CHECKLIST FOR STARTING A BUSINESS
- Pick a name. Search the Trademark Office, the internet, social media, etc. to see if anyone else is using the name. You can also have a professional search done that will find all of the uses for you. Made-up words are the strongest trademarks.
- Buy the domain name. Do this before doing other steps. You can buy domains from GoDaddy and website hosts like squarespace.com, wix.com, and weekly.com.
- File Trademark. Trademarks are getting harder to get. It takes 3-6 mos. minimum to find out if you are going to get it. You may want to file while you are still in the planning stages or you can wait until after you have formed the company if it is not going to be the company name. We can help you decide.
- Decide if you need to protect your assets from liability. A separate corporate entity protects the assets in your name. You can form a limited liability company or a corporation. If you have more than one owner, you will need agreements setting forth the rights and responsibilities of each person. Limited liability companies have pass-through taxes for owners and have fewer formalities than corporations so many small businesses choose them. If you want to have a public offering some day, you will need to be a corporation.
- File your business with the Secretary of State. Go to Kentucky One Stop and fill out the forms. You will need to file an annual report by June 30th every year.
- Get an EIN. Go to IRS.gov and get the Employer Identification Number.
- Sign up to pay your state taxes. Go back to Kentucky One Stop.
- Get Business licenses. County, city, or industry specific licenses may be needed.
- Get an Accountant. Accountants can help you pay taxes like income, sales, and other taxes and help pay unemployment insurance if you have employees.
- Get insurance. Business insurance to pay back damages caused by fires, natural disasters, theft, slip and falls, computer crimes, negligence, products injuring others and some bonds. You also need workers’ compensation if you have employees.
- Open a separate bank account.
- Many more steps…
Julie Tennyson is a patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret attorney. She often helps small businesses get started and grow with contract review and employment advice.