Thinking about starting a business? You're not alone. Every year, thousands of Americans catch the entrepreneurial spirit, launching small businesses to sell their products or services. Some businesses thrive; many fail. The more you know about starting a business, the more power you have to form an organization that develops into a lasting source of income and satisfaction. For help with the beginning stages of operating a business, the following checklist is a great place to start.
Once you've done the hard work of choosing your business name, you'll want to protect it. Follow local and state laws that govern when you must register a fictitious (or assumed) business name. File for trademark protection at the state and federal level, if appropriate.
To do business on the Web, you'll need at least one domain name -- the .com or .net website identifier that has become so familiar in commercials and print advertising. The best domain names are often the simple ones -- short, memorable, clever, and easy to spell and pronounce. There are several factors to consider when choosing a domain name.
Once you've found suitable space and you and the landlord have agreed on the key features of the lease, such as how much rent you'll pay and how long the lease will run, it's time to formally spell out your deal in a binding, written lease. Most important? Head into the lease negotiations understanding the meaning of the landlord's lease clauses. A thorough understanding of common commercial lease clauses will help you avoid hidden, onerous traps.
Before a small business can legally begin, it must take care of a number of pesky requirements with governmental agencies, from the city to the state to the federal government. None of these requirements are difficult or even terribly time-consuming, but finding out what you need to do can be like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without knowing what it will look like.
If you are starting a business, the state where the business will be located will require you to get a slew of licenses, permits, tax registrations, and other requirements. These may range from filing organizational papers and getting a license for your occupation to tax registration and environmental compliance. Learn about what you need to start your business in order to avoid later trouble.
When you're starting a small business, pay attention to your town, city, and county regulations. You can begin by asking city and county officials about license and permit requirements for your business. You'll also need to find out about zoning ordinances, building codes, and environmental issues.
The lease that you and your landlord sign defines your legal relationship. Along with your insurance policy and your loan documents, your lease will be one of the most important legal documents in your filing cabinet. You need to learn a bit about signing a business lease, so that the landlord's proposed lease is just the starting point from which you'll negotiate changes.
In theory, all terms of a commercial lease are negotiable. If you're presented with a typed or printed commercial lease prepared by the landlord or the landlord's lawyer, you'll want to negotiate the most favaorable terms. Though your negotiating power may depend on whether your local rental market is hot or cold, keep these points in mind.