So you’re interested in starting a business? Use this checklist to get off the ground!
I went into depth about the importance of a having business plan and how to write one in my earlier blog post titled “543,000 new business start each month, according to Fobes.com… will yours be one of them?”. But to make it short and sweet, businesses who created a business plans were twice as likely to succeed as those who didn’t, mainly because it helps you think about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and come up with a game plan for success.
Whether you want to be set up as a sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), Corporation, S Corporation, Nonprofit, or cooperative will affect the future of your business. It helps to seek out the official advice of a lawyer for this step, but feel free to reference the handy Infographic from my “What business structure should you use? (& other business stats)” to get a general idea about the differences between each. And if you need help filing your paperwork, don’t hesitate to visit our website, SignatureFiling.com where you can file everything you need to online.
Once you have selected the legal structure you desire for your new business, go ahead and pick a name for your business. If you are planning to operate as a sole proprietorship or partnership, make sure to secure your business name by filing a “Doing Business As” name, or DBA. Once again, feel free to use SignatureFiling.com’s easy online filing service to make this step a cinch!
A business needs capital to get started, so figure out your plan for raising money. Whether you’re financing your venture yourself, applying for business loans, looking for venture capital, start early to ensure a smooth business launch. If you’re planning on bootstrapping your business or want to look into some traditional fundraising, check out my post, “Eight of the latest [and greatest] online tools to raise money for your business”. Applying for a line of credit is a good idea now too so that you can start building up your new business’s credit.
Federal Tax ID Number’s are assigned by the IRS, and are the business equivalent to a social security number for an individual. You’ll want to use your FEIN when filling out business-related applications, applying for credit, filing tax paperwork, and many other situations. Read about specific situations in my blog post titled “Federal Tax ID Number: Who, What, When, Where, and Why?”. And if you are ready to get your FEIN, use SignatureFiling.com‘s easy online application to get yours today.
As one of the most important decisions that you’ll make for your new business (see me stress this in “One of the Most Important Decisions You’ll Make as a Business Owner and How to Not Screw it Up”) the location of your business can play a large role in your future success. It affects everything from foot-traffic to hiring potential to overhead expenses. Don’t take this step lightly.
Make sure your business is properly licensed and is operating with the required permits. These change from location to location, but make sure you don’t miss out on anything by reading my post about licenses and permits titled “10 Things Every Small Business Owner Should Know About Business Licenses & Permits”.
The type of business insurance you need will depend on your line of business, but you can usually consult with a local insurance agent to make sure you fulfill all of the insurance requirements.
One of the number one business financial rules is to always keep your business and personal bank accounts separate. It’s pretty standard that you’ll need at least a filed DBA or Inc/LLC paperwork, along with an FEIN to open a business account, however different banks may have different requirements, so talk to a local banker to make sure you have all your ducks in a row before trying to open an account.
Make sure all of your financial transactions are in order by enlisting the help of an accountant and setting up proper accounting procedures. Improper accounting practices can lead to fees, fines, audits, and other penalties, and nobody wants those. Read this article on 7 Accounting Tips for Beginning Businesses.
Start assembling business collateral in the form of business cards, letterhead, forms, etc. A professionally designed logo is important for making your business look professional and credible. Websites are also important since they help businesses establish credibility and trust in the eyes of potential customers. Get a free consultation from our sister web design company, Stone Giant Labs, to figure out the best style of website for your business. Once you have some collateral, start marketing yourself and get the word out about your new business! Before customers can start rolling in you have to let them hear about you, and creating a marketing plan can help you spread the word strategically. See my post “Marketing Plans Made Simple” for instructions on how to create your own marketing plan.
If you are going to hire employees, start the search to ensure that you get the proper people in the proper positions. A company is made up of people, so the future culture and reputation of your company will be the result of the employees you hire to run it. Take my advice: take your time and don’t settle when it comes to personnel.
Having someone to go to for business advice and help in areas that are not your strengths is a smart strategy for every business owner. Make sure to employ some of the tactics I talk about in my article “The Hunt for the Great Mentor” when searching for the right mentor.