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Startup Saturday: 50 Things To Do To Start A Small Business

[ 1 ] Jun. 8, 2013 | SBO Editor

This week for our Startup Saturday series, we present a checklist of 50 things to do to start a small business.  Every year, thousands of Americans catch the entrepreneurial spirit, launching small businesses to sell their products or services. Some businesses thrive; many fail. The more you know about starting a business, the more power you have to form an organization that develops into a lasting source of income and satisfaction. For help with the beginning stages of operating a business, the following checklist is a great place to start. The information is from the fine folks at Nolo.com.

Nolo’s mission is to help consumers and small businesses find answers to their everyday legal and business questions. Nolo, a wholly owned subsidiary of Internet Brands, is the integration of some of the Internet’s first legal sites, including Nolo.com, Divorcenet.com and AllLaw.com. These sites were combined with the ExpertHub technology platform in 2011 to form the Nolo Network.

Nolo began publishing do-it-yourself legal guides in 1971. In the 40 years since its founding, Nolo has evolved with technology, developing do-it-yourself software and building Nolo.com into one of the Internet’s leading legal websites.

ExpertHub was founded in 2008 with the goal of helping solo practitioners and small law firms build their practice through the Internet. In 2010, Internet Brands acquired ExpertHub. In 2010, Internet Brands added six leading niche sites to the ExpertHub platform, including Divorcenet.com, AllLaw.com, and DisabilitySecrets.com.

With over 50 web properties, the Nolo Network is one of the web’s largest libraries of consumer-friendly legal information – all available for free.  Nolo strives to deliver free legal information of the highest quality. The company also offer local lawyers the ability to contribute to the Nolo network.

As you read through these 50 steps, visit the Nolo site at www.nolo.com for follow-up information and to learn about guides and software you can purchase on the various topics covered.

Evaluate and Develop Your Business Idea

1. Determine if the type of business suits you.

2. Use a break-even analysis to determine if your idea can make money.

3. Write a business plan, including a profit/loss forecast and a cash flow analysis.

4. Find sources of start-up financing.

5. Set up a basic marketing plan.

Decide on a Legal Structure for Your Business

6. Identify the number of owners of your business.

7. Decide how much protection from personal liability you’ll need, which depends on your business’s risks.

8. Decide how you’d like the business to be taxed.

9. Consider whether your business would benefit from being able to sell stock.

10. Research the various types of ownership structures:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • LLC
  • C Corporation
  • S Corporation

11. Get more in-depth information from a self-help resource  or a lawyer, if necessary,before you settle on a structure.

Choose a Name for Your Business

12. Think of several business names that might suit your company and its products or services.

13. If you will do business online, check if your proposed business names are available as domain names.

14. Check with your county clerk’s office to see whether your proposed names are on the list of fictitious or assumed business names in your county.

15. For corporations and LLCs: check the availability of your proposed names with the Secretary of State or other corporate filing office.

16. Do a federal or state trademark search of the proposed names still on your list. If a proposed name is being used as a trademark, eliminate it if your use of the name would confuse customers or if the name is already famous.

17. Choose between the proposed names that are still on your list.

Register Your Business Name

18. Register your business name with your county clerk as a fictitious or assumed business name, if necessary.

19. Register your business name as a federal or state trademark if you’ll do business regionally or nationally and will use your business name to identify a product or service.

20. Register your business name as a domain name if you’ll use the name as a Web address too.

Prepare Organizational Paperwork

21. Partnership:

  • Partnership agreement
  • Buyout agreement (also known as a buy-sell agreement)

22. LLC:

  • Articles of organization
  • Operating agreement
  • Buyout agreement (also known as a buy-sell agreement)

23. C Corporations:

  • Pre-incorporation agreement
  • Articles of incorporation
  • Corporate bylaws
  • Buyout agreement (also known as a buy-sell agreement or stock agreement)

24. S Corporations:

  • Articles of incorporation
  • Corporate bylaws
  • Buyout agreement (also known as a buy-sell agreement or stock agreement)
  • File IRS Form 2553, Election by a Small Business Corporation

Find a Business Location

25.Many businesses can be launched and run from home. If you need to move to an outside facility, identify the features and fixtures your business will need.

26. Determine how much rent you can afford.

27. Decide what neighborhood would be best for your business and find out what the average rents are in those neighborhoods.

28. Make sure any space you’re considering is or can be properly zoned for your business. (If working from home, make sure your business activities won’t violate any zoning restrictions on home offices.)

29. Before signing a commercial lease, examine it carefully and negotiate the best deal.

File for Licenses and Permits

30. Obtain a federal employment identification number by filing IRS Form SS-4 (unless you are a sole proprietorship or single-member limited liability company without employees).

31. Obtain a seller’s permit from your state if you will sell retail goods.

32. Obtain state licenses, such as specialized vocation-related licenses or environmental permits, if necessary.

33. Obtain a local tax registration certificate, a.k.a. business license.

34. Obtain local permits, if required, such as a conditional use permit or zoning variance.

Obtain Insurance

35. Determine what business property requires coverage.

36. Contact an insurance agent or broker to answer questions and give you policy quotes.

37. Obtain liability insurance on vehicles used in your business, including personal cars of employees used for business.

38. Obtain liability insurance for your premises if customers or clients will be visiting.

39. Obtain product liability insurance if you will manufacture hazardous products.

40. If you will be working from your home, make sure your homeowner’s insurance covers damage to or theft of your business assets as well as liability for business-related injuries.

41. Consider health & disability insurance for yourself and your employees.

Set Up Your Books

42. Decide whether to use the cash or accrual system of accounting.

43. Choose a fiscal year if your natural business cycle does not follow the calendar year (if your business qualifies).

44. Set up a recordkeeping system for all payments to and from your business.

45. Consider hiring a bookkeeper or accountant to help you get set up.

46. Purchase Quicken Home and Business (Intuit), QuickBooks (Intuit) or similar small business accounting software.

Set Up Tax Reporting

47. Familiarize yourself with the general tax scheme for your business structure.

48. Familiarize yourself with common business deductions and depreciation.

49. Obtain IRS Publications 334, Tax Guide for Small Business, and 583, Taxpayers Starting a Business.

50. Obtain the IRS’s Tax Calendar for Small Businesses.

Internet Brands today acquired of Nolo, Inc., a market leader in consumer-friendly legal information and marketing services, in May, 2011. Headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., Internet Brands (www.internetbrands.com) is a new media company that operates online media, community, and e-commerce websites in vertical markets. The company also develops and licenses Internet software and social media applications. In its Consumer Internet Division, Internet Brands owns and operates more than 200 principal websites in seven categories. The company currently attracts, on average, more than 79 million unique visitors per month viewing 715 million pages, with 97% of the network’s audience originating from organic, non-paid sources.

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Category: Features

  • D.Yaffee

    All small business owners need to separate business and personal accounts. This is the reason why most start up business failed. They don’t have control of their cash flow. All business should read your post! Thanks!

    http://ctssac.com/