register as a business with the state, meaning that you do not have to pay the fees for registering your business as you would with any other kind of business. However, if you wish to use any name other than your own for your business, you must legally file a trade name or fictitious name.
Advertise your business by posting ads on free classifieds websites like Craigslist, by designing a free website, by creating business entity pages on sites like Facebook and MySpace, and by simply telling your family, friends, colleagues, and others you meet about the new service you offer and asking them to mention it to their friends. None of these methods will cost you anything.
Apply for a business license with the state of California and in your county and/or city where required, which will require you to pay fees. If you have chosen to start a service business, however, you can wait until after you've received your first clients and made some profit since you can legally operate as an independent contractor if you have no employees.
- Don't quit your job! Work for as long as you can while you're launching your business so that you still have something to live off of.
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