Starting a business is exciting yet also daunting. There’s so much to do in such little time – so where do you start? Before setting up shop and selling, there are a handful of first “to-dos” to add to your list. No matter how large or small the business, these are the three essential elements you must ensure are completed before making your first sale.
A business plan is a document featuring a description and a broad overview of the company’s plans and future. Ideally, it must clearly outline the company’s strategy and all goals over a set period, with the aim of reaching those goals through actionable steps. It also needs to identify your target audience and budgets for the aspects you’ll need to succeed, from purchasing equipment and stock to funds you’ll need to spend on marketing.
Your business plan is clear. Now, it’s time to lay the foundations for getting your brand out there. You’ll need a website, of course – and it needs to be fine-tuned to your target audience. Your site must detail your business’s location and the humans behind it for greater authority and credibility, as well as contain excellent quality content that engages and informs people about your company and what it does. But a pretty website and a bit of information strewn here and there aren’t enough; it needs to be optimized for search.
Using advertising and SEO (search engine optimization), you can boost your website’s visibility online and garner more customers to your door. Most businesses in the modern day need online visibility, and for the most part, that comes from search engines – but you need to ensure users can find you (that’s what SEO does).
SEO is an entire art, from keywords to backlinks and more, so professional assistance in this area is advised. For example, the SEO Mansfield TX service providers offer typically comprise a broad range of SEO and PPC advertising strategies designed to boost brand visibility, climb the search engine results pages, and attract customers.
Create a Legal Business Entity
Businesses in the US must operate under a legal entity before they can start operating, and each one can impact taxation and personal liability for the company. Technically, you can do this first (but it must be done before you can earn your first buck as a business).
Here’s a rundown of the main options for a small business owner.
A sole proprietorship means the owner and the business are legally one. A Schedule C for your business must be filed, as well as a personal tax return (which is Form 1040), after which your company’s revenue will be taxed (as will any other forms of income you earn).
Limited Liability Company (LLC)
A limited liability company means the business can be a sole proprietorship, a general partnership, or a corporation. Someone who’s in business with another person (at least one) means the classification will be a general partnership. However, if you’re the only business owner, it’ll be a sole proprietorship.
Corporations, by law, are separate entities. One benefit is that they afford liability protection for business owners. Corporations can also be privately held, with stock shared among owners or with stock offered for sale to the general public. While corporations offer liability advantages, they are double-taxed; the corporation is taxed on the business’s profits, while the business owners’ dividends from those profits are also taxed.