Your 12 Step Guide to Starting a Small Business | Step 5

Let’s Get Legalized, Legalized!

“Errrbody in the biz getting legalized”! Is your business “too legit, too legit to quit”? Whatever song parody we need to sing in order to get this idea stuck in your head, we’ll do it! And believe me, there’s plenty more where that came from!

Step 5 – How Do I Legally Establish My Small Business?

Getting your small business legalized is a fairly simple step, but will need to be added into your business budget and to-do list as a top priority. We highly recommend hiring an accountant & lawyer just to be on the safe side, not to mention it makes this daunting but necessary task ridiculously easier! We’d like to give a shout-out to RJB Tax Associates. These guys are BEYOND amazing and have helped yours truly! I’ve even sent over a dozen or so business associates who also get help starting their small businesses!

It’s All In The Name

Did you pick your business name yet? I bet it’s super creative and unique and totally describes you and your small business. But… can you legally use it? Hold off on purchasing those fancy business cards because if the name you chose is already registered or in use, you could be in a whirlwind of legal trouble. Trust us, you want to do this the right way. So, where do I start? Check the Secretary of State registry to make sure your name is available and then register with your state here.

Registering a DBA/Fictitious Business Name – “A DBA (Doing Business As) must be filed whenever your company does business under a different name. If you’ve got a sole proprietorship or general partnership, a DBA is needed if your company name is different from your own name. For an LLC or corporation, a DBA must be filed to conduct business using a name that’s different from the official Corporation or LLC name you filed. “ – Mashable.com

Um, What Are You Exactly?
Let me clarify; What type of business structure will you be forming? You’ll need to know how to legally set up your small business. Check out SBA.gov to understand the differences between different business structures and which options is best for you and your small business.

Get your ID number!
This is your business social security number (and if you are a sole proprietor your SSN acts as your Tax ID). This also registers your business in a database so the the IRS can track your business. Now that sounds scarier than it really is, but as long as you run your business correctly you should be fine. Again, hire a professional to help because it will save you time, money, and worry! You can file for your Employer Identification Number (EIN) is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number here.

If you are building a business that you know will need employee’s right out of the gate, well you my dear have a whole new can of worms. You will need to consider federal and state payroll and withholding taxes, self-employment taxes, anti-discrimination laws, OSHA regulations, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation rules, and wage and hour requirements. Our opinion? Definitely contact an employment law professional!

Licenses and Permits
You may (most likely)  be required to have one or more business licenses or permits from the state, local or even federal level.

Licenses and permits depend on your business type but can be general business operation license, zoning and land use permits, sales tax license, health department permits, and occupational or professional licenses.

This step isn’t required however if you plan on spending countless hours building your brand, name recognition and your business on this name, it would be wise to consider trademarking it. It can protect your business, for example if you find another business with the same name and took the Twitter handle for your business, having the correct documentation will show you have legal rights to it.  Read more on how to trademark your business here.

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