Setting Up Your Own Business? Here’s a Startup Checklist

There are so many details to take care of when setting up your own business. Based on my own experience with several small business ventures, including real estate rentals, I have put together a checklist of important items that you must do at the beginning.

Note:  I am writing as a US-based small business owner. The UK, Australia, Canada and even US territories all have different laws, rules and terminology.

Depending on your city, county, state– or even country — some of the following items may be optional and others will be mandatory. Always, always check with local governing officials about what is required of you specifically.

Setting Up Your Own Business

Before you proceed with the steps below, ask yourself the following questions…

  • Is the proposed activity legal? If you plan to have your business from home, is the activity allowed by local officials? (some cities have restrictive laws)
  • Is there a business licensing requirement, mandated by local, state or federal laws? If yes, what are the costs of getting the license?
  • If you plan to sell products, have you located wholesalers or suppliers?
  • If you are selling services, have you determined your pricing?
  • Have you attempted to forecast potential income?

Setting Up Your Own Business – Step 1

Choose A Business Name

This sounds obvious but many startup business owners don’t give enough thought to this step.

  • Is the name easy to pronounce?
  • Does it seem descriptive of your new business venture?
  • When you answer the phone, would it sound professional?
  • Is there a web address (domain name) available to match?
  • Are you sure that the name is not already taken in your local business area?

Once you have chosen the business name, file the assumed name certificate (fictitious name certificate as it is called in some places) with your county.

Setting Up Your Own Business – Step 2

Choose the Entity

This step may require consultation with a tax professional or legal professional.  In the US, the major entity choices would be:  sole proprietor, partnership, corporation , LLP (limited liability partnership) and LLC (limited liability corporation). Or sometimes there is a mixture of several entity types, depending on your circumstances.

Many startups begin with the simplest entity, sole proprietor, and then make changes as the business grows in the future. If you choose to incorporate, or create some form of LLC, you can still operate in the original business name, but it would become a ‘dba’ of the new Continue reading “Setting Up Your Own Business? Here’s a Startup Checklist”