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Guest Column: Nine steps for turning your idea into a business

By Kim Preston

You have a great idea for a new small business. Congratulations! Now, what do you do to turn that idea into a legitimate business? To celebrate National Small Business Week, May 5 to 11, 2021, here is a checklist with step-by-step actions to get you started.

  1. Choose and register your business name. Check with the Secretary of State’s office where you plan to set up shop.
  2. Decide on a legal structure: Sole Proprietorship, LLC, Partnership, S-Corporation, etc. You may want to consult with an attorney and accountant regarding the legal and taxation ramifications.
  3. Visit irs.gov for important information for small business start ups. They have publications to assist you in starting and running your business, including understanding a Federal Tax ID number and filing procedures.
  4. Obtain a Federal ID Number (EIN).
  5. Determine if you need to register your business with your state’s Department of Revenue.
  6. Determine if you need a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) Number. Most potential and existing U.S. government contractors, grantees and loan recipients are required to obtain a DUNS Number for U.S. government registration purposes. It verifies the legal name, physical address and trade style of each location and is key to starting the Central Contractor Registration process.
  7. Make sure you have all the licenses and permits you will need. Check with your local (city, county) authorities regarding zoning regulations.
  8. Determine your insurance needs. Discuss all your insurance needs (liability, property, etc.) with an agent who is familiar with your business industry.
  9. Secure funding and prepare your finances. Make sure you can maintain positive cash flow and obtain financing. Consult with a local accountant or bookkeeper to assist with setting up your books correctly.

Kim Preston is the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project director at the Center for Rural Affairs.

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