Shasta County is a bustling hive of entrepreneurship, but for every person who starts a business, there are 5 or 10 who would like to, but don’t know how. In this article, we’ll cover the most important steps to starting a business in Shasta County.

#1: Write a business plan

A typical business plan will follow a set structure, and consist of several pre-defined pieces, including:

  • An executive summary
  • A description of your company’s unique value
  • An analysis of the market
  • A description of the product or service
  • A marketing and sales strategy
  • Financial projections
  • Any other information that might prove important.

Defining this information ahead of time is the difference between having a business idea and a business plan. Many people have an idea for a business. This extra level of preparation will separate give you a roadmap for operation as you move forward and have to start making decisions and spending money.

Having a business plan is also a must if you plan to seek investment. Investors will want to see that you are organized and have a realistic strategy for the future of your business.

If you are having trouble with creating your business plan, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) can assist you.

#2: Gather your resources

Chances are, your business will need materials, employees, or equipment to operate. If you are running a one-person web development company, you might only need a laptop, but if plan to have an office, then step two of starting a business is to secure everything you need for operation. You may be able to partner with other companies or outsource work to other companies to minimize your need for capital in the early stages of your development.

Depending on the type of business you’re running, this could be expensive. This may be a time to seek investments in your company (which is a much larger topic than we will cover here).

It is certainly the time to start considering what equipment and real estate might be considered tax-deductible.

#3: Get a Shasta County Business License

Any person who does business in the city, or bases their business in the city, must obtain a Shasta County Business License. The purpose of obtaining a business license is to alert the government that a business exists so that they can ensure it pays taxes and abides by regulation.

Failure to obtain a business license could result in fines or even suspension of operation down the road, so it is very important to complete this step before you officially start doing business.

#4: Begin marketing and awareness efforts

Before you can start selling, you’ll need prospects. Marketing in the era of the Internet can be very hit-or-miss, but it doesn’t hurt to cover the basics before you get started.

Create a Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Linkedin profile. It’s easy to set these up, and it ensures that your name is at least out in the Internet where people can find it.

Beyond that, you may want to consider setting up a website for yourself, and setting to work on more aggressive search engine marketing efforts. However, these take much longer to set up, and the average startup will not need a fully-fleshed out SEO campaign running the moment they start. Just a plan.

#5: Set up finances

On the other hand, you will need to determine what would be the best entity type for your business. These might include: sole proprietor, C Corp., S Corp., Partnership, or an LLC (Limited liability Company). There are benefits to some of these entity types for certain businesses as it relates to reporting, personal liability, and taxation. Then, you need a proper accounting system, proper bookkeeping, and tax records the moment you begin. Not having these things can be very dangerous to a business in the long run, and having records that are poorly maintained or chaotic can be very expensive to a business.

Best to put the right foot forward and being with a bookkeeping system that is beyond reproach.

#6: Create lists of regular tasks

Every business has tasks that need to be done regularly and predictably, like clockwork. When starting your business, create checklists and to-do lists for yourself and your employees.

Not every business will do this, but the best ones do. It’s the only way to ensure that tasks never fall between the cracks and that the foundation of your company remains rock solid.

What next?

Once you have done these six things It will be time to kick off your business. You will have a great bedrock to build upon, but you’ll also need innovation and drive. As you run your business, constantly pay attention to what your customers want and what your competitors are doing, so that you can grow and change. This is the way to create something truly special.