Naming your business and registering with the proper federal, state and local authorities is a MUST for so many reasons. You must protect yourself and the brand you are building. And it could be a costly and timely issue to have legal troubles. Below we highlight some of the essential steps that you need to take before you get up and running:
YOUR BUSINESS NAME
- Before you begin, really think about your name and read my article here about How to Name Your Business. It will save you a ton of heartache if you put effort into this step.
- Once you pick a great name, make sure it’s not being used by someone else in your industry. Do name search in these places:
- Secretary of State in your state
- U.S. Patent & Trademark Office www.uspto.gov
- Your County or State DBA Registrar
- www.godaddy.com (for website domain availability)
- Consider Trademarking your name to protect it.
REGISTERING YOUR BUSINESS
- Register your business with your state. You can register as an LLC, S-Corporation or Partnership by going to the Secretary of State of your State. You should talk to a legal or tax advisor to determine whether you should be a sole proprietorship, LLC, S-Corporation or something else.
- Get a Tax ID number for your business at www.irs.gov. You will also need to get a state tax ID number and sales tax registration. These can be found through your state’s Secretary of State website
- Get your business licenses, occupational licenses, sales tax registration and other necessary permits required by your city, county and state depending on your specific industry. Go to your county’s government website to find out about these requirements.
MAKE IT ALL LEGAL
- Make sure your website has all the right legal requirements. Don’t overlook the importance of protecting your company and your brand with a good set of legal terms that are specific to your industry. Make sure you set proper privacy policies and that your marketing complies with the CAN-SPAM Act. If you don’t know how to draft these policies, get a professional to do it.
- Once you set up your business make sure you have the right legal documents in place. Talk to a legal advisor to find out what documents you need.
- Make sure you have proper liability insurance in place. You should talk to an insurance advisor to review your home and auto policies and to discuss general liability insurance options for your business.
- You are a business now, so you need to have a bookkeeping system in place. You should have some way of tracking your revenue and expenses that can generate reports for you to review the performance of your business and for your accountant to prepare your taxes each year.
The best place to start when you work your way down this list is to go to the Secretary of State in your state. You can find a listing of the links for all 50 states at www.christinerobbins.me Christine Robbins is an attorney and creative business coach. There are many resources and services available on her site to help you navigate the legal and business issues in the startup process and beyond.
You can also check out these resources for additional information.
I strongly recommend you get legal help as well as employ a tax accountant.
****We are not attorneys or tax experts, hire your own legal and tax advisors to ensure your business is set up correctly.