By Mike Enright, Operations Manager, BizFilings
Starting a business is exciting—but also demanding. This guide addresses some of the most common startup steps to ensure your company is ready for success.
Prepare a business plan and materials
1. An important first step is preparing a business plan to define your business, products
2. Create a business logo, cards
Meet legal requirements
3. Of course, incorporating your business or forming an LLC with the state is important because it protects your personal assets from business debts and liabilities. Other benefits of forming a corporation or LLC include tax advantages and greater credibility with customers, vendors and business partners.
4. Select an accountant and attorney. Many small business owners seek advice from accountants and attorneys. As you search for an accountant and attorney, get referrals from friends or family, and look for professionals who have worked with other small business owners or companies in your specific industry.
5. Get necessary tax identification numbers, licenses
- Unemployment insurance
- Workers' compensation
- OSHA requirements
- Federal tax
- State and local tax
- Self-employment tax
- Payroll tax requirements (such as FICA, federal unemployment tax, and state unemployment tax)
- Sales and use tax
Prepare yourself financially
7. Open a business bank account. It is crucial to separate business finances from personal ones. Most banks require company details, such as formation date, business type, and owner names and addresses. If your business is not incorporated, most banks will require a DBA (doing business as or fictitious business name). Contact your bank about requirements prior to opening an account.
8. Arrange your business accounting and apply for loans. You may want to use an accountant, or handle finances yourself with a small business accounting solution. Either way, properly account for all business disbursements, payments received, invoices, accounts receivable/accounts payable, etc. And if you don’t have enough capital to start a business, this is also the time to seek funding from banks or through Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs.
9. Establish a business line of credit. This will help reduce the number of times your company prepays for purchased products and services. It also helps establish a strong credit history, which is helpful for vendor and supplier relationships. Getting a Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) DUNS (or D-U-N-S) number for your business is advisable, as it is often used to check business creditworthiness.
10. Ready your workspace. For home-based businesses, ensure you are meeting city zoning requirements for your area. For