As you take the steps toward turning your dreams of becoming a business owner into a reality, you’ll notice that the learning curve is steep and can take some unexpected turns.
While there’s no crystal ball to tell you exactly what the journey ahead will look like, you can learn from the experience of countless new business owners who have come before you.
Avoid learning some lessons the hard way by checking out these three things that will help you flourish during your first year in business:
Lesson 1 – State requirements are just as important as the big picture
Ongoing state requirements often derail would-be business owners before they even get started. Your big dream starts with understanding a few important — and possibly tedious — tasks.
Registered agent: LLCs and corporations are legally required by the state to appoint and maintain a registered agent when they form their business. This agent acts as the main point of contact between your company and the state offices when they provide essential updates and legal notices. You can use a registered agent service or appoint yourself as the agent, but keep in mind that your agent is legally required to be at your business address during regular business hours to receive notices on your behalf. Be sure to do the research and get the best registered agent service online.
Operating agreement: An operating agreement is legally required in a few states but is always an essential document for new and existing limited liability company (LLC) owners. We recommend filling in an operating agreement template to help protect your assets, clearly outline your business’s rules, and create a succession plan should one of your owners exit the business.
Worry-free compliance: Many new business owners don’t realize the states require you to file an annual report or make amendments when you change things like your business name, address, or ownership. Missing these filings can result in costly fines, losing your liability protection, or even having your business dissolved. That’s why we recommend our worry-free compliance service to help ensure you maintain your good standing with the state and don’t miss these ongoing filing requirements.
Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. Compliance, deadlines, and paperwork will be an ongoing part of managing your business. Promptly taking care of these state requirements and small details will set you up for more success and fewer headaches in the long run.
Lesson 2 – You’ll spend a lot of time managing finances and marketing
Setting Up Business Banking: Unless you’re a sole proprietor, you’ll be required to open and manage a dedicated business bank account.
What to look for in a business bank account: In the early days, you’ll have lots of expenditures and typically not a ton of cash in the bank, so it will be essential to avoid costly banking fees. Look for a business bank account with free transactions, no minimum balance protection, and other features that keep your fees low.
The benefits of a business bank account: A business bank account keeps you compliant with IRS regulations. It will also help you manage your business’s finances by keeping your profits and spending in one place, where you’ll be able to get a clear understanding of your cash flow.
Heads up: You’ll likely need an EIN to secure a business bank account: Your EIN is a nine-digit tax ID number issued by the IRS that acts as the social security number for your business. Securing an EIN is usually a requirement for opening a business bank account, so take care of it now if you haven’t already.
Establishing Your Online Presence: No matter what kind of business you operate, you’ll need a way for customers to find you online.
The benefits of an online presence: Your domain name and website are where you’ll present your partners, prospects, and customers with important information about your brand, products and services, customer reviews, and ways to contact you or your team. It’s a vital part of finding customers and generating revenue to help grow your business.
Secure a domain name: You can start by registering a domain name, or online web address, for your site. Choose something easy and memorable that includes your brand name. Note that you’ll need to make annual payments to retain your web address.
Build a website: Get started by using a service to create a customizable website that helps potential customers discover who you are, what you do, and where to find you. Your website will be an ongoing project to continuously improve areas like your business information, marketing assets, and search engine optimization. Choose a service that makes it simple to do these things at an affordable price.
Finances and online marketing can feel overwhelming, but with the right tools, you’ll be able to manage both efficiently as your business grows.
Lesson 3 – Getting organized is a MUST
As a budding business, you probably won’t have many people to whom you can delegate tasks. Most new business owners start on their own as a team of one.
This means that staying organized, completing administrative tasks, and meeting deadlines are all your responsibilities…on top of all the high-level decisions and actions that need to be executed.
Here are some tips:
List and prioritize tasks daily: You’ll find there aren’t quite enough hours in the day to accomplish all the things you’d like to get done. Try keeping lists and prioritizing your tasks by level of importance to make the best use of your time.
Pay bills and taxes on time: Getting behind on payments — whether they’re to your landlord, your vendors, the state, or the IRS — quickly snowballs into a difficult financial situation. Late fees, interest charges, and more can turn a small bill into a huge one in no time. Keep an eye on cash balances to ensure you have enough to meet your upcoming financial obligations before spending on new supplies or equipment.
Pay yourself: Would you believe us if we told you that you might forget your paycheck? It’s true! As your new business takes up your time, energy, and attention, it’s easy to forget that you deserve a payday. Just make sure you’re following rules and regulations for your business type.
There are lots of rules about how business owners can pay themselves. Make a plan early to avoid any issues when it’s time to pay your “Employee of The Year”…YOU!
Ready to take the next step and get started? We think you are. Don’t forget that you’ve got a partner every step of the way here at ZenBusiness.
Start today and let us help you form, run, and grow a successful business.