Step 1: Truly Plan Your Business Idea
This is your blueprint. It’s your game plan. Not in a cliché sense, but a very real and very effective sense – financials, budgeting, forecasts, management, marketing approach, pitch, and funding. That said, thanks to new solid resources, the days of slaving away for months to create a 40-page plan are over.
Instead, millions of entrepreneurs across the planet are turning to better and better software solutions that've streamlined the planning process. What you end up with is a great presentation-ready plan for investors, potential partners, VCs, incubator programs, and so forth.
Take Action: Check out our 100% free Business Planning Guide designed to get you from A-to-Z as pleasantly as possible. Plus, we provide access to tons of other great tools along the way.
Don’t know what kind of business to start?
Our friends over at howtostartanllc.com have compiled a massive list of business ideas, ranging from personal styling to axe-throwing businesses.
If you’re having trouble finding the perfect business idea for you, we encourage you to check them out!
Step 2: Choose Business Structure & Register
Get ready for the real meat and bones. Now it’s time to choose which business structure best suits your business and register it with the state. This will help secure a brand name and protect your personal assets (house, car, etc) in the process.
Most entrepreneurs form an LLC because it has all the benefits of a Corporation without the disadvantages like double taxation, board of directors or corporate officers. However if you're trying to take your company public or raise substantial outside capital, you should probably form a Corporation.
Take Action: Since this step is so important and expensive if it's not done correctly, we highly recommend investing 10 minutes to go over your options through our business structure comparison guide. You'll get a better idea of the advantages and disadvantages of each while building a solid legal foundation for your business.
Step 3: Sync With The Indiana Tax Code
Like all other states, Indiana has its own set of credits, incentives, kick-backs and tax-based programs to both attract new business and cater to the industries who’ve evolved there over many generations. You can do this on your own or hire a tax professional to leverage it as much as possible. Just be sure your business is totally compliant in the eyes of the state.
Take Action: A great place to start is the Indiana Dept. of Revenue’s Business Tax webpage with all the pertinent links and info you could need.
Step 4: Obtain Proper Licensing/Permits
Unlike the many cornfield mazes throughout the state, Indiana’s regulatory system is very well-managed and friendly to small businesses like yours interested in enriching the good people there. The level of complexity and the amount of hoops to hop through are ultimately determined by the nature of your business and where it's located.
- For DYI’ers head to Indiana’s Business Owner’s Guide that goes through Specific Business Licenses in section II-B.
- A Business License Research Service is great if you need help with this step. They determine everything required on Federal, State, County and Municipal levels, get the forms, and provide step-by-step filing instructions.
Step 5: Separate Your Personal and Business Assets
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
Now that you’ve made it through registering and setting up taxes and licensing for your business, you’ll need to take steps to protect your personal assets and establish your business as an independent entity.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
You can go a long way in protecting your assets with these three steps:
- Open a business bank account.
A business bank account separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection. A designated business bank account also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
To open up a bank account for your business, you’ll need to obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number). You’ll use your EIN in place of your social security number so that this account is completely separate from your personal finances. After this, start doing your research on various business bank accounts. Local options and national banks, like Chase, both have their perks.
Get $200 when you open a business checking account with Chase. Learn more
- Get a business credit card.
A business credit card helps you separate personal and business expenses. A business credit card will also build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise capital later on.
- Designate an authorized representative.
Make sure all documents are signed by a representative of your LLC and not by you (or other LLC members) directly. This will help separate you from liability incurred by the LLC.
- Keep your accounting and bookkeeping up to date
Make sure to sync up your banking and credit card accounts with an accounting software like QuickBooks as soon as you get the chance. It’s never too soon to start organizing your business’ finances!
Step 6: Pick A Stellar Indiana Location
Two things matter when it comes to the location of your business: 1) the degree to which it makes managing the brand more efficient, and 2) the amount of assets within 1-5 miles of the front door.
That said, whether you’re headed for the bustle of Indianapolis or a quaint gem like Brazil (the town silly), you’re going to love Indiana. Plus you’re regionally located next to titans of capital like Chicago, Columbus and St. Louis. Not too shabby!
Take Action: We know picking a spot can be tough if it doesn’t somehow happen naturally through your personal/professional networks. If you’d like to brush up on everything that goes into making this decision, refer to our friendly guide on How to Choose the Perfect Location.
Step 7: Finance/Bootstrap Your Platform
Balancing budgets and keeping your brand above water is the biggest challenge. Is it easy? No, not for most of us who aren’t talented accountants. Take advantage of the countless local and state-level programs, funds, networks, VCs, angel investor funds, as well as online options like social lending and CrowdFunding. In Indiana, the sky’s the limit.
Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like Red Gold and the Zoopolis 500 (a fun annual turtle race). You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.
Step 8: Design & Publish A Business Website
No one’s saying your business website has to be a work of art, but your brand does need one to be taken seriously. The good news is that there are online platforms which have really streamlined the process, making it much easier for less savvy entrepreneurs to have great, customized, and fully-responsive business website for a fraction of the cost.
Take Action: Check out a business website builder like Wix or Weebly. Both are extremely easy to use and out-of-the-box. All you’ll need to do is choose a template and make a few customizations that reflect what your business offers. Zero technical skills required!
Step 9: Market Your Business
In our estimation, the #1 reliable rule of effective marketing is, “Know yourself first, then your ideal customer.” Meaning, are you a marketing maven? Are you a seasoned business owner? Let’s say your particular niche is really heavy into a certain digital platform, are you qualified or savvy enough to approach them there?
Take Action: Do what your either naturally good at, or, is within your realm of understanding. Some things are worth learning or teaching yourself, but don’t get lost in the sea of marketing methods/approaches out there. Don't spread too thin. Instead, invest in great team members or outsource to providers you know and trust.
Step 10: Continue Learning & Stay Inspired
Please consider Startup Savant a reliable resource as you move onward and upward towards your dreams. We really know where you’re coming from and what you’re going through which is why around here it’s about tools and personalized interviews with fellow change-makers.