How to start a business in Texas (10 Simple Steps)

Step 1: Plan Your Business Idea

Write a Business PlanThe truth is, no one starts a business in Texas, the state with the 12th largest economy in the world, without a plan. That would be like trying to rustle cattle without a rope.

Your first step is designing your business’ road map to success.

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. We’ll guide you step-by-step through the process and help refine all your core fundamentals: marketing, budgeting, milestones, pitch, etc. into a presentation-ready plan.

Quick Note: If you still need a business idea and want to explore some great options, TRUiC has an awesome resource for helping you find the right one.

Step 2: Form Your Business

How to Choose a Business StructureOnce you have a solid plan, it’s time to register your business with the state. This will protect your personal assets (house/car/etc) and give you a solid leg to stand on moving forward.

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.

Take Action: To get started, you can form a Texas LLC by using our step-by-step guide or having a reliable service like IncFile ($49) or LegalZoom ($149) do it for you.

Step 3: Tackle Texas Tax Obligations

Small Business TaxesFrom the Texas Enterprise Fund (huge) to incentives and credits galore, once your brand is a registered legal entity you can then leverage the power of the Lone Star tax code. Obviously the sooner you get this handled by either yourself or your tax attorney, the better.

Take Action: If you’re doing this without legal help, head on over to the “Quick Start for Business: A Guide to Comptroller Resources for Businesses” that’s Texas-specific and tackles just about everything you’re going to need.

Step 4: Obtain Licensing & Permits

Business LicensesJust more red-tape, but it’s necessary to legally conduct business. You may only need a simple license and to pay a quick fee, or it might be more complex depending on where you open up shop and what kind of business you’re starting.

  1. For the DIY’ers head on over to SBA’s guide on Texas Business Licenses, Permits, and Registration to get started.
  2. 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: Open A Business Bank Account

Best Business Bank AccountMixing your personal and business bank accounts is like mixing your collard greens with pastries. You just don’t do it. While this should be a no-brainer, you would (or wouldn’t) be shocked by the amount of new entrepreneurs who make this newbie mistake and miss out on so many financial benefits.

Take Action

  • Shop around at local and national banks to compare features. Typically an online national bank like Capital One or CitiBank will give you the best rates and 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 account.

Step 6: Pick A Stellar Texas Location

How to Choose a Business LocationWhile there are so many options when choosing a business location, be strategic. Each “region” of Texas is a mammoth intermingling of cultures.

The geography is immensely diverse. Will you stay near the Gulf and settle in Corpus Christi? Or maybe head north to Abilene or Amarillo? Maybe you’re going right into the heart of Texas, north of San Antone…remember each area has its own upsides and downsides.

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: Bootstrap Your Startup

How to Finance a BusinessMany will argue Texas invented boostrapping, which is why today the state boasts a 1.4 trillion GDP (2013). Now, within that giant dust devil is quite a few funding options so don’t get your spurs in a bunch. Relax, evaluate your options (including non-conventional like Social Lending or CrowdFunding) and go easy.

Bootstrapping takes planning, discipline, and team work but it keeps you hungry and driven. And don’t forget just how many resources, online and otherwise (incubators, groups, orgs, services, etc.), are out there to help you get your business where it needs to be.

Take Action: The email course mentioned in Step 1 really comes in handy here because planning and finances go together like fried chicken and waffles. Browse our guide on How to Finance a Business to start generating ideas.

Step 8: Build A Business Website

Build a Business WebsiteBusiness websites aren’t as complex or expensive to design and maintain as they were a few years ago.

But there’s no doubt about it, your brand’s website is its Alamo. It’s where your clients and customers learn about you, do business with you, engage with you, etc. And yes, we think they’re a necessity to compete and beat your competition.

Take Action: If you could use some help in this department, we highly recommend looking into a business website builder like Wix or Weebly. They’re both very easy to use and will give you a professional website in less than a few hours.

Step 9: Market Your Business

Social Media ChannelStartup Savant doesn’t pretend to know the answers to modern marketing. We don’t. We don’t think anyone does because marketing is changing and evolving so quickly. What we do know though is that you still can’t beat experimentation, then capitalizing on activity.

Take Action: Whether you’re strictly online or brick and mortar, Texas is a powerhouse marketplace where you have to test and see what works. Leverage the power of more localized online marketing in conjunction with reaching out and really connecting with your niche to see what makes the most sense.

Step 10: Continue Learning & Stay Inspired

Sign Up For Entrepreneur InterviewsSomething else we’ve figured out is that there’s very little that can drive you and charge your engines the way personalized insight can. This is why we’ve put so much focus on establishing relationships with fellow entrepreneurs in the trenches and doing one-on-one interviews.

Take Action: Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to tap into our daily feed filled with tips, lessons, and inspiring stories directly from entrepreneurs like you.