How to Start a BusinessIf you are starting a new business, there are some major decisions you'll have to make.

For example, you will have to decide how to proceed regarding:

  1. Name-- In addition to capturing the essence of your business and all that it stands for, you'll also want to make sure that the name you are thinking of choosing is available. You can usually inquire with your local municipality, and also be sure to check with your state. You may run into potential trademark or other legal problems if you choose the same name as a pre-existing business.
  2. Business License-- You will most likely have to file in your city or county and pay a nominal fee. This sort of document may be called by a different name, but it essentially serves as a way of registering your business with the local municipality. When you file, you should inquire how often (if ever) you will have to refile, and if there are any associated fees or taxes related to operating your business.
  3. State Taxes--In addition to filing with your local government agency, you may also have to file with your state. This is a separate issue from entity formation, in that you may have to arrange how to collect sales or use taxes, for example, in addition to registering for state income, corporate, or partnership tax purposes.
  4. Federal Taxes/EIN-- Depending on how you decide to structure your business, you will have to file additional income tax forms, such as a Schedule C for sole proprietors or a corporate tax return, for example. You may additionally want to request an Employer Identification Number, if necessary.
  5. Entity Formation--You will want to consider which type of legal entity will best suit your needs. Some of the options include a Corporation, a Limited Liability Company, or a sole proprietorship. Each entity offers different advantages and risks, which vary depending upon your business model.
  6. Liability Insurance--Regardless of the type of product or service you are selling, it is generally a good idea to purchase a liability insurance policy. Depending on the type of policy, it may cover things such as property damage, personal injuries, inventory losses, etc.
  7. Employees v. Independent Contractors-- This consideration deals with the nature of the employment relationship between your business and the people you hire to work for you. In addition to in depth employment agreements,  each of the two categories has its own legal requirements and standards, particularly in regards to paycheck withholding and taxes.
  8. Payroll-- You'll need to determine how you will go about paying your workers, including how to withhold any necessary amounts for taxes or benefits, etc. Consider contacting companies that specialize in setting up payroll, or alternatively, you can hire someone  to set it up for you in house.
These are just a few of the decisions you'll have to consider when starting your own business. You should meet with a Small Business Attorney to discuss all of the legally significant decisions you'll have to make. Your attorney can make recommendations based upon your business goals, and lay out a detailed plan for how to get your business up and running. Start your search and schedule your initial consultation with a Small Business Attorney today!
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