Starting Your Business

It takes courage to start a business. Perseverance. And the ability to pull a team of talented people together. But when you make the commitment to move forward, you also make a great contribution to our community. And that’s one of our goals, too. 
 
That’s why we’re providing these helpful tips and a wealth of business-building resources and tools. We hope they will help you turn your big idea into a brand-new business. Think of it as another way we answer to you.
 
1. Understand your business and your competitive advantage

There are a lot of businesses out there in the marketplace. And you will definitely face competition. So it’s important to have a clear idea about the keys to your success before you launch your business.

Maybe you offer a brand-new solution to a common business problem. Or maybe you have other strengths—like better pricing or superior customer service—that will help you gain market share from companies with similar offerings.

When you get right down to it, there are a lot of ways to create a successful business model. But first you need to have an in-depth understanding of the specific advantages you bring to the marketplace. Then you’ll be able to tell that powerful story to customers, investors, lenders, the media, and anyone else.

And don’t forget. You’ll want to include information on your competitive advantages in your business plan. You’ll find out more about that very important topic in our next tip.

2. Develop your business plan

After you think about the “20 Questions,” you’ll be ready to develop a document that will play a critical role in starting your business—your Business Plan. Read 20 Questions Before Starting a Business from the Small Business Administration.

What’s covered in your business plan? Here’s a quick overview.

You’ll talk about the “big idea” behind your business. You’ll describe your strengths and analyze the competitive marketplace. You’ll provide information on your location, your operation, your management team, and your key employees. You’ll also include important financial information and data.

When you’re finished with your plan, you will have a valuable document that will give investors, lenders, key vendors and potential partners confidence in your ability to manage your business effectively and achieve your goals.

Your plan will also guide your decision-making. So don’t think of your plan as tedious homework. It really plays a strategic role in launching a new business.

Learn more about how to develop your business plan on our Business Plan Basics page.

3. Pull a great advisory team together

You bring unique skills and expertise to your role as business owner. But running a business is complicated. And there are times when you’ll need expert guidance on accounting, insurance, legal matters, and banking from professionals in those fields.

That’s why it’s important to assemble a team of qualified professional advisors when you’re ready to start your business.

So how do you find them? Ask for referrals from people you respect. Consult any professionals you already have on your team. 

Before long, you’ll have a great team of professionals on your side who will be ready to help you succeed.
 

4. Identify the right business structure

Here’s another advantage of having professionals on your team. They can help you choose the right business structure for you and your business. 

And let’s face it. That can be a complicated decision, since there are several different structures to choose from, including:

  • Sole proprietorships
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Partnerships
  • Corporations

So before you make a decision, carefully consider the pros and cons of each one. And keep these words of wisdom from the Small Business Administration in mind:

“Choosing the most suitable (structure) for your business can have significant advantages both now and later. The correct decision may give you tax breaks and other benefits while the wrong one can put you under a mountain of paperwork.”

To learn more about the different business structures that could apply to your business:

You can also find out how to apply for a specific business structure in New York State by visiting these websites:

We hope this information will help you choose the right structure for your business.
 

5. Get the licenses and permits you need

Licenses and permits are important, because they help protect the health, safety and welfare of people in our community. They are also required by law for many businesses. 

That’s why you’ll want to find out if you need any licenses or permits before you officially launch your business. Not only will it save you time, it will help you avoid potential problems that could interfere with the operation of your business.

To find out about licenses and permits required in your community, visit these governmental websites:
6. Explore the opportunity for economic development incentives

The development of new businesses is vital to the long-term health of our community. That’s why New York State and our local governmental organizations work hard to support entrepreneurship, economic development and business success.

In some cases, they may even provide incentives that could be beneficial to your business. So take the time to explore all of these great opportunities. 

After all, you might find an unexpected source of assistance that can help you get your business off to a great start.

To learn more, visit:

 

7. Make sure you protect your intellectual property
When you own a business, your intellectual property is one of your most valuable assets. And it should be protected through the U.S. patent process so others can’t copy it or use it without permission.

Here’s something else to keep in mind. You don’t have to be a 21st century Thomas Edison to have intellectual property. Because the term covers a lot more than the invention of new products.

According to the Small Business Administration, valuable intellectual property can include “not only physical products, but also communication implementation, cutting-edge processes, even innovative business methods.”

So think carefully about your business and your competitive advantages. And if you have valuable intellectual property, make sure you get patents to protect it.

To learn more, visit:​
At ESL, we work hard to help businesses succeed. 

That’s why we offer a wide range of business-building resources, timesaving tools, and a comprehensive portfolio of financial solutions. You’ll find quick links to many of them here.

But you can also count on us for something else that’s just as valuable: practical guidance and award-winning personal service.

We look forward to playing an important role on your team. It’s all part of our effort to answer to you. For more information, contact an ESL Branch Manager today.

Three simple things...

“What do you need to start a business? Three simple things: know your product better than anyone, know your customer, and have a burning desire to succeed.”  

Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s