Step 1: Truly Plan Your Business Idea
No serious entrepreneur braves the Michigan marketplace without a game plan. It’s fantastically large and world-renowned in many different industries, so winging it really isn’t an option. Most startups have “plans” but once it’s time to weigh in with the big dogs you’ve got to have an executive summary, financials, forecasts, etc. to be taken seriously.
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 & Incorporate
Now that your initial plan is ironed out, and you’re serious about this, it’s time to register your business. First pick your legal structure, then in the process of registering you’ll take care of all kinds of red tape including securing a brand name and protecting your personal assets like house and car.
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 Michigan Tax Code
Truth be told, understanding and taking care of your business tax requirements are important. Michigan’s regulatory environment goes way back, so depending on what sort of business you intend on establishing it could get complex quick. Are you working directly with the public? Which county? Some sales are taxed, some aren’t. See why some homework here is important?
Take Action: Head on over to the Michigan Department of Treasury’s Business Taxes section to start digging in. We also recommend bookmarking the page for future reading.
Step 4: Obtain Proper Licensing/Permits
This part can go by as quickly as smoothly as a mile in a Ford GT. However, you may not be required to get any licenses or permits at all. Everything depends on your location and industry.
- DYI’ers can begin by using Michigan.gov’s State License Search to see if you’ll need to get licensed.
- If you need help with this step, a Business License Package is awesome. 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 Michigan Location
Choose your location based on a) how many resources are in the area that help you grow, and b) how much easier or harder it makes managing the business. Take your time, do some homework, and be strategic.
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
Assuming your financials look good and you’ve got a professional business plan in hand, you’ve got countless options. From angel investment funds galore to vast networks of startup organizations, state-level programs, and one of the earth’s most unbelievable consumer cultures… there are plenty of resources out there, so don’t be shy. If you’ve come this far in the wolverine state, 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 Coney Dogs and sports. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.
Step 8: Design & Publish A Business Website
Give Michiganders and the internet a way to investigate your products and services. Generate more leads and brand expansion by being accessible to local searches. Having a solid business website is as necessary as having a plan.
Take Action: The first step is finding the right platform, and thankfully there are some very good options. If you’d like our recommendation, grab a free trial to Wix or Weebly. They’re the easiest to use and have the best prices, no previous tech-skills required.
Step 9: Market Your Business
After steps 1 through 8 it’s about selling and growing. We’re of the school of thought that says if you’ve got a solid foundation, structured planning, a good location, modern software, and great communication then your products and services should be selling themselves…to a degree.
Take Action: The internet’s fooling a ton of startups into thinking they can automate relationships and reduce customer touch-points to social media signals and it’s not true. Ironically, consumers and professionals of all kinds are demanding MORE transparency and more of a personal touch.
Step 10: Continue Learning & Stay Inspired
Consider Startup Savant one of your reliable sources of valuable and change-maker info straight from the trenches of our entrepreneurial era. There’s nothing better than solidarity, and while you’re learning your lessons it’s nice to know you’re not alone.