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How to Start a Startup: A Business Checklist

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Do you have a great idea for a business? So do many other people, but not every great idea becomes a viable business. Building a solid foundation for your company is a great way to make your startup stand apart from all the others. Our Redwood City business attorney has some ideas that may help. Here’s a business checklist to help get your startup off to a strong start.

1. Write a Business Plan –

This may not seem like the most necessary step, but it will put you on the track to success. While you are building this plan, you will be forced to ask important questions like: What does my company do? How will my services benefit my customers? What is my corporate goal? Answering these questions can give your company guidance during the difficult startup phase, and can be revisited in the future.

2. Determine How Your Company Will Make Money –

Will people pay for the products or services you plan to provide? Will these customers pay enough for you to not only break-even but also make a profit? Will you need financing to cover your startup costs? Is advertisement a revenue source?  These are big questions that need solid answers. Do the math now, before you are fully committed with a storefront and employees.

3. Name Your Business –

You want a business name that no one else has. Do your due diligence and run several internet searches. You can also use corporate name finder tools  or use the business entities search tool on the California Secretary of State website. Remember, you didn’t spend all that time coming up with a name your customers find catchy just to learn someone else thought of it first and be told two weeks later to shut down because you can’t use the name you selected with a “cease-and-desist letter”.

4. Sell Your Family on the Idea –

If you can’t sell the idea to your family and friends, how are you going to sell it to perfect strangers? This does not mean that you actually sell your products/services to your family members, but find out if they think it’s a good idea. If they like your business plan, they may have connections that can help get your idea off the ground.  Use and appreciate these resources to solidify how you move forward.

5. Register Your Domain –

You finally figured out that unique business name that pops, but have you secured the domain for that company name? The website is as ubiquitous to modern companies as the business card. You are going to need one if you want to be considered credible. Get your domain, set up a website, and make some social media accounts for your business too. This is a common step that many companies forget and regret later down the road.

6. Incorporate and Set Up the Company’s Legal Structure –

Running your business out of your personal pocketbook is a dangerous prospect. You need to protect your personal financial standing from your business dealings and incorporating can help you do this. The four major choices for setting up a legal structure for your business are: Sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation. Consulting a good lawyer can help you figure out which structure is right for your startup, your personal finances, and (possible) funding as you and your company grow.

7. Get Your EIN –

If you are planning to open a bank account for your business or process a payroll for your employees, you’ll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Getting one from the IRS is free, and it will help business owners avoid using their Social Security number.  Remember, you may be the heart of your business, but you are not the same thing as your business.

8. Get the Right Business License –

Depending on what industry your business operates in, you may need permits and licenses in order to operate. State, federal, and local agencies often oversee businesses such as contractors, real estate developers, security companies and even cosmetologists. Some cities also have specific requirements when it comes to licensing. This is another instance where a business attorney could help you sort through the red tape.

9. Set Up Shop –

Sorting out where you are going to sell your wares is critical to the operations of your business. Find a location that fits the needs of the business you plan to undertake. Does foot traffic and accessibility play a role in your business or does an internet storefront mean you’ll be operating out of a warehouse? Figure out these details and see what’s available on the market. If you have to lease or buy commercial space, a business attorney such as Drew Winghart can help you hammer out the details of the real estate agreement.

10. Hire a Redwood City Business Attorney –

Business formation is not easy, but it is also quite obtainable. You need to be free to develop your business instead of being mired down by running it. To accomplish this task, you are going to need help. Drew Winghart is the help your new business needs. With years of experience handling the legal problems businesses face, he knows what it takes to build a solid business from the ground up. If you would like to learn more about the business counseling services of Winghart Law Group, Inc., call us at (650)332-2994 for a free 30-minute consultation.

Check back with us later this month when we will discuss the next important step in the formation of your new start up—organization!

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