So You’re Starting a Business: What You Need to Know

If you’re on the verge of starting your first small business or startup, congratulations! Having the guts to take the leap is huge. That being said, you’ve got your work cut out for you! Here are the very first things you’ll need to do.

1. Choose a Business Structure

LLC? S Corp? Partnership? These business entities can sound complicated, but they’re really not. Sites like CorpNet help you determine which business structure best fits your company’s needs. And they’ll even file it for you, faster than you could do yourself.

2. Set Up a Business Bank Account

Once you have your DBA (Doing Business As) paperwork, take it to your local bank to open up a checking account. Consider whether you will be the only person to access the account, or whether you’ll need to get additional debit cards and allow account access to other employees once you open up shop.

3. Decide Where You’ll Work

Not everyone needs a fancy office space. Working from home can provide many perks, cost savings notwithstanding. If you decide to work from home, make a list of things you’ll need–everything from the physical (pens, a computer) to the intangible (your family to leave you alone during work hours). If you’re one of those people who can’t focus from home, look into office space, or flex space as an option.

4. Will You Work as a Solopreneur or Hire Staff?

Many of us small business owners start out on our own. We do the work, make the sales and take out the trash. But you’ll reach a point where you can’t do it all, at least not well. To make it easier to delegate when the time comes, start out right by creating processes for every job you do. For example, if you manage your company’s social media campaign, write out in detail what’s involved in that process, down to the login information and regularity that you post.

When it’s time to hire staff, you can look at freelancers, agencies, part-timers and full-timers as options, depending on your needs and budget.

Create a Business and Marketing Plan

Before you hang your shingle, make sure you have a marketing plan and a business plan drawn up. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should address how you’ll find new customers through marketing channels, as well as your company goals and strategies. You should also include action items you’ll need to take to meet your goals. Mark these action items down on your to-do list, and set a day each quarter to review your business plan and marketing plan, to ensure you’re still on the right path. Tweak as necessary.

Check the Bank

Make sure you have enough money to cover both your business and personal expenses for a year. Businesses are slow to launch, and customers even slower to pay.

Before you know it, you’ll be well past your initial launch, and on your way to phenomenal business growth!

Photo: Pink Sherbet Photography on Flickr