By: Gwen Smith
Many new entrepreneurs with online businesses become extremely overwhelmed by what it takes to get their businesses up and running. The learning curve is very steep due to the various layers of content to be knowledgeable about before any possibility of generating revenue. The benefits of persisting way beyond the frustrations and learning curves have paid off for some while others live vicariously walking in their footsteps.
When I first started as a business owner six years ago, I was extremely grateful to have been exposed to training that gave me step-by-step guidance on what to do to launch my business structure and to know the requirements that were needed to have it recognized as a legitimate entity. I find that this is an often overlooked training in many of the courses being provided as I listen to entrepreneurs express their concern for lacking the knowledge.
Even before new business owners learn online topics such as: setting up their auto-responder series, composing emails, marketing, tracking, analytics, and much more, there are more than a few fundamental steps that are absolutely necessary to having a business that is legitimate, legal, sound and in compliance with the laws of their locale.
I’ve prepared an 18-point checklist as a guide to helping entrepreneurs to cross-check what they’ve already set up or are in the process of setting up, to simply ensure that they have what’s needed in place. This article, in an effort to be reasonable in length, covers only six of the 18 points. The entire checklist is complete with lots of resources to guide you to people and places that will help you get started or to do further research to see what may be missing for you. Get the FREE Online Business Startup Checklist below!
While this excerpt is not intended to give you legal or accounting advice, it will point you to areas to address or to pay attention to, even if you have a business that’s already established.
Before providing the list, here are three absolutes that you should have done prior to setting up your business:
- Establish an area of business that identifies with what you truly love and where a need exists
- Conduct your research to see what currently exists in the market then developing your unique proposition.—what are you bringing to the market that can augment what’s already there and that is uniquely different or do you have a data to show that people are interested in what you have to offer? Testing your idea with your target audience is a must. I recommend a book Will it Fly by Pat Flynn as an excellent resource.
- Having a plan for how your business will operate is great as well” How you’ll do your marketing, what segment of the market do you hope to capture, and all of the elements needed for a business plan. A book that can provide a one-page plan is The 1-Page Marketing Plan Get New Customers, Make More Money, And Stand Out From The Crowd by Allan Dib.
Beyond this list, here are six of the 18-point checklist for you to consider next, to properly set up your business:
- Determine the type of entity that you’ll use. While quite a number of newer businesses are using the Limited Liability (LLC) structure, there are other options available as well and each option really depends on your exit strategy or the goal of your business. There are corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships, in addition to the LLC.
As a sole proprietor, you and your business entity are one. This can have legal ramifications and leave your personal property open to legal claims should there be a lawsuit. You should check these out with a CPA or attorney
- Pick Your Business Name and Domain. Knowing the name you want for your business helps with a few things: researching availability of the name, domain choice, getting your license or getting registered.
- You really would want to do a search to see if other businesses already exist with the same name. Typically you’ll need to avoid having the same name and niche, especially if you’re in the same state. My advice would be to avoid this as much as possible. If there is a dispute the company that was formed first usually wins out. Clear this with an attorney as well.
- Select a domain to match your business name and make it a ‘.com’
- Register your business and get your EIN
- Register or license your business with your locale: typically your state. You can have legal zoom help you to set up the entity or you could do this by yourself and just pay the fees to get it registered
- Once you have the entity established apply for your EIN online. You get it immediately depending on the day of the week. Print this off and file
- Apply for a bank account. Using your EIN and your license or registration, visit your bank (or online) to open your account. It’s important to know that you cannot mingle your personal account with your business accounts and expenses or vice-versa, except if you are a sole proprietor. Keep receipts for all purchases made for the business.
- Have a business logo designed. You can have a logo designed on Fiverr, Upwork or 99Designs. There are many more options.
- Have your website built with your logo. For this you will need WordPress, and a hosting service to have the site go live. It’s recommended to start with a simple one-page design which will have the name of your business, your logo or your photo, and what your business is about and a way for your audience to connect with you via a form for them to leave you their email address.
In general these are six tips to follow. For the remaining 12 items complete with resources, links and people get the FREE 18-Point Business Start-Up Checklist.
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