Tips for Starting a Small Business
Meet guest blogger Jose Bautista. Jose is an attorney with Bautista Allen LLC, Kansas City personal injury attorneys that specializes in injury cases, employment discrimination, civil rights and more. You can follow Jose and Bautista Allen LLC on its Google Plus page.
Starting a business is an exhilarating feeling—and a daunting task. So what are the critical steps to getting it off the ground?
Whether you have chosen to practice law, accounting, medicine, web design or open up a retail clothing shop, here are a few suggestions for new startups.
Organize your business
Should you incorporate, form an L.L.C. (limited liability corporation) or explore another form of business organization?
Websites including AccessKansas.org and sos.mo.gov offer the details and advantages/disadvantages of various business formations so that you can determine which is best for your small business needs. (You can also download this chart comparing the chart comparing the forms of business comparison). In addition, the cost is relatively low, between $50 and $170.
I recommend an L.L.C. in most situations, as you enjoy the liability protection associated with incorporating, along with the tax benefits of a partnership.
Reconsider office space
Rent or lease payments will likely be one of your biggest expenses during the initial phase of getting your small business up and running.
Never consider committing to a lease for longer than two years, and avoid taking on a longer lease term in exchange for property improvements. Some companies such as Office Port in the Crossroads District offer month-to-month leases.
Depending on your services/industry, working from home may be a viable option. If you do choose to work from a home-based office, get a P.O. Box so that you can maintain a professional appearance.
Launch a website
Today, a huge percentage of consumers use their computers and mobile devices to search for products and services on the Internet. A website can increase targeted traffic and deliver more customers and more sales.
While there are tools that make it easy to develop a website such as WordPress or Wix, unless you are designing your website only for existing customers it would be a better idea to have a professional who is knowledgeable in search engine optimization to develop your website, so that potential new customers can find you online.
Invest in the tools of the trade
For most small business owners, a copier, telephone, email and printer are essential. Depending on your needs, you may want to invest in a scanner and/or fax machine as well. A smartphone, landline and professional email address are a must. To maintain a professional appearance and ensure your e-mails get to their destination, avoid free e-mail services such as Hotmail and Gmail.
Fax machines have nearly gone the way of the dinosaur, given that today it's easier to scan a document, then convert it and send via e-mail. For about $100 per month, you can lease a combination scanner/copier/printer. This is essential unless you have the time and budget to run to Kinko's multiple times per day.
Secure a line of credit
Securing a small business loan isn't easy given today's economic issues, and startups have a particularly difficult time because profitability is one of the most significant factors for lenders. If you do have solid credit, a strong business plan and the personal resources to collateralize a loan, you may be able to secure a bank loan. Otherwise, consider credit unions and smaller community banks. Many small business startups turn to credit cards, family and friends to finance their companies. Determine which is the best solution for your situation.
Once you have formed your small business and are on the ground running, concentrate on keeping employees and co-workers happy. It really doesn't take much, and a relaxed working environment is far more productive than one that is stressful!
Image by Flicker user Jack and Lindsay.