I am so energized by entrepreneurs. Someone who decides to take an idea or a desire to do or provide something, start their own business and risk so much, then work hard to turn the business into something that will provide for him- or herself, and maybe a family…I enjoy providing as much as I can for clients who ask for my assistance in realizing these goals.
Starting your own small business can be daunting. While it does take time, energy and money, all three of these requirements can be kept simple, minimal. Many would-be business owners get completely bogged down over-researching and over-planning the start-up of their business. Unless you plan to court investors or venture capitalists, then keeping it simple might be the recommended plan for starting your small business.
- Write a one-page business plan. Business plans help you formulate your vision and communicate your plan with others. I’ve seen people omit this step altogether, or become mired in creating an unnecessarily in-depth plan. You need a business plan for yourself to stay on track, plan goals and develop a financial budget, so I do not recommend skipping this step.
- What is your mission (why does your business exist)?
- What are your goals or objectives that will help you accomplish your mission?
- What steps will you take to meet your objectives?
- Develop a budget. Keep start-up costs as low as possible. How much money will you need to get up and running? Take that number and add 20% to account for things you hadn’t anticipated. How long can you run your business before you need to turn a profit?
- Select a business entity. Should you form a limited liability company (LLC)? Partnership? C-corporation? Elect s-corporation status? Operate as a sole proprietor, without forming a business entity? In some states, filing fees for forming an entity are steep. Consequently, some articles recommend operating as a “sole proprietor” (no separate business entity) for a few months until you can afford incorporation filing fees. Ohio’s incorporation filing fees are not steep (generally under $200), and the personal exposure risk in operating as a sole proprietor is too great to justify not incorporating if you are starting a business in Ohio.
- Operate as a business.
- Open bank accounts in the name of the business and keep business money completely separate from personal money.
- Get letterhead and business cards.
- Sign all business-related matters as “John Doe, President” or whatever title you choose. Signing just your name might subject you to making a personal guarantee.
- Get an employee identification number (EIN) even if you do not have employees—you might need it for IRS or other matters.
- Get a website.
If you want more information on starting a small business, researching the Small Business Administration website, and your state’s Secretary of State’s website, are good places to start.