Now that you have taken the step of registering your new business entity there are several more steps to take to get things off on the right foot. The sooner you take care of these the sooner you’ll be ready to launch into your new venture at full speed ahead!
1. Open a bank account
Your new entity is required to keep track of its income and expenses separate from your personal funds or those of your other businesses. The easiest and safest way to accomplish this is to open a new bank account in the name of your new company. The bank will require you present your registration paperwork and your EIN in order to open an account in your company’s name so be sure to print out your paperwork so you can show them.
Often times banks will suggest you open several accounts because that is how they make their money but for a new business you really only need a basic checking account. They may require a savings account as well but anything beyond that is unnecessary. I recommend using a bigger business friendly bank with no or low fees and a good online banking system as that is most likely how you will generally interact with your bank. The only exception is if you have a storefront business and will need to stop in frequently to get change or make cash deposits.
2. Get your bookkeeping set up
Along with getting a bank account open the best way to handle bookkeeping for your new business is to start the process early! Since every cost related to starting the business is a deductible expense you want to make sure you start tracking them immediately- including the cost of registering the business.
The right way to do this is use a business bookkeeping program like QuickBooks or Xero that is designed to help your do your business accounting correctly. If you don’t have time to do it yourself or don’t want to take the time to learn, I highly recommend outsourcing this to a reliable firm. Of course I am biased, but after having cleaned up countless bookkeeping disasters from self-taught clients or so-called professionals I can definitely tell you having it done right by an expert from the start is the cheapest option. We’ve set up a special bookkeeping deal for IncServ clients here for even more savings!
3. Get a logo
Having a logo makes your business look more official and it gives you something to use as a basis for your business card and website design in terms of color and style. You can design your own or you can hire a designer. There are very good designers you can find for as little as five dollars on a site like Fiverr.com or you can spend more at a site like 99Designs and maybe get a higher level of design expertise. You don’t have to have one of course but if you want to appear a little more established and professional it definitely helps.
4. Get a website
Today it is almost impossible to get by without having a website with at least basic company information. A few of my clients still live on word of mouth but they are the rare exceptions and I wouldn’t recommend it. You can also use a site like Fiverr.com to get a basic website made or there are sites that let you create your own. Every town also has local firms you can find online that offer packages from under a hundred to several thousand dollars and up depending on what you need. Unless your business is an online business I recommend not spending much here as you can get a very good looking design that works perfectly well for very little money. You can always upgrade later if business takes off.
As a side note, I also recommend having a company email as opposed to a free service one. The email firstname.lastname@example.org just looks better than email@example.com.
5. Order business cards
Once you have your logo, website and email address you should order business cards. As old fashioned as they seem I still find myself giving them out and getting them almost every day. Sure lots of people will instantly just take a picture of it with their phone, but if you don’t have one they can’t do that, right? I recommend going to Vistaprint as they do a nice job and have very good prices. You can use a generic design or get one custom made. I don’t think it matters too much as long as you have your info on there and always have some handy to give out.
6. Talk to your insurance agent
If you are going to lease a commercial space or have employees this is a must do step but even if not you should still at least contact a commercial insurance broker to find out what you might need and what it will cost. Many small businesses start out without insurance and most get away with it but not having it when you need it is always a disaster. Your insurance agent can advise you on what kinds of coverage may be appropriate for your business and the cost which in most cases can be split out into payments to help with cash flow.
7. Get your local licenses in order
Depending on where you live and what kind of business you are getting into this process may be very simple or it may become a nightmare. Hopefully you are already aware of what you need but if not doing some online searches for your city as well as local area and state should eventually steer you in the right direction. Things are all over the place here as some areas have really worked hard to cut red tape and make things easy and others still seem to be thirty years behind in this department.
8. Register for sales tax or a sellers permit
If you live in a state that collects sales tax and you are selling items to the general public you are going to be required to collect and pay sales tax. It is up to you to find out how much to collect, when you have to pay it and how it needs to be paid. Unfortunately, most states take a tough stance against businesses that fail to do this or do so late. To avoid penalties and problems make sure you find out what your obligations are before you start making sales.
If you are going to be buying items to resell or use to manufacture goods you will also likely need a permit to allow you to not pay sales tax sometimes called a resellers permit.
9. Get started with social media and review sites
For some businesses being on Twitter and Facebook won’t be part of the game plan and for others it will be critical. Either way, I recommend at least logging on and securing your business name on these sites so it isn’t taken by someone else if possible. Then even if you don’t use it you won’t have someone else who is causing confusion.
I also suggest if getting reviews is going to be part of your marketing plan then take the time to set up your business listing in Yelp, Google and any other site that may send you traffic or come up in a search related to your business. If you work in the home improvement industry you may very well want to consider joining Angie’s Listas well. Whatever you can do to help promote your business and have it be found in a positive light is going to be to your advantage.
10. Start selling!
You can do all the other steps but nothing really happens for your business until you start selling whatever product or service your business has been created to offer. There is no time like the present to go out and see how the market reacts to what you are doing and immediately begin tweaking things to continuously improve the customer experience and demand.
Sometimes people like to start with the easy stuff such as registering the business and setting up the website. That’s a good accomplishment but until you actually get out and make the business happen it’s not really a business yet. So don’t wait, start now and get busy building it into the business you’ve been dreaming about!
Bonus – find a mentor
Having someone to look over your shoulder, ask for advice and hold you accountable to your goals is a great business asset to have. This is even more true if you are new to the industry or new to business overall and the mentor you find can help guide you in the specifics of what you are doing. If you don’t already know someone you can trust for this role try looking to local industry groups, SCORE counselors or accomplished business people in your community. Many people who have been successful are happy to give back to those coming up in the ranks and will be willing to take on the role as long as you are willing to listen and consider their advice. If you can find a good mentor you will that much farther along on the path to success.
About the Author: Matt Remuzzi is the owner of CapForge Bookkeeping, a firm that works small business owners and new startups across the country to make their bookkeeping painless. He is a serial business owner himself and works with clients to help them become successful above and beyond simply balancing the books. If you need help with your books or just have general questions, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 858-633-3573.