Starting a Business? Six Preliminary Steps

Starting a business is exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. The “to do” list can seem never-ending. Below are a few reminders to help you stay on track.

  • Write a business plan. This key step will help you identify what is important to your business and where to focus your resources. By creating a plan, you will be able to outline your operational and financial goals. A plan will serve as a guide to shape budget and marketing strategies. Putting this information on paper will help to align your business purpose and outcome.
  • Do your research. You will most likely do a lot of research while working on your business plan; however, you need to explore every aspect of the business you want to start. Become an expert on your industry, products and services. Join related professional associations to keep you informed on what’s going on in similar markets. And don’t forget to learn the ins and outs of your competition.
  • Obtain professional help when necessary. Although you might be an expert in your industry, you don’t need to be an expert on everything. If you need a contract written up, hire an attorney. If you are not an accountant or a bookkeeper, hire one or both to make sure your business financials are in order from the get go. Focus your energy on what you are good at! You don’t want to waste time and money to fix a financial or legal mess later.
  • Ask questions. When you are starting a business, you’ll have a lot of questions. Find an experienced mentor in your industry. The opportunity to learn from someone who has already been through the start-up phase will prove invaluable.
  • Meet registration requirements. Your location and business structure will determine your registration requirements, if any. Most businesses do not need to register with the federal government to become a legal entity; instead they need to file to obtain a federal tax identification number. Small businesses sometimes register with the federal government for trademark protection or tax-exempt status. In addition, if your business is an LLC, corporation, partnership or nonprofit corporation, you’ll most likely need to register with any state where you conduct business. And don’t forget about local registration requirements. Check with your local government websites to find out what is required in your area.
  • Open a business bank account. You don’t want to co-mingle your personal and business banking activities. You can open a business bank account once you have your federal EIN. Having a business bank account is a good practice for limiting your personal liability by keeping your business funds separate. A business account also allows customers to be able to pay you with credit cards and make checks out to your business rather than to you personally. Furthermore, a business account can offer the capability of creating a credit card account that can help your business make large startup purchases and help establish a credit history for your business.

While these tips only scratch the surface, hopefully they’ll help you get started off on the right foot. Remember, we work with other businesses, so please reach out with any questions before or during your business journey.