Challenges Faced by Women Entrepreneurs

Learn about the legal, financial, tax, and marketing considerations of starting a new business. – How To Start A Business That Will Succeed

How to Start a Business

You have a unique business idea, and you’re ready to share it with the world. Great! But no matter how motivated you are to get things up and running, starting a business is a complex process that shouldn’t be rushed.

Join Our Entrepreneurship Online Course

It’s important to take your time and make sure that you fill in all the details. This guide will lead you through some of the most important considerations, from refining your product or service idea to registering with the proper authorities.

Step #1: Think about the who, what, and why

According to Nathan Furr, author of the book Nail It Then Scale It, 70% of startups fail because their founders invest in growth too soon.

They spend too much money on costly marketing campaigns, top-notch salespeople, and product development without identifying how their product fits the market.

Define your target audience

You need to know who will buy what you’re selling before you invest large amounts of money in starting a business. Trying to be everything to everyone is a classic mistake among new entrepreneurs.

No small business owner can market their brand to the whole world, but it’s absolutely possible to meet the needs of a select group.

Join Our Marketing Online Course

That select group is your target audience, and you need to figure out who they are. One way to do this is to create a buyer persona. To complete this character sketch of a fictional target customer, consider descriptors like:

  • Age range
  • Gender
  • Family status
  • Income level
  • Education level
  • Location
  • Values and personality traits

Next, think about why that person would want your product or service.
Refine your selling proposition

Every successful business has one thing in common: It delivers a particular benefit or solves a problem better than the competition.

You might hear this described as your “unique selling proposition” or “value proposition.” It communicates two important things to your potential customers and investors:

  • What makes your business stand out
  • Why people should buy from you instead of a competitor

As you develop your unique selling proposition, identify the ultimate benefit to the buyer. This will usually be something personal and emotional—such as being on-trend or eating healthy for less.

Research the market

Now that you know you have a place in the market, your next step is to determine the financial viability of your idea. That means conducting 2 types of market research.

Primary research: Talk directly to customers via focus groups, surveys, etc.
Secondary research: Review statistics and reports that describe the current trends in your target market.

Your secondary research will provide you with 3 essential criteria:

  • The potential revenues for your product or service category, both at the regional and national level
  • The names of your top competitors, both locally and nationally
  • Whether the market is growing (more room for new players) or stagnating (squeezing out who’s already there)

Join Our Communication Skills Online Course

Step #2: Create a business plan

Now that you’ve refined your business proposition, the next step is to assemble a formal business plan. Your business plan is a road map for starting and running your business. It’s also how you’ll prove to investors and funders that you’ve thought things through.

Your business plan should formally describe the following:

  • What you plan to sell
  • How you’ll earn money
  • How many employees you’ll have and what their roles will be
  • Where you plan to get startup funds
  • How you’ll manage day-to-day operations of the business

The more detailed your business plan is, the more trust you’ll earn from potential backers.

Step #3: Assess your financial needs

After you’ve established a business plan, you can start calculating your expected expenses to find out how much money you’ll need to launch your new business.
Fixed costs and variable costs

Fixed costs are what you’ll pay to run your business, regardless of its size. The 5 most common fixed costs for any business are:

Insurance: The coverage you have to protect yourself from legal or financial threats such as property damage, on-site injury, slander, or lawsuits

Rent: The monthly cost of your office and/or other facilities necessary to run your business

Utilities: Electricity, water, gas, etc

Asset depreciation: The decline in value for owned assets like equipment or machinery (including vehicles)

Amortization: The cost of large purchases spread over a specific period

Variable costs depend on your sales volume. They increase when you sell more and decrease when you sell less. Examples include:

  • Raw materials
  • Production supplies
  • Shipping and delivery costs
  • Sales commissions and bonuses

To determine the costs for a business that hasn’t started up just yet, you’ll need to do a fair amount of research. Investigate the cost of insurance policies, rent in your area, the materials you’ll need, and so forth.

Take notes, track your findings in a spreadsheet, and consider speaking with an accountant who works with small businesses.

Join Our Time Management Online Course

Profitability and the break-even analysis

Once you know your costs, you can determine how much money your business needs to break even—and ultimately turn a profit.

Start by calculating a sample sales volume. For example, if you plan to open a hair salon, how many haircuts or updos would you need to give per year? Determine your variable costs per unit, and use those costs to identify a selling price. If every haircut costs you $10, you might decide to charge $20 for that service.

From there, subtract your variable costs per unit from your selling price. Divide your fixed cost by that difference, and you’ve calculated the number of product units you’ll need to sell to cover your expenses.

So, if your salon’s overhead (fixed costs) is $20,000 per year, your break-even point will be:

$20,000 / ($20 – $10) = 2,000 haircuts

In this example, you need to give 2,000 haircuts a year to avoid losing money, and every haircut beyond that 2,000 number would be profit.

If you’re unhappy with your break-even point, you’re in luck. As a new business, you can decrease your break-even point by increasing your selling price—say, charging $25 or $30 for a haircut—or reducing costs by, for example, finding a less expensive storefront.

Funding options

You’ll need cash to cover your fixed and variable costs, even if you haven’t sold anything yet. That’s where startup capital comes in. Some entrepreneurs are able to fund their startups with their own money, but there are a few other options available, too.

Institutional loans: Borrowing money from a financial institution is a traditional way to obtain business funding. You’ll need to submit your business plan and financial projections to a bank, credit union, or some other type of lender.

Business grants: Government agencies, private institutions, and nonprofit organizations sometimes offer grants to qualifying startups.

In most cases, you’ll need to be in a particular industry, have a specific objective in mind, or fall into a certain category (woman, veteran, person of color, etc.). Typically, you don’t have to pay back a grant, but you may have to provide reports to the funder.

Investor capital: Investors provide startup business funding, also known as venture capital, in exchange for a share in the business. To acquire venture capital, you’ll need to share your business plan and make a case for your company’s viability.

Crowdfunding: An alternative to securing a large investment from one or two generous individuals is to raise small amounts of money from multiple supporters.

Some crowdfunding companies offer incentives to investors, which can range from shares in the company to discounts on future projects. Others offer microloans, in which case you’ll need to repay each investor.

Still others treat investors like donors, where crowdfunding works more like a grant.

Step #4: Choose your legal structure

It’s probably not the most exciting decision you’ll ever make as an entrepreneur, but your choice of a business structure will impact your day-to-day life for years to come.
Sole proprietorships

A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business that’s owned and operated by a single individual. It’s not a separate business entity, which means there’s no legal division between your personal assets and liabilities and those of the company.

If the company takes on any debts or liabilities, so do you.

Sole proprietorships are more difficult to fund than distinct business entities, but they’re also much more flexible.

If your business doesn’t need a lot of startup funding or you want to test a concept before fully committing, a sole proprietorship might be the way to go.

Join Our Team Building Online Course


Partnerships are the simplest way for 2 or more people to own a business together.

There are 3 types:

General partnerships: A general partnership is similar to a sole proprietorship but with multiple people. All partners are fully responsible for the business, legally and financially.

Limited partnerships: One general partner has full legal responsibility and more influence in company decisions. Other partners have limited liability, which means that their responsibility for losses won’t exceed the amount they’ve invested.

Limited liability partnerships: Every owner has limited liability, so each partner has protection against company debts.

Like sole proprietorships, partnerships don’t create a separate business entity. Business income and debts pass through to your personal accounts.

Limited liability companies (LLCs)

A limited liability company has some qualities of a corporation but lacks the same degree of separation.

You—and anyone else who forms the LLC with you—won’t be personally liable in the case of lawsuit or bankruptcy, but company profits and losses will pass directly through to your personal incomes.

Members of an LLC are self-employed and subject to self-employment tax, Medicare, and Social Security.

It’s also worth noting that unless your LLC paperwork has provisions for transferring ownership, you might have to dissolve the company if members leave or join.


A corporation, sometimes called a C corporation, is a legal entity that is separate from its owners. It offers stronger protections against legal and financial liability than its counterparts.

In contrast to LLCs and partnerships, it has the freedom to sell its stock. This can be an advantage when it comes to acquiring funding or recruiting shareholders and employees.

The drawback of their separate legal status is that corporations involve much more paperwork and operational responsibilities than other business structures. They’re also subject to taxation of the company’s profits and the dividends paid to shareholders.

Step #6: Market your new business

Business structuring and finance are important, but you can’t survive as a business without income. That means you need to effectively and efficiently market your small business to get the best possible return on your investment.
Create your brand

People get to know companies in the same way they get to know other people—by interacting with them and learning about their personalities and values. These things all fall under the umbrella of your brand.

Research shows that a consistent brand increases a company’s revenue by up to 33%. Establish that kind of consistency early by choosing a particular color scheme, logo, design style, and voice. Sometimes, it can help to think of your brand as a person. How would they talk? How would they decorate their space?

Establish a website

The look and feel of your website should reflect your branding. If you’ve never designed a website before, fear not—Mailchimp simplifies the process with free website building and publishing. Mailchimp’s website builder is easy for anyone to use, even if you don’t have advanced technical skills.

You’ll also need a domain name and extension. In the web address “,” for example, “mailchimp” is the domain name, and “.com” is the extension. Ideally, your domain name will be the name of your business. But, if that’s not available—or your business name is lengthy or hard to spell—be sure you pick a domain that people will remember.

When you’re ready to pick an extension, .com is always a safe bet, but more than 1,500 other options are available, like .biz, .info, and country codes. Mailchimp’s domain registration tool can walk you through the entire process, so you don’t miss a step.

Promote your business on social media

Social media is a popular way to get the word out about your business, but you don’t need to go overboard. Choose social media platforms that will attract your target audience; TikTok and Snapchat are often used by younger folks, for example, while

Facebook users skew a bit older.

Once you’ve established a social media presence, use those platforms to drive people to your website. You could even publish and promote other content—like a blog, for instance—to bring more potential customers to your website.

Ready, set, launch

Now that you’ve got an outline for how to start a business, you can begin the preliminary research.

Your first step will be to make sure you have a good product-market fit, given that this will have the most impact on your success in the years to come.

Remember to stay flexible; none of your decisions are written in stone. If you decide that a different business model or structure would work better for you, don’t be afraid to make adjustments.

There’s no substitute for a strong foundation, and this is the time to build it.

User Avatar

Rilwan Ajibola

I help business executives enhance productivity, increase sales, and expand their business. You can join my online course, request a consulting service, or book me for corporate training.
WhatsApp: +234 916 6118685
Chat with us on WhatsApp, we're online!