Step 1: Truly Plan Your Business Idea
Your first step, is you guessed it, the most important and will set the tone. It's the first big "pivot" that determines your business idea's destiny. Consider using new business planning software that structures the process and helps you craft your pitch, executive summary, financial forecasts, budgets, and initial marketing. It simply doesn't make sense to brave Jersey without one.
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
Step 2 is a big one. You’re going to choose which business structure best suits your brand. There are upsides and downsides to each type, so keep reading. Regardless, in the process you’ll secure a brand name and protect your personal assets (like car and house) 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, consider forming 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 Jersey Tax Code
This is critical, so don't be afraid to reach out for help if you run into any issues. Depending on a number of variables (nature of business, # of employees, specific location, etc.) there's going to be forms that need filing and their corresponding fees to become/stay compliant. Here's some places to begin the process:
Step 4: Obtain Proper Licensing/Permits
In this step you must get all necessary licensing handled and obtain the right permits relative to the nature of your business and your specific location. With legal assistance, it's a breeze, but you can also handle this on your own with some due diligence.
- For DYI’ers head over to NJ Business Portal’s Licenses and Permits page which should have enough to get started.
- If you need help, 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 Jersey Location
So you’ve got the bustle-hustle of Jersey City and Newark, then many medium-sized gems like Westfield, Hoboken, and Montclair. The coolest part is that under each rock, and within each nook is a little slice of American heritage. So how about it though, where in New Jersey do you plan to set up shop?
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
From VC networks and startup groups, to CrowdFunders and social lenders, to the fact Wall Street isn’t but a short drive away…there’s no end to the capital raising possibilities in and around Jersey. All that matters is how much your business needs, as well as how resourceful you are. 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 deep dish and beer. 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 insinuating your business site needs to be as spectacular as The Great Falls of the Passaic River, but your brand must have a digital presence to be taken seriously. Relax, if you don’t already have a site, many amazing platforms have come about over the last few years that have streamlined the process making it easiest than ever to get up and running. You’ll have all the time in the world to optimize, optimize, optimize.
Take Action: The first step is finding the right platform, which thankfully there are some great options out there. Head on over to our reviews of the top two in our book (Wix and Weebly) to get a head start if you don’t already have this in the bag.
Step 9: Market Your Business
Whether you’re in Northern or Southern Jersey, the marketing animal can be challenging. Think of it as the molten metal that helps to mold your brand-steel into strong rods capable of weathering the storms of competition. And no, unfortunately there aren’t any shortcuts to this step.
Take Action: Speaking of your competition, how well do you know them? What are you learning from them? What kind of marketing is working for them and how can you do “it” in a better, more personalized way? In addition to knowing the answers to all of the questions above, do research on which type of marketing is the most effective in your industry.
Step 10: Continue Learning & Stay Inspired
As you continue forth on your noble journey as a new entrepreneur, keep Startup Savant in your goodie bag because if anyone knows where you’re coming from and what you’re facing…it’s our community. We focus our content on helping you stay motivated and continue your education, updated on the savviest tools for modern business.