You have a business idea, you’ve tested it out a bit and done some market research, you have a business name and you are ready to get started. Here are some things to consider as you start a business:
1. Structure - Check with both your accountant and a lawyer about the best way to structure your business (sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation).
2. Bookkeeping - Hire a bookkeeper or accountant to set up your company’s books.
3. Intellectual Property - Turn to a lawyer to help define and protect copyrights and trademarks, including your company name.
4. Equipment - Once your bookkeeper or accountant has set up your books, make key equipment purchases keeping your business expenses separate from your personal ones. You probably want to have at least a computer and a color printer.
5. Telecommunications - Many new entrepreneurs obtain a cell phone for their business communications instead of a land line. Or look into services that provide you with a single number to reach you wherever you might be - such as Ureach.com.
6. Internet - Don’t bother with dialup unless you plan on doing nothing online other than the occasional e-mail. Go for a bundled package of services from your cable or phone company for cable modem or DSL.
7. Collateral - If you aren’t a designer, you’ll save yourself time and even money in the long run by hiring a graphic designer to prepare your print collateral material, but don’t go overboard with paper. Business cards are essentials but be strategic about letterhead, 3-fold brochures, etc. Letterhead, for example, can be printed on a good color printer using a template file produced by your designer.
8. Web Site - You don’t need to pull out all the stops with your Web site if you are an offline company looking to establish a professional presence online. But if you are a predominantly online business, make sure you invest in your site.
9. Advisors - If you incorporate, you’ll need to establish a Board of Directors. But even if you don’t, remember to put together an advisory board to be your sounding board and network of support.
10. Space - Don’t blow the bank on a big office space if you don’t even have clients. Carve at a space at home and for important meetings, look into local businesses that rent office space by the hour or day or borrow a meeting room from a friend or colleague.