There’s no how-to for starting up your business. Sure, you can find tips on how to attract clients or a list of the best online schedulers or even a how-to for setting up your website. But there’s so much to starting up a business–and all the specifics depend on what type of business you are.
But what about all that paperwork? The seemingly endless list of tasks you need to complete to make sure your business is on the up-and-up?
Let me take some of that off your plate. Here, you’ll find a list of some of the biggest to-do’s in your new business start-up. This list may vary depending on the type of business and amount you’re able to invest, so keep that in mind as you’re working through it.
General Business/Legal Forms
Business Name: Do some research on the name you’re thinking of using in your business. Make sure it’s not already under copyright and that its domain is available. If you’re building a solo business without plans to expand into an agency style, consider using your own name.
Employer Identification Number (EIN): Using an EIN protects you from having to give out your Social Security Number to potential contracted clients, which you’ll have to do if you run your business as a sole proprietorship or LLC. Use this form to apply.
DBA Form: Depending on the state where you live and/or do business, you may need to submit a “doing business as.” Check with your state’s Secretary of State office.
As a business in the 21st century, there are certain must-haves for growth. These include:
- Domain name
- Website hosting
- Branded email address
- Google Apps
Time Tracking and Accounting
Tracking your time ensures you’re charging the right amount for your services and that your products are priced fairly. You’ll also want a system for billing in place before that first client signs on.
- Harvest is a great system for tracking your time as well as sending proposals and invoices. It also offers integrations with Stripe, Trello, Asana and QuickBooks Online.
- QuickBooks Online is my go-to choice for bookkeeping. It’s hands-down the most comprehensive.
- Client and contract management is important and is available through numerous systems. Consider finding one right away as it will automate systems for you. Just a few include:
- 17 Hats (my choice for you)
- HelloSign (a great way to send contracts if you don’t use one of the options above)
- Merchant Processing allows you to accept credit cards and payments online–perfect if you want to require up-front deposits from clients (which I recommend). Stripe is my personal favorite due to the ease of use and integrations. But consider the processing fees for each. As of this writing the fees are:
- Stripe: 2.9% + $0.30
- Square: 2.75%
- PayPal: 2.9% + $0.30
- Wave: 2.9% + $0.30
- QBO: 3.2% or 3.4% + $0.25
Workflows and Systems
Having workflows in place allows you to work more efficiently with your clients and on projects within your own business. Some workflows you might want to set up include:
- Onboarding new clients
- Finessing potential clients
- Client workflows for each service provided
- Working with team members
Tools to use to set up your workflows include:
Starting a business isn’t free, and investing in the right places now will save you time and a headache later. Here are some of the places you’ll want to invest some cash:
- Legal – Find an attorney who specializes in your niche to ensure your client contracts are up-to-snuff.
- Insurance – Just because you have your contracts in place doesn’t mean that other legal issues won’t come up. Invest in insurance for your business to protect yourself. This is especially important if you’re an online business!
- Accounting – Business taxes and accounting laws are much different than personal taxes. TurboTax simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Find a good CPA or tax attorney and schedule a consultation to walk you through what you need to do to protect yourself financially.
- Training – Whether it’s learning how to manage your website or figuring out your email provider, you’ll want to invest in some training so you’re making the most of your time and investments.
- Conferences – A conference is a great place to learn something new and gain new insights, but it’s also a good avenue for networking, finding referrals and even meeting others in your industry to refer out work overflow. Getting to know people online is no replacement for real, in-person connecting. Find a conference or two where your ideal audience hangs out and go for it.
- Networking – Find a local networking group or join a membership program in your area. Do some research about the types of people in the group before you go and know that it may take visiting a few times (or visiting a few groups) before you find the perfect fit.
Starting a new business is empowering, but sometimes scary. You’ll put a lot of work into the process, every step of the way. Bookmark this post so you can come back to it.