There will always be the first steps you take when launching something. However, in the last couple of years, I noticed how people tend to skip the most important measures of establishing a new business. Too often, we are caught up in the lure and excited about a business that we forget key components that help us stand on a solid foundation. Here are the seven first things you should become consumed with before you worry about making a dollar or being on Oprah’s holiday list guide.
Your Company Name
Who is your business, and what shall it be called? What is in a name, but everything that holds the balance of your business. Personally, I believe you can rebrand, change colors, and design websites over and over until you’re blue in the face, but your company is just that your name. Most times, people end up forced to change their names for legal reasons. This is one setting up your legal entity is important and doing your trademark research. Take your time coming up with your company name. It must not only resonate with you but those who will come to know your business.
Once you have chosen a name for your small business, it is important to set the legal aspects in motion. Some people will say you’re fine being a sole proprietor and leave it at that. However, I insisted you learn the difference between all the legal entities out there and determine which is best for you. A couple of years ago, Brandi wrote a post on LLC vs. Sole Proprietor that sheds a lot of light on which one is best for your business needs. In addition to that, I suggest going to get your DBA, Doing Business As for your local city filled out. In my current city, it is only $7 per business. Having all this documentation ready will help you set up your business banking account.
When you’re deciding on your company name, please research trademarks. Time and time again, I have seen people get so excited to use a name for their business, and it’s already in use. Not only that, the person who is utilizing that name has trademarks filed in 15 or more categories. This is why the research aspect is so important in business. It can be very tiresome and tedious, but it can save you thousands in legal fees you might have. You can search and apply for trademarks on the USPTO website. When applying for your trademarks, I urge you to hire a lawyer to help you understand the legal jargon and submit the paperwork on your companies behalf.
Business Checking & Savings Account
Separate your business finances from your personal finances as soon as possible. You do not want the two mixings. As stated above, once you have your paperwork in order, you can find a local bank or credit union to work with. I believe you should visit several and determine which one is best for you. Establishing a relationship with your bankers will be crucial when growing and scaling your business. You want both a checking and savings account for your business. You need to save a minimum of 10% of your income to help with taxes, fees, and more that might come up.
Social Media Handles
There are over 300+ social media platforms out there for your business to be on. No, I do not suggest spreading yourself thin and jumping on each one of them. If you want, you can acquire your name on the platforms; that way, others will not utilize your company name. However, I suggest picking 2-4 platforms you personally like and won’t mind engaging others. The engagement part is how you grow your business. Yes, I believe in the automation of social media platforms, but I believe you must engage if you want to build. Find the platforms you feel most comfortable on and go from there.
Purchase your domain, aka your URL name, asap. Personally, I believe it is better to have a .com than a .net or something else. When you’re purchasing your domain name, do not get caught up in the sauce that only “.99 cents” or some other cheap price. Make sure you buy the domain name for a couple of years. Yes, it will be a little more pricey, but these companies do not share with you that you must renew every year, and it can be as much as $15 a year after the first year. Lock in a good rate if possible.
Business Email Address
Yes, I have my company name at gmail.com being utilized for social media signs, newsletters, and more. However, this is not the email addressed used for business. Highly suggest you look into purchasing your email addresses needed at the same time as you buy your domain. Here are some common email addresses you might need for your business;
I prefer having multiple addresses, so the information goes to the right email. This allows me not to confuse the information coming in. You can also utilize hello or info, but I hear those are very common and are often hacked.
One thing to note, researching ahead of time will save you a plethora of time, heartache, and stress later for your business. Too often, we get our mindset on something only to realize it will not work. These seven first all align with each other. In most cases, you can get it all done in one day if you stayed on the ball and focused.