By Holly Reisem Hanna
You’ve done your research, found your niche, written your business plan, and now you’re ready to start executing your work-at-home dream.
But where do you start?
Here are some simple steps all entrepreneurs must take before launching their business.
1. First, you will need to choose a business structure.
Sole Proprietor, Partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), S Corporation, or Corporation. Each structure has its pros and cons, meeting with a lawyer or an accountant can help you to determine which structure best suits your personal needs.
2. Apply for an Employee Identification Number (EIN).
Sole proprietors don’t need an EIN, but if you want to set up a separate bank account for your business, you will need to apply for one. Applying is easy, and it's free, just go to this IRS link.
3. Check zoning laws.
Before you start your home-based business, you will need to check the zoning ordinances in your area. Check with your city or county government; some residential zoning laws forbid setting up a home-based business.
4. Name your business.
If your company name is something other than your own name, you will need to apply for a DBA – Doing Business As. You will need to do some research to make sure that someone else hasn’t already taken that name. To apply for your DBA, Google your county clerk’s office and fill out the appropriate paperwork.
Not sure what to name your business? This post has some useful tips for choosing a business name.
5. Apply for any applicable licenses or permits.
Some occupations like realtors and electricians require state certifications and or license.
6. Apply for sales tax permits.
Determine if you need to charge sales tax on your product or service by calling or emailing your States Comptroller’s Office. If it is determined that you need to charge sales tax, they can direct you to the appropriate forms to fill out.
7. Set up a business checking and savings account.
Keeping your business finances separate from your personal finances is an easy way to stay organized in your business. And depending on which business structure you choose, it may be a necessity. Shop around for banks that don’t charge service fees. Another area to consider is methods of payment. If you're going to accept credit cards, you will need to apply for third-party payment processing account. Not sure of your options? Check out this post for payment processing platforms.
8. Home office.
Designate a space in your home for your office. Set up a second phone line (if needed), a printer and scanner, and computer hookup. Don't forget about organization too. You'll need to have file folders for invoices, receipts, contracts, documents, and more. For more tips on setting up your workspace, see this article.
9. Post office box.
If you choose to market your business via email marketing, you will need to include an address on your mailings. If you want to keep your home address private, then you should set up a post office box for this reason. You may also choose to list your P.O. box on items like direct mailings, invoices, and company letterhead.
10. Set up your website.
To be competitive as a home business owner, you need to have a website. Having an online presence helps you attract more clients; it gives you a place to showcase your work, list your services, and testimonials, and it makes you look more professional. Don’t worry, setting up a website is easy and affordable. This post has step-by-step instructions that will have you up and running in no time — and it’s very affordable!
Remember to save money before starting your new home-based business, not only does it take money to set up and run your business, but you may not see any profits for months or even years.
Final note. These are just some of the steps that aspiring entrepreneurs need to take, there may be other aspects for your specific business type that you need to consider. When in doubt consult with an attorney, an accountant, and a business consultant to be that you have all of your bases covered.
Ready to move on to the next step? Here are some articles on how to get your first client.
What questions do you have about setting up your home-based business?