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How to start a business in 2024 | 10 step guide

BusinessCategory
14 min read
Dan Hughes

There has never been a better time to start a business. In our hyper-connected digital age, you can set up a website, online store, and entire brand from anywhere in the world.

Online business-building tools have never been more accessible—and with the right approach, you can grow a loyal customer base quicker than you might think.

If you’re wondering how to start a business in 2024, we’re here to help. In this guide, we’ll look at the essential steps you need to take to make your business a real success.

Ready? Great. Let’s get started.

Disclaimer: This content should not be construed as legal or financial advice. Always consult an attorney or financial advisor regarding your specific legal or financial situation. 

Related: How to start a business

1. Find a business idea

find business ideas

First of all, to enjoy sustainable commercial success, you have to find a business idea that is not only feasible but something you feel passionate about.

If you have a shortlist of business ideas in mind, dig a little deeper by carrying out a little market research. Look at brands in your potential niche and find out how their consumers engage with them while looking at overall demand based on public sales or growth data.

Doing so will give you inspiration for your own business ideas. Armed with your market and competitor research, you can develop your ideas by considering:

  • What am I passionate about?
  • What are my specific skills and expertise?
  • Which subject matter am I most passionate about?
  • Can I feasibly sell or promote the product or services in my potential niche?
  • What unique spin can I put on well-trodden business ideas or concepts to stand out?
  • What gaps or weaknesses can I exploit in my potential niche or market?

Ask yourself these questions and you’ll eventually land on a business idea that has the potential to scale while keeping you engaged and inspired in the long term.

Related: Read our guide on essential small business ideas for more small business inspiration.

2. Use market research to validate your idea

use market research

Once you’ve landed on a solid business idea, you’ll need to see if it has any legs. We just touched on the concept of market research, but now we’re going to drill down a little deeper.

When brainstorming business ideas, you will have scratched the surface. But, to really validate your concept, you must get under the skin of your industry as well as your target audience. In addition to gathering industry insights and data, you should build buyer personas that represent your ideal target audience.

During this phase of the operation, it’s also important to conduct extensive market research as well as market analysis. Here are some market research and analysis ideas for your consideration:

  • Conduct consumer surveys across channels (phone, email, social media, mobile app, etc.).
  • Hold focus groups to gain a deeper understanding of how your target audience might perceive your brand and what you have to offer.
  • Observe how your target audience engages with potential competitors on social media as well as the related subject matter they’re discussing online.
  • Explore public data related to your target market to uncover consumer buying patterns as well as sales trends. This will help you validate your idea while giving your business planning a definitive direction—which brings us onto our next point.

3. Create a business plan

create business plan

Now your idea is validated and you’ve got a handle on your target market, you’ll need to start planning. When it comes to knowing how to start a business, developing your plan methodically is a vital skill. Here are some tips to help you navigate the process like a boss:

  • Consider your “why”. This will help you gain an understanding of your key motivations for starting your business as well as what you want to achieve
  • Outline plans of action or initiatives  that represent your brand mission and what you do
  • Define your key business goals using timelines and milestones to keep you on track
  • Write an executive summary that states all essential information related to your business’s aims, goals, and products

To break down each step in more detail, read our essential guide on how to write a business plan and use our official business plan template to make sure you don't miss anything important.

4. Get funding, explore finance options

funding and finance options

To get your business off to a flying start, you’re going to need to get the right level of funding. The funding options you explore will depend on the type of business you’re looking to start.

If you’re looking to start a solely online business and scale up, you could use your personal funds or savings to get up and running. Doing so will give you complete control on your decisions, allowing you to scale the business on your own terms. But, it’s worth noting that if your business struggles or fails to achieve profit, you will be solely responsible for paying back any debt.

Related: Check our guide on online business ideas.

Other business funding options include:

  • Crowdfunding: Using dedicated crowdfunding platforms, you can inspire people to donate to your business venture in return for incentives or equity. This can be a very effective form of fundraising—and there have been many crowdfunding success stories over the years.
  • Gain a line of credit: Akin to obtaining a personal line of credit, you can gain a line of business credit. The terms, limits, and interest rates will depend on the nature of your business as well as factors including your financial history and credit rating.
  • Get a grant: Another way of securing a healthy level of funding for your business is getting a grant. If your business mission is rooted in building a better community or inspiring innovation, you could be eligible for a healthy grant from the Federal Government.
  • Pitch to investors: Researching investors in your niche and pitching to them is an excellent way to get funding as well as professional backing and expertise. This is certainly an avenue worth exploring if you’re looking for startup capital as well as help with your business’s launch and development activities.

Interested in learning more about planning for business funding? Our guide covers the cost to start a business in full detail.

legal structure

When starting a business in 2024, settling on a water-tight legal structure is vital. Before you officially register your business, you have to decide on a concrete business structure—and the type you choose will impact your business from a legal standpoint. So, take your time when considering these structures.

Sole proprietorship

If you own your business independently, you can opt for sole proprietorship. This means that you will have full autonomy over your business, but you’ll be responsible for all debt, obligations, and finances.

Pros:

  • You will be in full charge of business decisions, development and planning
  • You will receive all of the business’s profits
  • You will find filing for tax simpler

Cons:

  • Managing everything on your own could burn you out and limit your potential for growth
  • If you hit financial hot water, you will be liable for settling any debts or arrears

Partnership

Combining forces with another budding business owner will give you double the startup as well as another person who is liable for the red tape as well as the financial aspects of the business. More often than not, two heads are better than one—forge the right partnership and you could see your business thrive from the get-go.

Pros:

  • You will have twice the skills, perspective, and financial scope
  • You will have another person who is responsible for the running as well as financial and legal aspects of the business

Cons:

  • If you and your partner disagree on any aspect, this could cause the kind of friction that could derail progress and stunt growth

Corporation

As a corporation, you will separate your personal assets from your business assets. This means that while your company can incur debt and be subject to legal disputes, in most cases your personal finances and assets will remain protected. There are many different forms of a corporation to consider, some of which offer access to some pretty decent investment opportunities.

Pros:

  • You will gain access to excellent capital options
  • You will benefit from certain tax breaks
  • You will be able to protect your personal assets

Cons:

  • Corporates can be costly to form and run
  • There can be a lot of red tape involved in the running of a corporation

Limited liability company (LLC)

This type of business structure is one of the most common options for new businesses. As a limited liability company (LLC), you will benefit from the legal protection of a corporation while also reaping the tax rewards of a business partnership.

Pros:

  • The setup process is relativity straightforward
  • You will gain access to a healthy choice of capital and funding options
  • You will have a certain level of protection concerning your personal finances

Cons:

  • Your investment options can be limited with an LLC
  • You can be subject to fairly costly annual maintenance fees

Want more information on how to start an LLC? Our guide has you covered.

Weigh up the pros and cons of each business structure, taking your aims and goals into consideration. At this point, you will want to brainstorm a catchy business name to make it official and bring your brand to life.

Once you’ve decided on your brand-boosting business name, you secure the appropriate domain name.

6. Register your business and get the required licenses

get business license

The next step in your how to start a business journey is registering your business and getting any required licenses.

By choosing your business name and settling on your business structure, you will have already started the registration process. To complete the registration process and obtain the right licenses, you will need to:

  • Check the full registration requirements depending on your legal structure
  • Work though the registration requirements of any regions where you’re looking to trade or operate
  • Register for any taxes
  • Obtain an employee identification number (EIN), if necessary
  • File any relevant trademarks
  • Find out which business license is relevant to your organization and start the application process

Related: See How to Register a Business to access resource links to all 50 states.

7. Open a business bank account

open bank account

With your business almost up and running, you may want to open a bank account. In 2024, there is no end of choice when it comes to setting up a business bank account to keep your business and personal assets separate.

You should choose a bank account with benefits and features that suit your business’s size as well as your goals.

Tip: Create a shortlist of business bank accounts with flexible loan options as well as excellent customer service and online banking applications.

To set up your business bank account, you will need:

  • Official business formation documentation
  • EaIN or tax ID numbers
  • Your official business name and location
  • Date the business was  set up or established
  • Your  Social Security number, address and date of birth

8. Get business insurance

get business insurance

In addition to opening your bank account, you may also need to get business insurance. If you don’t, you could find yourself footing a colossal bill if any unexpected issues, damages or disputes arise.

Even as a small business, you will need to cover yourself with the right kind of insurance to protect yourself against any eventuality.

If you’re offering a service rather than tangible goods, it will also pay to get professional liability cover incase of any consumer-facing mistakes you might make. Also, as your business scales, you might also consider employment practices liability insurance. This type of cover will protect you against any potential employee claim or complaint.

9. Build your website

build business website

At this point, you will be ready to build your website and bring your business to life. Your website or online store will be the digital hub of your entire business—so getting the design and the functionality just right is essential.

If you’re interested in starting a website for your business, here are some hand-picked resources to help you out:

Tip: To build an online store that is slick, wonderfully designed, and easy to navigate, try the powerful and easy-to-master GoDaddy website builder. Or build an online store with our slick and savvy ecommerce tool. And tie your business together with a GoDaddy POS system to accept payments anywhere.

10. Launch and grow your business

launch and grow

“There’s no shortage of remarkable ideas. What’s missing is the will to execute them.”—Seth Godin

If you’ve followed all of the steps in this how to start a business in 2024 guide successfully, you’ll be ready to launch.

Once you build a buzz about your big business launch across various channels including email and social media, you can start selling and take measures to grow year on year through marketing campaigns and sales initiatives.

Starting a business in 2024 is a challenging but potentially rewarding venture. Be persistent, play to your strengths, take the time to ensure you’ve covered every base, and you’ll be winning on the commercial battlefield in no time. Best of luck.

Related: Discover our guide on how to start an online business.

FAQs:

How can a beginner start a business?

A beginner can absolutely start a business. As long as you have a clear idea of your goals and a passion for what you do, you can make your business a real success. Follow the steps in this guide and you’ll be up and running sooner than you might think.

How much money do you need to start a business from scratch?

The cost of starting a business will vary depending on your industry or business model of choice. But, research from the US Small Business Administration shows that most small businesses cost around $3,000 to get started. And, the majority of home-based ventures cost $2,000 to $5,000 to set up.

Can I run a business by myself?

There is no reason that you can’t run a small business by yourself. With the right resources and the right approach, you can set up, launch, and operate your business. Going solo is more than possible, but with so much to consider it’s a huge undertaking. As your business scales, hiring a small team or getting a partner on board will be a good idea. That way, you can further accelerate your commercial growth.

To move your business idea into a legal organization, here's a quick rundown of what you'll need to do. First, come up with a unique name for your business. Next, figure out what kind of business structure works best for you, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or corporation. Once you've got that sorted, pick a good location for your business and make sure you've got all the necessary permits and licenses. Then, get all your paperwork in order and register with your state. After that, it's time to set up your financials, like opening a company bank account and staying on top of your taxes. Just remember, forming a business can be a bit complicated, so it's always a good idea to chat with a tax advisor or lawyer to make sure you're doing everything right.

What is the easiest business to start?

A service-based business is often considered the easiest to start as you don’t have to deal in physical stock or inventory. But, in 2024, it’s never been more accessible to set up and launch a successful online business. In the digital age, tools exist to help you set up an ecommerce store or build a website without technical expertise. Follow the right steps and almost every kind of business will be within your reach.

A sole proprietorship is the easiest business legal structure to set up. If you have a little capital of your own, you can apply for a sole proprietorship with ease. You will have complete control over the entire business, but be aware: you will be responsible for the financial as well as legal aspects of the business.

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