Starting a business? Here’s your to-do list

There is an almost endless list of things to do when you start a new business. Here is a brief list of some of the most important ones:

*Write a business plan.

*Consider location issues.

*Decide on the legal form of entity for the business.

*Get necessary licenses.

*Register with tax authorities.

*Involve your advisors.

Business plan. Your business plan will be useful to you and to lenders. It should present who will own the business and what the legal entity will be. It should identify your qualifications to run this type of business. You should identity your market, the products or services you will sell, and how you intend to advertise to prospective customers. The business plan should spell out the funds needed for start-up and the source of those funds. The plan should contain projected financial statements for the first couple of years. It should also address any insurance requirements and possible lease agreements. The business plan should be lengthy enough to cover the necessary items but brief enough to serve as an operating guide. It should be referred to on a regular basis and adjusted as needed.

Location. Where you locate may be one of your most important decisions. If your business will be online sales, you could operate out of your garage. But if you intend for customers to visit your establishment, it must be located in suitable surroundings. Does the general area tie into your product/service line? Is access or parking an issue? Do the other businesses in the area compliment yours; do they have similar clientele?

Legal form. Under what legal form of business do you want to operate? Should you incorporate, operate as an LLC, a partnership, or sole proprietorship? It is imperative that you discuss these options with your accountant and attorney early in the business planning stage. There are very valid tax and non-tax reasons for selecting a given entity.

Licenses. Your accountant and attorney can also assist you with applying for the necessary permits and licenses. This should be done early on to avoid possible delays.

Taxes. Your accountant will see that you have the proper registration with taxing and filing authorities such as the IRS, the state agencies for tax filings, and worker’s insurance if you have employees.

Advisors. You should run your business ideas past your business advisors before you make sizable financial commitments. Who are your advisors? You will have an ongoing need for a banker, an insurance agent, an attorney, and an accountant. You will benefit by involving them early and frequently.

If you have questions about operating your business, please contact us. We are here to assist you.

David Bradsher, CPA