Ever dream of leaving that mundane corporate job and starting your business? Ever dream of starting a business in Tennessee? What if you could take that risk and do something you loved? That’s what Kelly J Mason decided to do only a year and a half ago. How did this single mom, who had enjoyed many years as a successful medical sales rep decide it was time to take the entrepreneurial plunge? Scott talked to Kelly in a two-part Transformer radio show, and we sure did learn a lot about what it ACTUALLY takes to start a retail clothing store, from conception to brick and mortar, Kelly and Scott give us their best advice on how to start a business.
Here are the steps to start your business. Since Kelly and Scott both have businesses in Tennessee, we’ll focus on that state and county for now. Of course, if you are living somewhere else, you’ll have to contact your local authorities – both county and state to find out what the business regulations are for you. Of course, this is just one example of someone who started a business and should only be used as a rough guide or lesson. You should always consult a professional attorney when dealing with legal matters, including how to incorporate, should you incorporate, leasing, contract, etc. It’s always better to start off with legal counsel when embarking on any business venture.
Here are the steps to start your business:
Have an idea.
We can’t say enough about this step. Don’t just say, “I think it would be fun to have my clothing store.” What does this idea look like? What will set you apart from others? Do you have something that you already do, on the side, that gets good responses from your family and friends? A little research goes a long way.
For Kelly, she always had a passion for clothes and started making her creations, and embellished boots, jackets, and clothing for her family and friends way before she thought – I should start my clothing business. Find an idea that you can be super passionate about for many years, and many, many, many long days ahead.
If you aren’t passionate about your idea, who will be?
Come up with a unique name and brand.
Your name is the start of your brand. It will be the first thing your customers hear about you. It will appear on your website, your clothing, your storefront signs. It’s important. Think about something that is catchy, familiar and suits your overall brand and style. Ask around? Do your friends ‘get it’? Is it something that will grow with the business.
Kelly knew she’d want to spell clothes with a “K” for her business: http://www.klothesnmotion.com for many reasons, starting with her name is Kelly.
Check to see if the name is available.
You don’t want to be automatically aligned with another brand, especially if that brand is well known, or something completely different than what you do. For those who live in Tennessee, you can go to http://www.tn.gov/ecd/topic/how-to-start-a-business where the first step is to check to see if that name is already taken. You can also do a google search, and URL search to see if that website URL is taken.
The Tn.gov website has many small business resources that are worth checking out. Spend some time doing your research before you invest any money. It could save you thousands.
Apply for Tax ID number.
If you are going to be selling goods, like clothing, you must have a tax ID number. In Tennessee, you can begin to apply for a tax ID number here: https://www.irs-taxid-number.com/tax-id-ein/tennessee/
Apply for city and county licenses.
You will need to find if there are any city and county licenses that your specific business will require: This is a good time to consult a lawyer. A good place to start in Tennessee is here: https://www.tn.gov/revenue/article/business-tax-registration-and-licensing.
Unless you have life savings you are ready to use; you’ll have to establish credit to fund your business: This is a good time to build relationships and seek counsel. There are lots of ways to get funding when starting a business. We’ll delve into this topic much more in the future, but for now, we had to tell you there are options out there. If you have a great idea, a lot of gumption – do your research. Talk to someone at the bank. Talk to someone in your local area. Talk to other business owners. How did they get funding? Talk to your local suppliers. Maybe they will want to get in your store because they like your approach and location? Are they willing to give you some merchandise on credit? The options for funding are limitless when it comes to starting a business.
Great. You want to start a brick and mortar store. You’ve done your research. Got your permits, hey, maybe even some funding. You need to start making sales, and if you haven’t realized already, the profit margins are quite low in retail sales. Not to mention that there will be days, weeks, or even months that you don’t see a profit. How do expand your market if you just have a storefront? Get online. Setting up an online store to accompany your real-life store just makes perfect sense. Your website is also your calling card, event planner, marketing efforts – it can do a lot. Invest your time into creating one, or find a web design team that can give you your vision online and take your market to the masses.
There are going to be times in your business that you’ll want to quit. Maybe you’ve had a slow month and can’t seem to pull yourself out of it. Maybe you’ve had to change suppliers, or the debt load is increasing way too fast for your liking. Being an entrepreneur is one of the most challenging things you can do in this life. It’s not easy. It takes long hours, every day. It takes being scrappy and inventive to find those solutions that others don’t see. It takes commitment. Yes. It’s a tough road, but it’s also very exciting. For people like Scott, and Kelly J Mason, there is no better way to be in this world.
Think you’ve got what it takes to start a business? Want to transform your career and life? Listen to The Transformer radio show as Scott Lumley tackles these issues with local leaders. You’ll learn a lot and have fun doing so!