In Part 1 of our comprehensive guide, we gave you the lowdown on preliminary new biz stuff.
Just to recap, it was researching, creating a business plan, deciding on your structure, figuring out your financial sitch, and finding the perfect name.
Now, we’ll show you how to smash the final steps 👊🏽💥
We cover everything from legally registering your business and getting the proper paperwork and systems in order to promoting the h*** outta your company, hiring on a team, and much, much more.
Yo, this is the grand finale 🎆
Let’s finish this comprehensive guide to the first year of your new small business so you can totally rock it from here on, shall we?
So, you have your name, and you wanna make it Beyonce official.
We’d love it if it’d be as simple as just putting a ring on it 💍 But this is the government, and things aren’t that easy (or fun) 🙄
We’re breaking this section into the three steps you need to know to register a business name. Have your business structure handy for this section, too.
Daylight’s a wasting. Let’s get going!
Remember Ash Smith, the web developer, from Part 1 of our guide? We’re gonna drop him in real quick here.
Imagine he spent many nights tossing and turning about whether he should name his company Websites by Ash or Ash Develops.
In the end, he finally settled for Websites by Ash. It’s simple, easy to remember, unique, and reflects his future business plans.
So he thinks 💭 My work is done. The name is mine.
Because it would be bummer if someone legally owned the rights to that name and already formed a company with it.
Not to mention having the name splayed across social media, promoting that other person’s brand.
Reality check: Make sure your business name is available before registering it.
This is what we mean:
Just how different business entities have varying liability and taxation rules, they also have different naming requirements.
Here are the naming needs for the common business structures we mentioned in Part 1:
Being the simplest of them all, you don’t need to register your business name on the state level - nor federal, for that matter.
Your sole proprietorship will automatically operate under your personal name. If you want to change that, you have to file for a DBA (Doing Business As).
Also known as an assumed name, a DBA allows new businesses to operate under a name other than their legal business names.
Similar to a sole proprietorship, general partnerships operate under the personal names of the partners. To do otherwise, the partners also have to file a DBA.
Corporations require a unique name that complies with certain naming requirements, such as:
Like corporations, LLCs also require a unique name that meets certain requirements, such as:
With your unique business name that meets all requirements, Mark Cuban from Shark Tank 🦈 and you are ready to continue.
Registering your business name is part of the filing process to declare your business entity a legal company.
Depending on where you live, there will be state-specific hoops you’ll have to jump through in order to legally register your business name.
We’re going to cover some of the high-level basics to get you going.
If you’re still on the fence about filing for your LLC or corporation, we recommend this option for you before going any further.
Filing a name reservation helps you lock down your unique name for future use. Ya know, for when you’re ready to make things official 💍
Keep in mind that this step isn’t required in order to open a new company or file for a DBA. It just gives you extra security that your name will be there for you while you get your ducks in a row 🦆
In all honesty, a DBA is mainly good for branding purposes.
As we mentioned earlier, sole proprietorships and general partnerships file for them when they don’t want to operate under their personal names. Corporations and LLCs can also use them, but to diversify their brands.
Either way, it’s recommended that only businesses with low profit and risk file for them.
When your LLC is filed with your state, your business name will be registered.
So, go through the five steps to form an LLC so you can lock your name in place:
Similar to an LLC, when you file your corporation in your state, your business name is automatically registered.
The five steps to form a corporation are similar to those of an LLC. So, we’re going to fly through them:
A lot of this may be new to you, and a bit confusing. But we want to let you know you’re doing a great job riding along with us 😍🤗 (And you can always come back to problem areas later.)
Hang in here with us as we reach the final stretch.
These last steps could be the difference between your booming success or getting sued and going bottoms up 😱 (We wish we were kidding, but we’re not.)
Even though we’re covering online businesses in this guide, online small businesses still need protection.
After all, we’re dealing with the real world. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Licenses and permits come from state and federal agencies, depending on your business’ location, activities, and government rules.
Most of you reading this won’t fall under the business activities that need federal licenses and permits, but the same can’t be said for the state level.
States usually regulate a wider range of activities in comparison to the federal government 🗽
In short, industry requirements often vary by state. Be proactive, and visit your state’s website to see which ones you need.
Your personal and business assets are protected when you get business insurance. Even if you’ve filed an LLC or corporation, insurance fills in any unforeseeable gaps after registering for your company.
Depending on your specific situation, you may even be required to purchase insurance. This is what happens with full-time employees because you have to pay workers’ compensation, unemployment, disability, and all that jazz.
Either way, it’s just good to have, especially if s*** gets real…
Anyways, we’re leaning on the U.S. Small Business Administration again for this one to show you the 6 common kinds of business insurance:
As a general rule, insure what you can’t pay for out of pocket.
🤔 Think: What sorts of things will your business be at risk for? Lawsuits? Natural disasters?
(The National Federation of Independent Businesses also has some solid tips to help you choose insurance.)
Then, speak with your insurance agent to see what works best for you and your business. You’ll need to compare terms and prices, and reevaluate your decision on a yearly basis.
As a small business owner, you’ll see there are oodles more backend services to control compared to your freelancing days.
This is especially true if you want to keep your business running smoothly and LEGALLY.
Aside from having systems in place that help you leverage your time as a freelancer, online business owners also have to systemize other backend services, which include:
We even took the guesswork out of some of it for you. Check out our Product Review - Accounting Software: Freshbooks vs. Wave.
You’ve researched. You’ve created the plan. You’ve registered and filed for your business. Your licenses, permits, and insurance are up to speed, AND you’ve set up backend systems so you can do your business thang.
Now it gets to the fun part… marketing and promotion! You’ve gotta get your name out there to keep those leads turning into customers, loyal clients, and brand advocates.
We’ll walk you through some key steps in this phase:
Let me guess. You’re probably thinking 💭 But why do I need to get a website if I can just use social media for free???
Social media is rented ground. You don’t own anything published there.
If one day the social media gods decide to lock your account because a group of trolls teamed up and said they should, how are you going to make money?
We don’t know either.
Now that you’re convinced you need one, let’s continue on to best practices for creating your website:
Just like everything else in getting your business running, you don’t have to go it alone.
You just have to plug in your website copy to their premade templates and woolah! You’ve got yourself a spiffy new site ✨
The only thing left for you to do would be to publish high-quality, original content.
Having done the buyer persona already in Part 1, you’ll know where your target customers are hanging out online. And from following our process to register your business, you found the perfect social media handles.
The only thing left for you is to follow these simple social media tips for small businesses:
These best practices are universal across platforms. So, try not to get caught up on the hooplah of it all.
What’s important is that you start posting. Pay attention to how your content performs, and adjust from there.
It’s that easy.
In an ideal world, clients and funds would roll in without us having to do anything 🤗
But, that’s just not how things work. Cold (or if you’re lucky, warm) outreach is just another part of the marketing and SALES process.
Luckily, pitching doesn’t have to feel s***** if you do it right.
Follow these tips to set you up for success:
Also, it’s time for you to start thinking about pitch decks for investors.
Create a PowerPoint with 15-20 slides, explaining your company’s products, technology, team, etc. Pretty much anything you need to sell your story.
Forbes shares the following pitch deck do’s:
On the flip side, here are some pitch deck don'ts:
Just like that, your clients and investors will come rolling in 😎
By the time you’ve grown your business to the level where you can’t keep up with incoming work, it’s time to outsource.
Yes, we’re talking expansion, baby!
A good way to know what you should outsource is to ask your customers what you’re good at, and then outsource the rest.
There are a couple things to keep in mind when hiring employees to make the process run smoother:
Headhunt talent online
One of the most effective ways to hire is by headhunting, also known as searching for talent.
Do you follow an insanely talented videographer on Twitch? 📹 Or a photographer who’s got all the best shots on IG? 📸
Do your fair share of stalking to see if they’ll make a good fit. Cross reference all of their social platforms, and read testimonials from actual paying clients. (You’re gonna be one soon.)
Then, if the shoe fits, wear it 👠
This point can be skipped if you’ve already head hunted. But for those who want to go the more traditional route, this step is a must.
In addition to the standard application the potential hire will fill out, make sure you verify the following:
The point of doing all of this is not only to ensure truthfulness and accuracy, but also to make sure that they’ll be a good fit for your culture and business’ mission.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a super extensive article on what employers need to know when doing background checks 👀 Hit it up.
Finding talented individuals is half the struggle. Now, you need contracts and agreements to make sure things stay legal between all parties involved.
Oral agreements are super standard, but we recommend you not. Just do the extra work so there are no misunderstandings.
The basic of the most basic employment agreements include:
Obviously, those who play a more senior role in the business will receive a more detailed employment agreement letter.
Likewise, you’ll want to make sure that what happens in the business, stays in the business 🤐 (a.k.a. a confidentiality agreement).
Again, here are the high-level basics of what to include in a confidentiality agreement:
Before day 1 at work, all paperwork should be signed by the employee and company. (Paperwork varies between freelancers vs. full-time employers.)
For any further questions you have re: the technicalities of paperwork, take some time to check out this article on key employment issues for startup and emerging companies. They even offer a bajillion free sample templates for business forms and agreements.
Protect Your Intellectual Property
You thought we were done here? 😂
We could spend days on these topics (there’s a reason why corporate lawyers are still in biz), but we’re not going to.
1️⃣ We don’t want to bore you, and 2️⃣ That’s not what this guide is about.
But we do have to skim through the basics of protecting your intellectual property before sending you on your way.
Not doing so could be the end of your business as you know it. (We’re not kidding. Having to file a lawsuit over this stuff is costly.)
Anyways, here’s a quick summary of the types of intellectual property protections available:
If you’re at the stage in your business where you feel like you need to consider protecting your intellectual property, get a better feel for the types and their related costs before diving head first.
Woohooooo! You made it to the end! 🥳
And last but not least, there’s nothing left for you to do but rock your business 🤘🏽
As you can see, you have your work cut out for you in this first year of your new small business.
No one ever said it’d be easy (and if they did, they were a lyin’ 🤥), but for those who power through, the returns are endless.
We wrote this to be the only resource you need, starting with researching and ending with expanding.
So, dive into each section more in-depth, and really put thought into everything. (The more effort you put in, the more you’ll get out. Just saying.)
Also, try not to get too caught up in the little things that come up along the way, yet always keep your end goal and your why in mind. This will help you weather the storm better when the going gets tough ⛈
Keep your eye on the prize. Keep grinding. You’ll be rocking it in no time.
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