This is an exciting time for entrepreneurs, with emerging technologies and compelling consumer trends providing many ways to break into a high-opportunity market. Add remote opportunities and expanded access to impressive talent pools, and it’s easy to see why many aspiring entrepreneurs regard 2024 as their time to finally make their mark in the evolving business world.
Challenges abound, however, and with the wealth of new technologies come difficulties with implementation. Logistics and supply chain issues are also top of mind, along with the ever-present complications of forming and running a business: taxes, licenses, permits, and so on.
These may feel like roadblocks, but they should not stand in the way of launching a successful business in 2024. To bring clarity to this process, we’ve provided several suggestions that can streamline this process while keeping stress to a minimum. Keep reading to learn what it takes to open a business in 2024 and which strategies are most likely to produce lasting success:
1. Determine the Best Business Structure
One of the first steps to launching a successful business? Deciding how you will officially structure it. While you may be tempted to keep it simple with a sole proprietorship or a general partnership, this could set you up for big risks down the road.
If you want robust protection and a stronger business reputation, consider establishing a limited liability company (LLC). This structure is favored for its middle ground status: it bypasses some of the costs and complications of the S corp or C corp, but with a clear distinction between personal and business assets that can prove highly protective in the event of business trouble.
Keep in mind that there are multiple types of LLCs — and that your preferred approach will largely depend on who is involved in your new business. Types of LLCs worth looking into include:
Single-member LLC. Simple and straightforward, a single-member LLC functions a lot like a sole proprietorship, but with the added protection that only a limited liability setup can provide.
Multi-member LLC. If you plan on working closely with another owner, a multi-member LLC may be your best bet. You will likely be taxed as a partnership, with each LLC member reporting their share of the income.
Series LLC. Although not available in all states, a series LLC can provide valuable protection for those who run multiple LLCs and want to protect them from one another. This structure centers around an umbrella LLC, which presides over sub-LLCs known as series.
2. Get to Know Your Audience
You have a genius business idea and a structure that will help you meet your goals while maintaining maximum protection. Now, it’s time to learn more about your potential clients or customers. The better you understand your audience, the better you can curate products or services to meet their unique needs.
This begins with market research. Dive into details to learn about your customer base. What do the local demographics look like? What are the most common pain points? What could your role be in revitalizing this market?
Use a blend of primary and secondary research to get the most well-rounded insights. Public resources are typically available free of charge, although commercial data should also be well within reach. You can also conduct surveys and focus groups to score insights directly from consumers within your target market.
Don’t forget to examine the competition: how do competitors attract business and which types of customers or clients are most likely to respond to their tactics? Known as competitive analysis, this approach will let you know what’s already going well and where you can respond to ongoing pain points to help distinguish your business.
Based on extensive research, you can get a better sense of where demand exists and how you can cultivate your brand identity accordingly. These details should also play heavily into your business plan, which, in turn, will provide a powerful blueprint to get you through the early challenges of launching your business.
3. Secure Funding From the Right Sources
It takes a lot of money to get into the entrepreneurial game. No one source of funding is ideal in every situation; a lot will depend on your preferred business structure and your timeline for launching your business. Common sources of funding worth considering include:
Self-funding. Many aspiring entrepreneurs spend years saving so they can start their businesses on their own terms. Sometimes referred to as bootstrapping, this strategy is appealing from a control perspective, but it might not be realistic if you are bound and determined to get your business started in 2024. Use savings if you can, but be prepared to look into other funding sources.
Venture capital. While venture capitalists typically prefer to invest in C corporations (largely due to the tax implications), it is not unheard of for VC funding to benefit LLCs. Venture capital can produce faster growth, but there’s a caveat: expectations will be high and, in most cases, strong outside support will be accompanied by significant losses in control.
Business loan. Many novice entrepreneurs depend on business loans for an initial boost. This is one of the most attractive options for aspiring LLCs with limited personal funding. A strong business plan is a must for scoring a loan, along with high credit scores and extensive documentation.
Crowdfunding. An increasingly popular option for aspiring small business owners, crowdfunding provides an excellent middle ground: a significant financial boost, but also, the chance to retain maximum control and not worry so much about repayment terms.
4. Develop a Customized Growth Plan
We’ve touched on the value of your business plan, but there is another, equally important plan to develop as you look to the future: a business growth plan, which emphasizes where your business is headed in the next several years. You’ll want to be mindful of long-term growth not only as you launch your business, but also, as you get caught up in the day-to-day complications of actually running the show.
A customized growth plan will encourage you to check in and make targeted changes on an as-needed basis. This will prevent you from getting caught in problematic patterns or routines, and instead, will foster a growth mindset that continues far into the future.
Financial forecasting is a core component of growth planning. This allows you to set both revenue goals and budgets while providing a better understanding of basic cash flow. Consider what, exactly, you are capable of selling in any given month and what it will cost to produce intended products or provide intended services. Now, create a cash flow forecast that draws on your previously identified sources of funding.
5. Embrace New Tools And Technologies
The pace of technological change is rapid these days, and businesses across all sectors feel pressured to keep up. If you are starting a new business in 2024, however, you have a distinct advantage: you won’t be caught up in the status quo or reliant on outdated solutions. Instead, you can start fresh with cutting-edge tools and technologies, which will give you a definite advantage over the competition.
Begin by doing your research and determining which tech-forward strategies are most relevant to your field and your goals. You will likely have uncovered valuable details from previous competitive analyses, including insights about which consumer-facing technological opportunities are most appreciated.
Now, consider the potential return on investment: how does the cost of implementing new technological solutions compare to the potential improvements in productivity or innovation? Other considerations to keep in mind include:
How scalable is the new technology? Will your solutions continue to accommodate your customers or clients as your business grows? How will the cost of maintaining that technology evolve over time?
How much training is required? Consider whether you or your employees will struggle to adapt to the new technology. Some learning curve is to be expected, but comfort with the scope of that learning curve will differ between businesses. Consider seeking external support if you lack the necessary expertise.
How do technological solutions align with your brand? Never seek out new technologies just for the sake of it. These need to serve a defined purpose and must be closely aligned with your overarching brand. Your vision and values should always be at the forefront as you select and implement new technologies.
6. Create an Entrepreneur Community
Life as an entrepreneur can be exciting, but some business owners struggle with a lack of relevant professional connections. This problem must be resolved quickly, as you will need plenty of support to get through the early struggles of launching your business.
Loved ones can definitely help, but there’s nothing quite like the insight and connection that a full-blown community of entrepreneurs can provide. If this does not already exist in your area, it might be up to you to get the ball rolling.
The good news? It shouldn’t take a lot of work to get entrepreneurs together. Many crave community and will be happy to meet up and share ideas or tell stories about crazy customers and clients. This can be as simple as starting a local group on social media, although nothing can replace the camaraderie of in-person gatherings.
Don’t worry if competing businesses are eager to get involved — mutual support is always important and entrepreneurs of all types can benefit from working together. By engaging with other business-minded individuals, you will strike inspiration and may even take a valuable first step toward forming a much-needed strategic partnership.
Embrace Business Opportunities in 2024
This is an exciting time to start a new business or to scale up an existing one. As you take advantage of a strong business market, don’t hesitate to seek support. You will discover a passionate and highly connected community of ambitious entrepreneurs, along with plenty of opportunities to make your mark in 2024.