Starting a local business is a great way to contribute to your community. Experts say that 68% of the money spent at small local businesses stays in the community in the form of taxes paid, local workers paid, and partnerships with other small businesses or nonprofits, versus 43% of money spent at non-local businesses. Although starting and running a successful business requires some planning, it’s possible.
Before you do anything else, take time to do some research on the local market to see if there’s a need for a product or service that is not being met. When you know know what products and services you want to offer, find out if others are already filling this niche. As there seems to be a place for your business, then go ahead and create a budget and a business plan. If your business will have a brick-and-mortar presence, find a good location. Set up a website for your company; this is critical if you won’t have a physical store open to the public.
While creating the business plan, you’ll be thinking about how you want to organize your company. A limited liability corporation (LLC) has many advantages, such as protecting your assets, simplifying paperwork, allowing more flexibility, and there may be tax advantages. You could set this up yourself, although other options include hiring an attorney. Try to do it or using a formation service, which is less expensive. Before you proceed, be sure to read reviews of the various professionals and services so that you’ll know you’re working with a reputable company.
You might want to go back to school in order to earn your bachelor’s degree in business before jumping into being an entrepreneur. Degrees in finance, accounting, management, communication, or a general business degree can provide you with skills and knowledge that will help you establish your business. Many online programs make it possible for you to work or even run your own business while earning the degree. An additional benefit might be that you’ll make some useful contacts who can mentor or partner with you later.
Once you’ve got your business started, it’s important that you get the word out with marketing as well as make an effort to engage with the community. Consider sponsoring a local sports team, event, or music festival; the connections you’ll make and the visibility of your business will be valuable. Your social media presence is important, so set up pages for your company on one or two different platforms. Later on, you can assign the maintenance of social media to an employee if this is not something you enjoy. Do your own shopping locally as much as possible, both to support your community and to get to know others and make them aware of your own offerings.
Make sure your business participates in local events such as festivals and fund-raising. You might consider pairing with another local business or non-profit to offer mutual promotion and hand out fliers or discounts for each other. Employ local workers as much as possible.
Besides offering employment to local workers, you’ll be creating revenue and, therefore, tax dollars that go back into the community. Once your company is up and running, you’ll be showing out-of-town visitors what a great place your town is and possibly attracting more investment in the community. Whether you return to school for a business degree or plunge in using the knowledge you already have, you’ll be adding a beneficial enterprise to the neighborhood. If you choose to make your business an LLC, you’ll be protecting your assets and gaining some tax advantages.
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