[This article was written by Anica Oaks.]
Starting your own business opens an exciting chapter of your life to creativity and opportunity. Some people start a company because they need an income, but others leave good-paying jobs for companies in order to become their own boss. Either way, you should be aware of some important things before launching your first startup.
You will need to file for a Certificate of Incorporation with the state commerce department and decide what type of business structure you want to apply for. The Federal Trade Commission will assign a company registration number, or CRN. As an individual, you may want to register your company as a sole proprietorship or as a limited liability corporation. There are other types of company structures you can establish, so review each type carefully to decide which best fits your business. Consider attending a local entrepreneur summit to learn the basic startup tasks of operating your own company.
Taxes and Insurance
You will also need a business tax ID number, which will be assigned when you file the articles of incorporation. Keep your business taxes and all financial dealings separate from your personal finances, as mixing the two could lead to problems with your tax filings and your personal expenses. Your startup should have a protective insurance policy to cover things like theft, property damage, equipment failure in certain cases, product liability, and employee complaints. While these things may never happen, it is important to have insurance to cover losses that may occur. Again, the business insurance policy should be separate from any personal policies you own.
You can learn quite a bit from meeting with a business attorney who can advise you on matters of incorporation, taxes, customer complaints, and employee discrimination so you can avoid problems. You might also need information about property zoning and advertising restrictions in certain cases. It is helpful to have an attorney available for occasional questions or advice when needed. This might be someone you can meet through a civic business group or chamber of commerce if you do not already know a business liability attorney.
Take good care of your customers by providing courteous, friendly service even when someone calls with a complaint. Try to resolve problems quickly from a win-win perspective if possible. Keep customers up-to-date with new products and services as well as policy changes that you may develop. The old adage of a successful business being one “where the customer comes first” still holds true today.
You may already be familiar with how to start a business. But if not, these tips may come in handy to give you a strong start while avoiding potential problems.
Freelance writer and web enthusiast