Twenty Two Steps to Start a Business

Conceiving of a business is one thing- actually getting it off the ground is quite another.  I’ve tried to boil down what needs to be done in 22 steps.  Here goes…

  1. Identify the corporate mission, and its initial products or services;
  2. Select suitable company name for corporate and trademark purposes (be certain to reserve a domain name);
  3. Identify the business entity under which you intend to operate (corporation, LLC, partnership, etc.);
  4. Establish your entity by filing the appropriate paperwork with the Secretary of State (NOTE: if you’re operating as a sole proprietor, skip to step 11);
  5. Select initial board of directors and officers (at least one person is required for a corporation or LLC);
  6. Choose state of incorporation (this may or may not be the state in which you reside);
  7. Draft Articles of Incorporation or Partnership Agreements;
  8. Create Bylaws or Operating Agreement for approval by initial board of directors;
  9. Prepare shareholder or member agreements (if applicable);
  10. Create board resolutions (of initial board of directors) naming officers, approving the bylaws, and authorizing certain persons to act on behalf of the corporation to obtain an employer identification number (“EIN”) from the IRS and to open bank accounts;
  11. Obtain an EIN from the IRS;
  12. File an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to obtain all possible rights to the company name and other marks;
  13. File applications for authorization to do business in states where offices are located (if different from the state of incorporation);
  14. File Fictitious Business Name statements if you intend to operate under a DBA;
  15. Secure state or local licenses and/or permits as required;
  16. Register for payroll taxes and obtain state tax ID numbers;
  17. Open bank accounts;
  18. Establish merchant accounts, paypal accounts, or treasury management services for outbound and inbound wire tracking (as applicable);
  19. Purchase sufficient liability and other insurance;
  20. Establish company HR guidelines and other internal policy documents (e.g., sexual harassment, conflict of interest, whistleblower protection policies, etc.)
  21. Prepare standard sales policy documents, contracts, receipts, invoices, etc.;
  22. Open your doors, smile at your customer, and cross your fingers.


Author: Seth Heyman
Seth D. Heyman is a California attorney with extensive experience in advertising and marketing law, corporate law, contracts, governmental regulations, international business, and Internet law. He has counseled numerous successful companies, both public and private, and was responsible for regulatory compliance, contract management, corporate governance, and HR best practices for multiple organizations in many diverse industries, including marketing, telecommunications, energy, and technology development. He offers insight and guidance on federal and state direct mail, TV, radio, telemarketing, and Internet marketing laws, as well as online promotions, Internet privacy, data protection regulations, and similar matters.

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