DBA and Tax IDs
To officially start your business, there are a few legal matters that needed to be taken care of first. I decided to start my business as a sole proprietor. It’s not uncommon for a lot of businesses to start here and then change to an LLC or corporation as they grow. Not sure what business structure is right for your business? Check out this comparison chart: https://www.legalzoom.com/business/compare-business-structures.html
What exactly is a DBA? DBA stands for Doing Business As. Unless you plan to operate your business under your legal name, then you’ll need to obtain a DBA. The process of registering your DBA varies from state to state. Legal Zoom is a great resource to help you painlessly get your DBA. https://www.legalzoom.com/business/business-formation/dba-overview-b.html
EIN and State Tax ID
An EIN (Employer Identification Number) is a federal tax ID. As a sole proprietor you can also just use your social security number, however, I found that I preferred keeping it separate especially when signing up with wholesale vendors.
Read more at: https://www.legalzoom.com/business/business-operations/ein-federal-tax-identification-overview.html
You’ll also need a State Tax ID. Most of the time obtaining this ID is free and can be done through your states government website. This is where you would pay the sales tax collected on goods purchased from you if applicable. Read more here: https://www.legalzoom.com/business/business-operations/state-tax-id-overview.html
Bookkeeping and Taxes
Unless you’re an accountant or like this sort of thing, bookkeeping and taxes are the least fun part of running a business. Unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil. There are some tools I came across that do help make it less painful.
Expense and Income tracking
I use Quickbooks Self-Employed to keep track of money coming in and expenses for my business. It’s really simple to connect your bank account and credit cards. From there you can set up rules for each transaction to help organize it for the end of the year Schedule C. You can also track mileage, organize receipts, create invoices, and estimate quarterly taxes. See more features here: https://quickbooks.intuit.com/self-employed/
Selling goods in person or online means you’ll need to collect state sales tax. Since my business only has a physical presence in Illinois, I’m only required by law to collect sales tax from those who also live in Illinois. Sales tax rules change all the time and can become rather complicated. I use a platform called TaxJar. It handles all of the sales tax automatically and even has the option to have them make the payment to your state of nexus as well. TaxJar integrates with the top e-commerce platforms such as Etsy, Woocommerce, eBay, Amazon, Stripe, PayPal, Square, and more. Learn more here: https://www.taxjar.com/
Domain, Hosting, and Web Design
Now that you’ve got your business structure and all the boring tax situations figured out, it’s time to get your business an online precesnse. First, you’re going to need a domain name, which is the URL people will type in to find your website, and hosting. I highly recommend InMotion Hosting for both your domain and hosting. Not only do you get great value for your money, but they have the best customer service. They have hosting geared toward WordPress https://www.inmotionhosting.com/wordpress-hosting or if your in need of more power for your website and have a little technical knowledge you can go for the VPS https://www.inmotionhosting.com/vps-hosting
To make your website easier to manage, you’ll need a CMS (Content Management System). One of the most popular and that I recommend is WordPress. Not only is it open source, it has a large community from which you can seek help if need be. Download WordPress at wordpress.org.
You’ll now need a design! I can help with this part if you’d like or another great option is finding a premium theme that fits your vision for your business. There are a lot of decent free themes out there for WordPress, but trust me when I say you’ll not only want but need the extra features that come with a premium theme. Check out Envato Market’s Theme Forest
Last but not least, I recommend getting a page builder. A lot of premium themes on Theme Forest come with Visual Composer (AKA WP Bakery). While this is a decent page builder, I find that Beaver Builder is a lot more user-friendly and simple to use for those who don’t know how to code. Check it out here: www.beaverbuilder.com
Once you have your site all designed, you’ll need some content. It can be both tedious and time-consuming to try to write everything yourself. I recommend ordering the writing services over at BKA Content. I’ve used them multiple times for other website projects and always receive high-quality writing.
If you’re in need of stock photos to go along with your content try out Envato Elements. This stock site has a plethora of professional images, graphics, templates, and more with a simple to understand commercial license.
As a business, you’ll more than likely have some sort of product or service you’re offering to your customers. If you’d like to sell directly from your website, I’d recommend Woocommerce for WordPress. Not only is Woocommerce widely supported, the core plugin is free. However, there are a lot of add-on options. Here are some of my favorites over at Code Canyon.
Having your own home office space for your business is essential to keep yourself organized. Find at least a corner of a quiet room to place a desk and a file cabinet. Don’t have a desk? Here are some ideas for you and some accessories:
You’ll also need a dependable computer. I recommend the Surface Pro. It has the functionality of a laptop with the portability of a tablet. It’s great for any type of business situation. I suggest going for the I7 with at least 16gb of ram especially if you plan to use Adobe programs.
I found these resources to work best for me on my entrepreneurial journey and it’s perfectly okay if it doesn’t work for you. What tools are your favorites?