Step 1: Truly Plan Your Business Idea
According to the U.S. Small Business Admin, a primary benefit of business planning is it allows you to see your entire startup in a very concise and illuminating way. This enables you to spearhead your focus, set realistic objectives and develop a more effective system of accountability. Without one, you’re flying blind.
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
The next step has three parts to it: 1) deciding on the type of business entity you’re going to form, 2) registering said entity with the state, and 3) in the process you’ll secure/file your brand name. The main benefit however is that you'll be protecting your personal assets (house, car, etc).
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 New Hampshire Tax Code
We’re literally talking about the “Live free or die!” state where’s there’s no sales tax. And you probably aren’t sitting on a huge tax nightmare unless you plan to open a solar panel installation business or something along those lines. If you don’t have legal help, then figure out what fees need to be paid and what forms need to be sent. And, don’t forget to see which credits, incentives, and kickbacks apply because there's plenty.
Take Action: To get started head on over to the NH Dept. of Revenue website’s Businesses Section where you’ll have access to just about everything you’ll need – including their Taxpayer Bill of Rights!
Step 4: Obtain Proper Licensing/Permits
Unlike the Appalachian Trail, New Hampshire’s regulatory environment is pretty easy to navigate. Chances are your new small business won’t require too much outside the norm – basic license or local operator’s permit, possible registrations, county-specific, and so forth. You’ve got a couple options here so this step goes as smooth as possible.
- For DYI’ers head to the New Business Tax Licenses & Permits FAQs page on NH.gov.
- If you need help with this step, a Business License Service is what we recommend. 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 New Hampshire Location
Perhaps you’re thinking of Durham and joining the boom going on since about 2000 where they’ve seen over 200% growth in median income and a 9.2% population increase. Or maybe you’re headed south to Londonderry for the family atmosphere and intend on working from home? Or maybe the bustle of Portsmouth or Manchester? Regardless, you’re going to love it.
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 Business
Welcome to the entrepreneurial era. New Hampshire has an incredibly healthy VC and angel investor networks and a very modern population. You’ve got conventional means and social lending, CrowdFunding, local/state-level programs galore and all the tech-amenities you could ask for. What more could you need?
Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like sugar and Grandma’s Kitchen. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.
Step 8: Design & Publish A Business Website
Along with astounding advertising and branding potential, your business website is the primary means people will use to investigate your products or services. Come on, we all know this. And these days by working with popular platforms like Wix or SquareSpace, web design is no longer digital wizardry.
Take Action: The first step is finding the right platform, which thankfully there are a handful of great options. Head on over to our reviews of Wix and Weebly to get a head start. They’re both very reliable, affordable and easy to use. Plus they offer free trials so you can test the waters!
Step 9: Market Your Business
Tough subject, but it had to be in here. After steps 1-8 there’s little left to do but sell and grow. Remember, there are no shortcuts transforming $1 into $2. And don’t forget that New Hampshire is known for outgoing nature and zest for supporting local businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit.
Take Action: Relax, as long as you’re getting closer to your ideal clients or customers you’re on the right track. It’s when distance begins to grow that you need to get back to your plan, assess what’s going on and fix it.
Step 10: Continue Learning & Stay Inspired
Regardless of what step you’re on, consider Startup Savant a reliable source of valuable motivation and insight from fellow change-makers, along with access to all the best tools. We know what you’re facing and are here to help.