The 10 Basic Steps To Starting A Business

Embarking on the journey of entrepreneurship comes with a lot of responsibility and a new family member, and his name is Uncle Sam.  One thing about family, we try to avoid any family disputes, to do this, you must follow the rules and regulations, that govern starting and running a business including a “Home Business”. Whether or not you are operating a business online or offline , there is no excuse for ignorance of the Law! There are 3 branches of Government you may have to answer to, Federal, State, and Local.

1. PLANNING

The first mistake many people make, is starting a business without a plan or vision for the business! Without a clear plan is like setting sail without a compass. A bible scripture, Proverbs 29:18, says where there is no vision, the people perish, the same rule applies to starting a business without a vision for your business, you may not perish but your business is destined for failure.

A Business Plan is a document that clearly describes your vision, including all the details of your business operations. Crafting a comprehensive business plan outlining your vision and operational strategies. It’s not just a roadmap; it’s your guiding light. If you are seeking financing for your business then a business plan is a must!

2. REGISTER A FICTITIOUS BUSINESS NAME

If you intend to operate your business under a different name other than your own, you may be required to register your trade name with your state or local government. This form of registration is known as “doing business as” (dba) or fictitious name filing. Check your state’s requirements for Business Name Registration to ensure compliance..

3. DETERMINE IF YOU NEED AN EMPLOYER ID

While sole proprietors might not need an Employer Identification Number (EIN), it’s essential for certain business structures . Generally, if you are going into business for yourself and you are not starting a corporation or non-profit organization and do not employ anyone, you do not need an EIN. Your social security number is your EIN. Ensure you understand the necessity based on your unique circumstances. According to the IRS you will only need an EIN if you answer “Yes” to any of the following questions.

4. CHOOSE A BUSINESS STRUCTURE
The legal structure you choose for your business will impact your business registration requirements, how much you pay in taxes, and your liability.

Sole Proprietorship – A sole proprietor is not only one of the most common forms of business but it is also one of the easiest types of businesses to form. You are not required to do any kind of special incorporation filing. A sole proprietor is someone who owns an unincorporated business by himself or herself. A business, owned by one owner, makes no legal distinction between the individual owner and the business itself for tax purposes. The owner is fully liable for any legal actions brought against the company.

General Partnership – A business, owned by multiple owners, that makes no legal distinction between the individual owners and the business itself for tax purposes. Owners are fully liable for any legal actions brought against the company.

Limited Liability Partnership – A business, owned by general partners and limited partners, that makes no legal distinction between the General Partners and the business itself for tax purposes. General Partners are also fully liable for any legal actions brought against the company while Limited Partners have limited liability. A limited liability company (LLC) or corporation helps protect your personal assets in case a lawsuit is brought against your business for products sold or services rendered. But may require the help of a professional to start.

C-Corporation – A business, owned by owners and an unlimited number of shareholders, that is a separate legal entity from its owners and shareholders for tax purposes. Owners of a C-Corporation are taxed twice: once as owners and once as shareholders. Owners and shareholders are not legally liable for any legal actions brought against the company.

S-Corporation – A business, owned by one owner and a limited number of shareholders, that is a separate legal entity from the owner and the shareholders. The owner of an S-Corporation only gets taxed once, must be a U.S. citizen, and is not liable for any legal actions brought against the company. Shareholders are not liable for any legal actions brought against the company.

Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) – A business, owned by one owner and an unlimited number of shareholders, that is a separate legal entity from the owner and the shareholders. LLCs need at least two people to be created. The owner of an LLC only gets taxed once and is not legally liable for any legal actions brought against the company. Shareholders are not liable for any legal actions brought against the company.

5. LOCAL ZONING LAWS

Check with your local zoning laws, also referred to as ordinances, ordinances establish what business activities can be carried out in a particular municipality. You need to have approval, and any required permits from zoning, before setting up a business in a particular location including your home. In some areas of zoning and planning, agencies require all home-based businesses to get a Home Occupation Permit.

6. LOCAL BUSINESS LICENSE And PERMITS

General Business License

As a business owner, you are normally required to purchase a yearly general business license. Contact your county clerk’s office for more information and/ or any other licenses or certificates you may be required to carry based on the type of business you are starting. If you plan to run a home business from a property you are renting you may also be required to get permission from your landlord to acknowledge he/she is aware of the fact that you are starting a home business on his/her premises.

Sales Tax Permit

If you intend to sell taxable goods or services online or offline, you may be required to collect state and local sales taxes from your customers. It is your responsibility to apply for a sales tax permit if the state where your business will be located charges a sales tax or levies a gross receipt or excise tax on businesses. Check with your State Revenue office for more information on your state’s requirements for collecting and submitting sales tax.

7. STATE BUSINESS REGISTRATION

Most States if not all, require you to register your business with your State Revenue Agency. State Revenue offices issue a variety of business permits/ licenses depending on the type of business you are starting and the needs of the business.

8. Open A Business Checking Account
Separate your personal and business finances by opening a dedicated business checking account. A business checking account helps you stay legally compliant, organized, and protected.

9. BOOKKEEPING

Establishing a robust bookkeeping system is a must! Keeping accurate record-keeping of income and expenses not only aids in IRS compliance but also provides invaluable insights into your business’s financial health.

10. FILE AND PAY TAXES

As a Small business owner, fulfilling tax obligations is non-negotiable. Familiarize yourself with small business tax requirements at the Federal, State, and Local levels. Stay informed to meet deadlines and avoid penalties. Check with your state and local officials for more information on the self-employment taxes you are required to file.

In conclusion, starting a business is not merely a venture—it’s a commitment to compliance, responsibility, and perseverance. By adhering to legal requirements and maintaining financial diligence, you pave the path for entrepreneurial success. Remember, Uncle Sam may be a demanding relative, but with careful planning and execution, your business can thrive within the boundary of the law.