In 2019, Arizona ranked as the 7th best U.S. state to start a business. The report by WalletHub assessed each state based on criteria including business environment, small business growth and business costs. With many people forced to stay at home in 2020, now could be the best time to start your own business, and Arizona is a great place to do it! 

Being self-employed has many benefits. You can have more flexibility in your working hours; you can pursue your passion, create jobs and hopefully do good in the world. If you like a challenge and are willing to put in many hours of hard work, then starting a business is worth contemplating.

Getting Started

Starting a business can be exciting but also overwhelming. Your head will no doubt be jam-packed full of ideas and questions. If you know that you want to start your own business, but you don’t know what you want to do, take your vision or passion and go from there. If you don’t have a passion for what you do, it can be tricky to motivate yourself. Remember that in the first 2 or 3 years of establishing a business, you can expect to work 60+ hours per week, before you get to a place where you can take your foot off the gas and coast a little – at least relatively speaking – you should never get complacent.  

Solving problems is often a great angle to take when starting a business. For example, Moneypenny co-founder Ed Reeves came up with the idea for a phone answering service after missing an important phone call. Is there anything in your daily life that has frustrated you or a friend? If so, can you turn that frustration or problem into a business?

People tend to have a passion for what they are good at too. With this in mind, if you have the time, consider learning a new skill, one that is in demand. Look at job websites, see what type of employees recruiters and companies are looking for, and make a note of how much each vacancy typically pays. Then look into how long it takes to become competent with that skill or within that industry.  

Graphic design, web development, even engineering are all in demand and well paid, but they also take hundreds of hours of learning to master and engineering generally requires a degree level qualification. Arguably, video production and some aspects of digital marketing such as Facebook Advertising, don’t take as long to learn. You can teach yourself using a website such as Udemy or YouTube. Find some cheap or free courses and take it from there! 

Procrastination is the killer of all action, so getting ideas out of your head onto paper can be a good start. Still don’t know where to start? Hopefully, this checklist will help. 

1. Be Specific with Your Business Idea

Whatever your idea is, you need to narrow it down and be as specific as possible. Pin your idea down by going on websites such as Quora, Reddit and any relevant forums. Ask questions too. What are people discussing? What are the common topics? Narrow down your target audience’s problems and how your idea can help solve their problems better than anyone else.

2. Do Your Research

Now that most people have access to the internet, there is no excuse for not doing the essential legwork when it comes to research. Research the industry, your competitors, the problems and issues people in your target market/audience have and use a tool such as SEMRush or Google Keyword Planner to see how many people per month are searching for terms related to your idea. 

As mentioned earlier, you can also jump onto a job website and see which skills are in demand and which skills and jobs demand the highest wages. If your business idea is to start a digital marketing agency, look into which specific skills recruiters are looking for – social media ads managers, SEO Executives, Google Ads Specialists etc.

If your business will operate in the local district, look on Google Maps to see how many competitors you will have. Look at the competitor websites and see what level of professionalism they appear to have, what marketing do they do and what are there strengths and weaknesses?

3. Name Your Business

Do some brainstorming and come up with a list of names – names that are easy to spell! Double-check that the business name and the domain names/web addresses you want to use are available.  

You can use a website such as HostGator to check for the domain name(s) that you want to use for your website and should help you check the availability of the business name that you wish to register.

4. Legal Stuff

When you are ready to commit, you will need to complete some paperwork to obtain an EIN to file taxes for the business. Open a business bank account by making an appointment with the bank. Opening a business account will make it easier to track your accounts using a business account specifically for your business expenses. 

You will have to think about what format your business will take. Will it be a sole proprietorship, partnership, a corporation an S corporation or a Limited Liability Company (LLC)?

5. Business Plan

There is a saying in the military called The 7 Ps: “Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents P**s Poor Performance.”

There are several excellent guides and templates online to help you with a business plan.

Generally, a business plan will include:

A Business description – who the founders are, what the company mission is, etc

Products & Services – a definition of the core products or services

A Marketing plan – how will you reach your prospective customers?

Competitor Analysis – Who are your competitors? What are their strengths & weaknesses?

Operational Plan – Description of office space and equipment required and other operational processes such as order fulfillment

Financial Plan – Funding, projected profits and losses in the first three years, startup costs, break-even analysis

Executive Summary – a general summary of all the above

If you still have an enthusiasm and passion for your business after doing all of this, you are good to go! Get as much advice as you can before you invest any money and see if any local organizations can help with advice and funding. 

Good luck!