Steps for Starting a New Business!

Blue and white open sign

Steps for Starting a New Business!

So, you’ve weighed all of the options and made the decision to start a business. First of all, HOORAY!!! Go you for following your dreams! Navigating a path to entrepreneurship takes many twists and turns and looks different for everybody but there are some concrete steps we all should take when setting the foundation for a successful business.

We’ve broken down the most important steps for starting a business:

1. Know who you are and why you do what you do.
This may seem obvious but many entrepreneurs skip this step when starting a new venture. It’s not enough to have a vague idea and a catchy business name. You need to really dive in and do a total brand analysis.

Ask yourself:

  • What type of business am I starting?
  • Whose pain points am I solving?
  • What do they need from me?
  • What do I need from them?
  • How does my business specifically solve these pain points?

These are just some of the things you need to figure out before going any further. Answering these questions will give you a complete picture of your business and how to connect with your ideal client. These decisions can be fluid but you need something to build off of. Your brand deep dive will influence everything from your color scheme, signage, ad design, event participation, and so much more! If you get stuck, remember that Advokate is here to help (we’ve got you)!

2. Establish yourself as a Doing Business As (DBA)
You will need to register your business with the County Clerk in your area. This process is quick, easy, and affordable. Filing fees range from $10-$100 depending on your area. The cost in Warren County is around $25. If you’re unsure about how to proceed, call ahead and someone will walk you through it before you go. This legitimizes your business in the eyes of the county and ensures that no one else is operating with your business name. This also allows you to take checks written out to your business and to open a bank account with your business name. You can then go on and take the steps to become a Limited Liability Company (LLC) if you so choose, or start there in the first place if your business carries more risk of liability.

3. Meet with SCORE.
SCORE stands for the Service Corps of Retired Executives. Their help and guidance were crucial in the development of Advokate. We cannot stress enough the importance of speaking with someone who has already been where you are now. SCORE mentors are available at no cost to you and you can lean on them for advice at any phase of your business’s lifespan.

4. Find quality insurance.
We highly recommend finding an insurance company that you trust wholeheartedly. We recommend the folks at O’Brien Insurance. Starting a business is risky in and of itself. Don’t take unnecessary gambles when it comes to insurance coverage. Even a small mishap could potentially wipe out a small business’s assets. Just like with the SCORE mentorships, it’s best to get ahead of problems before they arise. We don’t think everyone should waste his time the way we did, but we had three different meetings with John – NO PRESSURE, NO GUILT – before finally jumping in to cover ourselves.

Your Employer ID Number (EIN) s a unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service to business entities operating in the United States for the purposes of identification. This legitimizes your business at the federal level and will be required when tax season rolls around. An EIN is not required for sole proprietorships that do not have employees.

The Certificate of Authority gives you the right to collect tax on your taxable sales and to issue and accept most New York State sales tax exemption certificates.

7. Hire an accountant and talk to them about QuickBooks and sales tax.
Having your books in order is vital to the success of your business. Knowing how much money is flowing in and out and from where will help keep you on track and able to plug any leaks that may spring up. Even if you end managing the finances yourself, knowing the correct processes, in the beginning, will save you many headaches down the road.

8. Call the Health Inspector.
If you have a brick and mortar location you should call the health inspector to ensure your building/space is up to code and ready to open.

9. Set up your bank account.
This one is fairly obvious. You need to have a business account that is entirely separate from your personal account or things will get MESSY. Definitely shop around and find a bank that is the right fit for you and your business. Many banks in the area offer free checking accounts to small businesses which is great for start-ups. Don’t be afraid to switch banks if any funny business goes on!  It’s your money and it’s important that you trust whose hands it is in.

10. Get a loan.
Maybe this won’t apply to everyone but it’s a good idea to at least look into what loans are out there and how they could help your business in both the short and long term. Starting with small loans can help you build credit which will go a long way in securing a larger loan should you ever need one.

SWOT analysis is a strategic planning technique used to help identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to business competition or project planning. Examples include competitors, prices of raw materials, and customer shopping trends. Taking this step will help you to build on what you do well, address what you’re lacking, minimize risks, and take the greatest possible advantage of chances for success. Break out the big paper for this!

12. Focus on branding and marketing.
Now you’ve got to toot that horn! It’s time to get an awesome logo, set up your website, activate social media accounts, design your signage and place ads. This is when you get together all of the elements that let people know you are here and ready to fly. Branding = Trust. With so much competition out there, your customers need to know which way to turn. An effective brand delivers a clear message, confirms your credibility, connects with your customers emotionally, and motivates them to act.

This is Advokate’s sweet spot. We can help you create crystal-clear brand guidelines and artwork that will elevate your business above competitors to give you a strong opening presence.

Our logo packages are $500 and our branding packages begin at $1000. Initial consultations are just $25 and we can iron out the to-do list, even if you’re on a DIY path.

If you need help with anything listed above or even something else, let us know!
Caitlin Stedman

In addition to being Advokate's Marketing & Communication Director, I own the film production company Snarky Aardvark Films, LLC, in Queensbury where I live with my dog, Vinny. Helping people succeed in a way that aligns with their values is my passion. I enjoy planning and executing anything clients may need to thrive. My work experience is varied but it all centers around community interaction and project management. I especially love Instagram!