Starting a business isn’t rocket science, but it is a process. If you’ve got an idea and are thinking about taking the next steps, let us help you through the process with this checklist of to-do items.
- Do your homework. So, you’ve got a great idea? Take that idea to the next level with market research to understand the true prospects of your potential venture. Research information about supply, demand, location, customer profiles, vendors, and cost of goods. If you’re creating a product, do some research to make sure your product won’t be infringing on any existing patents. After this deep dive, you should have a much better idea of what it will take to make your business a success. We put together some tips to help you bring your business idea to life.
- Write a business plan. A business plan should be a formal exploration into your business’s product and services, market segment, competitors, and financial prospects. This document will help you understand and market your idea to others, including potential investors. Business plans are lengthy documents, but don’t let that scare you off. Just take it one section at a time and you’ll be done before you know it. The good news is that you should have much of this information after your deep dive. Here are some tips to help you create a business plan.
- Take care of the legal factors. In order to get up and running, you will need to take care of some legal parameters so that you are able to hire, sell, manufacture, secure financing, etc.
- Determine business structure. Your business structure will have a big impact on your liability, taxes, and financing. Do some research to see which structure suits you the most. The most common structures are: Sole Proprietor, Partnership, Corporation, S Corporation, and Limited Liability Company.
- Register your name. When you start a new business, unless you’re a sole proprietor, you need to pick and register a name with your state. Sole proprietors who don’t register will default to your legal name. A registration allows you to identify your business on legal documents and market and brand your company. This is a state procedure, so if you are going national, or international, think about trademarking as well.
- Register for state and federal tax IDs. You’ll need to pay business taxes both to the state and federal government, and the first step in this process is registering for an EIN – Employer Identification Number. This number can also be used to obtain your business bank account. Thankfully, this can be easily accomplished online here.
- Obtain necessary permits, licenses, patents, etc. Your required permits and licenses will depend on what type of business you operate, what type of goods and services you provide, and where you are located. Make sure you research applicable permits and licenses before you start to protect yourself from liability and legal issues. Some common permits and licenses you might need are zoning permits, health and fire department permits, and professional licenses, such as a real estate license.
- Secure financing. Now that you have the legal requirements out of the way, you can get down to building credit and securing financing for your business. Many banks have products specifically designed for small businesses, from checking accounts to loans and financing options. Do some research to decide which one is right for you. Think about where your business will be operating to make sure the bank is accessible. Also consider the level of customer service you will receive. It can be easier to go through this process with a bank who specializes in small business products and can act as a trusted advisor.
- Start branding, hiring, and growing. At this point it’s all about developing your team and your brand. Consider your company’s vision and workplace atmosphere to make sure you attract the right talent. The hiring process can sometimes be the most intimidating, because it means others are invested in your idea and are dependent on you. Don’t panic, this feeling is normal and is part of the growth process. Focus on developing a passionate team that shares your vision, and you will soon find yourself supported and more excited than ever. Here are 5 tips to help you motivate and inspire your employees.
Starting a business is the start of an exciting new chapter. Just remember to take it one step at a time.