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If you’re looking to start your own small business but are worried about being able to keep it afloat, don’t worry! Many of the most successful small businesses have humble beginnings and relied on hard work, dedication, and creativity in order to succeed. Check out these nine helpful tips for starting a successful small business from scratch.

1) Identify what you do well

When you’re starting a small business, it’s easy to get caught up in all of your weaknesses and your fear that other people are better than you. But in order to be successful, you have to identify what you do well and capitalize on those strengths. You might not have years of experience or an Ivy League education, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something you can offer potential customers—whether it be financial savvy or an innate creativity. If someone asks what sets your small business apart from its competitors, know exactly how to answer them.

2) Find out what others are looking for in your field

If you’re just starting out in business, it’s a good idea to pay attention to what others are looking for and fill that niche. For example, if you started up an art gallery, you might want to look at Amazon or Craigslist for what people are searching for in your area. For one thing, it gives you an idea of what’s hot on your level; maybe someone else has already done exactly what you had planned.

And secondly, it will give you some insight into how big your potential audience is and just how interested they may be. If there aren’t any searches related to art galleries in your area, consider offering digital versions of paintings instead—or go with more abstract pieces and encourage viewers to use their imagination!

3) Search online and find if you can make money with what you do

One of the best ways to start is by finding out what other people are doing, especially people in your area. Search online and find if you can make money with what you do: there are lots of ways to make extra cash while starting up on your own! I’ve done all sorts of random things—like helping someone sell their old books online or posting flyers around town advertising yard sales—and it always helps me put a little cash in my pocket.

4) Decide on your pricing model

Before you start brainstorming business ideas, it’s important to know what your pricing model will be. Will you charge per hour? Ask clients to pay a monthly fee? Charge an annual retainer? Determine what your revenue stream will be early on, and map out how that aligns with your end goals.

5) Choose a niche market

While many small business owners will start with a large and general market in mind, like women in their 30s or people interested in internet marketing, it’s easier to get started if you narrow your focus. That way, when you come up with your idea and actually start selling something, there’s already an existing customer base for what you’re offering. Knowing exactly who is going to be buying your product can help you hone your services.

It can also save you money. If you’re able to target people who are specifically looking for what you have to offer, then your marketing costs will be lower because there’s no need to advertise yourself so broadly. How do these tips work together?

6) Speak with an accountant about taxes

As soon as you start your business, speak with an accountant about what you need to do regarding taxes. Starting a business is expensive—you don’t want to lose most of your revenue to taxes before you even get started. And be sure to talk with an accountant well-versed in small business taxes—they can give you more practical advice than big firms that may not specialize in them.

7) Research apps for accounting, invoicing, customer management, etc.

There are many helpful apps and tools out there that can make your life easier if you’re starting your own business. Start by doing some research to figure out which ones will work best for you, then check out our list of recommended accounting and invoicing apps. You may also want to use a customer-management app such as Front or Freshdesk, or check out our list of all project management apps.

8) Get social media accounts up and running.

You’re going to need social media accounts to help promote your business. For most services, like Facebook and Twitter, you don’t even need an official business account – just set up an individual one with your name. For other sites, like Yelp or Foursquare, you may need to create a more professional looking account with your name and some kind of business-y title. And if you have time, it never hurts to create a website. Not only can you add contact information and history about your company, but you can also include links back to all of your other profiles on social media. This will give potential customers even more ways to find out about you!

9) Join relevant groups. Go offline too.

It’s not enough to make good use of social media like Facebook and Twitter, you need to find your local community. Joining forums on Facebook and LinkedIn is one way to do that. It’s also important to attend local events, visit small business hubs, and meet with other entrepreneurs in your area. Meeting other business owners will help you create a network of people who can help you along your journey as well as provide helpful insights into what’s working and what isn’t.

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