Starting your own small business is one of the most exciting — and challenging — things you can do. Before you can even start your business, though, there are a few things you need to be aware of. Just having an idea, some capital and a location likely won’t cut it.  Here are 5 things you need to know before you start your small business.

1. Branding Is Everything

When you start your business, make sure you pick a name that is uniquely yours, and is marketable. You will want a brand name that you can trademark and get the online domain for. With hundreds of new businesses cropping up every day, that may be a challenge. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Make a list of potential names for your business, then run a search through the US Patent and Trademarks Office. Once you get a name that can be used, trademark it and get the domain for it as soon as possible.

2. Know What You Can Spend

Whether you are starting your business from your own savings or with investment capital, you must budget as precisely as possible. Often, small businesses go one of two ways: Buying everything they could ever need right when they start, or not buying enough of the essentials.

Find a happy medium there. For instance, your new bike shop may not need to spend thousands on a sound system, but you likely will need to drop some cash on brand new tools.  You will also need to budget your personal finances as well, and likely decide what you can and can’t live without while you operate your fledgling business.

3. Read the Codes

Depending on where you live, there may be very different codes and ordinances regarding how you can operate your business. For instance, while most major cities have zoning laws, Houston, Texas has almost none. Make sure you know where and when your business can be open, how much in taxes must be paid, what licenses you will need and are following every other regulation in your city and state. It may be a good idea to hire a lawyer at this point. Nothing crushes a business quite like the government coming in and shutting things down over a minor error.

4. Steel Yourself for a Business

You will likely never find a successful small business owner who will say getting where they are now was easy. Starting and operating a business takes time, money and what seems like endless hours of work. In your first few years, you will likely sleep less than any other time in your life. You may need to pick up a second job to make ends meet for a while. And you can all but forget having a thriving personal life. Are you ready for all of these sacrifices in order to get your business running? If not, you may want to reconsider your choice.

5. You Don’t Have to Do It Alone

It’s not uncommon for small business owners to feel like they are all alone in the world. The good news is, you aren’t.  There are any number of resources out there to help get your business off the ground. It’s rare to find a business owner who is good at running a storefront, handling marketing, running HR and everything else a company requires.