This post was generously contributed by Chelsea Lamb
Are you thinking of starting your own business, you’re not alone. More and more people are leaving the predictable 9-to-5 employee lifestyle to launch their own companies. In fact, according to official statistics, the number of U.S. business applications has been steadily rising for more than ten years. If you are part of this growing number, you may wonder where and how you should begin. This guide from Burkholder Agency provides critical first steps and practical online tools to get you started on the right path.
Choose a Name
Choosing a name for your new company is an early step that can impact your future success. Selecting an optimal name can simplify your marketing strategy and help you connect with potential clients. Luckily, online name generators can help you choose an easy-to-remember one that conveys the vision and purpose of your business.
Consider Working From Home
Launching a business from the comfort of your own home saves you money, and therefore, reduces your risk. By using your house rather than renting a separate space for your company, you need less money to get started and incur fewer overhead costs down the road. The at-home business arrangement also saves you time and increases your flexibility, making the work-life balance easier to achieve.
Pick the Right Business Structure
If you are running your own company, filing as a limited liability company can be a smart move. LLC status protects your personal assets from potential liability and reduces your tax burden by allowing you to categorize company profits as personal income. Although the filing process is straightforward and doesn’t require much paperwork, an online formation service is recommended to ensure you meet all the state-specific requirements.
Develop a Comprehensive Business Plan
Once you’ve selected your company’s name, location, and structure, it’s time to develop a business plan. A comprehensive plan, which includes details about your product, target market, and business structure, can serve as a roadmap for your company’s direction, decisions, and strategies. It should also include financial information, including start-up costs, projected operational expenses, and metrics for measuring success. To create your company’s business plan, you can do it yourself or use special software or tools to help you.
Apply for Funding
If you need money to launch your business, there are several potential sources of funding. For example, loans that are guaranteed by the Small Business Administration, such as 504 loans, 7(a) loans, and microloans, are easy to qualify for while still offering competitive rates. There are also small business grants available from both government and private sources.
Another option is to seek out an angel investor or a venture capitalist who is willing to provide funding in exchange for equity in your business. Finally, crowdfunding platforms allow individuals to contribute money in exchange for a product or perks.
Select the Best Payroll Service
When you hire staff, you need a system to handle all aspects of the payroll. If you don’t want to handle this administrative task in-house, an online payroll service can help. Look for a company that allows you to customize the payroll system to your company’s particular needs with options, such as:
- Tax form completion
- Benefit deductions
- Automated tax withholdings
- Time tracking
- Scheduled direct deposits
- Year-end summary reports
- Tax penalty protection
When starting a new company, many of your early decisions can impact the direction and future success of your business. Thankfully, by planning well, exercising the necessary steps, and taking advantage of online tools, you can ensure a smooth and successful launch.
Chelsea Lamb has spent the last eight years honing her tech skills and is the resident tech specialist at Business Pop. Her goal is to demystify some of the technical aspects of business ownership.