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So You Want To Start A Business?


So, You Want To Start A Business….

  • You have a product or a skill
  • You know your audience
  • You’ve done your research
  • Now What??

After all this, there are still several practical steps you must take before you hang out that Open For Business sign. Ensuring you complete these steps will put you on the right footing and avoid blunders down the road. Here are my practical and necessary steps for starting on the right track: This is a general primer to get you started, not an exhaustive list.

  1. Write a Business Plan
    The business plan is the roadmap for your company. It’s where you’ll put all the important planning and brainstorming into one document and describes in detail the who, what, when, where how and why of your new business. It doesn’t have to be a novel, just be sure and cover the essential pieces of your business.  A good business plan is organic; it will grow and change as your business grows and changes- but it keeps you grounded now and in the future.
  2. Brainstorm with Others

Take a step back and solicit feedback from friends, family and colleagues who might have some knowledge of the industry or in starting a business.  Seek out mentors or other business owners for guidance.  Get their opinion of your business plan.   They might have questions you didn’t think of or notice something that slipped by you. They have practical knowledge you don’t yet have and can be an invaluable resource as you begin this journey.

  1. All the Legal Stuff

If possible, at this step you should retain the services of a lawyer and/or accountant. At the very least you absolutely want professional advice. Now is when you’ll begin forming your business and filling out the necessary paperwork with federal, state and local governments. This can involve (but is not limited to):

  • Choosing Your Corporate Structure

There are many types of businesses you can form, including LLCs, S-Corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships and more.  The right one for you will depend on issues like cash flow, number of owners and how you want to structure potential liability. The state of Maine has forms that you complete to register your business with the State of Maine.  These forms can be found here:

  • Register and Obtain a Sales Tax License

If you will be selling products, you will need to register your business and obtain a sales tax license.  The state will determine how often you will need to submit sales tax whether it is monthly, quarterly, annually or bi-annually.

  • If you will have employees, you must register with the State of Maine Department of Labor. There are several steps involved in hiring, so work closely with the Department of Labor to ensure you are adhering to all legal requirements.
  • Obtain Necessary Licenses from your city or town

At this point be sure to check in with your town or municipality.  They may have specific licenses and/or permits that they require before you can open your doors.

  • Obtain an EIN number from the IRS

An employer identification number (EIN) is a nine-digit number assigned by the IRS. It’s used to identify the tax accounts of employers and others who have no employees. The IRS uses the number to identify taxpayers who are required to file various business tax returns.  It also protects your social security number from being on various documents.

  • Operating Agreements

Some banks now require you have an operating agreement in order to open a business account.  An operating agreement is a key document used by LLCs because it outlines the business owners financial and functional decisions including rules, regulations and provisions.

  1. Open Bank Accounts

Open bank accounts in your new business’ name. I always recommend at minimum one checking account and one savings account.  The checking account can be used for the day-to-day operations, and the savings account can hold money such as sales tax, payroll, and other liabilities.

  1. Take Care of Little Details

Now is a great time to step back and take stock, because the best ideas can be crippled by the smallest details.

  • Make sure your business has comprehensive insurance for issues ranging from fire to property damage and legal liability.
  • If you will hire employees, put a documented process in place for hiring and firing. Have your workers compensation and unemployment insurance paperwork filed and in order.
  • Figure out how your business will do its accounting and have that system set up and operational, whether you’ll do it yourself or have hired a professional.
  • This is the time to begin marketing. You should always think about how to get your business’ name out into the community. Don’t let up once the doors open. Look to social media, advertising, foot traffic and local networking to get people in.
  1. Put together your team

And finally, and maybe most importantly…..

As a business owner you can’t be expected to be an expert on all things: marketing accounting, hiring, sales, inventory, etc..,   The first and most important network every entrepreneur  must build is their own support system. A strong team includes not just internal managers and staff but also outside advisers who can help you keep perspective, identify great opportunities and execute important ideas. This was a priority for me as I started my business  and even today I rely on advisors, mentors, colleagues and friends to help keep my vision clear and my path visible.  Whether internal or external it’s necessary to have the right team in place: people you can turn to, who will hold you accountable and who will keep your business in alignment with your vision.


Although this may seem overwhelming, this can be done step by step.  Be diligent, create lists and sub lists and hold yourself to achieving these goals on time…as Jimmy Carter said,  You can do what you have to do, and sometimes you can do it even better than you think you can.”

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