The business of business can be a bit overwhelming—especially for the creative entrepreneur.
I don’t know about you, but my mind does not have auto pop-up windows when there are legal or accounting issues to consider. (I wish!) I write this as a fellow, female creative entrepreneur who is by no means an expert at any of this, but I have gone through it from the position of UTTER CLUELESSNESS. So this list is just to get you started—think of these items as pop-up windows. Look into the resources mentioned or do some google digging and find the info you need to do things right because you’ll be so glad you did.
I heard it over and over again—do it right at the beginning, get a lawyer to help you—you’ll be glad you spent the money, keep it separate, etc… But I did not heed that advice. I tried to do it my way. And here is what I learned:
you don't know what you don't know.
And sometimes, the stuff you don’t know is the stuff you NEED to know so that you don’t find yourself in a pickle because, trust me, I’ve been there and it is not a comfy place to be.
You do not have to hire a full-time staff member, but rather reach out for a one-time consultation with an attorney and/or accountant just to be sure that you’re structuring things properly and protecting yourself. They will be able to look at things from a fresh, professional and trained perspective to advise you how to move forward with your biz the RIGHT way.
Things you need to do before you get too deep:
1 / ESTABLISH AND REGISTER YOUR BUSINESS – STATE + FEDERAL (and sometimes county and city)
This is where an attorney is a life-saver. They can help you choose whether you should incorporate, what form of corporation, etc… AND they can help with the paperwork. It’s an investment well spent.
2 / GET A BUSINESS CHECKING ACCOUNT
This should be pretty straightforward, but it does mean that you have to physically go to the bank and open up a new account. Call first to see what information you are required to have so that you don’t’ have to make more than one trip. Let’s be honest, we’re busy and don’t have time to mess around.
3 / GET A GRIP ON TAXES – SALES + INCOME
Hello, accountant! This is where they come in. An accountant can help you determine the ins and outs of taxes for your business. From sales tax to income tax to deductions and all the stuff in between. There are also most likely resources in your state—just google it.
4 / CHOOSE A WAY TO TRACK FINANCES
There are many software platforms out there, but at the end of the day, it’s really up to you. If you prefer spreadsheets, that is fine. Just be sure you’re using them and keeping track of things properly and timely. As small business owners, we often serve as our own “bookkeeper” so that means we need to be sure to schedule time after month-end to gather the info from the previous month and input it into our chosen system to see where we stand. Whether you use an accountant or not, you need to be tracking your income and expenses.
5 / INSURANCE
Though certainly not at the top of anyone’s list, insurance is a consideration as well. Depending on the type of business you are establishing, insurance may just be a must have on the list. Don’t forget to at least check on it and ask the question.