Checklist for starting a business

🔲 Pick a name. See this video from for tips on picking a name including discussing it with a trademark attorney like us.

🔲 BUY the domain name. Some places to buy a domain name: and website hosts can help you like,, or If you do any of the following steps before this step, you will not be able to buy the domain name in the .com form. You get someone like to make an excellent website for you. They made this one. Or you can sit on the domain name and not make a website until your funding improves. The domain name you can buy for $20 now will probably cost $3000 or more later.

🔲 Decide if you need to protect your personal assets from liability. You can do so by forming a corporation or limited liability company and in some case a limited liability partnership. I usually recommend a limited liability company for most small businesses because it has pass-through tax treatment and fewer requirements like annual shareholder meetings. If you have more than one person in the business, you need an operating agreement to tell you the rights and responsibilities of each person. We can draft it to your particular needs.

🔲 File your business with the Secretary of State. You can file online here at Kentucky One Stop or by click on this link to get forms. Even if you decide you do not need personal asset protection, you can file a doing business as form, which the bank may require. Then send in your annual report every year before June 30th.

🔲 Get an EIN. Go to the IRS website and get an Employer Identification Number.

🔲 Sign up to pay your state taxes. You can sign up online at Kentucky One Stop. However, everyone I know that has signed up online gets a letter from the Kentucky Department of Revenue asking them to sign up again. You could also ask your accountant.

🔲 Get county and city business licenses and any other permits or licenses that your particular business requires. 

🔲 Get an accountant to help you pay your taxes and state unemployment insurance payments (if you have employees). If you have a business that sells a product, you will have to pay sales tax.

🔲 Get insurance. You can get business insurance to pay back damages from fire, natural disasters, theft, slip and falls, computer crimes, negligence, your products injuring someone, and so forth. You will also need workers’ compensation insurance if you have employees.

🔲 Open a separate bank account.


Julie Tennyson is a licensed patent attorney and assists clients in trademark, copyright, trade secret, and business matters including start-ups, contracts, employment, licensing and transfers. Ms. Tennyson is a partner at Marcum Tennyson PLLC.