Working for a company is by far the most common way to enter the job market. However, there are other options you can turn to for professional development, such as self-employment. Entrepreneurship may be the path you’ve been looking for to both gain employment and achieve financial stability.
Opening your own business in the U.S. might seem like an unattainable goal, but it’s a feasible alternative to secure you and your family's livelihood. Although the exact process and requirements vary depending on the type of project you decide to embark upon, we put together this guide to the primary steps you must take to start a business in the U.S.
Research the Market
Before starting a business in the U.S. the first thing you should do is market research. This will help you gain a clear understanding of what problem you're going to solve for other people. This step applies both to those who already have a concrete idea and those who are still working on it. Market research will help you determine how feasible your project is and what areas you’ll need to focus on to improve the idea.
For example, in a neighborhood with many young families, it might be a good idea to offer a childcare service. In the case of a pet-friendly neighborhood, a veterinary clinic, dog walking service, or grooming salon could be a great option. On the other hand, opening a laundromat in an industrial part of town may not be such a smart plan.
While much of this analysis can be done based on observation alone, you can also obtain detailed data from the Census Bureau website.
Develop a Business Plan
A business plan will serve as your roadmap, no matter what type of business you want to open (a hair salon, a flower shop, a taqueria, etc.). The plan should clearly explain how to run your business, make operations and management decisions, and how you’ll obtain funds if an investment is required.
If this is starting to make you stressed, don't worry! You don't need to have a business degree to draft a business plan.
A business plan should include:
- Mission statement and objectives: A short description of how the company will conduct itself to achieve its purpose, and the clear goals that the company will strive for.
- Market research: Detailed analysis that includes the information on why your prospective customers need your products and/or services.
- Operating costs: The expenses your business will require to sell its products and/or services.
- Operating and management instructions: Document as many processes as you can, including specific detail on how the business will operate.
- Marketing strategy: How you plan to publicize and promote your products and/or services to your target audience.
Some of this information might be difficult to determine ahead of time. It’s worth the effort however, since this will help you determine the viability of your business.
Get the Appropriate Permits and Licenses
Several factors influence the type of permits and licenses required to start a business in the United States. You’ll have to consider everything from the industry (food, agriculture, transportation, etc.), the location of the business (at home, an office, or mobile vehicle), and the state in which you want to be established.
Below are some of the most common permits and licenses required to start a business in the U.S.:
- Business licenses
- County permits
- State licenses
- Fire department permits
- Sign permits
- Sales tax licenses
- Health department permits
For information about your specific case, we recommend contacting your nearest Small Business Administration (SBA) office to identify the exact permits and licenses that you’ll need.
Build the Required Infrastructure
The location of your business is one of the keys to its success. When choosing where you want to set up shop, consider as many factors as possible. Some of the most important are:
- Proximity to suppliers
- Access to transportation
- Zoning and other regulations
Once you start to generate profit, it’s recommended you reinvest in your business. For example, you might consider purchasing computers, software, or filing cabinets so you can more efficiently manage your operations.
Create an Advertising Plan
Once you have your business plan in place, establish an advertising budget. This means you’ll need to identify how much money you can allocate to spend on ads and marketing. For example, if you have the resources, you could pay for a radio or TV spot. However, if your budget is limited, that’s OK! Social media is an extremely effective and cost-friendly way to advertise your business.
Secure Financing or Investment
If you don’t have enough money or sufficient training to open your business by yourself, you can seek help from public institutions. For example, the SBA has a business development program committed to supporting the development and growth of minority-owned small businesses. They also work with lenders to provide safer credit options for small business owners.
With the right planning and dedication, the dream of starting your own business can become a reality. Waiting for a job offer might not be the best option for you. If you have the drive and determination, try starting a business in the U.S. and you’ll see that the American dream is easier to achieve than you think! While it comes with its own set of challenges, entrepreneurship can put you on the path toward personal and financial independence.
Ideas for Opening Your Own Business
If you’re ready to start a business in the U.S., but aren’t sure what kind of project you have in mind, we’ve developed this list of ideas so you can evaluate your options:
Barbershop or hair salon
One advantage of owning a hair salon is that it requires a smaller investment compared to some other businesses. However, you’ll need to take a course or undergo specialized training beforehand to satisfy licensing requirements.
Selling floral arrangements is a fantastic option for business owners with an eye for craft and design. The initial investment will depend on how ambitious your project is. For example, consider if you want to:
- Rent a commercial space or work out of your home
- Sell many types of flowers or have a more limited offering
- Offer delivery, sell only from the store, offer e-commerce, etc.
Keep in mind: Regardless of the size of your business, you’ll most likely need to invest in a flower cooler, which can cost up to $1,500.
Tacos are one of the most popular dishes in the U.S., so opening a taqueria could be a lucrative business idea. Since tacos are usually a casual meal eaten on the go, a food truck is a great alternative to renting a larger commercial space. Although purchasing a new food truck can be expensive (around $100,000), you can buy a used one for up to half the original price.
Turn Your Business Dreams Into a Reality!
Figuring out where to start and how to move forward with your idea can seem like an insurmountable task. It’s important you take advantage of free online resources, attend workshops, and conduct personal research on the best methods of running your business. Contact your local Chambers of Commerce and any other associations in your county or state that offer training, courses, counseling, and other services for new entrepreneurs.
Remember, success doesn’t happen overnight. Keep your eye on the prize and don’t lose sight of the initial motivation that got you going in the first place. At SABEResPODER, we’re confident that with perseverance and hard work, you’ll be able to start a business in the U.S. and watch it grow into a successful enterprise!