There are many steps to starting a business. Some of the steps are simple and others can be time-consuming and costly. Of course, this depends on the type of business you are starting.There are many things one must do before starting a business. A well executed business startup takes months…not days.Some Important Steps To Starting A BusinessName Your Business You need to give careful consideration to your business name. Make sure your business name reflect the image you want your business to portray. Your business name is a part of your branding.Choosing a Domain Name Now that you’ve developed a business name, you must obtain a domain name. Your domain name should also include your business name. It is also a part of your branding.Try using dashes (-) between the words if your business name is unavailable or for readability. For example, if your business name is Cory’s Outdoor Signage. You may consider: corys-outdoor-signage.com for readability purposes.Business Structure You also must decide how you wish to structure your business: sole proprietorship, incorporation, partnership, limited liability corporation, etc.Below are some of the most common legal requirements; however, please don’t see my list as all-inclusive. Check with your state, city and county regarding any additional requirements.Business License So before you hang your sign, you must first make your enterprise legal. Many states, cities, counties require that business owners obtain a business license. The cost of obtaining a business license varies from City to City and County to County. The cost of a business license is significantly less than the stiff penalties assessed to businesses operating without a proper license or without other documents.Depending on the requirements in your area you may obtain a business license from your local city or county. Generally you must complete an application for a business license. A business license is issued for a stated length of time (1 year or multiple years) authorizing you to pursue your business.Fictitious Name StatementSome jurisdictions also require that you obtain a fictitious name statement if your business name is called anything other than your own name. In addition, as in Sacramento County, you are also required to publish your DBA (Doing Business As) in a locally approved publication for a predetermined number of weeks.Reseller’s LicenseIf you plan to purchase goods at wholesale for the purpose of reselling them at retail, you will need a reseller’s license. Wholesalers and manufacturers will not do business with you without having a reseller’s license. Otherwise you will have to purchase at retail like the rest of us.Merchant Accounts Now is a good time to consider obtaining a small business merchant account. This will allow you to accept credit card payments, which would be deposited directly into your business bank account. For more information, go to link:Department of HealthIf you are selling unpackaged consumable goods, please contact your local Department of Health for further guidance.Every State in the United States requires businesses that serve unpackaged consumables to obtain the ServSafe Manager or ServSafe Food Handler certificate. This is a federal requirement; however, some states and/or local counties may have stricter guidelines. You may visit http://www.ServSafe.com for more guidance regarding requirements for your state and/or county.For example, the State of CA requires that one manager and one non-manager, at a location that serves unpackaged consumables, to obtain the ServSafe Manager Certificate. Starting July 2011, in the State of CA, all employees at locations serving unpackaged consumables must obtain the ServSafe Food Handler certificate.You know how you are offered something to drink when you go to the spa for a massage or facial? Well if they open the beverage and pour it into a glass for you, then that drink becomes an unpackaged consumable and they must have the ServSafe certification.Contractor’s LicenseIf you are considering starting a business as a handyman, I highly recommend that you check your State’s contractor’s license requirements. Some of the handyman work you are proposing to perform may fall under the heading of contractor.Meaning you would need to obtain a contractor’s license or not perform the duties of a contractor.Bookkeeping You should seriously consider your bookkeeping methods before your grand opening, because you make many purchases and pay many expenses before your grand opening or first day of business! You need to keep track of these expenditures before the first day of business. They are tax write-offs!Employee Identification Number Will you have employees? Will you be opening a merchant account? Will you purchase from vendors?If you answered yes to any of these, then you need to seriously consider obtaining an Employee Identification Number (EIN). It is much safer than using your social security number. You may obtain an EIN at http://www.irs.gov.Partnership Agreement Will you conduct business as a partnership? Or will you partner with other companies on individual contracts? If so, you will need a partnership agreement. You should seek legal assistance regarding developing a partnership agreement that works for all parties.
Many business founders have encyclopedic knowledge about how their organizations work, as well as how to gain and to retain profitable customers. Why? Founders have probably either designed or done all of the major tasks at one time or another and may have played a role in attracting almost all of the key customers. Doing so was just part of what was required for their businesses to succeed.When it comes time for founders to replace themselves, one of their most difficult challenges is finding someone with the right experience. Starting new employees in entry-level jobs and rotating them through as many other kinds of jobs as possible can help, but it’s a slow process and most ambitious people don’t want to invest the required time and effort.By contrast, business education originally focused on teaching just a few skills such as accounting, quantitative analysis, and what was then called industrial organization. Such skills were often helpful for understanding how a business was performing, as well as for identifying and assessing alternatives.A key drawback of this educational approach was that the overall perspective of a business founder couldn’t be gained from learning just these skills. What could be done instead?In response, business schools began to think about ways that people could much more rapidly add relevant experience. One method of accelerated learning emerged that has continued to be important to this day: Document case studies of actual business decisions, ask learners to analyze the situations, and assign them the tasks of identifying and choosing what to do. When the learners are ready, engage them in Socratic dialogues about the case and their conclusions.It was hoped that by grappling with these difficult challenges learners could gain opportunities in just a few months to consider many more important decisions than they might normally be involved in over several decades. Would mature business judgments be far behind?When learners had to explain and defend their choices orally and in writing, they also gained some experience of what it is like to operate in an organization. In addition, learners benefited from objective reactions to their views. With such perspectives, business learners could potentially avoid some future mistakes by improving on their ways of thinking and deciding.The concept of using case studies for learning through Socratic dialogues was originally drawn from how Harvard Law School taught about appellate-level judicial opinions. The business cases subsequently written at Harvard Business School soon became the backbone of many curricula for graduate-level business programs at many highly regarded universities. Ways of writing and using such cases began to proliferate in useful ways.Wise educators also realized that experience still provided some lessons that just studying cases couldn’t. As a result, business educators encouraged learners to gain some business experience before trying to add more advanced management skills in classroom experiences. Most business schools also required students to work on real-life projects for existing businesses from time to time, to provide more relevant learning.A few business educators also realized that skill development needed to be closely aligned with a theoretical understanding of what the overall organization needed to accomplish. From teaching such insights, the business disciplines of management and corporate strategy emerged.As a countertrend, more and more business subjects became specialized, so that less and less of any learning was focused on gaining a founder’s kind of perspective and knowledge. To respond, evening and online business school programs were developed for mid-career businesspeople to flesh out whatever it is that they hadn’t yet learned that was needed to do their jobs better… and to prepare them for taking on bigger responsibilities, especially in general management.Instead, many businesspeople in the last two decades decided to bypass formal education and simply worked with coaches who had such knowledge and asked for practical advice about their most pressing concerns and issues.Clearly, all these ways of learning more about business have their good points. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could all be combined?That hope isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem. Some of today’s leading business scholars are as drawn to gaining insights into how others can learn more about business as they are to obtaining more knowledge about business for themselves.Whenever I think of combining new knowledge with better learning for businesspeople, I’m reminded of a friend who is a business professor. While many people imagine all professors as being ivory tower types, he’s just as likely to be seen scoring a goal or earning an assist for his ice hockey team as he is to be found reading in the library.He applies more teaching methods than most other business professors do: In addition to online teaching that emphasizes helping business practitioners to learn and to apply theory, he is highly effective in a bricks-and-mortar classroom setting while leading many sections of management accounting classes for BBA and MBA candidates at a highly esteemed North American business school.To make those online and classroom classes more valuable for learning about business, this professor has researched and written two business case textbooks, the first including some cases developed as part of his doctoral studies.In addition, he provides executive coaching and education through his personal consulting practice.While teaching people with widely varying amounts of experience and knowledge, my colleague gains understanding about what works best for individual students and his mind is opened to opportunities for teaching business more effectively through using the many available methods and resources.Curious about what insights he had gained about business learning online, I asked him to describe how this method differs from other ways of learning about business. Here is what he told me:”Although I also teach extensively in the traditional bricks-and-mortar university setting, I notice that online learning is effective because students are interested and engaged, and they retain this learning far greater than with a preset menu of courses.”Determined and self-driven students will always surprise you. Students who are committed to self-learning are willing to listen, take constructive criticism positively, and always push their boundaries. I appreciate students who can do this and keep their personal lives in balance.”He also offered this advice for those thinking about online business learning based on both his student and his teaching experiences:”It is not easy. A great deal of self-discipline is required to stay the course. Find your moments of greatness through research and writing. Establish a bond with your faculty advisor and draw from his or her experiences. Engage in something you are passionate about, aided by one-on-one mentoring without a preset menu of courses. It’s a very powerful and rewarding way to learn.”So what’s the right way for you to learn more about business and become as successful as a flourishing founder? The more of the proven learning methods you can apply to what you want to accomplish, the more effective you will become. In that regard, be like this professor and place as much emphasis as you can on using all of the methods that apply to your learning needs.What are you waiting for? Get started!
Imagine discovering you are the co-owner of your business instead of the sole owner, or that you have a satellite business you didn’t know about operating in a different state, or there is a business with a similar name using a similar address to yours pretending to be your business. How would any one of these scenarios impact your business? This is what business identity theft looks like. It can happen to any business large or small. It could happen to yours, too.Most small to mid-sized businesses don’t understand what identity theft can do to their business until it is too late.Business identity theft doesn’t target individuals, instead, criminals look for ways they can take valuable information fro legitimate businesses. They are looking for bank accounts, credit card numbers and passwords, and sensitive intellectual information.These looters gain access to key accounts and drain them, many times, before the bank is aware of the act. The cost of business identity theft can be enormous. It could take hundreds of hours and a large sum of money to repair the damage. Some businesses never recover and go out of business.Business identity theft is still a relatively new type of crime. Most business owners haven’t heard of it. So there is a temptation to ignore it. Steve Cox of the Better Business Bureau says, “Business identity theft is a very real concern in today’s marketplace. From a criminal’s perspective, it’s significantly more cost-effective to steal business identities than consumer identities.:The criminals act quickly. They know they only have a short period of time before the act is discovered. The Ponemon Institute says that 84 percent of the cases money was stolen before the fraud was detected by the bank.Many small business owners don’t think they have much that a thief can take from them. But the truth is that you don’t have to have more than a good name. The thieves can use it to get loans, order products and ruin the businesses good name. Dun and Bradstreet’s Senior Risk Analyst Robert Strezze states, “What is particularly disturbing about this trend is the significant dollar amount involved. It’s not unusual for the losses to be in the mid-six figures by the time the criminal activity has been detected.”The unfortunate truth is that most businesses don’t take the time or steps to safeguard against the crime. Most are too busy doing the daily activities to keep the business going. It isn’t until the damage is done that a business realizes the trap it fell into.What are the keys to business identity theft prevention?There’s good news for businesses who are willing to put some time and effort into business identity theft prevention. Many times preventative measures can mean big savings and a better image in the community. There are three keys where a business can lessen the likelihood that identity theft will happen:The first key is to establish a position on the leadership team that is in charge of monitoring for business identity theft, establishing procedures for data breach prevention, and protect against other criminal activity. This officer could be called the Chief Security Officer, for example, and should have the power to check banking, credit card and other key accounts. The officer would be wise to establish “best practices” for information security including employee training, password protection and more.The second key is to set up monitoring services that watch your back for you. A businesses personal information is everywhere. It is nearly impossible for one person to keep an eye on every aspect of the business. A business identity theft protection service that includes business credit monitoring and internet surveillance, identity theft alerts, and whole business recovery can be a valuable asset for identity theft protection.The third key is to set up credentials monitoring in the Dark Web. This is where criminals do their business buying-selling-trading stolen information. Credentials monitoring will alert a business when stolen credentials, IP addresses and, for banks, BIN card numbers appear. Businesses can take proactive steps to prevent the stolen information from harming them, their employees and/or customers. Millions of stolen credentials, email and login information, show up every month. Stolen credentials is a major player in all forms of business fraud.Business identity thieves are clever and determined. They can take advantage of businesses and business owners that do not take precautions to protect their business.I ask nearly every business this question: “If someone started representing himself as an owner or officer in your business, how would you know? How soon would you want to know?