So…you have a business idea — whether it’s a photography business, selling handmade crafts, or whatever it is. You’re super excited to bring your idea to life. How the heck do you do that?
I shared a quick New Business To-Do List on TikTok, but since this is such an important topic for my fellow creative entrepreneurs, I figured I’d talk about it here on the blog, too!
@lishcreativeSo you have a business idea….now what?! #learnontiktok #tiktokpartner #smallbusiness #smallbusinessowner #entrepreneur♬ Get On It – Clutch
Step 1: Pick a company name
What’s your new baby’s name gonna be? Before you choose the perfect name and start building a business and brand around it, you should definitely make sure the name isn’t already taken. You don’t want to waste time and resources changing your name.
Head over to the United States Patent and Trademark Office website to check that your new business name is up for grabs. Check for existing trademarks using TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System). You can read all about TESS here!
Got your name picked? Time for Step 2.
Step 2: Start an LLC
An LLC, or Limited Liability Company, is a type of legal entity that can be formed to own and operate your business. It’s a good option for someone launching a brand new business, or someone currently running a new biz as a sole proprietorship.
I won’t get into the differences between LLCs, corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships — I’m not an experienced lawyer! — but basically, LLCs are popular because they’re easier and cheaper to run than a corporation, but they still protect your personal legal rights. Nolo has a helpful article on what an LLC is, pros and cons, and how to start one.
You can hire a lawyer to start an LLC for you, or you can do it yourself with an online service like LegalZoom. (That’s what I used!)
Step 3: Open a biz bank account
If you’re the only owner and employee for your biz, you might think, “What do I need a separate business bank account for? It’s just me working here!”
You may be the only one running the show, but it’s still important to keep your business funds and personal funds totally separate. Here are just a few reasons:
👉 It’s part of having an LLC. Having an LLC separates your personal assets from business assets. That’s how you’re legally protected. To keep your liability intact, you need to separate your finances.
👉 It’s easier come tax time. Make it easier on yourself when you’re doing taxes! Having a separate biz account means you don’t have to sift through a ton of personal transactions to find the info you need.
👉 It makes you more credible. The IRS distinguishes between a “business” and a “hobby” using nine factors. One of them is maintaining complete and accurate books and records. You can prove that your business really is a business with separate accounts.
Save yourself the headache of tax issues or legal problems down the road and set up a business bank account early!
Step 4: Apply for a biz credit card
Just like you want to keep your business and personal cash spending separate, you should keep credit card spending for your business separate, too. It’s easier for sorting out taxes, protects you legally, and gives you more cred with the IRS.
Step 5: Create a website
Why do you need a website for your biz? You’ll look more professional and credible. If you’re a product-based business, you can easily sell your wares online — no physical shop needed. And if you’re a service-based biz, you can market your offers and connect with potential clients.
I recommend starting with Squarespace or Shopify, but make sure to do your research and find a website platform that’ll work for your new business! There’s also Wix, WordPress, Joomla!, and lots of other options.
Step 6: Spread the word!
Tell everyone you know that your new business is launching soon! Build some buzz and get people excited for your launch.
Text friends and family. Send emails. Tell strangers at the dog park, grocery store, DMV, wherever! And most importantly, post about your business on social media OFTEN. About 95% of my clients find me on social media! It’s a cheap and easy way to get eyes on your biz.
More advice for launching your biz
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With over 4 hours of content and over 20 modules, you’ll learn important biz concepts like personal branding, content planning, editing software, file storage, and so much more. Save $50 on the course by using the code SLAY. Head over here to sign up!