Step 1: Truly Plan Your Business Idea
Your ideas are overflowing! Your products/services are going to be a huge hit! Friends and family are totally jazzed. But, let me ask you something, does it really make sense to try and create a serious company without a concise pitch, executive summary, viable financials, and so forth? No. This is supposed to be the most fun part!
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
The next step in your journey has to do with figuring out what type of business structure is right for your company. Once you’ve made your decision get the ball rolling on registration so that you can protect your personal assets (house, car, etc) and secure your brand name.
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 Mississippi Tax Code
Now it’s time to get right with the tax man. Have no fear, the state’s very startup-friendly in many respects and depending on certain variables you’ll have plenty of credits, incentives, and kickbacks to leverage. Afterwards you can celebrate your hard red tape work with a big fat slice of Mississippi Mud Pie. Just make sure you don't put this step off.
Take Action: Begin by bookmarking the Mississippi Dept of Revenue’s Business Taxes page which has links to everything you’ll need.
Step 4: Obtain Proper Licensing/Permits
Whether you need licensing and permits depends on the nature of your business and where you’re setting up shop. At the end of the day, if you’re not working with a professional then you’ll want to check with the Town or City Clerk where you’re going to be located.
- For DYI’ers head over to the Mississippi Small Business Development Center and check out their FAQs Page for new business owners.
- A Business License Service is great if you need help with licensing. 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 Mississippi Location
Whether you opt for the medium-sized gems like Madison and Brandon, or go right for the bustle of Jackson or Gulfport, you’ll be in the beating heart of the south. Everywhere you look is a landmark, something iconic with astounding significance in American heritage. And the people are downright awesome just about everywhere you go.
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
Thanks to modern-tech you have more access to more resources than any other human being at any other point in history. And that can be part of the problem…which will work best for your business? CrowdFunding and Social Lending are still new, but growing by massive amounts. How about investors or VCs? The sooner you begin grappling with this the better it’s going to turn out.
Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like Biloxi and Barq’s root beer; like chicken and waffles. 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 needs to be as impressive and awe-inspiring as the Mississippi River. Just have one. Mississippi culture is old, very old, but the people are as modern as ever. Give the world a way to engage with you, investigate your business and see where you’re going with it.
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
Great, you’ve covered all the previous 8 steps. Now what? Getting the word out doesn’t happen overnight so don’t expect it to. Mississippi is a friendly place with astounding demographics, culture, and networks so the most important thing you can do is get out there! Don’t be shy and don’t use the internet as a crutch to avoid real contact with your ideal market.
Take Action: Start close to home. Start with your neighbors. Start with local clubs and organizations. Use local internet search. No matter what state you do business in, because of the size of today’s marketplace you simply have to refine your approach or you’ll get lost.
Step 10: Continue Learning & Stay Inspired
Go ahead, congratulate yourself and your team if you have a good one around. From this point forward it's about growing, evolving, keeping up with the learning process and staying motivated. Well, that's what we're all about around here. Toss Startup Savant into your goodie bag because we'll be here for you with plenty of insight from fellow change-makers.