How to Start a Small Business in 12 Steps

Starting a small business can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor, but it can also be overwhelming if you don’t approach it with the right mindset.

But with the right knowledge and resources, it’s possible to turn your passions into a successful reality.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of starting your own small business and what it takes to launch a successful company.

We’ll cover the essential steps you need to take to ensure the success of your venture, including researching the market, creating a business plan, and developing your business structure.

Read on to learn more about how to start a small business and how to achieve your goals as an aspiring entrepreneur! 

1. Brainstorm Business Ideas

One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether you want to work from home or open a physical location.

Working from home has become an incredibly popular choice when it comes to starting a business.

It reduces overhead costs, and anyone can get started on their own and build their company with the endless tools available on the internet. 

But if you want to open a physical location—a brick-and-mortar type of shop, this can be a lucrative and exciting option as well.

Here are some small business examples you can start online or at a physical location in 2023.

Online Business

  • E-commerce 
  • Drop shipping 
  • Graphic design
  • Content writing
  • Digital marketing

Physical Location

  • Cafe
  • Restaurant 
  • Clothing shop
  • Book store 
  • Record shop

Another important consideration is the type of products or services you want to offer.

This will determine whether it’s best to open a physical location or to do business online—and what would be the most practical choice for starting your business. 

Do you have a skill or hobby that you’re ready to share with others?

Offering products or services in fields that you’re already familiar with is a great way to get ahead when building a business.

It shows your expertise in what you’re offering and builds a reputation for your experience in the field. 

Whichever business idea you choose, be sure to conduct thorough research and create a solid business plan after you mull over your business ideas.

Tight with a budget? Check out this article on starting a self-employed business with only $100!

2. Conduct Market Research

As mentioned above, choosing a business idea is an important step for starting a small business.

But doing the research for your product or service is critical when it comes to starting a small business. 

This involves gathering and analyzing information about a particular market, such as potential customers, competitors, and the current economic environment.

Researching helps companies understand the market they are entering, identify opportunities, and develop strategies for success.

In addition, market research can help companies identify potential risks and develop plans to mitigate them or use them to their advantage.

3. Write a Business Plan

Next, you’ll want to write out a business plan. This will serve as a roadmap for achieving a company’s goals, strategies, and objectives.

The business plan should include an outline of projected revenues and expenses, as well as a marketing strategy for reaching the target audience.

From this, it’s best to keep a timeline for achieving the goals outlined in the plan so as to stay the course and maintain a disciplined routine of accomplishing each milestone.

A business plan should also include an analysis of the industry and competitive environment to understand market conditions.

Things such as trends and social media are strong deciding factors in businesses these days, so adapting to how to reach your audience is also important.

4. Select a Business Structure

Business Structures

Now it’s time to choose the appropriate business structure.
It’s important to choose the right business structure, as it can significantly affect the future success of the business, as well as the associated taxes and required paperwork.

So doing careful research in this field is also recommended. 

Below, you’ll find a brief explanation of the four main business structures you can choose from. 

Sole proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is a form of business in which an individual owns and operates the business. The individual is solely responsible for the debts, liabilities, and legal issues of the business and also receives all profits. This type of business structure is easy to set up and requires minimal paperwork. However, since the owner is personally liable for the debts of the business, which can be a significant risk.


A partnership is a business structure in which two or more individuals share ownership and management of the business. Partners share profits and losses and are jointly liable for the business’s debts and legal issues. It’s important for partners to have a clear agreement outlining roles, responsibilities, and decision-making processes to avoid potential disagreements.

Limited liability company (LLC)

An LLC combines the characteristics of a corporation and a partnership or sole proprietorship. LLCs provide personal liability protection for the owners, known as members, similar to a corporation, while also allowing for pass-through taxation, similar to a partnership or sole proprietorship. 


A corporation, also known as a C corporation, is a legal entity that is separate and distinct from its owners, known as shareholders. The shareholders elect a board of directors to manage the business, and the profits and losses are distributed to the shareholders in the form of dividends.

If you’re having trouble understanding which business structure best suits your business, you can head over to Doola to get all the support and clarity you need for setting up your business structure.

You can get started in under 10 minutes here.

5. Register Your Business

Some businesses that operate online don’t require you to have your business registered.

However, if you have a physical location or if your employees work in a particular state or country, getting your business registered with the federal government may be required. 

Also, the type of business structure you choose to operate under will also determine whether your business needs legal documents to support your business.

For example, if you operate under an LLC and have multiple employees you wish to hire. Registering for an (EIN) Employer Identification Number for the company is required. And to protect any legal liabilities within the company, it is widely recommended to register for an operating agreement as well.

Dealing with these types of legal formalities can be stifling when you already have so many other things you need tending to for your business. 

Fortunately, with the help of Doola, you can register your business from anywhere in the world and get a registered agent to help guide you through all the logistics for your business!

Note: Registration compliance is subject to change depending on where you live. Check with your local government for any updates and requirements for your business structure.

6. Obtain Licenses and Permits

Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to obtain specific licenses and permits.

For example, you won’t find a liquor store near any elementary schools within its district. Meaning certain establishments require government compliance such as a zoning permit.

If you plan on running a business from home, there’s less scrutiny when it comes to registering your business.

However, it is always good practice to research any legal documentation you may need in the event of any litigations.

And every business is different—diversifying the legal requirements on the type of establishment.

So depending on the type of business you wish to start, knowing which licenses and permits are required is recommended to avoid legal liabilities.  

7. Open a Business Bank Account

It is important for small businesses to establish a separate bank account for their operations as it allows for clear financial record-keeping, distinctions between personal and business finances, and improved credibility.

A dedicated business account also makes it easier to monitor financial transactions and prepare financial statements.

Additionally, the legitimacy of a business bank account can aid in the process of obtaining business loans or credit from suppliers.

It also sets clear legal boundaries between the business and the owner’s personal assets which are crucial for protection against personal liability. 

To open a US business bank account, you’ll need a physical business address, which you can easily get through VirtualPostMail.

8. Secure Funding

Starting a small business requires a lot of planning, preparation, and research. So naturally one of the most important steps is going to be securing the funding for the business.

This is necessary to ensure that the business has enough capital to get started and begin operations. And there are many different sources of funding for a small business, including personal savings, investments from family and friends, or loans from banks and other financial institutions.

9. Establish Business Accounting

Properly managing and maintaining business accounting is a core aspect of running a small business.
It’s a fundamental step that enables business owners to have a comprehensive understanding of the financial health and performance of their company. 

However, it can be a challenge to keep up with all of the tax compliances and financial records necessary for documentation.

doola offers affordable bookkeeping services to keep your finances organized and up to date. No more non-reconciled bank accounts, incorrect transactions, and account balances that don’t agree.

Save yourself the headache during tax time and have your accounts prepared seamlessly. 

You can explore some of those benefits and options here.    

10. Market Your Business

Market your business

This may be one of the most important steps in starting a small business. With new businesses popping up left and right—you want to make sure you can cut through the noise with carefully crafted marketing campaigns and build brand awareness that showcases company values in a genuine way.

This will require careful planning and preparation—including developing a comprehensive marketing plan that outlines your business goals, budget, target market, and content strategy.

Depending on your goals, you may want to hire a digital agency to bolster the growth of your business, as it is always a challenge to get your business on the map from the get-go.

But with a small business, reaching your target audience with social media campaigns, email marketing, and some advertising may suffice in the beginning. 

11.  Hire Employees (if necessary)

It can be exciting when your business begins to grow, but you have to make sure you have enough support to keep the company running smoothly. 

Hiring employees may be worth the investment when you begin to scale your business and no longer have the time to manage all the elements of your business efforts at once. 

That said, hiring employees can potentially be a liability if the ROI (return on investment) proves non-beneficial to your risk tolerance. 

This is the nature of running a business. Some decisions will make the growth of your business sway depending on your strategy.

Moreover solidifying the importance of having a concrete business plan but also the flexibility to adapt to change when necessary. 

12.  Monitor Your Growth

Even if you do not get results overnight, you should track your progress and adjust your strategy when necessary.

This honest review will help to improve your company’s weaknesses and how to continue to expand operations to ensure growth.

Regardless of the many hurdles you always have to overcome. Monitoring the small milestones is an important indicator that you are moving in the right direction.

You can do this using analytics, tracking your KPIs (key performance indicators), and conducting surveys for your customers to see where you can improve based on public reviews.

There are many other ways to monitor growth for your small business, but these are some of the fundamentals when it comes to keeping an eye on your business development.

Start Small and Grow, Grow, Grow!

In summary, starting a small business can seem overwhelming, but by following these 12 steps, you can set a solid foundation for success. And by conducting market research, creating a business plan, and securing funding, you can launch a small business with confidence. Remember to stay flexible and adaptable, as the business landscape is constantly changing.

doola is here to support your ambitions with a plethora of tools and services to launch your small business seamlessly. With a variety of support services to choose from, we take care of the logistics while you focus on developing your business and showcasing your passion to the world.

Let doola be your right-hand person to start your small business off with a bang!



How can I start my own business with no money?

You can start your own business with the many free tools and resources found online. 

What is the easiest business to start?

The easiest business to start will be something you have prior knowledge of. This expedites many learning curves in the product or service you wish to offer.

What are the basics of a start-up business?

Some of the basics of a start-up business are to have a concrete business plan, a marketable product or service, and an elaborate marketing strategy. 

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