Going back to work for yourself — starting your own business
One of the first things I did when I decided to set up a business nine years ago was to head to the bookstore and look for help in the “Dummies” and “Idiots” series.
I had no trouble finding Small Business Kit for Dummies. There was also a companion book, Small Business for Dummies. For the idiots, there was The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting Your Own Business.
I went back to the bookstore recently, and all these books – in updated editions – are still available.
One more thing is abundantly clear – the business of advising people on how to start a business is thriving – and getting more and more detailed. There seems to be a Dummies book for everything.
Indeed, I went to the Dummies website (http://www.dummies.com/WileyCDA), and found that a search of “starting a business” returns 71 Dummies books relating to starting a business – everything from starting a Yahoo or EBay business to running a restaurant to opening a cake decorating business.
Too much information? Not if you can find what you’re looking for. Check them all out. And use a web-based book search like Amazon or Borders to get just the book you need.
A simpler solution
The county where I live, San Mateo County, California, has a free brochure that outlines seven steps to start a business:
- Start with a business plan! A business plan is absolutely essential. The Small Business Administration has a comprehensive and user friendly “Small Business Planner” web page http://www.sba.gov/starting/faqs/busquest.html. It has a tutorial on how to create a business plan for all aspects of your business — market analysis, financing, sales, marketing, advertising and choosing a location. In addition to the SBA site, there are a number of good books and computer programs on the market to guide you through the process.
- Select a location for your business.
- Obtain a business license from the city or county where you will be doing business. Go to the office of the City Clerk or County Clerk for the necessary information.
- Choose a business structure
- File for fictitious business name. A fictitious business name statement may not be required if the business name also contains the legal name of the owner, because the legal name of the owner is a clear way of distinguishing the business from others. The filing process requires that the applicant complete the statement form, pay required fees and advertise the name in a newspaper of general circulation within 30 days of the filing date.
- Obtain tax and employer identification numbers. Consult the IRS and your state taxing authorities for information on obtaining these numbers.
- Check with your state government agencies to determine if your business requires additional licenses or permits to operate.
And also consider…
- The website AllBusiness.com (http://www.allbusiness.com). The description of the company from their website: “AllBusiness.com is an online media and e-commerce company that operates one of the premier business sites on the Web. The site has received critical acclaim from The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Business 2.0, Fortune, and other publications. AllBusiness.com helps entrepreneurs, small and growing businesses, consultants and business professionals save time and money by addressing real-world business questions and presenting practical solutions. The site offers resources including how-to articles, business forms, contracts and agreements, expert advice, blogs, business news, business directory listings, product comparisons, business guides, a small business association and more.”
- You should consider retaining an attorney (See Finding a lawyer on this site.) and an accountant before you start. Discuss your business plan with them and get their startup advice.
- Open a business checking account, and get business cards and stationery printed for your business.
- Register an Internet domain name for your business. For general information on domain names, go to http://www.internic.net. This is the website operated by ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN is responsible for managing and coordinating the Domain Name System (DNS) to ensure that every address is unique and that all users of the Internet can find all valid addresses. It does this by overseeing the distribution of unique IP addresses and domain names. It also ensures that each domain name maps to the correct IP address. ICANN is also responsible for accrediting the domain name registrars. "Accredit" means to identify and set minimum standards for the performance of registration functions, to recognize persons or entities meeting those standards, and to enter into an accreditation agreement that sets forth the rules and procedures applicable to the provision of Registrar Services. You can find many firms that will register a domain name for you by typing “domain name” into one of the web search engines.
- Garage Technology Ventures at http://www.garage.com is a seed-stage and early-stage venture capital fund. The fund is looking to invest in entrepreneurial teams with big ideas and a need for seed capital to turn their ideas into great companies. The website says, “We are willing to invest in unproven teams attacking unproven markets with unproven solutions. We’re not interested in teams that are creating the nth solution to the same old problem nor companies who are trying to improve things by only 10 or 20 percent.” Sectors of interest to Garage.Com are software, services, clean technology, and material sciences (not life sciences)
Last revised August 2007