8 Steps for a Successful Start
A General Overview of Starting a Business
Research Your Idea
Now is the time to research your idea to ensure it is viable.
- Do you know who will buy your product or service?
- What will people pay for your product or service?
- Have you determined your total costs?
- Who are your competitors?
While preparing your startup endeavor, be sure to research and understand the market that you will be entering.
Our Research Guide offers numerous research tips and links.
Where will your business be located?
Location is a key part of many businesses, and can determine if your business can operate legally. Zoning regulations determine if businesses are allowed to operate in that location.
Look into zoning and licensing rules for the city/county prior to signing any lease agreements to ensure your business can legally operate in that location. Best to consider while working on your business plan and before registering your business.
This can also include homebased businesses, as some homes are not zoned for businesses.
Plan Your Business
Write a business plan
For any business, the first step is to turn your basic idea into a written, viable plan of action. A well-thought out business plan is necessary for obtaining loans and is a model for your success.
Good business planning keeps you focused and can be the difference between failure and success.
A plan in your head is good. A plan on paper is even better!
Having a trusted team of professionals can assist in starting and growing your business and can reduce and help avoid stumbling blocks.
Lawyer / Attorney
Network with current business owners you trust and/or contact your local Small Business Development Center or area chamber for recommendations and introductions.
Decide Legal Business Structure
No matter what kind of business you will be developing, you will want to make sure your business is established legally. The first step is to decide what kind of business entity (legal structure) is best for you.
***It is recommended that you consult with an Accountant and Attorney/Lawyer to ensure you fully understand the liability and implications of the legal business structure chosen.***
Careful consideration must be given to the management, structural and tax implications of your decision. While not a replacement for sound legal or tax advice, see the SBA’s tips of Selecting a Business Structure.
There are several items to consider if you decide to incorporate your business. Additionally, there may be a variety of items that determine how your business can operate legally in the State of Florida and your local municipality.
Always check with your local city and county to verify what licenses or permits you might require for your business.
Forms of a Business Organization
One of the first decisions that you will have to make as a business owner is how the business should be structured. All businesses must adopt some legal configuration that defines the rights and liabilities of participants in the business’s ownership, control, personal liability, life span, and financial structure. This decision will have long-term implications, so you may want to consult with an accountant and attorney to help you select the form of ownership that is right for you.
In making a choice, you will want to consider the following:
- Your vision regarding the size and nature of your business.
- The level of control you wish to have.
- The level of “structure” you are willing to deal with.
- The business’s vulnerability to lawsuits.
- Tax implications of the different organizational structures.
- Expected profit (or loss) of the business.
- Whether or not you need to re-invest earnings into the business.
- Your need for taking cash out of the business for yourself.
The four basic legal forms of business organization:
- Sole Proprietorship
- Limited Liability Company
Our Legal Business Structure Guide offers many details including advantages and disadvantages of each.
Register Your Business
The State may require additional license or business registration paperwork to be completed. It is also important to check with city/town & county governments where you intend to do business to determine licensing and zoning requirements.
Use the BizLink Orange Licensing Guide for direct links to state, county, and municipalities for license requirements and Business Tax Receipts.
State of Florida – (Incorporation, regulation, fictitious name registration, annual report filing etc.)
FL Dept. of Business and Professional Regulation (Regulated services and professional licensing)
Obtain Necessary Tax Information
Taxation for small businesses may be simple or complex, depending on the size and business structure. The tax liability for each business will be different and you should consult your attorney and accountant regarding comprehensive tax planning.
Employer reporting requirements and responsibilities
As an employer, you will be responsible for additional employment insurance and worker’s compensation insurance. This includes applying for federal and state withholding numbers.
- For Federal Identification Numbers (EINs) contact the Internal Revenue Service or call (800) 829-4933
- For State Sales Tax and State Withholding Tax contact the State Department of Revenue.
Identify Sources of Financing
Once your business has been registered, you will need to open a Business bank account. Often banks require the EIN number to open the account.
Refer to the funding guide for more information on the variety of funding opportunities most often used.
You can search the Resource Navigator for organizations that provide funding assistance.
Consider Insurance Options
There are several types of insurance that should be considered or could be required:
Business / Property – protects you financially against a variety of losses your business can occur for a premium payment. This includes loss of property due to fire, theft, or damage.
Life / Health / Casualty– Available to you and team members for personal use.
Workers Compensation – required by some businesses
Choose an Insurance Company and Agent you are comfortable with and who will:
- Show you how to minimize risks
- Communicate on updating your coverage when changing needs occur
- Protect you against risks to your company’s property
Look for an agent with experience in helping to achieve your goals and objectives and who will provide you will regular updates. This is often a well established agent from a financially-sound company of high ratings.
Brush Up Your Business Skills
Continue to take all the classes and attend networking events. View calendar of events
Bonus Material & help
Prepare for Success
Ideas are everywhere. Successful entrepreneurs know that not every idea is a good business opportunity, so before you bet the ranch on your idea, take the time to research your idea, develop a strategy, and craft a winning business plan. Get input on your plan along the way and connect with the local resources that are available and ready to assist you along the way!
- 20 questions You Can Ask to Validate Your Startup Idea (Entrepreneur Magazine)
- Evaluate Your Idea checklist (Princeton Creative Research)
- Buying a Franchise (Entrepreneur Magazine)
- How to Choose the Right Franchise for You (Business News Daily)