So, you want to start a small business? Maybe you’ve had an idea in your mind for most of your life, or maybe you’re just looking for something new on the side, but having the courage to realize this goal and position yourself toward achieving it is something to be proud of. Small businesses bring high-quality products and services with ethical backgrounds to consumers every day, and you can be part of that process, too! No matter what industry you hope to break into, there are some essential keys to starting your business off on the right foot and making sure that success is in store for you.

1. Start researching

This one seems simple, but it might be the most important step when it comes down to it. If you want to go into a particular business, you should feel a passionate pull toward finding out everything possible about it. Are there already similar products or services on the market? What sets you apart? What isn’t being answered by the current industry? How will you thrive and how will you compare and contrast with what’s already out there? Who needs your business? These questions are essential for positioning yourself and ensuring your place in the business world.

2. Narrow in on your idea

After you research, it’s natural for your ideas to shift a bit. Be as specific as possible in order to have not only an original idea that your passionate about, but one that is needed and that has a previously unsatisfied audience.

3. Make a business plan

Think about your planning process, your launch, your first sale, how you want to grow and how you will sustain through hardships as well. A business plan is essential, and the more thorough you are from the jump, the better things will be in the long run.

For those seeking investors and other financial support, you’ll want to follow a traditional business plan — though it’s long, it will help investors find answers to the questions they’ll be asking when they’re checking out your services.

Don’t be afraid of improving and changing along the way. It’s fine to admit that you know more now and can do better. Don’t be afraid to deliberate on and alter your business plan.

4. Figure out the $

How will you fund the initial kickoff of your brand? Not all businesses require a grand investment from the start, but there are costs associated with properly starting a business. Before you dive right in, make a financial plan. Have working spreadsheets that can move and grow with the business. Don’t forget to account for one-time fees like licensing, legal fees and insurance, but also recurring fees like rent, supplies, salaries and more. Now think about how you’ll fund these things. Will you take out a small business loan, look for angel investors, resort to crowdfunding or apply to grants? Have a plan in motion.

5. Handle the legal work

Making sure your idea stays original and protected is super important. You need to pick your business name, make sure it’s not trademarked or currently in use and then register it before someone else does. Also invest in domain names that have a likeness to your business, owning these things, even if it’s just precautionary at first, is so important in having ownership over your business name.

Then research what licenses and permits you’ll need depending on the business you’re starting and where you live. Staying on top of this paperwork when you get started will prevent so many headaches down the line.

6. Figure out your team and recruitment

Don’t feel like you need to do everything alone. Invest in people who are just as interested in and passionate about your ideas. Hire people who are better than you at certain things. If you’re not tech-based, make sure to find a teammate who can build everything you’ll need an stay on the cutting edge. If you’re not the best at marketing, find someone who is. You’re only as strong as your weakest link, so invest in people who refuse to be a weak link.

7. Promote, promote, promote

After you start a business is not the time to be humble or modest. After all of your hard work, all of the paperwork, money and effort that went into creating this business, it’s important to make sure you’ve got a marketing plan and are pushing it out to its intended audience as consistently as possible. Be proud of your hard work!