Starting up your own business requires dedication and patience. Do you watch "Top Chef" or "Hell's Kitchen" and dream of opening up your own restaurant? Do you have a particular product you just know the public will want to buy? Setting up a storefront small business is the way to go, and it's easier than you may think. With the right tips and credit, you can be on your way to owning your own store in no time.
Figure Out Your Audience
First things first: Who is your audience? Are you targeting preteen adolescents? What about stay-at-home moms? Are you trying to draw middle-income families? Wealthy people? The elderly?
Let's say, for instance, you're wanting to open up your restaurant. You have to remember that you'll never truly capture 100 percent of the market you're going for, but if you have an idea of the five main market categories, according to Entrepreneur, you'll have a great start off the bat:
- Generation Y or "Millennial Generation"— This generation was born between 1980 and 2000. Now in their 20s and early 30s, this generation is more accustomed to fast-food and quick-service items.
- Generation X: Born between 1965 and 1979, this crowd holds tight to family values. If you're targeting this crowd, make it kid-friendly.
- Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964, baby boomers make up the largest segment of the U.S. population. Now ranging in age from late 60s to lat 40s, this crowd prefers family-friendly to upscale-yet-affordable settings.
- Empty Nesters: Empty nesters look for quality. If you're trying to target this group, you'll want an upscale restaurant, for example, with excellent customer service.
- Seniors: This demographic looks for value, and they don't like to spend money. They love senior specials and offers that cater to them directly.
Business Credit Card
Your business liabilities and expenses should be separate from your and your family's accounts. According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, 49 percent of small business owners used personal credit cards for business expenses in 2011. That leaves only about half of small business owners using specific small business credit cards. Your best option is to open a business account and a business-only credit card like an American Express small business credit card, which are set up to cater to small- to medium-size businesses.
These small business accounts offer advantages, such as apps to manage accounts, automatic invoicing for accounts receivable, bill paying for accounts payable, discounts with partners like FedEx and Delta Airlines and, especially in the case of AmEx, purchase protection.
What's the Best Market for Your Business?
Now that you've narrowed down who your audience is, now it's time to look for prime real estate. Look for a location that has high visibility for your target audience. This can be a traditional brick-and-mortar store next to the most popular yoga studio, or inside a shopping mall or outdoor strip mall. The location of your business could make or break your future investment, so find a location that's in the right demographic.
Look for a real estate agent who specializes in commercial properties and understands your type of business. In addition, look for a mentor who has been in the business during the start-up phase, tough times and economic booms. He or she can advise you on the importance of location and help elevate your visibility so you attract the audience you want.