Step 1: Prepare for Success
Taking the proper steps in the early stages of developing a business plan and your get-to-market strategy are essential in building a strong foundation for your new business endeavor. Take the time to find out if your idea is viable. Consider who will buy your product or service. Look into the current state of your industry to see if there are new opportunities. Build the competitive edge that your business idea needs to be successful in a contemporary business climate.
- Research your market There are a variety of free and low cost tools available to help you in the early stage of your market research as an entrepreneur. The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) provides a curated list to help you understand your target consumer.
- Take a startup class Entrepreneur-serving organizations around the state of West Virginia provide regular in-person and distance education learning opportunities. The West Virginia BusinessLink site has a calendar of many upcoming business training events and opportunities available.
- Talk to a startup counselor There are a variety of business coaches and resources throughout West Virginia. You can find them at the WV BusinessLink Resource Navigator. Additionally, the West Virginia Small Business Development Center provides coaching services statewide!
Step 2: Plan Your Business
Good business planning keeps you focused, and can be the difference between failure and success.
- Take a business planning class A variety of organizations across West Virginia offer assistance with business planning. Refer to the WV BusinessLink Calendar to find an online or in-person class near you! Also the West Virginia Small Business Development Center has an archive of business plan training that can be viewed on demand by entrepreneurs!
Write a business plan There are as many business planning tools available to entrepreneurs as there are business coaches in the country.
One of the most commonly recommend tools used by entrepreneurs today is the Business Model Canvas. The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management and entrepreneurial tool. It allows you to describe, design, challenge, invent and pivot your business model. This concept allows anyone currently in business, or starting a new business, to think through the business model of their organization, competitors, or any other enterprise.
- Learn some of the basics by watching this informative video on Business Fundamentals by the West Virginia SBDC.
- Talk to a business planning counselor One of the services provided by WV BusinessLink is the ability to connect with one of our resource partners who can assist you in putting together your business plan. Several organizations throughout West Virginia offer free one-on-one sessions with trained counselors. Counselors act as sounding boards as you move from evaluating your idea to planning your business and can address a number of start-up issues, including markets, competition, operations and your business plan. When you contact a potential counselor, be specific about what information you need and what kind of business you are starting so you can be matched with the best resource. Before meeting with a counselor, it helps to think through your ideas and need to be specific about:
- Questions that arose during your market research
- Concerns about how your business will operate
- Issues about competition or location
- Potential regulatory issues that could affect your ability to operate
Step 3: Register and License Your Business
Once you have decided the business structure you wish to form and the business name you wish to use, you must register the business with the appropriate federal, state, county and local city agencies.
- West Virginia Secretary of State
- West Virginia State Tax Department, and
- WorkForce West Virginia (Unemployment Compensation).
Filing required business registrations with all the state agencies is now fast and easy through the West Virginia Secretary of State’s One Stop Business Portal.