Starting a business is an exciting process, but it's not something that should be taken lightly. When starting your own business, there is a lot of planning to be done and many forms to fill if you intend to go about it correctly. So much so that it's easy to get overwhelmed by just how many options you have, but with the right information, you can get your business off to a strong start.
The first thing you need to start your own business is a business plan. This is an intimidating task for most people to get involved in, but all you really need at this moment is a piece of paper that answers the who, what, when, how, and why of your business plan. In other words, who is going to be a part of your business?
#1 The Who
If it's just going to be you, you'll probably opt for a single-member LLC (see the LLC forms) or even a sole proprietorship, the latter of which requires no special registration whatsoever. Rather, at the end of the year, you'll just report your business related income or loss as self-employment income. A single member LLC may function similarly as it will be disregarded as a pass-through entity. That's a fancy way of saying you'll report the business income as self-employment income as well in the same way you would income that results from a sole proprietorship.
If you are going to have other people in this business with you or if you are going to have employees, it is worth looking into other structures. You can have a multi-member LLC, for instance, or a corporation. In any case, with multiple people and/or employees involved with your business, you will probably want to apply for an EIN using a tax ID form, which will mean your business gets its own SSN of sorts, allowing you to separate your personal credit and finances from the business.
#2 The What
The next step in starting your business is figuring out the what. In other words, what will you be selling or what service will you be offering? What sets you apart from your competitors? When thinking about this question, you are really seeking to ask: What is going to make your business money?
You might be offering a service, selling a product, or a combination of the two. You might also be acting as an affiliate, promoting someone else's service. Think about what is going to make your business money, and then continue on with your plan.
#3 The When
Figuring out the when of your business can be effected by many different things. If it's a seasonal product or service, you probably want to enter when the market is strong. Likewise, if you are struggling to handle your finances right now, it might be best to wait to start your business at a time when you have a bit more disposable income to cover the expenses that go along with forming a business.
Figuring out when the timing is right for your new business is really going to depend on a lot of different things.
#4 The Why
Why do you want to start a business? This is a question that most people will simply answer with "money" but it should really go far beyond that. Do you want to offer something that no one else is? Do you want to improve upon your competitor's way of doing business? Figure out a viable why that will inspire you to keep working hard in your business from this day forward, because it really is a full-time job and then some.
You have to be fully invested in your business and the idea behind it. And, more importantly, your customers have to have a reason for choosing your business too, and that's when you need to ask: Why will customers want to do business with me? Maybe you have better service or better offerings than your competitors. Above all, seek to offer more value rather than a lower price as that's the only sustainable way to long term success.
#5 The How
The how is going to bring together all of the above in an easy to follow plan that you can put into action. How are you going to make money? You have the who, the what, the when, and the why, now you just need to make a process that you can begin following to get you customers and ultimately begin generating profits.
With this plan drawn up, it's time to begin getting the legal processes moving along as that's definitely one of the more difficult and time consuming parts of launching your business. Gov Doc Filing can help you get started with it right away so that you can put your business plan into action.