Congratulations! You’ve come up with a great idea for a new company. That’s half the work in starting a business. The other half is the hard work and dedication it takes to actually run it. And while you have a list a mile long that you need to take care of before you can actually open your doors, don’t overlook these tasks that many entrepreneurs forget about. Taking care of them up front will make your business operate that much more smoothly in the long run.
1. Get an EIN
Having an employment identification number will make it easier when you’re ready to start hiring. Also known as a federal tax identification number, you’re required to have one if you set up your business as a corporation, Limited Liability Company or a partnership. You’ll need it to open a bank account or hire employees.
2. Set Up a Tax Payments Calendar
It’s easy to lose track of deadlines when it comes to paying business taxes for the first time, so keeping a calendar of due dates and estimated taxes due can help keep you straight. Don’t forget to include:
- state tax
- federal tax
- payroll tax
- sales tax
Leave it to the IRS to have an entire page dedicated to tax calendars you can print or use online.
3. Set up a Business Bank Account
It’s important to keep your business finances separate from your personal accounts, so having a business bank account will serve that purpose. You’ll appear more professional if you write checks from your business versus your personal account, and you will be able to accept payments in your business name.
4. Apply for a Business Credit Card
Now, I’m certainly not advocating overusing a credit card to start your business, but having a business credit card can be helpful, and it will keep you from maxing out your personal credit. You can build your credit by charging and paying your expenses off on time, which can help you if and when you want to take out a business loan.
5. Get a DUNS number
Having a DUNS number can help you establish your business creditworthiness. They’re free on the Dun & Bradstreet website, and once you have one for your business, you’ll never need to apply for another. You may be asked for this number when applying for a business loan.
6. Invest in Smart Accounting Software
Don’t mess with spreadsheets: accounting software for small businesses is absolutely affordable, and absolutely a must. Good software will help you track how your business is doing as you go. Don’t wait until your “digital books” are a mess: stay updated on your expenses and income as you go so you have a better sense of where your business stands.
7. Get Help
Don’t try to go it alone. Having administrative help will help you focus on the areas you need to, such as sales and business development. There’s always the temptation to try to save money, but not investing in help — even part-time — can stunt your growth if you try to handle all the clerical work yourself.
8. Get a Marketing Plan
Speaking of areas where small business owners try to skimp to save money: marketing is a big one. Don’t assume you can get by without it, because you can’t. That’s not to say you have to have deep pockets to get great results; much can be done on a shoestring budget, so start there and grow your budget as your revenues roll in.
Don’t stress creating a complex document. Instead, aim for a one-pager. Small Business Trends has a great one-page marketing plan template you can start with.
9. Choose a Business Structure
So many businesses don’t start out as anything but sole proprietorships, which may be fine. But it’s better to decide to incorporate or file as an LLC now rather than waiting until later. You’ll protect your personal assets if you set up a separate business entity.
10. Have a Business Plan
You don’t need to have a stuffy tome for a business plan. Instead, focus on creating a short, to-the-point document you can easily access and change as needed. Having a general idea of where you want to take your business will help you see the big picture as you move forward.