Starting a new business

1.     Write a business plan. Form goals and objectives for your new company. Start with a detailed outline of what you plan to accomplish.

2.     Obtain start-up capital. Whether you use your own savings or obtain loans, starting a business requires money. The loan process can take months to complete, so start early. Lenders often request a completed business plan prior to approval of funding.

3.     Set up a legal business structure. Setting your company up as a corporation or LLC are popular entity structures for many small businesses. This protects owners? Personal assets from business debts and liabilities. Additionally, incorporating can provide credibility and tax benefits.

4.     Obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number. Otherwise known as an EIN, Incorporated businesses that hire employees must have one of these. They are issued by the IRS.

5.     Satisfy business licensing requirements. Most state, county, and local governments require businesses to obtain licensing before they begin to operate. We will help you identify your business license compliance obligations typical requirements for your business activities.

6.     Establish a Web presence. Having a website is essential in today’s business world of Internet searches and social media. Register a URL that is memorable and relevant to your company and/or industry. Not having an effective website eliminates opportunities for new customers and potential profit.

7.     Develop business collateral. Businesses use customized letterhead, cards, and forms with their company name, logo and website for marketing and credibility. Vista Print makes "do-it-yourself" business cards, business identity products, advertising products, and signage a snap.

Open a bank account and merchant account. To protect their corporate or LLC veil, businesses must maintain separate business and personal accounts and records. Establish a separate business bank account so that your personal assets are not co-mingled with business funds. Banks may also require an Employer Identification Number (EIN) in order to open a business checking account.

9.     Identify where to get help. Know where and when to seek advice from other sources, such as attorneys and accountants, to assist you with specific questions about your business. Establish a board of advisors or mentors to help you along the way.

10. Follow government rules. Operating a business means satisfying ongoing government and legal requirements to maintain the company's good standing. Stay aware of the steps needed to maintain your company's status.

Other Tasks to Consider

1.     Appoint a Registered Agent. Businesses must maintain an address for service of process where legal documents can be received. We can help you find a Registered Agent service for all companies that you form.

2.     Satisfy insurance requirements. Incorporating or forming an LLC does not provide a company with business insurance. Most companies obtain general business insurance from an insurance provider. Corporations and LLCs that hire employees also typically obtain unemployment and workers compensation insurance.

3.     Complete additional filings as needed. Companies that expand to do business outside their original state of incorporation or LLC formation generally register in those additional states. We can assist you find a professionals to help with these registration filings, also called "qualifications." Amendments can also be filed if the information listed on the formation document, like the legal name of the company or address, changes.

4.     Register "Doing Business As" names. Will your corporation or LLC do business under a name other than its legal name filed with the Secretary of State? If so, it must file a DBA (Doing Business As) name. We can help you file your DBA name.

5.     Protect your company's name. Businesses file names on a per-state basis, so other companies may be using the same or a similar name in other states. Conducting a trademark search ensures that your unique company name isn't already in use.

6.     Draft internal documents for the business. Corporations are governed by their internal bylaws, whereas LLCs are governed by an operating agreement.

7.     Establish a business presence. Identify a location for the business and establish a business address.

8.     Establish proper accounting procedures. We understand that paying your taxes is only part of the picture when it comes to setting up your business. Whether you need help setting up your chart of accounts, have questions about completing a specific tax form, or need answers to tax questions we can help. Request a one-hour consultation with us to discuss your unique situation and get the answers you need.

9.     Get a business credit card. A business credit card helps separate your professional and personal expenses and can help you protect your personal assets from business liabilities.

10.  Get started. Schedule an opening day for your business. Giving yourself a goal helps keep things on track and can increase your productivity.


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Rosemarie Forte