Advice, Preparation . . . Results™

Seven Items You Should Know Before Starting a Business

Maybe you’ve dreamed of owning your own business and you’re finally ready to get started, or you’ve developed a product that’ll rival the iPhone in popularity. Perhaps you’re just tired of being unemployed and see opportunities to generate income in creative ways. Regardless of your motivation for starting a new business, you’re willing to work hard toward success. Of course, success is never guaranteed, but following are some hints and tips to significantly increase your chances.

  1. Make a plan! You remember the old adage, “Failing to plan is the same as planning to fail.” Writing a business plan is time-consuming and may seem like hard work, especially when you’re eager to get started with your ideas, but it helps you step back and evaluate your concept objectively.  It also provides a road map to keep you on track along the way. The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers useful guides for writing a plan, and if done correctly, many of the following tips will have already been addressed.
  2. Location, location, location! If you’re planning a brick-and-mortar business you’ll need an easily accessible site in an area that has, or can get, the correct zoning. If you’re retailing to the general public you’ll want a site that’s highly visible and preferably not surrounded by competition. These scenarios are just a few to consider, but the SBA offers helpful advice in the article, How to Choose the Best Location for Your Business.
  3. You don’t have to go it alone. Resources and help are available online or at any of the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) found in all 50 states (locally, we’d recommend the SBDC at Jacksonville’s University of North Florida). Find a cheerleader, mentor and/or confidant to encourage you, keep you focused and help guide you if the going gets tough.
  4. Need financing? You may be able to fall back on savings or obtain a loan from family or friends, but several more formal options exist. Before you go to the bank, be prepared to show your business plan and tax returns; they’ll want to see them. The SBA also provides loan programs and resources to help you find a grant; click here for more information.
  5. Will you be in business by yourself or with one or more partners? A visit to an attorney or CPA can help determine the most advantageous business structure for you. Carefully setting out your business agreement at the beginning will minimize problems if unforeseen issues arise later (such as if a partner leaves or passes away).
  6. What’s your name? If you registered a formal business structure with your state you’ll have already decided on a name for your business, but you may prefer to do business under another name (known as a DBA).  Even if you opted for a sole-proprietorship you must register a DBA if you want to do business as anything other than your name. So, if your name is John Smith and you want to do business as “John’s Plumbing” you must register it with your Department of State.
  7. Get off on the right foot with the government. Unless you’re a sole-proprietor or a single-member LLC (and likely even then), you’ll certainly need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS and probably need a business license or permit to operate. In addition to federal taxes, you may also be required to pay sales and state taxes, and if you need to hire employees, you’ll be responsible for payroll and unemployment taxes. Again, the SBA provides a wealth of information for new business owners to help you comply with federal and state regulations.

Don’t overlook the value of adding a good accountant to your team when starting a new business. At Patrick and Robinson CPAs, we often guide our clients through the maze of regulations to help them stay in compliance. We’d be happy to do the same for you, so give us a call at 904-396-5400 or e-mail us at Office@CPAsite.com.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Should I consult a CPA if I’m starting a new business?

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Yes. You’ll need to discuss the best organization for your company for tax purposes as well as numerous other issues relating to operations, including pricing, inventory, payroll, liability and profit...

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