5 Must-Dos When Starting a Small Business

That wild idea you had for a farm-to-table ice cream business might not be so wild. With the growing demand for locally sourced foods, the ability to differentiate yourself in the market, and the opportunity to provide a unique product to health-conscious consumers, now is a fine time to scream for ice cream.

But in between having a great idea and making it happen, there are several steps to consider that can help you pursue your business goals.

Have a solid business plan

A good business plan is like a blueprint for your business. It helps you build the foundation and outlines your goals, strategies, target audience, and financial projections. A business plan can:

  • Define the vision for your business: What is the purpose of your business? What are your business’s main objectives? Defining your vision will help you understand its purpose and objectives and serve as a roadmap to guide your decision-making process.
  • Identify opportunities and challenges: A business plan helps you assess the market, your potential competition, and possible risks. By identifying opportunities for growth and developing strategies to overcome challenges, you put your business in a good position.
  • Secure funding: Banks and investors look favorably on — and often require — a detailed business plan before providing financial assistance. By presenting a well-thought-out plan, you increase your chances of securing funding.

There are a variety of key elements to consider when thinking about how to write a business plan, including fact-finding (conducting market research) and growth strategies (making financial projections).

Conduct a market fact-finding mission

Planning and studying the area in which your business will operate is a crucial step in understanding your target audience — your potential customers — as well as industry trends and the competitive landscape. Market fact-finding is essential because it helps:

  • Identify your target audience: Insight into your potential customers' needs, preferences, and behaviors is important. Adults love ice cream, but kids really love ice cream. What does the population of children look like in the area where you want to operate? These are the types of questions you’ll want to ask and answer.
  • Determine market viability: In other words, what are the chances of your business being successful in the location you’ve chosen? If there are 10 ice cream shops within a one-mile radius of where you want to open your farm-to-table ice cream store, you might want to consider a different location.

Understand fiscal forecasting

Financial projections are important for planning and securing funding for your small business. Owners can glean insights from financial projections that review potential market conditions, which can help the owner prepare for what’s ahead. Additionally, it can help you with:

  • Viability: Can your business make money? By estimating revenues, expenses, and cash flow, you can evaluate the profitability of your business and identify potential areas of concern.
  • Securing financing: Banks and investors need to see that your business has the potential to generate sufficient revenue and repay borrowed funds.
  • Planning for growth: When can you open a second ice cream shop? Financial projections help you set realistic targets for revenue, expenses, and profitability.

Find the right banking partner

Searching “how to” for these steps is one thing but having a real person on your side — someone who has spent thousands of hours reviewing business plans; someone who understands your goals; someone who will listen — is a huge advantage.

You’ll want the financial partner you choose to offer a variety of services for small business owners, and opening a business checking account should be at the top of your list. It not only helps separate personal and business finances, which is crucial for clear financial records and simplifying tax filings, but it also provides benefits tailored specifically for business needs.

A financial partner can help you:

Ask your business banker for help

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. Many first-time small business owners face the same challenges, which is why it’s helpful to have a banker in your corner. We’ve guided small businesses for more than 145 years. Learn more about what it’s like to partner with us.




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