If you’re a new business owner or entrepreneur who wants to start a business, then you’re in the right place. Navigating through new business owner waters can be challenging. That’s why we’re here to give you the first entrepreneur guide to starting a business.
Before you officially start your business ask yourself:
- Have I done my research?
- Have I found a good product/service?
- Did I cover everything in my business plan?
- Are my finances in order?
After checking each of these off your preliminary list, it’s time to get down to business. No, that doesn’t mean buying a new office location or shopping wholesale. It’s time to focus on how to protect yourself, your business, employees, and another list of legal formalities that go with starting a business.
Entrepreneur guide #1: Incorporate or form an LLC
Before your business takes off, it’s essential that you incorporate or form a limited liability company (LLC). Incorporating your business helps you establish credibility, builds your reputation, and separates your personal and professional assets. Although those advantages are appealing, you’ll want to also know the disadvantages.
Often times, comparing entities and deciding which one is right for you can be difficult. Use our entity comparison chart to help you decide which entity will help you meet your business goals. The chart features comparisons between a sole proprietorship, partnerships, corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), and limited partnerships.
Entrepreneur guide #2:Secure your business name.
After you’ve chosen a business entity, it’s time to select and legally secure a name for your business. This may conduct a business entity name search. This will allow you to see if your business name is available.
Entrepreneur guide #3: File for and register trademarks.
If your company has a special name, slogan, tagline, or design, you will want to protect its intellectual property. Therefore, you should file for and register a trademark. This ensures that you, the creator, have the rights to all your hard work. Remember to also conduct a name search before you begin the filing process. This ensures that the mark you’re searching for is available and not already in use or pending usage by another entrepreneur.
Entrepreneur guide #4: Business licenses
Next, depending on the business activity, you may need to register various permits and licenses. Now, not every state requires a business license. You can figure out whether or not your business needs certain licenses by visiting your state’s secretary of state website.
Entrepreneur guide #5: File for an EIN (Employer Identification Number).
Assigned by the IRS to your business, an EIN is a special number used to identify tax accounts required to file business tax returns. If you plan to hire employees to work for your business, you will need to complete an EIN application.
What if you don’t plan to hire employees? Do you still need an EIN when you decide to incorporate? Also, you may want to file for an EIN because it may be required if you plan to open a bank account under your business name. It also allows entrepreneurs to start establishing credit profiles for their business. This is kept separate from your own credit profile.
Entrepreneur guide #5: File for a DBA.
Are you ready to begin accepting payments under your business name? If so, it’s time to file for a DBA. Also, this allows you to do many important things for your business. You will need this information in order to open a business bank account in certain states.
A DBA is a Doing Business As name. Entrepreneurs sometimes call it a fictitious name. It allows entrepreneurs to operate and receive payments under a name that differs from your legal business name. Several states require DBAs in order to open business bank accounts. They allow you to accept checks and payments under your business name. In addition, you may also use your DBA to gain credibility with customers.
Entrepreneur guide #6: Designate a registered agent service.
A registered agent (RA) acts as your point of contact between the state and the small business. Typically a third party organization, they accept official documents on behalf of the business. Some of these documents may include renewal reminders, annual reports, and franchise tax forms. The paperwork is also organized and passed along to the small business owner.
Small business owners, if they don’t designate a third party to act on their behalf, maybe their own registered agent, too. There are certain requirements that come with acting, or being, an RA if you incorporate in certain stares. Sometimes registered agents must have a physical street address. Registered agents should also be available during general business hours to receive service of process. As a result, you may find it’s a bit easier to have a third party assist you because it can be tricky to navigate your schedule as an RA.