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How to Start a Small Business

Starting a small business will dominate your time, energy, cash supply, and sleep, so conduct your due diligence and be sure you're cut out for it.


  • Step 1: Name the business and secure a domain registration. Research any permits you may need. Even with a home business, there are laws with which you will need to be familiar.
  • TIP: Register a business name through the Secretary of State. Search the federal trademark register through the United States Patent and Trademark office to find out if the name is available.
  • Step 2: Retain a Certified Public Accountant who can help you navigate tax requirements and set up bookkeeping protocol. Most small business problems can be traced back to lax bookkeeping and failure to pay taxes. Get your business off the ground and be your own boss.
  • FACT: As of 2010, start-up costs for home-based businesses averaged $10,000.
  • Step 3: Secure funding. Explain your operation and logistics to potential investors. Have answers for every possible question or investors will be reluctant to trust your projections and your ability to execute.
  • TIP: Identify key advantages of your service or product and investigate licensing and copyright issues before sharing ideas with others.
  • Step 4: Research and study good management practices and hone your leadership and decision-making skills. Your livelihood may be riding on your ability to pull this off.
  • TIP: Find a Small Business Development Center near you and seek counseling through the Service Corps Of Retired Executives (SCORE), which can guide small business start-ups.
  • Step 5: Create a business plan with help from a professional. Include a detailed market analysis, marketing and distribution plans, descriptions of the type of personnel you anticipate hiring, and an exit strategy. Make it concise, professional, simple, and direct.
  • Step 6: Choose a business structure -- sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, or corporation. Have an attorney help with the application process and other legal matters to be sure you don't miss anything.
  • Step 7: Ask yourself what kind of business would best suit your life goals before deciding on a business model. You will be focused and can thrive if you love what you do.

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