You’ve got your killer idea. You’ve got a business name. You’ve even outfitted your home office. You’re ready to start that business, right?
Not necessarily. There’s actually a lot that goes into starting a business — more, often, than entrepreneurs realize. Before you open the real or virtual doors to your new endeavor, make sure you first check these tasks off of your to do list.
1. Check That Name
You may have picked out a name for your business that you think is ideal, but it’s imperative that you conduct a name search to make sure it’s not already being used by someone else in your state. If it is, you won’t be able to incorporate your business under that name.
And think carefully before landing on a name. You want your company name to be easy to pronounce and spell. Does it roll off your tongue easily, or do you stumble over it? These are all important factors that will aid in the success of your branding down the road.
- Choose a Business Structure
Speaking of incorporating: think about what the best business structure is for your brand. By default, you’ll be a sole proprietor, but you won’t get personal asset protection with this option. So your best bet is either a corporation (S Corps are popular with small biz owners) or an LLC. Each have their own benefits, so do some research and choose what’s best for your new business.
- Get Your Business Plan in Place
You really need to understand your motivation for starting a business as well as develop your strategy for growth. What makes your concept unique in the marketplace? How will you find new customers? How will you get them to come back? All of these questions should be answered in your business plan.
It doesn’t have to be a tome, but you do want a living breathing document that changes as your business does.
- Get Your Employer Identification Number
This little number will help you when you pay your taxes, and keep you from having to expose your social security number every time you fill out tax paperwork. Also called a Federal Tax Identification Number, you’ll need this if you hire employees down the road.
You can get your EIN free on the IRS website.
- Create a Business Checking Account
Mixing personal and business finances only creates a headache later, so save yourself the trouble and start out on the right foot by setting up a separate account. You’ll need that EIN number to open your account, so take care of that first.
Once you’ve checked these tasks off your list, as well as applied for any business permits or licenses you need to operate, you’re ready for the start of your entrepreneurial journey!