You may be starting a business as a full-time livelihood. Or you may be building a hobby into a business as a way to supplement your income.
Whereever you are starting, and whatever your goals. as soon as you accept money for goods or services, you are in business.
And once you’re in business, you are subject to licensing, regulation, and taxation. You have expenses to cover, and commitments to meet.
There’s a lot to know about starting a business properly, to avoid legal problems, and hopefully to make a profit. The purpose of this article is to provide some resources you can use to get started on the right foot.
The author is not an accountant or a lawyer, and cannot provide legal or financial advice. However, the resources provided here can help you learn the basics, and save you time and money when you actually consult a lawyer or accountant.
- Visit SCORE (score.org), an organization of retired business people who advise and help entrepreneurs and small businesses. They have a lot of great information and resources on their website. They also have offices in most large cities, where you can get in-person advice. Note that SCORE is partially funded through the US Small Business Administration (SBA). Your tax dollars are at work, so take advantage.
- The SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION also operates its own website with useful info and resources for small businesses, atsba.gov
- Visit you local library. Libraries are often overlooked in the age of the Internet, but they have lots of information on starting a business, and especially local regulations. Ask to see the REFERENCE LIBRARIAN.
- Check your local COMMUNITY COLLEGES; they often have short courses on starting a business. This may seem like a big delay when you are anxious to get your business started, but some solid instruction in the basics of running a business can make the difference between success and failure. You’ll learn a lot, and also get a chance to network with other new business owners.
- If you need to trademark a product name, you’ll probably need professional help. To understand the basics for yourself, read theNOLO PRESS book Trademark: Legal Care for Your Business & Product Name.
- Another useful site with lots of great information is powerhomebiz.com
- You may decide to form a legal “business entity” such as a corporation, LLC, or Partnership for your business. Legal entities can provide tax benefits and liability protection. Before you talk to a lawyer, we recommend learning the basics by reading Incorporate Your Business: A Legal Guide to Forming a Corporation in Your State (book with CD-Rom)
- Consider joining your local CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. It’s a good way to network with other business owners and talk about common problems. And many chamber members prefer to patronize other member businesses, so it’s a good way to gain new customers.
Finally, it’s very important for most businesses to have a professional website, and to understand Internet marketing. Studies show that over two-third of consumers in the US now rely on the Internet as their first source of information when looking for local products and services.
For professional graphic design, website development, and Internet marketing, contact LunaGraphica Inc.