Start your business in 6 easy steps
Have you been delaying setting up the business you’ve been dreaming about? Don’t worry; this problem is more common than you’d think. Due to the perceived amount of paperwork, tax confusion, and legal and accounting costs, many people are doing exactly the same as you.
Yes, making your dream business a reality can take time, but the steps to get the ball rolling and officially start operating are actually surprisingly simple.
The process of registering your business varies from country to country, even state to state in some cases. For this reason, the following article will only outline the general steps. If you’re after more details, search for your country or state’s government website, which will provide detailed steps, along with all of the forms you’ll need.
We’ll also only be outlining the steps to getting started – things like financing and marketing plans will come later.
Step 1: Write a business plan
A business plan is necessary if you require a business loan from the bank or plan to take on investors. However, the true benefit of a business plan is to get your vision down in writing and tackle any flaws you hadn’t thought of along the way. It can even help you on step 2. If you don’t intend for anyone to see your business plan, then it doesn’t have to take on the usual formal structure, but we still recommend going through the entire process to make sure your business is sound. For help with how to write a business plan, this is a great resource.
Step 2: Choose a business name
Choosing a business name can be time consuming, as this is the part that everyone wants to get exactly right. We recommend choosing carefully, but at the same time don’t let this step hold you up for too long, as it can cause you to lose momentum and give up. Your business name should be catchy and give potential customers an idea of what you do. It can also be a completely made up word (think Google). Get family and friends to help you brainstorm or even consider hiring a naming expert if you’re having trouble.
Step 3: Claim your website domain name and social media profiles
Most articles would include this step right at the end, after all the official paperwork has been taken care of. However, it is our opinion that there’s nothing worse than going through the business naming and registration process, only to discover that someone else owns your desired domain name. You don’t have to create your website at this step – simply buy the domain name you’re interested in and sign up for all major social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Even if you change your mind or don’t end up using it, you’ll be no more than $10 out of pocket. Keep in mind that your domain name should be short and easy to pronounce and spell. Avoid hyphens always.
Step 4: Register your business name
You may have to swap the order of this step with step 4, depending on your country or state. Most governments will have a website where you can check if your business name is available and then complete the required forms to register it. You may have to provide your tax identification number on this form, in which case, you need to complete step 4 before step 3.
Step 5: Register for a tax identification number
This number has various names depending on your country, but its purpose is the same. This is essential for all businesses and allows you to do your taxes legally and be identified by your government. Operating without this number is illegal and can result in strong punishment. When applying for your tax identification number it is likely that you will have to outline your business structure. This shouldn’t be a problem if you’ve been through step 1 and know exactly what category your business falls into.
Step 6: Create your website
If your website will be a platform for selling your product or service, it’s important that you get it happening as soon as possible. Don’t procrastinate on this one, even if it seems like a daunting task at first. There are two standout paths you can take here – custom developed or template.
The custom developed option will involve hiring a web developer/designer to build your site from scratch. This can be a good option if you have the money, but if you have no technical skills you should make sure they use a popular CMS so you can easily update the site yourself. A lot of design agencies will charge you for every update, so it’s important that you can make basic changes such as text or images without their assistance.
Templated websites such as WordPress are great options for people with a bit of technical knowhow. If built correctly they can be just as effective, sometimes even better, for SEO, usability, and online transactions and you won’t have to pay a professional. If you will be taking payments through your website, make sure your chosen ecommerce platform (e.g. Shopify) neatly integrates with your chosen template.
As mentioned in the intro to this article, we have only provided an outline for how to get the ball rolling and set up your business to legally operate. There are still more steps to follow, but at least you’ll be able to make sales while you complete the rest. These extra steps will be different for every business, but may include registering for state and/or local tax, taking out various insurance policies, creating a marketing plan, or applying for permits. Your local or federal government website should be able to provide all the finer details and required forms.