Steps to Start Your Business

Introduction

If you’re thinking about starting a business, you likely already know what you want to sell online, or at least the market you wish to enter. Do a quick search for existing companies in your chosen industry. Learn what current brand leaders are doing and figure out how you can do it better. If you think your business can deliver something, other companies don’t (or provide the same thing, only faster and also cheaper), or you’ve got a solid idea and are ready to create a business plan.

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Steps to Start the BusinessSteps to Start the Business

Once you have your idea in place, you need to ask yourself a few important questions: What is the purpose of your business? Who are you selling to? What are your end goals? How will you finance your startup costs? These questions can remain answered in a well-written business plan.

You need to find your target customer base. Who is going to buy your product or service? What would be the point if you can’t find evidence of a demand for your idea? A lot of mistakes are made by new businesses rushing into things without pondering these aspects of the company.

Conduct Market Research

Market research will tell you if there’s an opportunity to turn your idea into a successful business. It’s a way to gather information about potential customers and also businesses already operating in your area. Use that information to find a competitive advantage for your business.

Conducting thorough market research on your field and also the demographics of potential clientele is an important part of crafting a business plan. It involves conducting surveys, holding focus groups, and also researching SEO and public data.

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Write your Business Plan

Your business plan is the foundation of your business. It’s a roadmap for structuring, running, and also growing your new business. You’ll use it to convince people that working with you — or investing in your company — is a smart choice.

You need to find your target customer base. Who is going to buy your product or service? What would be the point if you can’t find evidence of a demand for your idea? A lot of mistakes are made by new businesses rushing into things without pondering these aspects of the company.

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Fund your Business

Your business plan will help you figure out how much money you’ll need to start your business. You’ll need to raise or borrow the capital if you don’t have that amount. Fortunately, there are more ways to find the money you need than ever.Fund your Business

Starting any business has a price, so you must determine how to cover those costs. Do you have the means to fund your startup, or will you need to borrow money? If you’re planning to leave your current job to focus on your business, do you have money to support yourself until you profit? It’s best to find out how much your startup costs will be.

Many startups fail because they run out of money before turning a profit. It’s never a bad idea to overestimate the amount of startup capital you need, as it can be a while before the business begins to bring in sustainable revenue.

Pick your Business Location

Your business location is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Whether setting up a brick-and-mortar business or launching an online store, your choices could affect your taxes, legal requirements, and also revenue.

“A lot of startups tend to spend money on unnecessary things,” said Jean Paldan, founder and also CEO of Rare Form New Media. “We worked with a startup with two employees but spent a huge amount on office space that would fit 20 people. They also leased a professional high-end printer that was more suited for a team of 100; it had key cards to track who was printing what and when. Spend as little as possible when you start, and also only on the things essential for the business to grow and also succeed. Luxuries can come when they remain established.”

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Choose a Business StructureChoose a Business Structure

The legal structure you choose for your business will impact your business registration requirements, how much you pay in taxes, and also your liability.

Sole Proprietorship

You can register for a sole proprietorship if you own the business independently and also plan to be responsible for all debts and also obligations. Be warned that this route can directly affect your credit.

Partnership

Alternatively, as its name implies, a business partnership means that two or more people are held personally liable as business owners. You don’t have to go it alone if you can find a business partner with complementary skills to your own. It’s usually a good idea to add someone into the mix to help your business flourish.

Corporation

If you want to separate your liability from your company’s liability, you may consider forming one of several types of corporations (e.g., S corporation, C corporation or B corporation). Although each type of corporation is subject to different guidelines, this legal structure generally makes a business a separate entity from its owners. Therefore, corporations can own property, assume liability, pay taxes, enter contracts, sue and also remain sued like any other individual. “Corporations, especially C corporations, are especially suitable for new businesses that plan on ‘going public’ or seeking funding from venture capitalists shortly,” said Deryck Jordan, managing attorney at Jordan Counsel.

Limited Liability Company

One of the most common structures for small businesses is the limited liability company (LLC). This hybrid structure has the legal protections of a corporation while allowing for the tax benefits of a partnership.

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Choose your Business Name

It’s not easy to pick the perfect name. You’ll want one that reflects your brand and also captures your spirit. You’ll also want to ensure your business name remains already used by someone else.

You must acquire various business licenses before you can legally operate your business. There are several documents you must prepare before registering. For example, you must register your business with federal, state and also local governments.

Articles of Incorporation and Operating Agreements

To become an officially recognized business entity, you must register with the government. Corporations need an “articles of incorporation” document, which includes your business name, business purpose, corporate structure, stock details and also other information about your company. Similarly, some LLCs will need to create an operating agreement.

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Register your BusinessRegister your Business

Once you’ve picked the perfect business name, it’s time to make it legal and protect your brand. If you’re doing business under a name different from yours, you’ll need to register with the federal government and also maybe your state government.

Get a Registered Agent

If your business is an LLC, corporation, partnership, or nonprofit corporation, you’ll need a registered agent in your state before you file.

A registered agent receives official papers and also legal documents on behalf of your company. The registered agent must remain located in the state where you register.

Many business owners prefer a registered agent service rather than take on this role themselves.

File for Foreign Qualification

Suppose your LLC, corporation, partnership, or nonprofit corporation conducts business activities in more than one state. In that case, you might need to form your business in one state and then file for a foreign qualification in other states where your business is active.

The state where you form your business will consider your business to be domestic, while every other state will view your business as foreign. Foreign qualification notifies the condition that a foreign corporation is active there.

Foreign qualified businesses typically need to pay taxes and annual report fees in their state of formation and conditions where they’re foreign qualified.

To foreign qualify, file a Certificate of Authority with the state. Many states also require a Certificate of Good Standing from your state of formation. Each state charges a filing fee, but the amount varies by state and business structure.

Check with state offices to find out foreign qualification requirements and fees.

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Get Federal and State Tax IDsGet Federal and State Tax IDs

You’ll use your employer identification number (EIN) for important steps to start and also grow your business, like opening a bank account and also paying taxes. It’s like a social security number for your business. Some — but not all — states require you to get a tax ID.

Get a State Tax ID Number

The need for a state tax ID number ties directly to whether your business must pay state taxes. Sometimes, you can use state tax ID numbers for other functions, like protection against identity theft for sole proprietors.

Tax obligations differ at the state and also local levels, so you’ll need to check with your state’s websites.

To know whether you need a state tax ID, research and also understand your state’s laws regarding income and employment taxes, the two most common forms of state taxes for small businesses.

The process to get a state tax ID number is similar to a federal one but will vary by state. You’ll have to check with your state government for specific steps.

Apply for Licenses and Permits

Keep your business running smoothly by staying legally compliant. The licenses and also permits you need for your business will vary by industry, state, location, and also other factors.

State Licenses and Permits

The licenses and also permits you need from the state, county, or city will depend on your business activities and also location. Your business license fees will also vary.

States tend to regulate a broader range of activities than the federal government. For example, local business activities include auctions, construction, dry cleaning, farming, plumbing, restaurants, retail, and also vending machines.State Licenses and Permits

Some licenses and also permits expire after a set period. Keep track of when you need to renew them — it’s often easier to continue than apply for a new one.

You’ll have to research your state, county, and city regulations. Industry requirements often vary by state. Visit your state’s website to find out which permits and also licenses you to need.

Open a Business Bank Account

A small business checking account can help you handle legal, tax, and day-to-day issues. The good news is that it’s easy to set one up if you have the right registrations and also paperwork.

Benefits of Business Bank Accounts

As soon as you start accepting or spending money as your business, you should open a business bank account. Common business accounts include a checking account, savings account, credit card account, and merchant services account. Merchant services accounts allow you to accept credit and also debit card transactions from your customers.

You can open a business bank account once you’ve gotten your federal EIN.

Most business bank accounts offer perks that don’t come with a standard personal bank account.

Protection

Business banking offers limited personal liability protection by keeping your business funds separate from your funds. Merchant services also offer purchase protection for your customers and ensure that their personal information is secure.

Professionalism

Customers can pay you with credit cards and make checks out to your business instead of directly to you. Plus, you’ll be able to authorize employees to handle day-to-day banking tasks on behalf of the company.

Preparedness

Business banking usually comes with the option of a line of credit for the company. It can be used in an emergency or if your business needs new equipment.

Purchasing powerPurchasing power

Credit card accounts can help your business make large startup purchases and also help establish a credit history for your business.

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FAQs about Starting a Business

How can I start my own business with no money?

Work on a business idea that builds on your skill set to offer something new and also innovative to the market. You can launch a successful business without any startup funds. While developing a new business, keep working in your current position (or “day job”) to reduce the financial risk.

Once you’ve developed your business idea and are ready to start on a business plan, you’ll need to get creative with funding. You can raise money through investments by pitching your idea to financial backers. You could also gather funding through crowdsourcing platforms like Kickstarter or set aside a certain amount of money from your weekly earnings toward a new business. Finally, you can seek loan options from banks and other financial institutions to get your company up and running.

What is the easiest business to start?

The easiest business to start requires little to no financial investment upfront, nor should it require extensive training to learn the trade. A dropshipping company is one of the easiest types of new business to launch. Dropshipping requires no inventory management, saving you the hassle of buying, storing and also tracking stock. Instead, another company will fulfil your customer orders at your behest. This company will manage the inventory, package goods, and  also ship your business orders. To start, you can create an online store by selecting curated products from the catalogue available through partners.

When is the best time to start a business?

Each person’s ideal timeline for starting a new business will be different. First and foremost, you should create a business when you have enough time to devote your attention to the launch. If you have a seasonal product or service, you want to start your business a quarter before your predicted busy time of the year. Spring and fall are popular times of year to launch for nonseasonal companies. Winter is the least popular launch season because many new owners prefer to have their LLC or corporation approved for a new fiscal year.

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