Lots of people dream of starting their own business, but not everyone is capable of success. Building up a small business from scratch requires an incredible amount of planning, hard work and dedication, on top of the creativity needed to offer products and/or services that people actually desire.

There are a million and one things to be taken into consideration when launching your own business for the first time, but not all can be tackled at once. With this in mind, here’s an overview of the small business’ six essentials.

Design a product or service that people want

Even if your dream is to make lots of little hand-painted, ceramic elephants, using an ancient Tibetan technique, your small business has very little chance of success if there isn’t a demand for such a product. There’s a huge difference between a fascinating hobby and a financially thriving business and so it’s important to do a great deal of marketing research before you set to work.

Consider what’s lacking in your life. Think about the kinds of services or products that would make things easier for you or your family and friends. What kinds of services need updating? Many people believe that Uber made huge improvements to taxi services all over the world and social media has most certainly revolutionized the way in which we go about online marketing in the 21st century. So, what’s missing in life? Where are the gaping holes crying out for intelligent solutions?

Create a solid business plan

Once you’ve got a winning idea, plan with meticulous attention to detail. You need a business proposal that covers everything from outgoing expenses to estimated income; marketing strategies to help reach your target audience; initial funds required and where you plan to get that money from; attractive business presentations that you can use when sharing ideas with potential investors and/or first-time clients.

You’ll also need to think about where you plan to work, as well as necessary facilities and resources. Even if you plan to work from home, you might have to change your telephone or Internet plan to better cover the costs of Skype connections or international phone calls. Where will you hold meetings with clients face-to-face? Each and every detail of how you plan to run and finance your business from the very first day needs to be covered in your business proposal

Protect yourself with appropriate health insurance

Having made the decision to start working for yourself, it’s important to realize that you are your business’ most vital asset and that if you become sick at any time your business might have to go on hold for a while until you recover. This is why investing in appropriate health insurance is one of the most important things you can do as a small business owner.

As employees we become easily accustomed to having our medical insurance paid for us before receiving our monthly pay check and we know that even when we are sick there are others working in the office to cover our absence and keep things ticking over. When running a small business, we don’t have the same safety nets that we had when employed. So, even though it’s tempting to cut costs and pay less for things like health insurance, it would be foolish to do so

Determine tax obligations

Tax obligations for small business owners can seem like an intricate web of mind-boggling terms and procedures at the start, but if you don’t file your tax returns correctly you can run into a long list of expensive and damaging problems in the long term. If you’re unsure in the beginning, it might be best to employ an accountant who can show you how everything works and make each tax-related task a little less daunting. If you choose to invest in financial help of this nature, remember to include these expenses as part of your initial business proposal

Ensure your website works perfectly

Almost all businesses, large and small, need websites. It can be frustrating for potential clients and/or customers when there isn’t a website available, because it denies them the chance of independently investigating a little further into your business, what you do and how much you charge. Even if your social media pages are full of up-to-date information and you do as much as you can to increase views and interactions of your posts and other material, there’s nothing that can really compare to the centralized, informative hub of a really well-designed, well-functioning website.

Naturally, websites that are slow to load, linked to unreliable servers or those which don’t present the information required in an engaging and easy-to-digest manner, are more damaging to a business that not having a website at all. Therefore, instead of waiting for someone else to write to you reporting a fault with your website, schedule regular weekly checks to deal with arising problems before clients and potential clients are affected.

Over time, there’ll be plenty of other ways of making further improvements to the running of your small business. In the meantime, by covering these essential areas you’ll be well on your way to creating something that is both lucrative for you and useful to others.