So, you’ve decided to start your own small business? Congratulations!!!
The first few months of opening a new business is an exciting yet stressful time. You will work harder than you’ve ever worked before, but the rewards of your work will be well worth it! I created following list when Dan and I started Graphics Westchester. This list helped keep us on track and was essential to our early success.
1. Name your business.
Google your various name ideas to be sure that they aren’t already in use by some huge company. Once you’ve picked your favorite option, confirm that the business name you want is available in your area. You can do this by going to the Division of Corporation page on your State’s website and searching for the name. If you’re having trouble finding your State’s search engine just Google it!
2. Determine the Business Classification.
Determine what type of business you will register for: Sole Proprietorship, partnership, Limited Partnership, Limited Liability Company, Corporation, S Corp, Not-for-Profit. Again, your State’s website will have a plethora of information about this. Follow this link to learn about New York State’s business classifications.
3. Apply for a Business License.
This is a fairly simple process and most states will provide a “Business Wizard” or very clear instructions to guide you through the process. Again, a link for my fellow New Yorkers.
4. Open a Bank Account.
You’ll need an official Business License first, but once you have it open a bank account in your business’ name. You’ll be able to get checks, a debit card, and even apply for a business credit card. Any and all business expenses should be paid through this account. It will make tax season infinitely easier. Speaking of tax season…
5. Purchase a Domain Name.
In order to do this you will first have to find a web hosting service. Guys, please don’t use web hosts with flashy TV commercials. They may seem like a good deal at first glance, but soon you’ll be paying twice the price of their competitors. They need to pay for those commercials somehow! Lunar Pages is our personal favorite hosting site, and I highly recommend them. Once you’ve signed up with a hosting service you can purchase a domain name through them. Make sure that your web address appropriately represents your business. And for goodness sake, don’t let your new small business become a joke.
6. Develop your Logo & Website.
Give us a call or send us an email if you need help with this! It’s our specialty! If you’re a tech wizard or just a total DIYer check out WordPress to try designing and developing a website on your own. This is also a good time to think about defining your brand.
7. Print Business Cards.
Include your logo, business name (if it’s not already part of your logo), a brief list of the services you offer, telephone number, email address, and website. Here’s an example of our business card ->
8. Create a Social Media Presence.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are the current branding essentials.
It’s critical for your company to have an active, attractive, and authentic online presence to engage potential customers. At it’s most basic level social media is free advertising for your company. When your social media accounts are used correctly in combination with an impressive website you could be attracting clients that may have never even heard of your business otherwise.
9. Join the Chamber of Commerce.
Google the name of your town or county + Chamber of Commerce. Attend the Chamber’s events and become a member. By becoming a member of your local Chamber of Commerce you’ll be able to network with other business owners that you may have not met otherwise. It’s possible to find potential clients in this group, but more importantly you’ll meet successful local entrepreneurs from whom you can learn an infinite amount of priceless information about running your own small business!
10. Create a Google Ad.
Sign up for an AdWords account and create your first Google Ad! AdWords is user friendly, simple to navigate, and totally works to get the attention of your target market. You can customize everything about your ad, control your keywords, choose who sees your add, make your budget as small or large as you like, and it is absolutely worth the investment.
Complete these 10 steps and you will be well on your way to entrepreneurial success!