How To Start a Business

So, you’ve got a GREAT, innovative, new idea for a business. However, where do you start? what do you do? what legal/official steps do you need to take to get going? How do you advertise?

These are all questions that I wanted to attempt to address during today’s posting.

In my lifetime thus far, I have started two businesses: 1) a pet waste removal / yard clean-up service and 2) an  eBay selling business. While I have not made a TON of money with either of these opportunities, they were priceless learning experiences where I could try out advertising, billing, bookkeeping, website development, and customer building techniques to possibly be used later in life.

Side note: Keep an eye out for a post coming soon on the key things to know to sell your extra items at home on eBay!

Let’s get started!

Step 1 – Create a DBA (Doing Business As) Name
The first thing you’ll want to do is pick a name for your business. Remember that with business names, you want to pick something related to your field so that potential customers can identify you.

Have something good in mind? Once you have it, go to your local county courthouse, then head to the county clerk’s office. There, go to the desk, and ask the official that you would like to register a DBA name for your new business. They’ll give you the paperwork to fill out, and you will be charged a fee of around $20-$30, depending on your location.

There! That wasn’t too hard right. Now you have your identifying name.

Step 2 – Register for a State Sales Tax ID/License
The next step to make your business official is to apply for a state sales tax ID number. This can be done fairly easily. Just search for the following phrase in Google to find/download an application, where XXXX will be replaced with your state’s name.

“XXXX state sales tax id”

The state sales tax ID number is important because it is required by wholesalers in order to give you reduced prices (idea is that you aren’t charged tax for purchasing goods to resell because you will charge tax to the end customer).

Step 3 – Find Wholesalers to Purchase Goods for Resale
If you are a service provider, you can ignore this step. However, if you start a business designed to resale goods to end customers (such as an eBay business), you need to find products to sell.

Armed with your state sales tax ID number, you can now approach pretty much any distributor or wholesaler that you are interested in buying from (whether you find them locally or on the internet). One of the biggest headaches you will encounter is large minimum order quantities. However, many have no minimum order quantities. One distributor I used pretty successfully was DBL Distributing- Home Page.

Step 4 – Advertising
Whether you like business/sales or not, advertising is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to success. Let’s do a quick exercise. Just think for a moment the products you use on any given morning: you drink advertised coffee, use an advertised toothbrush/toothpaste, drive an advertised car to work, etc. The list could go on forever.

Naturally, the type of advertising you use depends on your business model. However, two advertising mediums that can be used pretty much universally are a website and flyers/signs.

For a website, I usually like to start off with the most low cost thing before I decide to devote significant financial resources to the business. To get a website going in no time and for free, you can use Blogger.com, Google’s blogging website, to create a blog. Blog’s are becoming extremely customizable, and there are so many widgets/special features out there, that you can customize your blog to do pretty much anything you want it to!

Another option is to use GoDaddy.com (link to website shown below). They have great deals on domains and hosting packages. With this, you will have to know a little more about website building, but you will have more control over your formatting.

Go Daddy $7.49.com Sale

Flyers are pretty straight forward because they can be generated from any computer. They key with flyers is to 1) create the flyer is such a way that is automatically gets the reader’s attention and 2) be sure to post them where people will read them.

In my past businesses, I have used several types of signs: yard signs, car magnet signs, and door hanger signs.

For the yard and car magnet signs, I just did a Google search, and found the cheapest quote I could find that was suited for my purposes. Take a look at all of the options that come up when you do the searches below!

Search for Car Magnet Signs
Search for Custom Yard Signs

Since I did a lot of door-to-door promoting of my pet waste removal service business, door hanger signs were great because I could hang them on the door when no one was home! I had a lot of trouble finding these  for a good price online, and ended up just approaching a printing brick-and-mortar business in my hometown in Arkansas for these signs. They weren’t that expensive at all, and they worked great!

To recap, there are many steps that are involved in starting a business. However, these four steps were the result of many hours of research and teaching myself how to do things! I hope they help you in your ventures!

Keep on learning!

Jacob

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