Step 1) Truly Plan Your Business Idea
The reason that Yuengling & Son is the oldest brewing company in America is because the beer is amazing and they’ve enjoyed great management – where good planning begins. Your first step is to test your planning skills and see just how much you can get from your business idea. And don’t worry, these days there’s inexpensive software that can help make the process 10x more effective in far less time.
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
With your initial plan laid out and viability levels through the roof, it’s time to protect yourself (house, car, etc) and empower your brand by choosing a legal structure and registering it with the state.
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 Pennsylvania Tax Code
After creating a legal structure and registering your brand name with the state, the next step is establishing your brand’s tax identity. Typically this involves all the basics, including getting your ID number, sourcing the correct forms, etc. Relax, this is easy stuff. Just be sure to do your homework and take advantage of the resource below.
Take Action: If you’re doing this alone, bookmark the PA Dept. of Revenue’s e-Services Center page for businesses.
Step 4) Obtain Proper Licensing/Permits
Figuring out which licenses you need is pretty simple. PA is very business-friendly which is why so many of their companies are the oldest in America.
- DYI’ers can head over to the City of Philadelphia’s Find a License or Permit page where you can find what you need to be compliant.
- 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 Pennsylvania Location
From Franklin Park to the endless bustle of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a wonderful place to set up shop with history and heritage in every nook and cranny.
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
There are plenty of online options to help you raise capital without much (if any) debt or high interest rates (CrowdFunding, Social Lending, etc.) set to one side,
Within Pennsylvania, you’ll have access to small armies of entrepreneurs, startup groups, venture capital networks, angel investment funds, county/state-level programs, and more! Don’t be shy.
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
Everyone in Pennsylvania will expect your brand to have its own digital presence. Without one, it would be hard to take you seriously. Maybe all you need is a simple one-pager with a sleek and simple ecommerce design. Just make sure there's a way for potential customers to learn more about your business!
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
Next time you think about digital marketing and use it to expand the reach of your products and services, remember that the first computer ever used was in Philadelphia, 1946. Pretty neat huh? The point here is that you should never cease getting out there and networking with the people.
Take Action: Wherever you open your doors, start local. Begin generating buzz as close to home as you can. Get involved with your ideal customer’s lives and make yourself known through real contact vs. vapid internet methods before a relationship has been formed.
Step 10) Continue Learning & Stay Inspired
Last but not least, moving forward after you've done all that it's about staying on top of your knowledge-base and skill sets, and keeping yourself/your team motivated.
Take Action: Consider adding Startup Savant to your toolkit of reliable resources because if anyone knows and understands what you're going through it's our community. See for yourself by following us Facebook and Twitter for daily interviews with fellow change-makers.