Editor’s Note: This is part one of a 10-part series that will give you tools and resources you need to start a business in the Atlanta area. This guide is written by a group of journalists that believe we can make a difference in our community thru active empowerment. We do not claim to be experts, so we will ask real-world experts for advice throughout this guide. Let’s start a business Atlanta!

Last week, we presented an overview of the 10 Step plan suggested by the City of Atlanta. If you’d like a review of that list, click here. In step one, we cover writing your business plan.

We asked Rahel Tafari, owner of Grant Park Coffeehouse, about how long it took to write her business plan. Mrs. Tafari told us that she started with a template, and, “it took about three weeks including adding and removing” elements of her business plan.

The morning I stopped by, the shop had a line of locals nearly out the door. Tafari also told me that that word of mouth advertising drives the steady flow of local foot traffic and patrons of nearby Zoo Atlanta.  

So this first step might take about three weeks, you heard it from a successful business owner. If you already have an idea then bare with us a moment, but let’s ask that most basic question first.

 


WHAT IS YOUR BUSINESS IDEA?

What kind of business do you want to start? Do you want to run a “brick and mortar” aka own real estate? Do you want to run a used clothing shop online from home? Are you interested in food trucks? Or do you just want to teach yoga in the park? For the purposes of this guide, we will assume that you would like to start a business either online, out of your home, or out of a storefront.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s guide to writing your business plan is a great place to start: https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/write-your-business-plan


WHO IS YOUR COMPETITION, WHAT IS YOUR MARKET?

Now that you have an idea of what type of business you want to pursue, it is time to see if you are the only game in town or if other entrepreneurs are sharing your space. Don’t get discouraged if other business owners are currently more successful than you at the moment, but also don’t try to open a Burger/Wings/Fried Rice place in Atlanta without seriously considering the competition in the marketplace.

Explore the US Small Business Administration’s guide to “market research and competitive analysis: https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/market-research-competitive-analysis


HOW MUCH IS IT GOING TO COST TO GET STARTED?

There are exceptions to every rule, but generally, it is going to take some initial start-up money to get your business off the ground. This is especially true if you are going to rent or purchase a physical location to engage your customers. You will need office supplies, equipment, inventory, marketing…the list goes on.

Write down a list of everything you need to buy to make your business function. You may already have some of these items, but write them down so you can check them off the list. Now create another column, and make a list of prices for all your products/services. This is your business income. You need to know how much money per month you can make with your business. How many shirts do you need to sell, how many sandwiches, or how many artist consultations are enough to pay the cost of operating business?

Go in-depth into this process, and learn more about competitive analysis, estimating your profits, and finding investors here: https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/calculate-your-startup-costs


OK, I KNOW HOW MUCH IT WILL COST. WHERE DO I GET THE MONEY?

This is the moment that it gets real. If you want to be a successful business owner, then you will need capital investments, credit, and a network of customers, friends, family, and business partners. Once you know your budget, then you need to decide how you will acquire your start-up costs. You might seek venture capital from wealth management groups, you may qualify for a small business loan from the government, or you might just throw a huge fundraiser with 50 of your favorite people that all want to see you succeed.

Let’s look at all the options with the Small Business Administration: https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/fund-your-business


INSTEAD OF INVENTING THE NEXT UBREAKIT OR MCDONALDS (HINT: BUY YOUR OWN!)

Building a business from scratch is challenging to say the least, but there are options and shortcuts. Instead of inventing the next uBreakit store, McDonald’s, or reNew Boutique…maybe you should just buy or open one yourself? That way, you can take a moderately successful business that is already open and then you can make it grow! Or you can get support from the franchise system of business so you don’t have to figure out inventory supply chains, logistics, or branding. This option is great for someone who wants to get started quickly, has some capital secured, and doesn’t mind having partners.

Find out more on the Small Business Administration’s guide to buying an existing business: https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/buy-existing-business-or-franchise


You made it! Did you click all the links and explore or did you make it to the end? There’s a week’s worth of additional reading on the links above, so enjoy the process and have fun learning. Find a comfy spot, be creative, make changes, make mistakes, and enjoy the process of working on your business plan.

Next week: Learn how to find a location, and create your business.
Send us your comments, hacks, and feedback through social media and on our website.

Grant Park Coffee House (credit: Jeremiah Long)

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