Whats Next?

While starting a business is exciting sometimes challenging, you have to be ready to maintain that business for years to come. Luckily, there are a variety of resources across the country that are dedicated to helping small businesses like yours grow. We’ve curated a list of the best public and private resources in each state so that you can find the support that you need.

5. Take Care of All the Legal Tasks

Like a brick-and-mortar business, you will need to file all the appropriate business-formation documents and other paperwork to ensure your new business has a solid legal foundation. This includes:

  • Registering your business with the appropriate government authorities
  • Obtaining all the required permits and licenses
  • Meeting all federal and state tax requirements, such as applying for state and federal tax ID numbers

Since these requirements vary on a state-by-state basis and the nature of your business, it’s important to do your research so you meet any applicable requirements. Again, it’s often helpful to consult with an attorney with experience in business startups in your particular industry to make certain you’re on the right track.

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Choose a Business Address

You can use your home address for your business, but you can also list another address if you do not want your home address to become public information. Whatever you do, make sure to choose an address where you can send and receive official correspondences, such as tax returns.

9. Check local regulations and requirements

Local county and municipal governments may have their own requirements for new businesses, and they may also require additional permits and licenses. Be sure to check your local county or city’s website to ensure you are familiar with local ordinances, as well as any additional requirements they may have for opening a new business.

6. Fund the Business

There are various ways to fund a new business, including Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, short- term loans, credit cards, crowdfunding, and others. Florida’s Small Business Development Center provides helpful resources and offers free financial advising for new entrepreneurs regarding funding options. The bank where the businesses checking account will be housed is also a good source for lending options.

6. Pick a Business Location and Check Zoning Laws

You’ll need to pick a location for your business and check local zoning regulations. Consider the needs of your customers, and if you have the kind of business that could benefit from foot or highway traffic. Before you commit to a location, take time to calculate the costs of running your business in the desired spot, including rent and utilities. You can refer back to your business plan to evaluate whether you can afford your desired location during your company’s early months.

It is important to verify that the spot is zoned for your type of business. You might find zoning regulations for your town or city by reviewing your local ordinances and contacting your town’s zoning or planning department. Read our article for more tips on picking a location.

One alternative to opening your business at a new location is running your company out of your home. If you decide to run a home-based business, again check your local zoning laws. In addition, review your lease (if you rent your home) and homeowners association rules (if applicable), either of which might ban some or all home businesses.

2. Develop a Business Plan

Once you know your idea is feasible, it’s time to put together a comprehensive business plan. Even if you don’t plan on obtaining funding for your business, at least not initially, having a business plan is valuable because it lets you spot any potential bumps down the road and plan for future growth and profitability.

The work you did in step one gives you a good base from which to develop your business plan, and multiple resources are available online to help you put together the core elements of a solid plan.

An effective plan will help you to identify your market further, clarify your objectives, provide a marketing roadmap, and assist you in making the kinds of decisions that may mean the difference between success and failure.

2. Have a website with current information

As shoppers are increasingly moving toward online research before making purchases, it’s essential to have a small business website. Incorporating the basics – product information, hours, directions, and means of contact – communicate your legitimacy to your visitors.

Consumers visit websites looking for information, and if your website is lacking key business information – or even worse, has outdated information – they’re going to go elsewhere. Just having a website isn’t enough, anymore, website visitors want the most up-to-date and relevant content, so regularly updating your website is a must. It indicates that you’re active online, care about your products and services, and understand how visitors are using your site to inform their purchase decisions.

Regularly check your website content to ensure your new business is making the first impression you want by incorporating these key elements.

2. Decide on a Legal Structure

The most common legal structures for a small business are:

  • sole proprietorship
  • partnership
  • limited liability company (LLC), and
  • corporation

There also are special versions of some of these structures, such as limited partnerships and S corporations. You’ll want to consider which business entity structure offers the type of liability protection you want and the best tax, financing, and financial benefits for you and your business. Read our article for information on how to choose the best ownership structure for your business.

Tip off the tax man

Even if you aren't making any money — which many business owners do not, at least as first — "don't think you can ignore the taxes," Steffen said.

When it comes to income taxes, what you will have to pay varies by state but in every case you must report your business income and losses on Schedule C of your federal tax return.

Even with income as little as $1,000, for example, you can still deduct expenses like mileage or other travel costs, cell phone use and your home office to offset what your business brings in, Steffen said.

If you don't have any expenses, make a tax-deductible contribution to a Simplified Employee Pension account, or SEP IRA, Steffen advised. Those who are self-employed can contribute up to 25% of their net earnings or a maximum contribution of up to $56,000 in 2019.

In addition, one of the new perks of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is the introduction of the qualified business income deduction, which went into effect last year. Anyone who files Schedule C for profit or loss from a business might qualify.

This tax break allows owners of "pass-through" entities, including sole proprietorships, S-corporations and partnerships, to deduct up to 20% of their qualified business income (although figuring out exactly who qualifies has been thorny).

Register With Online Services

To give your business an online presence, you should consider opening social media accounts and Google accounts as well as registering with relevant review sites such as Yelp and Yellowpages.

If you need more information about how to make your business legit, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.

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