Regardless of the industry your venture belongs to, some common steps follow in all the states. Along with your basic checklist, you will also look into your state & industry specific requirements.
Please do consult with your financial advisor or lawyer for the mandates to open a business in USA ...as you follow the basic steps to get you started on the track!
- Business Plan - It is so critical for any entrepreneur or a startup opening up a business to have at least a vague idea of how it is going to go for the first few years, write it down and you have your business plan, even if they are filled with assumption or if/then scenarios. Of course, you might need to draw some financial projections etc. as well but nothing too complicated-just so you have a snap shot in your mind of what it would look like and how it would flow.
- Business Name - A business journey begins with a name representing the idea. There are several ways to go about naming your business. You could brainstorm names that fits your business idea, ask for feedback from family & friends, or you might consult with a professional. In any case, as you are beginning to filter some names, check for web domain availability before you legally register the name.
- Legal Structure - Once you've chosen to move forward with a name and got the domain registered for your company, you will need to have the legal structure in place to make it official. What type of business entity is your preference? It could be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability company or a corporation, each have a different registration format. You can contact your CPA or certified advisor to discuss which is best option for your business. Visit your Secretary of State website to get started on the registration.
- Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) - The next step is obtaining your federal employer identification number from the IRS. An FEIN number is necessary to open a commercial bank account and do tax filings. Visit IRS.gov to get started.
- Commercial Bank Account - Choose a bank that's supportive and reliable. Whether your needs are simple (a separate business checking account just for your business to handle operations, expenses, payroll, etc.) or complex (a line of credit), finding the bank that fits your business' needs is crucial. Take time in looking through some banks that offer great commercial banking features and offerings such as, various bank fees waived, free overdraft protection options, business credit card options, etc.
- Finding a Workspace - Depending on the nature of your business you might need to lease a workspace. It could be home based or you might need to find an office space or retail, perhaps even a warehouse etc. If business plan entails growth overtime, start with the smallest and most efficient option that's feasible for the business at the time of the launch.
- Licenses and Permits - Next step is obtaining all the necessary licenses and permits. Again, depending on the type of business, the licenses you need might vary i.e. some businesses require having a federal license other need a state license. If you’re selling a product you might also need a sales tax permit. Feel free to consult with your legal advisor and be sure that you do not lack any of these regulated mandates and requirements.
- Recruiting Employees - If your business needs professional help, you might need to hire part time or full time employees. Or you may consider bringing on board independent contractors as you need help with different functions of your business.
- Accounting and Record Keeping - It is a legal requirement that all companies must maintain all tax reports and corporate filings for the past three years so in order to do that you’ll need to set up an accounting and record-keeping system. If you already have a CPA you trust or would like to have an expert handle these accounting needs, you can connect with accounting firms that offer commercial services.
- Business Insurance - Every business needs insurance since they need to cover a variety of financial risks - from product & system liability to company vehicles etc. Depending upon your business, you may either need Business Owner's Policy (BOP) or commercial general liability (CGL) for physical property and/or liability. You'll also need workers' compensation if you have employees. In general, property insurance covers damages to your business property; liability insurance cover damages to third parties; and workers' compensation insurance covers on-the-job injuries to your employees. Businesses that are service oriented will also need professional liability insurance or Errors & Omissions (E&O) to mitigate liability risks. Cyber Insurance is also now integral part of any business' insurance portfolio to ensure coverages for cyber attacks that are not covered by GL or E&O policy.
- Branding and Marketing - The brand awareness begins with getting the word out and in a technological world like ours, building a solid digital profile is imperative to any business existence and growth. This means building a great website, having presence along all social media platforms, utilizing the SEO so it communicates well with the search engines as your prospects search for products & services. You’ll also need to consider all sorts of marketing material including business cards, search engine marketing, etc.
These are just a few steps to get you started on the thought process of what all it entails to turn your idea into reality! Every second that you work on your business is very much essential as you move on to the next step. Enjoy the journey in EVERY moment as you start your business, open your door for business, profitability in your business, to maybe even passing on your legacy!