You’ve decided to start your own business. Congratulations! When you work for yourself, you have the opportunity to do what you most enjoy and are more likely to have a high level of job satisfaction. Make sure that when you set your business up, you are doing so properly so that you are not surprised by unexpected expenses or problems in the future. By taking the following steps you can be best prepared.
Before you begin, it is a good idea to get all your ducks in a row. Ask yourself the following questions:
It is much easier to build a business plan for a small, at-home freelancing business as you can keep your plan informal. If you are planning to start a larger company, your initial business plan will be more complex and will need to be structured formally. You can purchase software that can help you put together your business plan or you can hire a consultant to assist you with putting it together.
Once you have your business plan in place, it is a good idea to meet with an expert to discuss your options and your tax considerations. There are different types of business structures that you can use when setting up your company and each has different tax implications and set-up requirements. You can choose from the following business structures:
By speaking with a business or tax professional, you can get assistance determining which type of structure is right for you. You can also learn about setting money aside to pay your federal, state and local taxes on a quarterly basis. Remember, when you are your own employer, you will be paying 100 percent of your social security contribution, whereas when you work for someone else, your employer covers 50 percent of this tax.
Once you have chosen the right business type, it is time to make your company official by registering it with your state.
If you prefer to do business under any name other than your given name, you may be required by your state to apply for a fictitious name certificate, also known as a “doing business as” or DBA certificate. There is typically a one-time fee for doing this.
When you apply for a Fictitious Name certificate or an EIN number, you are automatically registering your business with the state.
No matter how great your business is, it will never succeed without customers. Marketing is one of the most important steps when starting your new business. While you will incur some expenses when promoting your new company, the return on investment can be quite high.
If you are opening your business in a retail space, put up “Coming Soon!” signs in the windows so people know, and talk to others, about what you will be doing with the space. You can also have business cards and flyers printed and can begin distributing them to your key demographic.
Most importantly, you will want to create a web-presence. Even if you do not expect to drum up any business through a website, having one will lend your business credence and will also supply a place for curious people to go to learn more about what you do. Find a domain name that is applicable to your business and register it as soon as possible. You’d be surprised how quickly names get taken up.
Social media can also help you to market your business so consider making a Facebook, Google+ or other social media business page. Mashable offers some very interesting statistics about using Facebook as a marketing tool:
Whatever marketing techniques you use, remember that you can deduct the cost of promotional materials and website registration from your business income taxes.
Now that you have everything ready to go, it’s time to open up shop to customers. If you are a retail type business, you may want to plan an event with balloons and giveaways to bring people in.
Most new business ventures start out slow and build up over time, so do not be discouraged if you operate at a loss the first few months. Remember that customer referrals and positive feedback can go a long way toward getting new and repeat customers. Feel free to ask satisfied customers to write you a testimonial and include these on your website.