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  • Writer's pictureAmy Zwagerman

15 Best Practices for Starting a New Business

Updated: Apr 28

Hi. I'm Amy, the Founder and Chief Marketing Person here at the Launch Box. As an advisor and host for Co-Founders Lab, I meet hundreds of new founders every month and I’ve made it my mission to help them build the businesses of their dreams.

What does that mean you ask? Well, for me, it means helping people take their ideas from inception to reality in a way that not only makes them money, but meets consumers where they are and fills a need - or as we marketer's call it, a gap in the market.

More specifically, my goal is to help founders embrace marketing as one of the core building blocks of their business. I know, that idea sounds very self-serving for a marketer to say, right? That’s why I put the idea to the test by asking a mix of founders and experts to share their thoughts on best practices for starting a new business, and you know what, every one of their tips relies on understanding marketing in one way or another. So, here you go, from relying on market research to really loving the process, here are 15 answers to the question, "What are the most important things new founders need to do before starting a business?" Let me know if any of these resonate with you!

  • Start With Market Research

  • Develop a Hyper-Specific Business Model

  • Get Comfortable Talking About Yourself

  • Run a PR Campaign

  • Name Your Company

  • Just Start

  • Check Legal Requirements, Regulations, Taxes, and Obligations

  • Prepare for Things to Go Awry

  • Determine if There Is Customer Interest

  • Review Trademark Records

  • Have a Consistent Way to Generate Leads

  • Know Your Industry

  • Clearly Define Your Mission

  • Budget More Than You Think You Need

  • Love the Work, Not Just the Money

Start With Market Research

The primary thing new founders need to do before starting a business is conduct market research. Market research helps founders understand the industry they are entering, identify potential customers, and determine the feasibility of their business idea. Doing market research also helps entrepreneurs gain a better understanding of their competitors and their offerings. Last, it helps them craft a business plan with realistic goals and objectives.

Develop a Hyper-Specific Business Model

The most important consideration for founders before starting a new business is to determine the best business model. A good business model can be the difference between success and failure.

For example, a company selling pet food may decide to focus on selling directly to consumers online, while another may choose to partner with pet stores to retail their products. The former model may be more profitable and require less effort in terms of marketing and customer service, while the latter may provide more access to customers and a larger reach.

Ultimately, the founders must decide which model will work best for their business, considering their resources, target market, and competitive landscape.

Get Comfortable Talking About Yourself

I am a huge advocate of organic marketing and founders leveraging their personal brands to grow their businesses. All too often, though, the people with brilliant ideas that start companies fear being in the public eye and‌ won't market the heck out of their start-ups.

Word-of-mouth organic traction is fundamental to a company's early growth, and what better way than for the founder to share their story and the reason they started the business? Get in front of the camera, and with time you'll grow more and more comfortable sharing information with the world.

Run a PR Campaign

Running a PR campaign even before your business officially launches can do wonders for your business. If you do not already know how to do so, hire someone to write a good press release for you and pitch it to appropriate media outlets. Creating a buzz around your small business is important to help generate leads, even if there are still components of your business that are still in development, such as your website and products.

Marilyn Zubak, Marketing Lead, Snif

Name Your Company

Before you start any business, create your company's name and check with the state you live in to make sure the name is not in use. I recommend making a list of your top five company names, then checking with your state to ensure the name is not in use.

I have had conversations with people in the past who created their businesses before checking to see if the name was available. When they found out the company name was already in use, they had to recreate marketing material, websites, etc., and in the end, it cost the founder more money.

Always check with your state to see if someone took your company name. It’s the first important step before launching your new business.

TK Morgan, Founder & Visionary, Tuesday at 1030

Just Start

The best thing new founders need to do before starting a business is to start it.

It's not as simple as it sounds, but it's also not as complicated. And the sooner you start your business, the better off you'll be. Starting something means making space for it in your life—you need to carve out time and make plans for what that means outside of work, family obligations, and whatever else may go on in your life right now.

It also means setting aside money—money that may be scarce if you're just starting out (but we'll talk about that later). The best way to get started is by doing something small: maybe picking a side project or even just spending some time every day thinking about what kind of business you'd like to start.

Once you've had an idea for a while (and maybe even written some notes), then you can start looking at things like the legal structure of your business and how much money will fund those needs.

Natasha Nurse, Co-Founder & CoHost, WokeNFree

Check Legal Requirements, Regulations, Taxes, and Obligations

Before starting a business, founders need to research the legal requirements, regulations, taxes, and fees associated with their business. This research is essential to ensure that the business complies with all local and national laws and regulations and to identify any potential financial obligations.

Additionally, understanding the tax implications of a business is important to ensure that you pay the necessary taxes on time and accurately. Having this knowledge from the outset will help ensure that the business is fully compliant and avoids any unnecessary financial obligations.

Prepare for Things to Go Awry

You have an amazing business idea, you've received funding, and you're about to finally make the career step of your dreams. Since your business plan is absolutely perfect and has been thought through a million times, nothing can go wrong, right? Unfortunately, in virtually any case, the answer is no.

Obstacles, setbacks, challenges, and mistakes are bound to happen. Still, I'm not saying this to steer you away from becoming a founder or to scare you; quite the opposite. If you want your company to be successful in the long run and come out from all the troubles with the upper hand, you have to be prepared for the possibility of things not going according to plan.

Never get stuck in your vision to the point of letting it blind you. Be flexible and always ready to adjust and overcome. The problem isn't the challenges and problems themselves; it's how you handle them that really matters.

Piotrek Sosnowski, Chief People & Culture Officer, HiJunior

Determine if There Is Customer Interest

In the very beginning, there are a lot of urgent, priority, important things to do, but the most important prerequisite is to make sure there are customers willing to buy your product or service once you're able to provide it.

Yes, this is market validation, customer validation, customer discovery, product-market-fit - whatever name you want to call it. Before you start, have solid evidence—even commitment—from people who would be your customers, that they would pay to use your product or service.

Anything short of that means you will have hard, uphill work to do once you try to start your company. And without customer commitment, everything else you do will be futile.

CJ Cornell, Managing Director, CJ Cornell

Review Trademark Records

Before starting a business, check trademark records to ensure you don't launch with a brand name or logo already taken. Doing so not only ensures the uniqueness of your business but also helps protect you from legal action by another business owner or corporation.

You can check records through the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Consider consulting an attorney to provide additional guidance regarding trademarks and other business-related legal issues.

Have a Consistent Way to Generate Leads

I can tell you from firsthand experience that before you quit your day job, you need to have a systematic way to generate leads for your business. I didn't realize this at first, and it was very hard to get my business off the ground. Thank goodness, I finally figured out a system, and now it's my main offer to clients.

When I talk to a lot of business owners about lead generation, many of them tell me that they get business from referrals. That tactic will only work for so long because your network will eventually dry up. When you have a system to generate and close new business, you breathe easier knowing you always have access to consistent income, and you can get off the cash flow rollercoaster.

Jaime Ellithorpe, Founder & Business Growth Consultant, 540 Strategies

Know Your Industry

Is there room enough in the market for you or will carving out your piece of the pie be more expensive than you can manage? Knowing your industry isn't just about knowing its technical side; you also need to have a keen understanding of how financially responsible starting a business in that industry can be.

While going into a saturated market certainly isn't impossible, the money and effort you'll be putting in will be much greater when you have to compete with other more well-established brands.

If you're set on a particular business idea, don't let the startup costs frighten you away. Just remember that the more fish in the pond, the less room there may be for you unless you have the resources to carve out your niche.

Clearly Define Your Mission

Standing out in the market can be challenging; there is no "one size fits all" approach for guaranteed results. However, knowing your business' purpose is a pivotal aspect of making key decisions. By identifying your business's purpose, strengths, and weaknesses, you can effectively make decisions that are in the best interest of your business. A clearly defined mission is key to current and future success.

Dakota McDaniels, Chief Product Officer, Pluto

Budget More Than You Think You Need

Figure out the budget you think you need, and then increase it. There are a lot of reasons that startups can fail; but often, it's because they run out of cash. If you're a new entrepreneur, then it's important to plan for unforeseen costs.

Poor market conditions, a delay in the supply chain, a pricier-than-expected product launch, or a million other things could put a serious dent in your rainy-day fund. So when you're planning out the budget for your new business, make sure you account for more than you think you'll need.

Love the Work, Not Just the Money

Starting your own business is hard. Running it successfully is even harder. Many people can come up with ideas for starting their own company, but turning it into an actual stable, profitable business is the real challenge.

Finding the ambition to start the company—incorporating, doing market research, and building a website and/or physical location—can be a daunting task. But it's also one of the most exciting times for new business owners because all of their work produces tangible results.

What we often overlook is how emotionally challenging running your company is once you get past the startup phase and try to grow it into a profitable business. The reason most businesses fail isn't because of bad ideas or competition; it's because the founders didn't have the passion to get through the many dark nights to see the sun rise again and again.

In order to be successful, you have to truly love what you do and be willing to give it 110% of you—not just once, but over and over.


About  Me 

Hi, I'm Amy! I'm the founder and CMO of the Launch Box, a boutique marketing services firm where I serve as an advisor, mentor and Fractional CMO to entrepreneurs at every stage of the startup journey. My primary mission is to help founders like you achieve their dreams by learning how to think more like a marketer. 😘 During my time off, you will either find me lounging with Zoey (my canine partner in crime) or engaging in a never-ending quest to make the perfect pizza. (SRSLY, if you want to talk about startup marketing 👩🏻‍💻, my 🐕 or 🍕, DM me anytime.

  - Amy & Zoey

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