Starting your Business
Own your business - Start your own company
Starting a business can be both exciting and stressful. But, with proper planning and legal guidance, the process can be smooth and problem free.
The process of setting up your own business can be broken into a few simple steps:
1. Prepare a business plan. A properly written business plan will serve not only as a blueprint for your company's future operations, but will be pivotal to obtaining capital and financing.
2. Choose a location to set up your business. While the first thought may be to organize your business in your home state, there are certain advantages to organizing in other jurisdictions. Delaware is a popular state given its favorable corporate laws. There are even reasons to consider incorporating overseas.
3. Obtain financing or other forms of start up capital.
4. Determine a legal structure for your business. Sometimes an S corp is the way to go, other times an LLC or a partnership. There are multiple forms of business entities and they vary slightly by state. Each will have different tax implications, different forms of business governance, and varying legal and procedural requirements.
5. Register your business. Once you have selected the form of legal structure, you will need to register your company with the jurisdiction you choose. You will also need to renew that registration each year to ensure that your company remains legally in existence.
6. Obtain a Tax ID. One of the most important steps to establishing a company is obtaining a tax ID from the IRS. This is an integral step to creating the separate identify of the business entity, establishing its separate taxation, and activating the tax benefits of the chosen form of business entity.7. Obtain business licenses and permits. Most businesses will need to obtain a license to legally operate in its given place of business from the local municipality. Failing to do so could result in fines or other penalties.
The resources found here will help you work your way through these steps. Additionally, the attorneys and law firms listed in our directories can assist you in setting up your own company and managing its legal needs as it commences operations.
Developing a Business Idea
- Business Owner's Toolkit
Business Owner’s Toolkit offers more than 5,000 pages of free cost-cutting tips, step-by-step checklists, real-life case studies, startup advice, and business templates to small business owners and entrepreneurs. The site also offers a monthly newsletter, up-to-date news topics, and Ask Alice!, a column that closely follows industry trends and provides trusted advice to inquiring site visitors. Free and paid memberships options are available.
- Checklist for Starting a Business - IRS
Sponsered by the IRS, this page provides links to basic federal tax information for people who are starting a business. It also provides information to assist in making basic business decisions. The list should not be construed as all-inclusive. Other steps may be appropriate for your specific type of business.
- Developing a Business Idea
Provides a series of checklists to aid in the development of business ideas.
- Evaluating Your Business Idea FAQ
A list of questions to ask before starting your own business.
- How to Start a Small Business
A Web book developed to help prospective small business owners with the often overwhelming process of starting a business - everything from writing a business plan to finding government contracts.
- Small Business Planner
Careful planning is fundamental to success. The Small Business Planner includes information and resources that will help you at any stage of the business lifecycle.
- Starting a Business - Entrepreneurs.com
Starting a Business: How-To Guides; Business Ideas; Startup Basics; Business Plans; Getting Financing; Finding Customers; Inventing; Success Stories; and Going Green.
- Starting a New Business
Starting a new business is one of life's important steps, whether you are starting your first business, or moving into a new business after years of experience. Provides checklists for starting a new business.
- Starting a small business by Brad Ross
Each small business is as unique as the entrepreneur running the business, and there is no one standard formulae for starting your own business. This article describes key success factors to help guide your business and ensure you are on a solid foundation before you open the doors.
- Startup Guides
Entrepreneur magazine's Startup Guides give you all the information you need to start your dream business.
- The 18 Mistakes That Kill Startups - Paul Graham
List of things Startups shouldn't do - essentially, not making something somethings users want. Paul Graham provides a list of 18 things that cause startups not to make something users want. Nearly all failure funnels through that. Paul Graham is an essayist, programmer, language designer, and investor. He co-founded Viaweb (which eventually became Yahoo! Store).
- U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. It's programs include: Technical Assistance (Training & Counseling); Financial Assistance; Contracting Assistance; Disaster Assistance Recovery; programs for Special Interests Groups; Advocacy, Laws & Regulations; and Civil Rights Compliance (CRC).
- Business plan - Wikipedia
This is a summary article that covers many topics related to business plans - their content, how they are used, legal issues, and spoofs of business plans, among others. Please see individual sections for links to detailed discussions of various topics relating to business plans.
- Center For Business Planning
Business Plan Software, Samples and Strategy.
- Why You Need to Write a Business Plan
Nolo.com Article: Learn why writing a business plan is important - even if you're not trying to raise money.
- Write a Business Plan
U.S. Small Business Administration guides and links to information for writing a business plan.
- Writing a Business Plan FAQ
Learn the what, when, why, and how of business plans from findlaw.com.
- How To Create a Great Business Name
About.com how-to article on creating a memorable, effective business name.
- Make Sure Your Proposed Business Name Is Available
Information to help you determine if your desired business name is free for you to use from nolo.com.
- Pick a Winning Name for Your Business
Nolo.com article on choosing a winning business name that will identify your company's products and services.
- Protect Your Business Name
Intellectual Property Article from Fairfield and Woods, pc about protecting your business name.
- Registering Your Business Name
Nolo.com article about registering your business name with the local, state, or federal government - especially if it's considered fictitious.
Buying a Business
1. Identify the type of business you want to buy.
2. Consider what you are good at and what you know and avoid going into businesses that would be unrealistic to run with your level of expertise.
3. Investigate the financial health of the business you are buying.
The resources below will help you with your investigation of an existing business you intend to buy and give you other pointers for developing such a company.
- Buying a Business
About.com overview about buying an existing business that's already demonstrated an ability to successfully operate, rather than starting your own. Provides links to other articles that address the various aspects of buying a business.
- Buying a Business: What You Need to Know
Nolo.com article about the research you should do and the information you should have before purchasing a business.
- Top 10 Mistakes Made When Buying a Business
List of common mistakes to avoid when buying a business.
Of course, not every work-from-home business is bound for success. There are also numerous new scams and marginally viable home-based franchise businesses in the market.
The resources below will help you to find and analyze home-based business opportunities. They will also guide you through determining the practicality of these solutions, the legal and tax consequences you should consider, and the prospects of profitability for your given circumstances.
- Business.Gov: Home-Based Businesses
Starting a home-based business has many rewards and challenges. This guide provides resources that will help you learn more about working out of your house, starting a home-based business, and managing your business within the law.
- Home Office Tax Deduction
Information you need to know about the home office deduction, from IRS.gov.
- Home-Based Working Moms
Online community and professional association for moms working at home since 1995. Offers free memberships.
- Is Your Home Zoned for Business? - Entrepreneur.com
How to research, comply with and change local zoning laws in your homebased business's favor.
- The Home Office Tax Deduction
Nolo.com article about qualifications for home office deductions.
The resources below will assist you in understanding the legal and practical considerations for franchising, both as the franchisor and the franchisee.
- 10 Steps for Choosing the Right Franchise
List of steps to help you evaluate any franchise opportunity you are considering to choose the one that suits you, and to reduce risk and raise the levels of success.
- Buying a Franchise: A Consumer Guide
A booklet prepared by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to explain how to shop for a franchise opportunity, the obligations of a franchise owner, and questions to ask before investing.
- Consumer Guide to Buying a Franchise
Guide from the 'Lectric Law Library" about the benefits and responsibilities of owning a franchise, and what buying a franchise entails.
- Find the Right Franchise
11 Top Tips to Help Select the Perfect Business Franchise.
Franchising.com provides a directory of hundreds of franchise opportunities; thousands of articles; news stories; how-to guies; and informational profiles to assist you in finding the right franchise opportunity.
Articles on HG.org Related to Business Law
- When a Business Folds, Who Is Responsible for Its Debts and Other Obligations?A common question among small business owners is who will be responsible for debts and other obligations if a business entity folds or reorganizes. Many things can happen in the life of a business entity, whether a corporation, LLC, partnership, or sole proprietorship, and this can lead to questions about who will be left holding the bag.
- Legally Speaking, What is an Act of God?Contracts talk about them, statutes mention them, even TV sitcoms joke about them, but what are acts of God? Many people might think they have a good idea, but given that insurance is often designed to protect against most catastrophes except acts of God, how confident are you that you actually know what is covered?
- Sutter Health Settles Whistleblower Case for $46 MillionSutter Health decided to settle a whistleblower case before trial. The case involved allegations of double billing for anesthesia services at hospitals in California.
- Setting Up an Ongoing Franchise Compliance and Housekeeping SystemYour work never ends as a franchisor. It is a real achievement to get your franchise system in place, and then make your state registrations and sell a few franchises. But that is just the beginning – now you have to maintain your franchise system. A franchise system requires a large amount of ongoing legal compliance and housekeeping work.
- What is Insider Trading and Why Is It IllegalThe term “insider trading” seems to pop up in the news with a fair degree of frequency. Celebrities have even been accused of engaging in it, like Martha Stewart. But what is insider trading and why is it illegal?
- Which is Safer: Tap or Bottled Water?Each year, millions of Americans consume billions of gallons of water. The boom in the bottled water industry was fueled, in part, by beliefs that bottled water was cleaner and more heavily regulated than tap water. But then a backlash by others in the media showed that much bottle water was simply tap water in a bottle. So, is one form of water more heavily regulated and safer than the other?
- Whistleblower Reward Programs Could Help Regain Funds From Tax DodgersWhistleblower reward programs could help California recoup lost tax revenue.
- The Calm Before the Storm: Warning Signs that a Referral to Criminal Investigation is LoomingA criminal investigation conducted by the IRS is different from a civil investigation. Criminal investigation of taxpayer returns or fraudulent activity is conducted by the Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS (CI). CI is the heavy artillery of the IRS arsenal.
- Eggshell Audits: Keeping the Shell of the Egg From Cracking When There are Criminal Tax IssuesIn an “eggshell audit,” you must walk on eggshells to represent your client effectively in the civil examination without exposing the fraud, all the while honoring your duties to the tax system not to mislead the revenue agent.
- Whistleblowers Programs Could Help Regain Funds From Tax DodgersAccording to the California Franchise Tax Board, the state is owed more than 6.5 billion dollars in tax revenue. Some contend that implementation of a whistleblower rewards program could help to bring in some of that lost revenue.