How to Start Your Small Business

The tools and information you need to get started

Starting a small business takes research, smarts and self-confidence. It also takes a measure of fearlessness as reasons to worry abound: Do I have enough money? The right equipment? The best financing? Am I getting the best advice?

We’re here to help with the advice.

We’ve rounded up some of our best information on starting a business, including structuring and naming your company, creating a solid plan and much more. We’ll help you do your homework and get started on the right foot.

Financing basics

Business credit score 101

What is a business credit score and why does it matter?

Where to get funding

We look at five sources of funding for your small business.

How to prepare

A to-do list that will help you qualify for the cash you need.

Stuffed mailbox
Insights for your inbox

Our monthly newsletter is a great source of tips, advice. Sign up here.


credit card link

Types and sources of funding

Financing options Amount APR Pros Cons
Bank loan $200,000+ <10% • Low costs
• High borrowing amounts
• Long repayment term
• Harder to qualify
• Requires collateral
Microloan $500 to $100,000 8% to 15% • Higher approval rates
• Lower costs
• Smaller borrowing amounts
• Long time to funding

SBA loan $30,000 to $5 million 5% to 8% • Low costs
• High borrowing amounts
• Long repayment term
• Hard to qualify
• Long time to funding
Personal loan $1,000 to $35,000 5.5% to 36% • No business history required
• Fast time to funding
• Need strong credit
• High costs
Business credit card $5,000 to $50,000 12.99% to 29.9% • Rewards for spending
• Can help establish business credit
• Fast time to funding
• High borrowing costs
• Need strong credit
Equity crowdfunding Up to $1 million annually N/A • No loan to repay
• No business history required
• No collateral or credit checks required
• Must provide investors with detailed business information
• Have to give up equity in your business
Reward crowdfunding $1,000 to $100,000 N/A • No loan to repay
• No business history required
• No collateral or credit checks required
• May not raise all money required
• Need unique idea or product

Easy e-book: We outline the steps to becoming a small-business owner.
Read now

How to start your own ...

... nonprofit

Here are the steps to take to start your own nonprofit business, including an explanation of what a nonprofit is, how to register and what your responsibilities would be as a not-for-profit business.

... floral shop

Starting and operating a floral shop isn’t all about smelling the roses. Technology has changed the way people buy flowers. Margins can be thin, and inventory management can be difficult because flowers are perishable. Still, the floral business can pay off.

Doctors Who Want to Do It All: How to Start Your Own Medical Practice
... medical practice

We look at the challenges and steps you must take when opening your own medical practice and provide some helpful resources.

10 Steps to Opening Your Own Hair Salon
... hair salon

Hair salons can be significantly profitable, but without proper financial and legal planning, even the trendiest shops can crash and burn. Here are tips for opening your own shop, including picking a space, choosing equipment and exploring partnerships.

Businesses to start after 50

Baby boomers may have a greater passion for entrepreneurship than younger generations, research shows. Experts point up opportunities in the current economy.

Business ideas for teens

Entrepreneurship gives teens and younger kids a chance to test themselves and learn self-confidence. Funding is always a concern, but teens can focus on low-cost startups.

Sharing their secrets of Etsy success

Hundreds of thousands of female entrepreneurs have launched successful businesses on Etsy. We consulted several seasoned Etsy shop owners for money-making tips.