Starting a Business

Dear M & M: Is there a list or a place I can go to check off all the things I need to do to start a business? – Joan

Dear Joan:

As each business is unique there can be many more things one would need to do that are not covered on this list. However, you will find the majority of the items listed will cover most of what you need. The first thing one needs to do is a solid business plan, with research done on your industry, target market and competition.

This business plan needs to be complete with a balance sheet, cash flow statement and income statements. You need to know exactly how much money you have and how much money you will need. In addition, know how much you need to generate in sales daily just to break even. This business plan is a feasibility study to see if your idea will work.

Once an evaluation has been made and it looks like you will be able to do this it is time to get some help. Cochise College Small Business Development Center is a great source to get that help. Local city officials, economic developers, business owners, bankers, insurance agents, lawyers, real estate agents and accountants are just a few of the people one should consult.

Do not even attempt to sign any kind of a lease or buy any buildings until you have spoken to the officials in your town that work for the city from economic development to the building inspectors or planning and zoning. One of the first decisions one needs to make is what legal entity will you become.

Each are taxed differently, cost various amounts to become and maintain and has varying layers of personal liability attached to them. Deciding on becoming a sole proprietor, partnership or a corporation is an important first step it is highly recommended you seek out an accountant and a business attorney for assistance. You will need a name for your business.

Once again you have work to do to make sure it is available and no one else has it. A common search on Google, Arizona Corporate Commission or the Secretary of State would be wise. In addition US Patent and Trademark has a search engine called TESS for a national search.

Protection beyond the US borders is regulated individually by each country. Acquire any city, state or professional licenses that are required for your industry or business.  Sales Tax or (TPT), Federal Employer Identification Numbers (EIN), City Business Licenses are on that check list. Insurance, utility deposits, as well as reviewing labor laws and regulations if employees will be hired need to be done.

Banking, record keeping systems, credit card processing are a few more items on that list. Make this easy connect with professionals, get some help. From conception to starting to operating and growing don’t try and go this alone. Local Economic Developers, City Economic Development and Cochise College Small Business Development Centers are here to help.

-M&M

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