Ecwid for Small Business

How to Start a Small Business in Alabama (AL)

Starting a business can be a big task to undertake. Fortunately, the information and helpful tools you need can be found right under your fingertips. In Alabama specifically, there are some great benefits of opening a business.

They are 19th lowest in the country for living costs, while also being 3rd lowest in tax burden and 7th lowest in labor costs. With these statistics in mind, Alabama comes with a handful of opportunities.

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Alabama’s Most Popular Businesses

While everyone will come into the business world with their own ideas and plans for achieving, certain types of businesses are very popular in Alabama. For one, fishing charting is popular, along with bait and tackle shops. Drive-in movies are also coming back into style for many customers.

Planning Processes

After finalizing what type of business you want to open, there are some specific steps that go into opening a store in Alabama. Here are some things to consider.

1. Pick a name

In Alabama, there are some rules to keep in mind while choosing a name for your business–but don’t let that discourage you or hinder your creative nature. By choosing a business name, you are giving a sneak peek into what your customers can expect from you. With a name, you want to consider your business’s values and goals as well as uniqueness in the field. A name should capture that. You want it to be memorable enough for your customers to remember and pass along while also intriguing them enough to walk through your doors.

2.  Conduct market research

The goal of market research is to better understand the field you are looking to go into. Learn your customers, competitors, and market more up close. Once you can do this, you can go about creating a business plan that considers these factors and ways to stand out in your chosen market.

3.  Choose a structure

Registering your business in Alabama is the next step to increase credibility and protect you from liability. You can choose from an LLC, partnership, oration, nonprofit or sole proprietorship.

Registering in Alabama

After you are able to choose a business structure that properly represents your business’s goals, you will need to register it. To do this, you will need information such as your business’s name, Employer Identification Number, formation documents, and the name of your registered agent who handles your taxes.

Depending on which structure you choose, the state may ask for different documentation or certifications.

It’s All About Location

Choosing where your business will run from can be particularly important, especially if you choose a brick-and-mortar concept. Towns like Birmingham and Auburn are amazing places to have high foot traffic and create awareness of your business.

Location matters a little less if you choose to run an online business, as an online store can be run from anywhere in the state.

Focus on Banking

When you do create your business, you want to make sure your personal banking accounts are separate from those of your store. You will want to open a banking account and credit card for your business. Credit cards create an easy way to make and track all transactions, as well as grow your business’ credit history.  
 
From there, you will want to set up a way to keep track of your business’s accounting. This can be done by someone you hire or a software program. This will also help tax season be less stressful.

Insure Your Business

One of the next steps that are considered very crucial in the process is to get your business insured. Holding insurance policies can help your business grow and avoid any unknown risks that could arise. Consider General Liability Insurance, Workers’ Compensation Insurance, and Professional Liability Insurance. In the state of Alabama, a company with more than five employees is required to have Worker’s Compensation Insurance.

Staying Legal

Depending on what type of business you are looking to open, Alabama will have different permits or licenses that you need to acquire before opening. For example, a bar may need a liquor license, and a restaurant may need a health permit. There are different types of permits needed from federal, state, and local requirements. To find out what is needed locally in your city, you can go to your county clerk.

Hiring Employees

Hiring employees will become crucial if you plan to have your business run on a larger scale that needs more than just your two hands. You will need to make sure you are registering for Alabama’s State Employee Taxes as well as making sure you are reporting new hires to the state of Alabama.

Branding

The idea of branding might have come to you before any other details about your business. Branding entails creating your business reason and value.

What do you want your brand to represent?
How do you want to be seen by your customers?

Questions like that can help you figure out how you want to show yourself to the world. Once you have that, it could be easier to think about what name to give your business–if you haven’t thought of one already.  
 
After that comes the creation of a logo. This will go on business cards, your website, bags, price tags—anywhere that you want to express your brand. Your logo is a representation of your brand and should represent something that you believe in.

Get Online

The internet is one of the largest ways to get your business in the minds of customers. This can be done by creating a website or social media pages like Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat.

Social media is also a great way to show off your products as well. Facebook and Instagram are ideal places to share photos and descriptions of items, as well as include a buy now button where your customers can link to your page and buy your products immediately.

Online Business

If you choose to have your business solely online, companies like Ecwid are there to help your store grow and succeed with their resources and tools. They can help create an amazing website while also allowing you to market your products on other selling platforms like Facebook and Instagram. When you do spread your products to other sites, you are bound to get high virtual foot traffic, which will then lead to more sales. Ecwid lets you track those sales on a dashboard where you can also see your inventory as well. 

If you plan on opening an online store, Ecwid can be an amazing resource to take advantage of. Whether your business is online or brick-and-mortar, a website can be a game-changer. Your customers will have an easier way to check out, find discounts, and find other products you sell that they may enjoy.

Marketing

Opening a shop is one thing, but it’s usually marketing that gets you sales. Depending on the size and goals of your business, you could budget out $250 to $1,500 a month to go towards online or offline marketing. 
 
If you want to implement more offline strategies, that money can go towards the business cards, pamphlets, signage, and community events at which you want to showcase. However, if marketing online is an option, you could pay for ad space on sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube. Having business profiles on these sites could be helpful as well. You can also put some money towards photography and videography of your products. 
 
Also, consider Google My Business. This free program allows businesses to connect with local customers and give them a rundown of their store and what to expect. Lastly, a tried and true marketing strategy could be email and text message subscriptions. These are ideal for creating repeat customers and showcasing new deals and promos.

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Transform it into an offline business later.

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Starting an Online Store Business is Easy.
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So you’re ready to start selling online. Now the million-dollar question… where do you start?

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Get Yourself Ready
For Surprises

Check out our blog series all about starting an online store without prior experience. It‘s sort of like our own ecommerce reality show—starring Nicole.

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We’ll help you navigate through the market and find the most profitable channels.

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Start Your Business Online

Starting a business online is faster and cheaper.
Transform it into an offline business later.

Start Selling Online

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