Onondaga Biz Wiz

‘Aha’ to the Reality

The steps you need to take to become a small business

By: Melissa Zomro, SBDC Certified Business Advisor

Did you ever have that “aha” moment? That moment when you realize that what you do every day is not what you really want to be doing every day? Therein lies a problem which needs a solution. You, as an entrepreneurial-type person, can create the solution to fix the problem. Netflix’s founder and CEO Reed Hastings was charged a $40 fee for returning a rental movie late. That’s a problem in which he created a billion-dollar online DVD rental business, that’s the solution.

While the example of Netflix’s founder and CEO Reed Hastings might be an extreme example, there are everyday people out there that think I need a change. Those people generally have certain characteristics that set them apart and make them risk takers.

The top five characteristics of an entrepreneur are being passionate, motivated, calculated, educated, and tenacious. To be a small business owner you have to truly believe in what you are doing; its long hours, few rewards in the beginning, and many sacrifices. However, these characteristics alone will not actually make the startup official.  You have to take some very important steps before opening the doors to customers.

Here at the SBDC we are asked daily what is the first step to starting my small business? Where do I begin? The SBA website has a great guide that lists the top ten steps to opening the doors of your venture.

“Starting a business involves planning, making key financial decisions and completing a series of legal activities. These 10 easy steps can help you plan, prepare and manage your business. To be able to get more information about each step go to the SBA website.

Step 1. Write a Business Plan:

Some will ask, “how does one start this?” Well, start with your business description, then who is your target client and what the strategy is you will use to sell the product.

Step 2. Get Business Assistance and Training:

There are free services that the state offers to people such as SBDC, Score, Wise — take advantage of those resources.

Step 3. Choose a Business Location:

Get advice on how to select a customer — friendly location and comply with zoning laws.

Step 4. Finance Your Business:

Find government backed loans, venture capital and research grants to help you get started.

Step 5. Determine the Legal Structure of Your Business:

Decide which form of ownership is best for you: Sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), corporation, S corporation, nonprofit or cooperative. Not sure? Contact an attorney or an accountant for assistance on this piece.

Step 6. Form and Register a Business Entity and Name:

Register your business name with your state government.

Step 7. Get a Tax Identification Number:

Learn which tax identification number you’ll need to obtain from the IRS and your state revenue agency.

Step 8. Register for State and Local Taxes:

Register with your state to obtain a tax identification number, workers’ compensation, unemployment and disability insurance.

Step 9. Obtain Business Licenses and Permits:

Get a list of federal, state and local licenses and permits required for your business.

Step 10. Understand Employer Responsibilities:

Learn the legal steps you need to take to hire employees.

Take that “aha” moment and make it become your reality. With every problem there is an opportunity. Entrepreneurs out there take this as your opportunity.

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