Kathrin Henon, Founder and CEO of healthy vegan donut manufacturer, Planet Bake walks you through how to start a successful small business
You have a great small business idea and are eager to start – what now? Starting a small business is not as easy as just going out and doing it. A lot of planning and legal documentation goes into creating a successful business.
A few key things to have in place include having:
- The right partners that you can trust to deliver.
- Your legal documentation in order and available.
- A financing plan.
- A business plan in place that covers both the short-term – the first two quarters of your year – and the long-term – perhaps up to a five-year view.
Finding the right partners
Finding trustworthy business partners in the small business space can be challenging, especially when you are starting and looking for cost-effective pricing. You may be looking for a logistics partner, a supplier, or a distribution partner, but the way to find the right ones remains the same.
“My company is in the consumer packaged goods space; I have to look for my manufacturing partner ahead of time, at least six months ahead, to implement and do everything according to the food restriction guidelines, for example,” explained Kathrin Henon, Founder and CEO of healthy, vegan donut manufacturer, Planet Bake.
Knowing which vendors are legitimate and trustworthy can be a challenge, especially when most transactions now happen remotely due to the ongoing challenges of COVID. So, how do you find dependable suppliers?
Kathrin gives us her top four tips on how to find the right business partners:
- Do your research. I used the Markaaz Dashboard to find potential partners in my area with the ‘claimed’ badge on their profile, meaning they are verified and checked businesses.
- Plan ahead so that you have time to review each potential partner before implementation – and remember, cheaper is not always best.
- Check their presence online and look at any reviews that may come up on their social media or sites, such as Google My Business. Customer satisfaction is essential.
- If you are looking for a product manufacturer, always tour their premises, you need to see their facilities and standards.
- Review any contracts with your legal team to ensure you are not missing anything.
With these tips, you will be on the right path to a successful small business.
Get your business started
A lot of research goes into starting your business, from creating a business plan to analyzing your competitors and doing a complete financial analysis of your business costs. You will need to put considerable time aside to get this first step right.
What plans do you need to start your business?
- Competitor analysis and market research: You need to know what gap in the market you can fill. Use the Markaaz Dashboard to find and follow your direct competitors and track their websites, socials, news, and more.
- A business plan: this outlines to potential investors what your business does, what problem it is addressing and why, and how you will operate.
- Financial analysis: Know precisely how much starting your business will cost. Apply for financing if you need to fund your business.
It’s also important to be aware of the guidelines for your vertical, so whether that be tech or food, for example, it’s important to know the rules and laws and regulations you must abide by as a company.
Once you have completed all this successfully and have discovered your niche, it’s time to get your business registered and legal.
Getting your small business legal
There are a lot of considerations that must go into getting your business legal. Seemingly small things such as business location and vertical can considerably impact your business success and operations.
“It is essential to get your ducks in a row as a business owner. I’m referring to business documents and having the right resources to apply for government essentials, including trademarks, tax ID number, credit card documents, tax returns – and the list goes on!” said Kathrin.
Let’s review the steps to getting your business legal:
- Location: Your very first step in getting your business legal is choosing the right location for your business. In the US, each state has different laws and taxes that are extremely important to review. However, you must also find out where your target audience resides, especially if you are a physical business location.
- Business structure: The structure your business is set up under affects everything from the amount of taxes you pay to the amount of personal risk you assume if things go wrong in your business. From the Sole Proprietorship option for initial start-ups to creating an LLC, review and compare each with an accountant or business set-up professional to thoroughly understand each.
- Register your business name: This is a quick and easy step! Check that your business name is not already taken and register it with your state. PRO TIP: Also, make sure no one else has a website with the same name!
- Get your state and federal tax ID: This allows you to open your business bank accounts, hire people, and apply for licenses and permits.
- Apply for your licenses and permits: The SBA has a complete list of what you need for your vertical here: Apply for licenses and permits (sba.gov)
- Open your business bank account: Do research and find a bank with the best rates for your business. Ask questions such as; Do you need a physical bank location, or can you do it all online? What are their overdraft fees?
- Get business insurance: No matter what your business is, insurance is essential, especially if you are dealing directly with people.
Now you have a legal business and are ready to start welcoming customers!
Finding the right resources to help you run your small business better
One of the trickiest parts of running a business, and something that does not immediately spring to mind, is managing all of your legal business documents. Too often, as a small business owner, you stash your documentation in a drawer or save them somewhere on your computer. Then every time you apply for a rental, credit cards, a loan, or insurance, for example, you run around trying to remember where you put everything!
“I was always scrambling to find all of my business documents in random places. It was a real pain, especially over the last few weeks when we were scaling the company, because you really need those documents on a weekly basis,” noted Kathrin. “I recently discovered Markaaz’s Vault, where I can store all of my digital business documents and have them to hand when I send out applications. It has been really helpful!”
Building your business network is another essential to run a successful business. As a business owner, you should connect with your local small business groups, get social and build connections that can help you grow your business, and you can turn to for help, advice, and recommendations. Running a small business is not easy, and having a network you can lean on when you need it is critical.
“I also love having a network. For example, in my industry, it’s always good to hire people and partners that have been recommended to you. So you know that they can do the work and be trusted,” explained Kathrin.
Being financially credible to grow your small business
Being financially credible as a small business means a fair amount of legwork, monitoring your business credit score, ensuring you have business credit you can build up, and being able to prove your viability to potential investors, partners, and financial institutions for financing.
“Once you start to grow your company, all your partners and suppliers want to ensure they receive their payments on time. So, we’re talking PR companies, Amazon agencies, vendors, and manufacturers; basically, everybody in your network will want to ensure they receive their payments if they sign a contract with you. You can prove your viability with a good business credit score, which I have been able to monitor on the Markaaz Dashboard,” noted Kathrin.
Starting your small business involves a lot of legwork, planning, and documents, but with the help of the Markaaz Dashboard, you can streamline your business operations and securely store those business documents you are going to need at every step of your business journey.