Starting a business is something almost all of us dream about. But very few people get started. After all, the whole idea of starting something by yourself can be quite intimidating. In this article, I will provide a simple, step-by-step guide to starting a business.
The first thing you must do is determine what kind of business you want to start. You probably have ideas, and the only real advice I have is to follow your heart and do something you truly love. Visit the local library and read books and magazines about entrepreneurship for inspiration. Also, if you have any friends or family members that own businesses, don’t be shy and talk to them as well.
Once you have a business in mind, the next step is to get incorporated. This sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is. In most states, there are pretty simple forms to submit to form a company. For most small businesses, a Limited Liability Company will probably be the simplest entity to form. You can find many resources online for incorporating. I recommend visiting sites like Nolo.com for more information and to purchase books on this topic.
There may be other paperwork you need, such as a business license. Check with your county to make sure you submit all the forms you need.
Once you have all the legal stuff like incorporation out of the way, you will now be able to open a checking account as your business. This is a very important step, since you never want to co-mingle your personal and business funds. With your account open, you can now fund your business.
At this point, you should figure out how you will handle your accounting. For most business owners, I recommend using a simple, online bookkeeping program such as Quickbooks. Such software programs do a great job of simplifying your accounting tasks while still being extremely easy to use. All business owners will need to have some knowledge of accounting and finance. If you find that you are a bit lost about these subjects, you should purchase a few books or even better, take a class as your local community college.
Another thing you must have in today’s business climate is a website. There is no need to feel intimidated by the prospect of building your own site. Today, there are plenty of tools that streamline the process. The easiest solution may be to use an existing CMS to build your website. The best ones to use are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Of the three WordPress by far is the most popular CMS, and it is also the easiest to you. Therefore, you may want to use this platform for your first website. You can always rebuild your site later if your business takes off and you want to expand.
Office space is the next thing you’d have to set up. When you are getting started, a home office may make the most sense. You will be able to write off many expenses such as your phone bill, internet connection, and office expenses. In some cases, you may be able to get a write off for the space you are using in your home. However, you will need to talk to your CPA to determine if this is really an option for you.
At a minimum, you will need to find an accountant and a lawyer you can speak to. In some cases, you may be able to get by without such professionals if you have a very simple business. Once you get to a point where you are hiring employees, however, you will probably need the services of an attorney. You are going to need lots of documents like employment contracts, and you should not use boiler plate forms for important documents like that.
Depending on the field you’re in, you may want to join trade organizations as well. This is a great way to make contacts and to network. For a small business, networking will definitely be one of the primary ways to get the word out and find new clients.
Once you have your business set up, you will be quite busy, but it’s very important to invest in continuing education. Many fields, such as computers and the Internet, evolve very quickly, and it is necessary to always be one step ahead in order to succeed in such fields. The best way to stay ahead of the curve is to educate yourself continuously. You may want to consider signing up for sites like Lynda.com so you have access to hundreds of online courses designed to upgrade your skill sets.