5 Essential Steps for Opening a Business in Garland

As a rapidly growing region east of Dallas, Garland is an ideal location for a small business. At the Garland Chamber, we are excited to work with business owners spanning dozens of industries from banking and accounting to beauty salons and restaurants. We believe more entrepreneurship is critical to our city’s long-term success, but we know that opening a small business can be challenging. It can be helpful to have a clear roadmap to follow so your business can succeed.

Here are five essential steps to take to launch your business well.

Step 1: Test your idea and get feedback from your target customer

Many entrepreneurs launch products full of enthusiasm only to realize thousands of dollars and hours later that their intended customer is actually looking for something different. To avoid this, you’ll want to test your idea with individuals who represent your target customer.

This might seem overwhelming or discouraging…what if you hear feedback that requires major changes to your original idea? This is one of the risks of conducting market research, but it’s much better to face those potential changes now than to realize your product is entirely failing to reach your ideal customer down the line.

You can test your idea incrementally by asking friends and family, setting up a booth at a farmer’s market, attending fairs or doing research interviews with folks who fit your customer profile. Take the feedback you collect to incrementally refine your product or service and scale up as your product secures greater and greater market fit.

Step 2: Conduct competitor research

As an entrepreneur, you likely have an interesting product or service to offer the community and you’re understandably convinced that it’s truly amazing. While that may be true, it’s also likely that someone else offers a product or service similar to yours in the same geographic area. Before you invest significant time and money developing your idea and bringing it to market, you’ll want to take some time to investigate what’s already out there that’s similar to what you’re offering.

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Depending on your product or service, this could be as simple as running a Google search for your business idea in your city (i.e., “Cinnamon rolls in Garland Texas” or “Dog washing in Garland Texas). Map a map of all the providers in your target area. Make some time to visit these businesses to get a feel for their product or service, their marketing and their clientele. The goal is to be able to identify how exactly your business will stand out from these alternatives.

Starting a business involves a lot of risk including putting yourself out there to compete against similar businesses. There’s no way to eliminate this risk entirely, but with some planning and research, you can put yourself in a position to have good success standing out.

Step 3: Get familiar with city codes, certificate requirements and licensing rules

Early in your business planning process, you’ll want to meet with someone from the Economic Development office to better understand the required processes and procedures. Be sure to ask about the following as they are essential to ensuring your business launches without a hitch:

  1. Pre-submittal meeting
  2. Commercial building permit or certificate of occupancy
  3. Zoning compliance
  4. Parking requirements
  5. Licensing requirements (if relevant)

Step 4: Outline your budget with extreme clarity

The concept of profit sometimes gets a bad rap, but a business that is profitable is one that can exist for a long time. In other words, if you believe your product or service can make life better for the people in your community, then you have a duty to make sure your business can make a profit.

Achieving profitability requires having a clear idea of your revenue and your cost and this requires creating a budget. This is probably the least-glamorous part of starting a new business, but it is simply essential. Many small businesses struggle or fall through the cracks because of large, unpredicted costs.

Avoid this pitfall by conducting a thorough cost analysis and writing down every single operational cost. If you’re not sure how much to budget for, pick up the phone and call business owners in similar fields and ask for their estimates. In fact, informational interviews with other entrepreneurs are a brilliant way to get an idea of costs you might not have known to plan for. Set up your free call with the Chamber and talk to us about our networking opportunities! We love introducing business owners to each other.

Step 5: Develop a brand and marketing strategy

Last, but not least important is having a brand and marketing strategy in place. These tools are important for communicating to the community more about who you are, what you offer and what makes your business worth visiting.

A brand includes aspects such as your logo, color scheme, fonts and motto or catchphrases that you’ll use in advertising. But a good brand is more than aesthetics. A good brand leverages design to tell the story, mission and vision of your business.

A marketing strategy includes the various ways you plan to communicate with target customers about your business. You should package your marketing communications in your brand and utilize various tools like social media, emails and even snail-mail or fliers to get the message out there. Promotions, discounts and special offers should also be part of your marketing strategy as a way to attract new customers, especially at the beginning when fewer people will know about you. Just be sure to budget for these discounts.

Marketing is a big part of running a business and it’s often something outsourced to a professional. If you’re looking for help in this area, reach out to us. Not only do we provide business coaching but we can connect you with a marketing partner in the Garland area.

Starting a new business is easily one of the most exciting undertakings an individual can take on. It has the potential to be extremely challenging but also extremely rewarding. Following these steps will help you have a more informed (and less stressful) beginning to your entrepreneurial adventure.

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