Can it be possible? Can you literally begin a business all while eating Subway or something like that? Literally, you can. It can actually take you only a few hours or so to get a business going. It seems far-fetched.
You might find a bunch of people talking up a lot of craziness over the fact that they’re starting a business, but they have to go through all the creative processes, financing, legal issues and paperwork, which could take anywhere between six months to a year. That’s a myth. Starting a business can simply take you an afternoon, just as long as you know what you need to do.
Here’s the first thing you do:
Firstly, Ditch the Idea of Worrying About the Company Name!
That’s always the big hurdle for some people. It’s the single and initial creative task enlisted upon an entrepreneur: what to call the business. What do you call the business? How do you think of a name?
Oh, dear, then there’s having to consult with the USPTO about finding a name that doesn’t violate any trademarks or copyrights, because we don’t want to mess with that. This could take awhile….
You know what you do? You get over the idea completely. It’s not about the name. Forget about the branding and all the “unique selling proposition” stuff, and that includes working on the most ideal marketing URL for websites and promotional material.
What many people don’t know is that you can actually have two names to your business: one’s the DBA name (Doing Business As [insert generic name]), and the other would be your official “brand” name, which would come later. Understand that when you’ve solidified a customer base with revenue steadily rolling in, only then can you, if you so choose, actually brand the name to something different, unique and catchy.
Make Sure You Have That EIN (Employer Identification Number)
Getting this multi-digit number is easy. It’s free. It’ll only take you one bite of your Subway sandwich to do it, too. While you don’t even need one as a sole proprietorship, you could easily get one anyway in the event that you become something more, such as a partnership, LLC or corporation.
The main benefit of the EIN is that you no longer have to use your social security number as a way to identify your business for tax purposes. That protects your identity, basically. It’s that EIN that can practically verify you as a business with the IRS.
The Next Step Is to Register Your Trade Name
This is a completely different concept than the ‘business’ name or the ‘brand’ name. Let’s say you won’t operate under your own name through the DBA. That’s fine. You will, however — based on your municipality — have to register a trade name. It can be anything you like without any worry over trademarks, distinctiveness or anything. More often than not, you’ll be approved immediately.
Obtain Your Business License
This is mandatory. It would only take minutes, though, to complete. Of course, utilize that EIN instead of a SSN to identify the business with your county or city, and the rest is all downhill. You may need to estimate some annual gross receipts, but don’t crazy with it. Remember: it’s just a ballpark figure, nothing more.
You Might Also Have to Complete a Business Personal-Property Tax Form
This is only applicable if you plan on buying certain tangible items on the first year of business for yourself, items that would be necessary for operations, such as a computer, desk, even writing utensils, etc. etc. However, take note: if you already have those items, and you happen to plan on working from home, there’s no need for this form to be filled out.
See If It’s Required That You Fill Out Other Forms
It’s always a good idea to do so. Why? Every locality has different requirements. You might find that a “home occupation permit” must be filled out for verification of a company meeting zoning requirements. There are several possibilities.
The bonus to this step is, like all the other steps before it, it’s a simple no-brainer. Simply ask. The authorities will inform you (and provide you your documentation) immediately.
You Could Potentially Need a Certificate of Resale
Again, ask about this specifically. You never know. It’s also called a “seller’s permit,” which allows you to collect on state sales tax and sold products. The reason why you may not need this, though, is that there’s no need for it if you sell services.
Why? There’s no sales tax with services. Products — actual tangible and often perishable merchandise — do have specific sales taxes, so bear in mind this certificate. It’s a necessity.
Obtain a Business Bank Account
Again — easy peasy. You wouldn’t even need the consultation of a qualified business lawyer for this one. Simply visit your local bank, any bank you like, and open up a new account under the particular business name. Use your EIN as well on the checks and information, and you should be all set.
Last But Not Least…. Spreadsheets
In many ways, this is the essential tool for launching the business. Forget about the whole QuickBooks thing or some other professional state-of-the-art business accounting software. That can come later. In reality, all you’ll need is a spreadsheet detailing what you spend for your business and what comes in as revenue.
It’s a way to organize the business finances. It doesn’t have to be flashy. Simply set up two columns, one for revenue and the other for expenses. The bonus to having all of that now, too, is that getting the official accounting software flashiness set up will make it that much more fun for either you — or your hired accountant — to fill in all the information you already recorded.
Before You Know It, You’re a Successful Entrepreneur
Perhaps you’re a CEO now, or President. Whatever the case, you came to be that because of one thing — you didn’t stress over it. Starting a business is actually quite easy. Just do the tasks that matter. The “flashy” and sometimes “fun” stuff can wait until you’ve definitely earned it with your hard revenue generation with your business. Make it a celebration, in fact — get Subway to cater for the party.
Matt Faustman is the CEO at UpCounsel. You can follow his business insights on Twitter at @upcounsel.