Business Starter Thought Leader: Monica Allen
Over 50? Starting a business? Don’t fret. We have the ultimate checklist to get you started.
“To Build A Successful Business, You Must Start Small And Dream Big.” – Aliko Dangote
“It is necessary to make sure your business is set up properly and you can conduct business in the most professional manner.”
Starting A Business In Midlife & Beyond:
One of the things that I could have used when I first started my business was a succinct checklist of all of the things I needed. Instead, I found most of what I needed by stumbling over it, or through trial and error. Which is why I created these steps to launch your first business.
Sometimes while trying to do one thing, I would find that I needed to have another step completed first. I found it to be somewhat of a frustrating and busy time. Because all I really wanted to do was focus on our customers and our plans to grow the business.
Though all the legal documentation is definitely not the most exciting part of starting a business, it is necessary to make sure your business is set up properly and you can conduct business in the most professional manner.
After you have proven that your product or service has value in the marketplace, it’s time to walk through each step. Please note that you will need to refer to your specific state rules and guidelines. However, never fear this is nothing a quick Google search can’t help you resolve.
Let’s walk through some of the things you may need to get started in launching and growing your empire.
6 Steps To Launch Your First Business:
1. Get Your Tax ID Number:
If you are not operating as a sole proprietor but you plan on incorporating your business, you will need to apply for your Employer Identification Number (EIN). Also known as a Federal Tax ID number with the Internal Revenue Service. An EIN is similar to a Social Security Number, but it is for your business entity.
“Here in Georgia no other company registered in the state can have the same company name.”
You will use this number on your business tax return as well as on your employees’ W2.You will also need it when you remit their federal payroll taxes and your Medicare & Social Security matches from the company to the Internal Revenue Service. Applying for your EIN is a free service offered by the IRS. The form is also fairly simple to complete.
2. Get Your State Registration:
You will also need to register your business with your state. This increases the credibility of your company and registers your company’s name with the state. Here in Georgia no other company registered in the state can have the same company name.
You will want to see your state’s website for details on what is needed to complete the registration. Since we incorporated as an LLC, we had to submit our Article of Organization when registering, and we pay $50 annually to renew each of our businesses with the state.
3. Your City License:
Some cities like to know what businesses are operating within their city limits. You will definitely need to check with the city you are conducting your business in to see if you will need a business certificate from that city. All the steps to launch your first business are important and need to be checked off your list to launch properly.
“This usually means that you are reselling the goods and will charge tax to the end-user.”
Here, where we operate our business, we have to have our annual certificate on display. And the cost is based on the amount of revenue we make in the state each year. The rate to initially apply for your certificate will vary from city to city.
4. Resale Certificate Number:
A resale certificate is issued by your state. It allows you to purchase items wholesale without having to pay sales tax on them (if this applies in your state). This usually means that you are reselling the goods and will charge tax to the end-user.
Many vendors will ask you for your resale certificate prior to them letting you set up an account and purchase items wholesale and tax-free. Here in Georgia, there is no fee for this registration.
5. Get Your Department Of Revenue Registration:
In Georgia, the Department of Revenue collects the funds from sales tax that is collected from your company. And they collect the taxes that are paid by employees from their paychecks each pay period.
You will need a number assigned to your business to remit these funds. There was no cost for us to apply for our DOR number.
“Having a bank account for your business transactions both revenue and expenses is extremely important for keeping your books clean and organized.”
6. Get Your Department Of Labor Registration:
Once you begin thinking about hiring employees you will also need to register with the Department of Labor in your state. There is also a federal level of the Department of Labor that administers federal labor laws like the minimum wage for example.
But your state Department of Labor handles unemployment claims, the unemployment fund that each employer pays into based on their employees’ wages, and they help the jobless locate jobs in the state. There was no cost for us to apply for our DOL number.
7. Open A Bank Account:
For the business that I operate as a sole proprietor, I was able to open a bank account with my city business license and Social Security number. For my incorporated businesses, we had to provide our EIN to open our bank accounts. Having a bank account for your business transactions both revenue and expenses is extremely important for keeping your books clean and organized. This also makes it easy to determine if you are making money in your business.
8. Set Up A Merchant Services Account:
Once you have your bank account set up, you want to have a merchant services account that will allow you to take your customer’s or client’s credit cards. These steps to launch your first business are critical, if you want to collect funds from your customers. There are so many options for this. For example, your bank or a different financial institution, Stripe, Shopify, Square, Paypal, and I am certain there are new ones that I have not heard of yet.
Each one will have different rates or percentages of how much they will take from each transaction. Some will even charge a percentage and a flat rate per transaction. In addition, some will take their fee out immediately with each transaction while others will batch your fee as one monthly charge. You will want to read their agreement for all of these various details.
“I hope this list gets you started and helps make life a little bit easier for you as you begin your entrepreneurial journey. “
Steps To Set-Up Your Business:
I know these can seem like a lot of steps to get your business going; however, have no fear they may not all be needed immediately depending on what stage you are at in your business. I recommend that you contact your state and city business departments to ensure you have everything you need because some businesses have further regulations and registrations which you will need to adhere to. For example, restaurants have to get specific permits for serving food and alcoholic beverages.
I am not an attorney; however, we did hire one when we incorporated our first business. We wanted to make sure we did everything correctly. I hope these steps to launch your first business gets you started and helps make life a little bit easier for you as you begin your entrepreneurial journey.
About the Author:
Monica Allen is a serial entrepreneur who overcame the obstacle of growing up with a young single mother, living below the poverty line in a small town with very little opportunity. After obtaining her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia, she worked in Corporate America and obtained a Master’s degree in business.
After 8 years in corporate she took the leap to set out on her entrepreneurial journey. Starting with just $700, she has since grown an 8 figure company and is now the host of the Become Your Own Boss podcast helping aspiring and early-stage entrepreneurs launch, grow and scale their businesses while also being the boss of every area of their lives. You can follow Monica on IG here.