Steps to Take Before Starting a Business

Remember when you were a kid and starting your own business was as simple as getting your mom to make a pitcher of lemonade and give you some cups and a folding table? Things are significantly more complicated when you’re adult. Setting up a small business represents a significant amount of risk and takes a lot of research and planning, not to mention courage. Learning the steps that you need to take ahead of time will help keep you from making mistakes that can slow you down, or even cost you money.

As tempting as it is to jump ahead to the “fun” part, you need to do the detail work to give your new business a chance of succeeding. Start with writing down a business plan and making the important business law decisions like whether you’re going to operate as a sole proprietor, a limited liability corporation, or even an S-Corporation. From there you need to make sure you’ve done all of the investigative work, filled out all of the required forms and gotten all the appropriate permits and licenses. Doing things the right way not only gives you the best chance of success but also gives you a leg up when you’re looking for financial backing. Here are the most important steps:

  • What’s in a name? Unless you’re operating as a sole proprietor and you want to operate using your own name, your business needs a “doing business as” name, and once you’ve come up with one, you need to register it so that your local municipality, the state, and even the federal government know to refer to you legally. Not only will having an official name make a lot of your license applications and tax planning easier, but it will also be an essential part of your marketing and branding strategy. Note: if you’re going to do business on a national scale, you should probably trademark your business name.
  • Unless you’re operating as a sole proprietorship, you need to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This number works like a Social Security Number for your business. It helps the IRS identify your business for tax purposes and will also be useful when you apply for a business license.
  • Research what your federal and local tax obligations will be. This includes income tax, self-employment taxes, estimated quarterly payments, employer taxes, and more. Much of this decision will be based on whether you organize as a sole proprietorship or a corporation.
  • Apply for all appropriate permits and licenses. This will be largely dependent upon your industry and your business’ location.
  • Familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations that apply to your business. This may involve intellectual property, marketing, privacy, and marketing.

Working with a business law attorney will help you with each of these elements, as well as important decisions about how you’re going to organize your business and more. Contact our office at your earliest convenience to get started on a plan that will help make your business successful.