10 Nov 30 days to success: Three simple steps to create your own international startup
Becoming the president of an international corporation used to take a lifetime of hard work. Now, it can be done with a PC, strong entrepreneurial spirit, and in less than 30 days.
The idea of being self-employed seems daunting to many professionals. It’s estimated that 80 percent of businesses fail within the first five years. If you’re the ‘glass is half-full’ type, you might be discouraged by such an estimate.
However, the typical entrepreneur views this an invitation. They see a good chance that any given venture will succeed. They have a sense of certainty that while individual ventures may fail, it should only take them five attempts to find the right venture.
With the help of technology, it’s never been easier, or less expensive, to start an international company. And, even the cost of failure has decreased. Within 30 days, it’s possible for anyone with a good idea and a modest savings account to start their own business.
Step 1: Business Planning
Even though a business plan isn’t required for starting your corporation, it’s not a bad idea. In fact, it’s a good one. Based on a study by Jessie Hagen of U.S. Bank, most businesses fail due to a combination of four factors: poor business planning, poor financial planning, poor marketing, and poor management.
If you write a good business plan, there are two likely results:
1) You plan ahead.
You anticipate potential marketing, management and financial problems. In doing this, you decrease your likelihood of failure. This means your odds of succeeding have likely broken the one-in-five barrier.
2) You opt out.
In writing the business plan, you’ve determined that your business idea isn’t profitable. Businesses that fail at the planning stage are the most cost effective. If this is the result, wait for the next idea to hit and begin the process again. Convince yourself that your odds have improved to one-in-four.
According to Hagen’s study, 78% of businesses fail due to lack of a well-developed business plan. Business planning software isn’t required — but it’s necessary. That is, creating a business plan by yourself is an intimidating task. You’re a fool not to use the tools that are available if you’re developing a business plan for the first time. I’ve had success with two tools, using them in combination with one another:
Ultimate Business Planner
This software, from Atlas Business Solutions, breaks down business planning in the typical step-by-step process, but includes better tools for financial projections than most. Ultimate Business Planner was chosen by Intuit as the best business plan software on the market. ‘
This inexpensive web-based business-planning tool fills the gaps of most desktop tools. It presents you with easy-to-answer questions that result in some ‘ready-to-use’ text based on common business, financial, marketing, and management strategies. I’d recommend using this tool and pasting results into Ultimate Business Planner.
Although it’s possible to generate a business plan very quickly with these tools, I recommend spending a minimum of two weeks for the business planning process. Many of the questions you need to answer to create a meaningful business plan require research, contemplation, and discussion.
Step 2: Incorporate
With a winning business plan in place, the next step is to form the legal entity for your business. To reduce the potential risks to your personal assets, you’ll likely want to create a corporation or an LLC.’ Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Corporations, for example, make it easier to raise capital by selling stock.
There are two types of corporations: S Corps and C Corps. Each have their own advantages: Income from an S Corp, for example, can be rolled into your personal taxes. C corps provide better structure for multiple owners. LLCs are more flexible than corporations in most respects. However, structure can be a good thing when it comes to business.
You’ll need to do some basic research because there are many things to consider when forming a legal entity, I suggest using a professional. Lawyers are the most expensive option. Online services that specialize in creating legal entities are typically a better option for entrepreneurs. They are experienced, knowledgeable, and affordable. BizFilings, for example, provides a free guide to incorporation and can help you form any kind of entity in any state.
Step 3: Brand and Infrastructure
When it comes to developing your company’s brand (logo), marketing materials, and website, I’d recommend working with experienced professionals. By making a modest investment up front on professional materials, you’re likely to have a stronger brand, more professional image, and less headaches overall.
Besides, you’ll need to be setting up the infrastructure for your business at the same time. This includes telephone, Internet, and print-related elements. I’m going to identify a number of great infrastructure online resources here. Take them for what they are worth.
If you’ve got access to high-speed Internet, consider using Vonage VoIP service. Vonage provides full-featured telephone services over the Internet. The service is reliable and inexpensive. Vonage makes it easy to operate a business from home that provides fax, 800, voicemail, and other services.
In the time remaining, you may want to create your business cards, letterhead, and other materials. I’ve had good experience with online printing vendors such as IPrint and PrintingforLess.
Quickbooks Online Edition
Quickbooks is a great accounting package for most businesses. I like the online version best. It allows users and their accountants to login from any Windows-based PC. This means that you and your accountant can both work remotely, simultaneously and in real time.
You’ll want to register a domain for your business and create a web site. I typically use inexpensive domains or Domain Direct for domain registrations.
If you need to use multiple 800 numbers for your business, want the ability to set up teleconferences, or want the ability to record phone calls, Kall8 is a great resource.
If you’re planning to use e-mail marketing in a big way, you may want to start out with a service like Constant Contact. It’s a turnkey, affordable service for managing e-mail-based marketing.
If you’re planning or starting your a business in the next 30 days to 12 months, begin visiting sites like the Business Owner’s Toolkit to find information and tips about starting, running and growing your own business. Many entrepreneurs start their first company while they’re still employed.’ This provides them with cash flow, health insurance, and the confidence they need to make a gradual transition to full-time self-employment.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC. (WTN). WTN, LLC accepts no legal liability or responsibility for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.