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Small Business Digest


First Steps to Starting a New Business

Because of the present state of the economy, many people are leaving the corporate world, not always voluntarily.  Some choose to start their own business rather than to find a position with another company.

JoAnn M. Laing, author of The Janus Principle: Focusing Your Company to Sell to Small Business, offers this checklist of items that should be considered before starting a company.

The Business:
* Do something you are passionate about.
* Then draft a vision and write a business plan.
* Look at the competition.  Define what makes you different.
* Work on an action plan (steps needed to move from idea phase to opening day).

Legal Requirements:
* Check local, state and federal requirements; get any licenses, certification needed; follow government rules.
* Set up a legal business structure (LLC, LLP, S or C corporation).
* Register "Doing Business As" names.
* Appoint a registered agent.
* Protect the company's name: File business's names on a per-state basis; conduct a trademark search to ensure the company's name isn't already in use.
* Obtain federal and state employer identification number (EIN).
* Complete additional filings (such as amendments) as needed.
* Draft internal documents (such as bylaws, operating agreement) for the business.
* Talk to a lawyer about business entity, liability, etc.

* Staffing: Outsource or use free-lancers when possible; hire people who have growth bandwidth; have background checks done.

* Budget: Determine how much money is needed for start-up; set up expense and revenue projections.
* Research financing: Gather financial statements if looking for bank financing.
* Obtain start-up capital.
* Get an accountant/CPA; find out when taxes need to be paid, what expenses can be written off, etc.
* Get bookkeeping software.
* Learn about cash flow! 
* Open business checking account; get a separate bank card and online access.
* Get quotes for insurance (such as general business, unemployment, workers' compensation) if needed.

Outside Advice:
* Find a mentor/adviser/coach.
* Set up an advisory board with people who have complementary skills.
* Join local associations (online or local) of professionals/business owners.
* Research networking groups in your area and plan to attend one or two a week.
* Visit SCORE and SBA and attend seminars for start-up businesses.

* Develop business collateral with the company name and logo: business cards, letterhead, forms, brochures, signs, ads, flyers, postcards, etc.
* Determine how the business will be marketed: Online? Local? National?

* Search domain name to see whether it is available, then purchase it.
* Set up a Web page or build a Web site.
* Create an Internet presence: through writing a blog, twitter, social marketing, etc.

Physical Location:
* Check to determine whether it is conducive to doing business; also see what the competition is doing.
* If virtual, consider where to meet clients, suppliers; set up mailing address.
* Set up a communication system.

* Schedule personal time to relax, exercise and keep fit.
* Take time for family and friends.

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