First Steps In Starting A Business

first steps

I recommend that before you start a business, you do a few important first steps.

Just a quick side note. This isn’t necessarily the order to do things. This was the order I thought of it when I was writing it down.  You’ll figure out what needs to be done for your state and situation.

And before I go further, let me state that you may want to get some good professional advice on business entities. You will want to figure out what’s best for your situation right now and as your business grows.

Personally, my first business was an S-Corporation and a big pain in the butt when it came to paperwork. So when I reincorporated for my second business, I did LLC.  It’s not nearly as bad with the taxes. It still costs me $800/year to the state of California, but there’s nothing I can do about that right now. (Except make so much money that I don’t care.)

So, do some research and put together an action plan with your steps. Here’s my suggested steps that you include.

Phone Number

You will probably not want everyone to have your personal phone number. There are three things you can do.

Google Voice

You can sign up with Google Voice and have a separate phone number that will allow you to use their app to place and receive calls with that number. You can also receive faxes.

One feature I love is that if someone leave you voicemail, you get an email with an attempt at speech-to-text. It has gotten a lot better over the years.

Another positive is that if you outsource part of your business, other people can retrieve the messages and use the number to call customers.

The downside is that some places will reject a Google Voice number as not a real number. I ran into this when I signed up with hirewriters.com

Separate Cellphone

You may want to get a separate cellphone with a different number just for business calls. This can be great at first since you can hide the phone when it’s not your business hours.

The downside is that if you outsource, you will have to figure out how to pass over the phone.

Virtual Phone System

There are programs out there that you can access on the internet or with an app that will act like a business phone system. I use RingCentral.com so I can have a toll-free number. It costs me about $250/year. I’ve used it to send faxes as well. There’s a nice app that allows me to receive calls.

I can set up multiple extensions and voice mails. I can forward calls to cell phones.

Others highly recommend Grasshopper.com.

Whatever you choose, find one that is affordable. Google Voice is free and could be a good way to start. Some cell phone packages have a certain number of phone lines free. That could be a good way to start and then transition to a virtual phone system. Spend time thinking about it.

I made the mistake of using a second home line for my first business. I cancelled it years ago but still get phone calls. And I wish I hadn’t used my personal cell phone number for my business.  Maybe I should get another line for my personal.

P.O. Box

I wish I’d done this sooner. You want to keep your business separate from your home. You can get a P.O. Box from your local post office. They’re reasonably priced. I think I spend about $150/year.

I’m thinking of switching over to The UPS Store. They used to be called Mailboxes, Etc.. There’s one half a mile down the road. One thing that’s nice is that it’s a street address.

Some agencies won’t accept registering to businesses with only P.O. boxes. And if you want something shipped UPS or FedEx, they don’t deliver to P.O. boxes either. It is more expensive. But then you look like you have an established business address.

Name Research

At some point, you may want to have a separate business. I chose Lodestone. Funny story. I originally was thinking “keystone” since I wanted to be the important part of the arch that holds things together. But I goofed and came up with lodestone. That turned out well since lodestone is used in compasses.

But do spend some time thinking. Originally, I was a software programmer for hire. I wanted to name my business Cobbler Systems. Dear hubby put the kibosh on that. I thought a cobbler is a skilled artisan.  He said no one wants systems that are cobbled together.

So come up with a few names that are meaningful to you and then run it past someone who will be honest with you.

Business Checking Account

Once you have a business name, you should set up a business checking account. You can update it as you update your business. For example, you may want to start out as a sole proprietor and then become an LLC.

This ensures that you’re using only business funds for business and not commingling personal funds. The Tax People frown upon that.

Website/Domain

Once you have a business name, look at what domains are available. Then you can get creative. For my LLC, I used a hyphen. All the people say that’s a big no-no these days.  (lodestone-cs.com isn’t that bad) So what I did do was also register lcs2.com so I had a smaller domain if I had to read it out over the phone.

It’s easy to redirect email from one domain to the other.

But if you see what domains are available, that may impact what you name the business.

PayPal Account

It helps to have a business PayPal account. That allows you to let your clients pay with credit cards. Yes, it’s not the cheapest way possible, but it is very convenient.

You can add in Buy Now buttons from PayPal on your website if you want to directly sell your material.

And I got the PayPal debit card. I use that for when I buy items on AliExpress. I’ll go into that in more detail in the next post. There’s a goldmine with using AliExpress, drop shipping and Facebook ads.

But for now, I’ve got to get back to work.

Leave your questions and comments. I appreciate you.

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