We decided to write “How To Start a Business” to help fellow entrepreneurs, mompreneurs, and people like ourselves. Whether you’re just fantasizing about the idea or looking to get started.
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But how?! Well, my friends; it starts with, yes you guessed it, an IDEA! Going from idea to reality can be really scary and I mean terrifying! You start questioning and asking yourself “what if?” What if it fails? Becomes too overwhelming? Those questions are all good and all, but where do they get you? Nowhere!
So shove them out of your head right now and tell yourself I CAN! If we can do it, so can you. The only thing stopping you is YOU! Yes it will be hard and you’ll probably put in a ton of hours. Did I mention very little sleeping? I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy. Because it’s not. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of research.
Gather your resources, your ideas, and your documents and do your research!
There are tons of avenues out there online for you to make sure you have the right documents and follow the acceptable steps. Like filing paperwork! Yep, there’s paperwork and there could be more or less depending on what state you live in! Doing your homework ahead of time will help ensure that your idea will come to fruition. Trust me! Even if your research only takes you an hour. You will be glad you did it!
So how the heck did we start our business? Like I said before, it started with an idea.
I had been looking on Pinterest and came across posts for making side money as a stay at home mom. Become a blogger, do transcriptions, complete surveys, become a virtual assistant! Of course, all the articles pointed me to websites they had personally used or joined. Why not I thought? Virtual assistant… but what is a virtual assistant? I did my homework and it seemed right up my ally. From there I contacted my sister and told her about my fabulous idea. I mean, why not?! We both love administrative work.
“I could be your virtual assistant to your virtual assisting!” My sister said that since she had basically been my own virtual assistant for years! Of course, I said, no way silly! We’re partners. From there we dug deeper. How do we become official? What’s our name? Our logo? Colors? Tagline? So many questions. As we began to answer them, it became clear that this was meant to be. So to save you time and help you get from idea to business we’ve put together the following checklist for you!
This is what you will need to start your business:
Write down your idea!
In addition to writing down your business idea, write down everything you think of relating to your business. It’ll help you in the long run. The worst thing is forgetting that awesome idea you had!
Find a name.
Will you call your business after yourself, a family name or something fun? (Click here to see tips on picking a business name) Remember that your name is the face of your business. You want it to look and sound professional.
Research your name.
Google your proposed business name and make sure that it doesn’t already exist!
Research what kind of business you want to be.
There’s many to choose from! For example, will you be a sole proprietor or a limited liability company? There are pros and cons to each one so make sure you find the one that fits you best. Also make sure to note that depending on what type you want to be, there may be certain documents that you are going to need to have. Such as: If your an LLC, you will need to have an LLC agreement.
Write a business plan.
This will help you keep on track and super organized. Who’s your target audience? What services will you provide? What are your goals? Profit and loss expectations? Knowing what direction you want to take your business in will help you be successful. If you plan on getting a business loan, you’re going to need to present this document.
File with your Secretary of State and IRS.
This step is a must and don’t be surprised if it’ll cost you a little bit of money. They will provide your certificate of formation and UBI number. The application will ask for your name, business address, type of business (partnership, LLC, etc) are there any members or executives? You will need your UBI number and certificate to apply for a business license and open a bank account (if you want to keep it separate from your personal finances). Be patient! This will take a few days and possibly up to a week or so.
Get an EIN number!
This is your tax ID number. You will use it for tax purposes and official business stuff!
Depending on your needs and expenses, you’re going to need some money. Some options are to get a bank loan, borrow from family or friend and apply for aid (grants). Or maybe you have no expenses and are working out of your home. Fabulous! The fewer expenses the better!
Choose a domain name and find a hosting site.
This will be your business website and the company that hosts it! Meaning they have a computer on 24-7 somewhere that keeps your site up and running. We chose to go with Greengeeks! Not only are they super affordable but they offer you a ton of stuff like security and back up included in your hosting price! Their customer service is outstanding and always available. They’re also great if you’re into green and clean because they are too! If that’s not your jam, then you can check out our awesome list of hosting sites here.
Set up your website.
This will be the face of who your company is and what you offer. Make sure it’s clean and to the point. There are many website platforms to choose from too! Check out our list of options here.
Set up a business bank account.
Once you get your UBI number and EIN number you can set up a bank account for your business! Along with those numbers, you will get a certificate of formation. This will allow you to keep your business expenses and personal expenses separate. You’re going to need to keep track of those expenses for tax season!
Look into accounting software.
You’re going to need to keep track of your expenses and income for the duration of your time in business. You want to avoid an audit and not face hefty fees with the IRS. There are free options such as Wave accounting if you’re strapped for cash. We personally use Quickbooks Online. If you are interested we have a list of options.
Set up social media accounts.
You’ve got your personal accounts, but if you don’t want your face and personal life sailing across the interweb then make some business accounts! It’s an easy way to get your business/name out into the world. Don’t know how to use some or need help? Check out youtube videos on “how to” or join groups on Facebook for peer ideas and support.
Consult with an accountant.
This is extremely important if you can do it. Accountants will give you advice on what taxes and how much to set aside and when to pay them. Of course, they do a lot more than that, but getting their input is valuable. Just make sure you choose someone who really knows their stuff and can tailor it to your specific needs.
Draft Contracts and other important business documents.
Depending on what services your offering you’re going to need to protect yourself. Make contractor-client contracts, non-disclosure agreements, etc. There are tons of free resources out there if you cannot afford a lawyer to help compose them. When putting them together make sure to at least have them checked out first for errors.
Get important documents notarized.
Make them official and binding! Again protect yourself and your company.
Have a glass of wine.
You did it! Pat yourself on the back. Completing all of those steps took some seriously hard work. Is the hard work over? Sadly no. I am a firm believer in that you get what you put into it. Will there be frustrations and points of disappointment? Of course! But we all have to go through them. Its a constant wheel of success, learning, and failure. We must have one to have the other. Hopefully, after reading this, you feel one thousand times more confident that you can start your own business. Make sure to subscribe to our monthly newsletter to get your free downloadable checklist!! Don’t miss a step and stay on track to launch YOUR business.
-The VaRue Team