Step 1: Plan Your Business Idea
Because of our huge community, we’ve seen the value a solid business plan brings to the table for legitimate startups, and what kind of fallout potentially awaits those who neglect this first foundation-building step. Is there value in spontaneity and going with the flow in the ultra-beginning? Absolutely. But, once you know you’re on to something serious, it’s time to buckle up and start etching out an initial blueprint.
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.
Step 2: Choose Business Structure & Register
The next step involves choosing a business structure. In the process of registering your business with the state, you'll be protecting your personal assets (house, car, etc) and solidify a 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 South Dakota Tax Code
First and foremost, South Dakota is one of the states without income tax (including corporate/personal) and it’s considered by the Tax Foundation as a top state to incorporate in. From a low ongoing filing burden to booming local economies and no enforcement of capital gains taxes…wow! The trick is knowing what you’re doing so you can leverage as much as possible while adhering to state requirements.
Take Action: Bookmark the Business Taxes info page through the SD Dept. of Revenue. It’s going to be your portal to online services, getting forms if you’re doing this solo, a tax rate finder, and more.
Step 4: Obtain Proper Licensing & Permits
Don’t worry, the red-tape ride is almost over. South Dakota may have more shoreline than Florida thanks in large part to Lake Oahe, but aside from Native American Indian Reservation (tribal) issues and basic state/federal requirements, most small to medium-sized brands who want to be located among the free-roaming bison have little to fret about.
- For DYI’ers head to the state’s Business Entity Registration page which has links to corresponding info for each type.
- 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: Create A Dedicated Business Bank Account
This step is quick and simple. If you’re looking for complex, go explore Wind Cave. All you have to do is pick a good place to set up a dedicated business account to begin building your brand’s financial foundation. Afterwards you can sync it with a solid accounting software and boom, you’re set.
- Shop around at local/national banks and compare features. (We chose to bank with Spark Business by Capital One because they’re the easiest to deal with and have the best small business features.)
- User-friendly, fast, secure, tons of automation, easier forecasting, more efficient marketing budgets…the benefits are near endless which is why this startup-tech is indispensable. Check out our guide to Business Accounting Software and sync whichever you choose with your new business bank accounts.
Step 6: Pick A Stellar South Dakota Location
No matter where you choose to setup shop in South Dakota, it will have a big impact on your business. Most cities like Aberdeen, Brookings, Watertown or Rapid City are gorgeous slices of heaven in the heart of America with all the modern accoutrements for modern business.
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 Your Business
To be frank, outside more conventional means (like where you choose to bank) once your brand reaches the point you may need serious funding online options will become more and more viable. Social lending and CrowdFunding are two very serious paths to consider which are growing in popularity by the second, especially for small businesses.
Take Action: The email course we mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like mashed potatoes and wrestling. You can also browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.
Step 8: Design & Publish A Business Website
Does your website need to be as impressive as Mount Rushmore? No. Not even close. As long as your business website gives the world and your ideal customers/clients/users a way to investigate you, everything else happens over the years. Truth is, “websites” are never done. They grow and adapt as much as your brand will to the pressures of time.
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
Okay, so your brand’s registered/filed with the state, hooked up into the regulatory system, your financial foundation is set and your website’s published…now it’s time to market! There’s two big tricks: incentives and knowing yourself as the business owner.
Take Action: What kinds of incentives does your niche respond to? What incentives lower your customer/lead acquisition costs? And finally, what are your personal marketing strengths as the business owner? These are critical questions to consider during this first leg of the journey.
Step 10: Continue Learning & Stay Inspired
In essence, the final step has to do with where you put your focus in terms of ongoing education and keeping yourself motivated through the rougher times of being in business. It's not all circuses and candy and who you lend your ear to matters. Consider Startup Savant as a reliable resource and place to turn for insight from fellow entrepreneurs pursuing their goals today.