Step 1: Truly Plan Your Business Idea
To truly get the most out of your business and to help ensure that it lives to exceed its potential, you’re going to need a professionally formatted and well thought out business plan. Don’t even think about it until you’ve ironed out an initial business plan. If you need help, there are some solid free resources available like the one below.
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 is to protect you, your personal assets and your brand by registering your business with the state. Investigate the common types to see which suits your ambitions best and provides the most incentives relative to New York regulations.
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 York Tax Code
Now it’s time to tackle the ways in which your company will interact and be treated by local, state, and federal tax systems. Honestly, this step is going to take some research on your part. If you have a professional at your side, that's even better.
Take Action: If you’re going to try and Lone Ranger this, begin by bookmarking the New York Dept. of Taxation and Finance. It has links to just about everything you’ll need to get started.
Step 4: Obtain Proper Licensing/Permits
Depending on the nature of your business and where you open your doors there are going to be forms to fill out and file with the appropriate agencies. Once you're done you will be legally compliant and ready to officially bring your business to life!
- DYI’ers can head over to the NYC Business Wizard which is designed to help you figure out exactly what applies and how to get compliant.
- For help finding the licenses you’ll need, a Business License Service is what we highly recommend looking into. 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 York Location
This can be a difficult decision if you don’t already know where you’re headed. It’s really going to come down to the cost of living. Manhattan is generally more high-end, while Woodstock, Rochester, or the Hudson Valley which will have less expensive options.
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
First of all, realize that New York’s VC and CrowdFunding scenes are catching up to New England and Silicon Valley quickly. If you’re going into the tech sector, you’re really in luck. There are practically endless ways to raise capital for your startup in New York; it’s just a matter of knowing where to start.
Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like cabs and whistling. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.
Step 8: Design & Publish A Business Website
The last step to setting up shop has everything to do with your brand’s digital presence. No one, and we mean no one is going to take your brand seriously if they can’t investigate you using their smartphone. Your business website needs to be there to serve as the digital gateway to your brand where people can investigate, engage, contact you, and share what you’re up to with their own networks.
Take Action: The first step is finding the right platform, which thankfully there are some very good options. We highly recommend checking out Wix or Weebly, which are two of the most popular. Both help you build a professional business website while being very easy to use. No previous tech-skills required.
Step 9: Market Your Business
The marketing environment is as complex and exciting as the city line viewed from the top of the Empire State Building. That’s why it’s critical to find your niche(s) and focus. Spreading yourself way too thin is an easy mistake to make in New York, so you’ve got to stick to your plan and stay on your toes.
Take Action: One of the hardest parts is being heard amidst the insanely loud marketplace. The bustle just never ends. There’s no break and it doesn’t get more competitive than New York. Seek out as much help as you can manage! Networking is EVERYTHING.
Step 10: Continue Learning & Stay Inspired
Speaking of networking, toss Startup Savant into your toolkit because we know where you’re coming from. Around here we emphasize savvy learning, staying motivated and gaining as much insight from fellow change-makers as possible. We’re here for you!