Enterprise & Venture Capital: A Business Builders and Investors Handbook
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Image source: SBA. Once the business plan is in place, you get to move on to the even less romantic part -- the paperwork and legal activities.
Enterprise And Venture Capital A Business Builders And Investors Handbook
Furthermore, businesses are regulated on the federal, the state, and sometimes even local level. It's important to check what's required on all three of those levels. When you register your business with the government, be sure you're covering registration on all the levels required for your business' location.
Your business won't be a legal entity without checking these boxes, so stay on top of it. Below, you'll find a brief explanation of what goes into each one of these steps, along with links to helpful resources where you can dig in to the details. Note: These steps are for starting a business in the U. The corporation does not get a tax deduction when it distributes dividends to shareholders.
Shareholders cannot deduct any loss of the corporation, but they are also not responsible directly for taxes on their earnings — just on the dividends they give to shareholders. S corporations, on the other hand have only one level of taxation. Learn more about the difference between "C corporations" and "S corporations" here , and find IRS tax forms here.
Establishing a business name is a little more complicated than making a list and picking your favorite. If you're using a name other than your personal name, then you need to register it with your state government so they know you're doing business with a name other than your given name. Before you register, you need to make sure the name you want is available in your state. Business names are registered on a state-by-state basis, so it's possible that a company in another state could have the same name as yours.
This is only concerning if there's a trademark on the name. Do a trademark search of your desired name to avoid expensive issues down the road. The search will tell you if another business has registered or applied for the trademark you'd like to use. For new corporations and LLCs: Your business name is automatically registered with your state when you register your business -- so you don't have to go through a separate process.
There are rules for naming a corporation and LLC, which you can read about here. For sole proprietorships, partnerships, and existing corporations and LLCs if you want to do business with a name other than their registered name , you'll need to register what's called a "Doing Business As" DBA name. You can do so either by going to your county clerk office or with your state government, depending which state you're in. Learn how to do that here. Want to trademark your business name?
A trademark protects words, names, symbols, and logos that distinguish goods and services. If your business sells tangible property to the public either as a wholesaler or retailer, then in most states, you need to apply for a seller's permit. In some states, a seller's permit is required for service-oriented business, too, such as accountants, lawyers, and therapists. The seller's permit allows you to collect sales tax from buyers.
You'll then pay that sales tax to the state each quarter by putting the sales tax permit number on the state's tax payment form. To help you find the appropriate offices, find your state on this IRS website.
Almost every business needs some form of license or permit to operate legally — but the requirements vary, which can get confusing. Which specific licenses or permits does your business need? To figure that out, go to this SBA. It'll tell you the specific license and permit requirements in that state. Business owners are obligated to pay specific federal taxes, and the amount of those taxes is determined by the form of business entity that you establish.
All businesses except for partnerships need to file an annual income tax return. Partnerships file what's called an information return. Once you're registered, it's time to figure out which taxes you'll be responsible for. Here are the three types:. A Social Security and Medicare tax for people who work for themselves, i. Note: There are special rules and exceptions for fishing crew members, notary public, and more. Learn More. When you have employees, you as the employer have certain employment tax responsibilities that you need to pay, as well as forms you need to file.
Excise taxes are also something you need to consider, depending what you sell, where you operate, and so on.
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For example, in the U. Once you've registered your new business with the government and gotten the legal paperwork squared away, how do you go about, you know Before you can receive any significant funding for your business which we'll talk about in the next section , you need to start building an online presence and marketing your business, as well as getting a sales process together and beginning to sell your product or service. Turns out that generating demand and earning customers needs to come before you can viably ask for funding from an external source.
And once you start generating customers, you'll need to retain them — which is where customer service comes in.
A Business Builder's and Investor's Handbook
Learn more about customer service here. A new company needs to start drumming up interest for its product or service even before it's ready to ship. But there are a million different platforms and avenues you can use to drive awareness … so where on earth do you start?
It all comes down to your target customer. You won't be able to position what you're selling to meet customers' needs without knowing who they are. One of the very first questions you need to ask yourself is: Who wants what I'm selling? Who would find it useful? Who would love it?
Then, you need to dig in to who that person is or those people are, and what kind of messaging would resonate with them. That includes their backgrounds, interests, goals, and challenges, in addition to how old they are, what they do every day, which social platforms they use, and so on. Creating very specific buyer personas can dramatically improve your business results.
Read this step-by-step guide on how to create buyer personas , which includes buyer persona templates you can customize yourself. Once you've picked a buyer persona or two, print them out, tack them onto your wall, and think about their interests and needs before making every business decision. In addition to researching your target customer, when you're first starting a business, you'll need to build the foundation for a strong brand identity.
Your brand identity is about your values, how you communicate concepts, and which emotions you want your customers to feel when they interact with your business. Having a consistent brand identity to promote your business will make you look more professional and help you attract new customers. With your target customer and your brand identity under your belt, you can begin building the core marketing elements of your small business, which includes your website, your blog, your email tool, your conversion tool, and your social media accounts.
To dive deeper into these topics, read our beginner's guide to small business marketing here. Once you've started building an online presence and creating awareness for your business, you need to generate the leads that will close into customers. Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into leads, and if you build a successful lead generation engine, you'll be able to keep your funnel full of sales prospects while you sleep.
What does a successful lead generation process look like? Learn more about lead generation here , and click the button below to try HubSpot's free marketing tools , our free lead generation tool that lets you track your website visitors and leads in a single contact database.
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Here are some helpful resources to help you spread awareness, build your online presence, and get the leads you need for free. By taking the time to set up your sales process from the get-go, you'll avoid painful headaches that come with lost data down the line.
Start with a CRM, which is a central database where you can keep track of all your clients and prospective clients in one place. There are loads of options out there, and you'll want to evaluate the CRMs that cater to small businesses. Excel doesn't count! All this means is that you need to figure out what you need coming into your business to make ends meet and grow: how much revenue do you need, and how many products do you need to sell to hit that target? When you're starting your business, it's tempting to do everything yourself, including taking on sales.
However, making that first sales hire is crucial to scaling — you need someone dedicated to understanding your buyer and selling to them full-time. When looking for that first sales hire, seniority should be less of a priority than how much sales experience they have on the front lines and whether they understand your business's target buyer. Efficiency is key. Put together a sales process, such as this helpful 7-step sales process framework , which works regardless of your business size. You'll also want to automate sales tasks such as data entry , or set up notifications when a prospective customer takes an action.
That way, you spend less time poring through records and calling the wrong prospects and more on strategy and actual selling.
Download Enterprise And Venture Capital A Business Builders And Investors Handbook 5Th Edition
Here are some helpful templates tools to help you build an efficient sales engine, reach prospects, and close customers for free. Getting net new customers in the door is important, but retaining them is just as important. You can't ignore customers once you've closed them — you have to take care of them, give them stellar customer service, and nurture them to become fans of and even evangelists for your business.
While inbound marketing and sales are both critical to your funnel, the funnel doesn't end there: The reality is that the amount of time and effort that you spend perfecting your strategy in those areas will amount to very little if you're unable to retain happy customers. This means that building a model for customer success should be central to your organization. Think for a second about all the different ways reviews, social media, and online aggregators spread information about your products.