You’ve decided to start a business. Here are some basic steps to starting a business, no matter how small or large:
1. Write a business plan. It sounds cheesy, but just do it. You can always change it later.
Answer the following: What type of business do I want to have? Why do I want to start this business? Where will it be located (internet, physical, etc.)? Who will I be doing business for? Who will be joining me in my venture (if anyone)? When would I like to have my business open? How will I pay for it?
2. Get a mentor.
Find someone who has opened a business like yours who is willing to share information with you. My local SBA (Small Business Association) has mentors already signed up and ready to go. If you are in KY, check it out at Louisville SCORE or find a SCORE near you!
3. Research like crazy. Know things for yourself.
Learn words and phrases like “sole proprietorship” and “sales and use tax.” Some great links to information are at the following:
4. Register your business! Find out if you need to register with State AND Local agencies as well as State departments of Revenue (taxes) and the Federal Government.
For example, I started a sole proprietorship in Jefferson County, KY. I am NOT required to register my business name with the State of KY because it is not an LLC or Joint Venture. I AM required to register my business name locally with Jefferson County. I am also required to register for local (County) taxes AND state taxes.
These requirements will vary from state to state. Google “(your state name) small business association” or “(your state name) department of revenue” and look for information regarding small business. Keep in mind the internet is not always accurate (!!) or all knowing. When in doubt, make a phone call and get your questions answered. Don’t feel stupid. You are not the first person to start a business and not know what to do.
5. Find out if you need any additional permits or if you need to follow any additional regulations for your products.
For example, you need to have permits if you are opening a restaurant or catering business (or selling any food products). Your labeling needs to be FDA compliant.
If you are going to make or sell any products geared toward children, you need to check out the CPSC and figure out what applies to your business. You may need to have certificates that show your products are safe for children and possibly conduct certain 3rd party testing to verify this.
6. Start your business!
Get your website, rent your floor space, buy or create inventory, etc. etc. This is a BIG step, but it feels just as good as the way the sentence looks. You will finally START YOUR BUSINESS! It is yours. You have followed regulations and have the proper permits. Now you can greet customers, implement effective marketing strategies, and enjoy your new boss-YOU!
Keep in mind, this list is not all-inclusive. There are more steps not mentioned, like paying for start-up costs, etc. I did not include those because they vary drastically from business to business.
Disclaimer: I am not a professional business advice giver. I am only a fellow small business owner who has gone through the process of starting a business and is sharing information with you. Please consult a professional or a local agency for information specific to your location and circumstance. RESEARCH for yourself to know who you need to be accountable to. Do not solely rely on second hand information.