One: Research and Plan Your Business
Every business has to start out with research. I know, I know. You’re idea is fool-proof, a money making venture that will give your family stability for years to come. Still… some research won’t hurt, right? This plan doesn’t have to be overly difficult and extreme. Simply, is there a market for what you are selling? You must know how much capital you will need to start this business and actually writing out the business plan will be visually stimulating for all of that future profit. It can only help, I promise.
Two: Seek Assistance
If you are an expert at starting a small business, please by all means, skip this step. If you are just starting out like so many of us are, then aquiring a mentor’s brain to pick is a great way to avoid pitfalls. Ask questions and keep the information flowing. The best way to dodge mistakes is to learn from the best! Just don’t choose a competitor in your field, as you may be kept in the dark on some important information.
Three: Choose a Business Location
Office, home, car… Nowadays, technology gives us so many options on where to work that this step is more important now than ever. If you are choosing to work online, what domain name will give you the most amount of traffic? If you are choosing a physical location, are you following all zoning and permit laws? Does your home have enough space for you to make your living comfortably? Again, research is the answer. Remember, this is your livelihood and doing it wrong the first time will cost you a lot.
Four: Aquire Funding
I believe in our current economy, this is the scariest and most brutal part of starting a small business. How do you get a loan without capital? Here are some places from which you can try to gain capital: your family, banks, government. Not necessarily in that order, but usually. If you family and the bank won’t loan you money, perhaps there are grants from the government that will help you. Where there is a will, there is a way. It’s a well-known phrase for a reason… And besides, whoever let money get in their way?
Five: Determine the Legal Structure of Your Business
What type of business will your small business be? Sole proprietor, Partnership, Corporation, S Corporation, Limited Liability Company, Non Profit, Cooperative? All of these have different implications and different meanings. Research and find which best works for you and the type of business you would like to start.
Six: Register Your Business Name
This is done with your state government. Once you have chosen a name for your business, your registration can be as simple as filling out a form online or as time-taxing as filing with your city clerk. It’s a necessary step though that will progress your business into something tangible. You can feel as if you’ve already accomplished something, although without the profit, it’s hard to see the rainbow.
Seven: Get a Tax Identification Number (EIN)
The type of number you apply for depends on the structure of your business. Think of it as a social security number for you business, you can’t go on without one. But, that is why number 5 is two spots above this step. You have to know, legally, what type of business you have before you can make it official.
Eight: Register for State and Local Taxes
I know what you’re thinking… this is the fun part, right? Everyone loves taxes! Now your small business can love them too. These laws vary from state to state so you must (yep, you got it) research to find what your local government requires from you.
Nine: Obtaining Business Licenses and Permits
Depending on the type of business you wish to start, you may need business permits and licenses. Determine early on what you will need so that all of the proper paperwork is processed by the time your “doors open.” It will make your life easier to know the obstacles rather than to dodge them as they appear.
Ten: Hire Employees
If you need help, there are first things you must consider. First, congratulations on having enough business to have to need extra hands. Second, it’s all about covering your own butt, legally. Some items that need to be in place before your first hire is workman’s compensation, unemployment and any other type of insurance you may need for your employee to protect your assets and your small business. Make sure all of your legal requirements are met so that you can save yourself from further legal issues.
There you go, ten steps to being your own boss (and maybe others’ too!) It won’t be easy by any means but the end will justify the hard work and dedication. If you really want something, make it happen. No one ever failed (or succeeded) who didn’t at least try.