LEGAL GUIDE
Written by Avvo Staff | May 4, 2016

How to run a business

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One of the biggest challenges new business owners face isn’t starting a business, but rather how to run a business. Some key steps to follow to have a successful business include making a business plan, budgeting your money, using good hiring practices, and staying updated on local laws.

Write a business plan

A business plan defines your business and helps you look into the future. It’s a living document that outlines the following elements of your business:

  • Mission. This is where you explain what your business hopes to achieve, and what underlying values will drive you towards it.
  • Goals. Outline what you think your business might be doing 3 or 5 years in the future.
  • Marketing. Plan out how you’ll spread the word about your business, and choose a target audience for your products or services.
  • Financial projections. Document what kind of profits you hope to achieve, and what kind of finding you’ll need to accomplish your goals.

Your plan can also include an appendix that contains things like property leases and permits. Having all this information in one place makes for a great reference document. It also shows that you have a clear vision for your business, which can make it easier for you to secure funding from investors.

Be smart about your budget

Every successful business takes a risk once in a while, and sometimes you might roll the dice on an investment. However, you should always consult with a financial expert before making a major decision, and never pile everything you have into a single investment. Build a robust portfolio so you’ll always have a fallback plan.

Overspending is also something to be wary of. Both LLCs and regular corporations provide protection for your personal assets, but you can still be held liable if you make reckless decisions. This is known as "piercing the corporate veil" and can result in serious losses for you and your family.

Even if your business is thriving and you have some discretionary funds, tread carefully when the time comes to expand. Growing too quickly can stretch your resources thin and saddle you with uncontrollable debt.

Put together the right team

Every person who works for you plays a part in determining how successful your business is. Look for candidates who demonstrate the following traits:

  • Enthusiasm. People who have a passion for what you want to accomplish are more likely to fully devote themselves to their work.
  • Competence. Look at what kind of education candidates have, and how they worked with past employers.
  • Compatibility with company culture. Consider how a candidate will mesh with the existing vibe in your office.

There are also some legal considerations to take into account. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. Make sure that job applications for your company clearly state that you are willing to comply fully with the ADA's spirit.

If you plan on hiring workers from outside the country, familiarize yourself with H-1B visa regulations.

Know local business laws

Every locality has different regulations for businesses, and some types of businesses may face more stringent rules than others. It’s always a good idea to keep careful records of any contracts or financial transactions so you have documentation to back you up in case you face a lawsuit or a tax audit. But when it comes to staying compliant with local laws, a local attorney is going to be your best resource.

Knowing how to run a successful business is a key part of keeping your business endeavors on the right track. It’s impossible to cover all the aspects of running a successful business in a single article, but following the above tips will help you get off to a promising start.

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