How to Build a Business from Zero – Part One, Breaking Ground

This is the first part of a series to help you to go from not having a business at all to having one with a respectable presence in the marketplace, the means to fight for customers and resources you'll need to grow, and hopefully a better-than-average chance of success. If you've started a business before, chances are that anything you read here will seem like old hat. Consider this blog a handy reference, and maybe a way to validate that you already know everything there is to know. For years, we've continued to get many, many contacts from folks who are just starting out down this road for the very first time. In fact, the majority of our customers are small businesses just like the one you may be thinking of starting today. If that's the case, hopefully this article will have something it can teach you. In my lifetime, I've founded several businesses. Some of them were at least partially successful for a time. None of them made me a millionaire, but to be honest I think that's a long shot for most folks. Every one of them provided me with the means to make a living; In all the years I've been an entrepreneur, I've never been homeless or had to go without food. I've raised four kids, two of whom have already grown up to pretty darn respectable young adults. Some of my kids are even talking now about starting businesses of their own. In every case, I've also made mistakes - sometimes pretty serious ones. In sharing my experiences with you, you may take something away that will help you steer clear of things that held me back. Of course, I had lots of information and good advice too. I certainly can't promise that you'll succeed even if you follow everything I say. As Henry Kissinger once famously joked, "We will not make the same old mistakes. We will make our own." I'm sure you'll have your hands full coming up with all new ways to screw things up. That's part of the fun of being in business for yourself.

What's My Angle in This?

Of course I have some skin in the game. A lot of the things I'll talk about are pure business. For those, you'll need to do a lot of your own legwork. There's also a large chunk of what I'll describe here that can be solved using technology. As IT consultants, you can rely on my firm to advise and implement solutions like the ones I'll describe. You may also need help from others who offer different services than we do. In the interest of full disclosure, I run practically my entire business on Microsoft technology. We're Microsoft consultants, so this just makes sense. They have a great platform that can serve well from the day you're single-person business gets founded, through its growth, and likely long after you implement your exit strategy. I recommend Office 365 to others, but we use solutions from Google and other companies too. Some of the Microsoft services I'll talk about do have competitors in the marketplace. Feel free to do your own research and draw your own conclusions about what works best for you. This article will cover the following:
  • Business Plan and Name
  • Choosing a Name
  • Business Entity / Charter
  • Mailing Address
  • The Government Stuff
  • IT / Technology (Here's where LMS can help you)
    • Telephone Services
    • DNS Domain Name
    • E-mail
    • Website
    • Financial Software
  • Financials
    • Bank Accounts
    • Payment Processing
    • Accountant
Note that some of the things that appear late on the this have to be done early in the process, because you'll need that information when filling out various forms, whether for the government or at your bank. The actual topics below will be listed in the order I think makes the most sense in terms of getting things done.

The Plan

This is probably the most complicated thing you will have to do, and it may take longer than everything else. Trust me when I say that you should not skip this step. Writing a plan will force you to consider not only the pros of your business, but also the possible pitfalls and how you can address them. Some ideas just aren't good ones, or it isn't the right place or time. After writing up your plan and getting a few opinions about it, don't be afraid to shelve it entirely or start over. It is better to do this now, because the next things you need to do will take a lot of time and energy. I may come back later an write an entire article about writing good business plans. Right now, I just want to get this out there on our blog. You can find lots of help with this part of the process by visiting your local office of the Small Business Administration.

Business Name

Can't say this enough, a poor name choice can haunt you for years. You want a name that will stand out in Google searches and that you can get a reasonably good domain name. If you're name gets confused or misspelled often that could be a problem. Don't ask me why, but people seem to prefer short names.

Create a Business Entity

DE and NV are among the easiest states to do this. You can consider the structure for a bit - if you want a partnership, corporation, or LLC. Most folks pick an LLC but the tax law has changed a lot recently so there may be advantages to doing things as a corp. Partnerships are hard to get out of or change. Sole proprietorships basically offer you no protection from liability. Corporations have by-laws that can make them cumbersome to manage. Personally I really like the LLC. However, if your plans involve courting investors or you have concerns about having the LLC attached to you on your 1040 form, then you may want to go corporate instead. With a corporation, you may have the option to pay yourself using dividends and other means that could be taxed at a lower rate than your "earned" income. If you aren't sure, talk to an tax accountant and/or lawyer before you file paperwork.

Business Address

When you're standing up a new business, it'll be helpful to have a place for mail to arrive and to let creditors, customers, and vendors know that you're legit. Avoid PO boxes, as people can easily tell this is not your office. Suppose you just decide to use your home address? Let me share a few reasons this is not the best idea.
  • When you list your company on Google Business, everyone will know from the street view that you run it from your home. Suppose you forget to cut the grass on the day the Google car drives down your street?
  • Many customers will look at the address (or map) and if they see you run your company from your home they may select somebody else. Businesses don't usually exist on residential-sounding streets.
  • If you ever did get into collection trouble or somebody decides to sue you, those serving agents will come knocking at your home. They may find your home anyway, but why make it super easy for them? None of us go into business planning for it to fail, but you should prepare for the possibility so you don't lose everything if the worst happens.
There are services such as Intelligent Office which will give you a real street address with a suite number in practically any town. Unlike mail services, these services can also be used if you need a place to work or have a meeting. Some offer prestige addresses (like 1111 Main Street). Be sure to look up the address to see what people will think of your business if they do research on you.

The Purpose of a PO Box

PO Boxes are basically useless for verifying your business, and much of the advice I am writing here is about how to get things off to a good start so that you can get the credit and other services you will need to make your business model work. From that point of view they aren't very useful. If you receive packages for your business, take returns for things you sent in the mail, or accept check payments by mail, then a PO box or mailbox service might be a good idea for you. Why? Because if you are like most people starting a business, you are going to be very busy (or possibly working at your day job) and you're not going to want to camp out on your porch to make sure your neighbor or some passerby doesn't steal your supplies or merchandise. I've had businesses that receive checks for payments. Sometimes this checks can be very large - in excess of ten thousand dollars. When you work in IT, sometimes the customer only pays you once a month. By the time they pay their bill, you may be eating ramen and marking the days until the power company cuts off your electricity. The last thing you need is to have your local post office deliver your payday to your neighbor's house, whereupon it may or may not be sent back to the company who are trying to pay you. I live in Baltimore, and I have what may be considered the worst local post office in the entire United States of America. (You can see their reviews on Yelp!) These folks leave envelopes lying on the sidewalk and/or out in the rain. They routinely report delivering parcels that never arrive. I don't know if they just lack give-a-damns, or maybe some Carrier has a thriving side business selling things on eBay. Those are two very good reasons to use a mail service. Another one is again to have as little as possible about your company that ties it back to your home and identifies it as a home-based business. Make people send you mail at the official company address or a mailbox service and you'll get a lot less junk at home. Maybe some enterprising person will do a mailing list merge and connect your name with something about your business, but if you have addresses where you officially accept such mail, they're less likely to even bother and you'll know that anything addressed to your company is automatically junk. As a final note, I'll point out there's a difference between a PO box from the post office and an actual mailbox service. A good mailbox service will receive packages and take pictures of your mail so you may be able to tell whether you need to drop in and pick something important up or if maybe it could wait until later in the week. Some places will even open and scan your mail, or let you know what was inside. For a busy entrepreneur this can save you a lot of time and energy running around after the junk people send you.

Phone Number

Next step, you're going to want a phone number that people can call when they want to get in touch with you. I can't emphasize strongly enough that you probably do not want all company calls coming to your cell phone at all times of the day or night. I knew this plumber, decent guy who did good work. He only used his cell phone and took all the calls directly - no staff, just voicemail. He must have been constantly interrupted on the job and exhausted by talking to customers as a place and time that were not of his choosing, because whenever I would call him, he always sounded angry. Being in a bad mood when talking to prospects is no way to win more business. Now, what would happen if you're a little cash strapped one month and so now you're getting calls on your cell from collectors. They bother you in meetings while you're trying to win new customers - not very helpful to getting those bills paid. Suppose the worst happens and you need to shut down your business completely. That corporate armor is not going to protect you very well when everybody has the number to harass you directly until the end of time. Another point, there's only so much capacity in your voicemail box. I can't tell you how often I call on a CEO or IT Manager only to hear "This mailbox is full." Well, I hope they get back to my e-mail - or otherwise didn't really need help with the thing they contacted us about - because chances are if I can't leave a message, we're probably not going to break through and make that connection. Honestly, it just looks more professional to have a "real" telephone system. Use your cell when you need to call people back, that's understandable. Your business phone number is going to be one of the most important things you'll set up. It speaks volumes about the stability of your business. Fortunately, it is easier than ever to do. Services like Vonage have been around many years now and offer internet based phones for business. Skype for Business is a great service from Microsoft that you can get inexpensive voice telephones for you and all your staff, even if your team is spread out all over the place. I like it because you have a lot of control over what phone number you get when you set up a new service. Best of all, you can set up the main number for the company with department lines and a dial-by-name directory. Lookin' good! Putting together a professional greeting is important. Most people know somebody who would be happy to record a greeting for your business. Such services also exist on the web, or you can do it yourself.

Directory Listing and Caller ID

Getting your business listed on 411 is unfortunately not as straightforward as it once was when the local Bell telephone company ran everything. There are services that will promise to get you listed. You can also visit sites like yellowpages.com and fill out a profile. It's a good idea to do this, but I wouldn't pay for any of these services. Their influence and value is limited. Better to jump over to Google Business and have them send you a postcard at your official address, so your business can be shown on the map. Caller ID is another matter that can be difficult to deal with in the modern age. If you have a phone line in your name and then you port the number to another service, you will end up spending a ton of time trying to get Caller ID to show up in the name of the business instead of your name personally. This seems to be pretty much universally true, and most people are now quite accustomed to seeing misleading information on Caller ID when folks call them. Perhaps it won't be such a big deal in the future, where reverse lookup services and apps like Mr.  Number are taking over where Caller ID has fallen down. However, it would be good for you to know what people see on their phone when you call. When you select a number, take the time to check what reverse-lookup has to say about the number you're selecting. If you pick a number that once belonged to a telemarketer or bill collector, trust me you are going to find that not very many people are willing to take your calls. (We occasionally still get calls for a tattoo parlor in Greektown that probably hasn't been in business for decades.)

Fax Number

I'm not sure how many vendors or customers really care about fax machines in the age of e-mail, however a lot of forms still request this information. It might be a good idea to have an e-fax or other similar service around that sends faxes to a shared company mailbox.

Receptionist Service

If you're in the type of business that takes walk-ins, you may have no choice but to hire someone to sit at the entrance desk and greet visitors. Some office complexes or high-rises will provide somebody at the front to screen visitors. I once paid my sister to answer phones for us, and gave her light duty administration work. This turned out to be a huge waste of money, plus we ended up in a bind any time she called out. A better option is a receptionist service. These are better than just an answering service, usually in the sense that they will follow a script, screen calls, and connect callers with you just as if they'd been sitting in your office. Depending on the level of professionalism that you need, you can probably find one in your town or city or you can use a service like Call Ruby that's on the other side of the country. I like Ruby; they're always professional and they do a great job at routing calls - especially for new customers. Of all the decisions I made about how to spend money and grow, hiring them was one of the best things I ever did and I don't regret it in any way. I'll have them calls for every business I will ever have. After the business was well established, the volume of calls got larger and most of them were robocalls, solicitors, and other unwanted calls. Our bills for receptionist service grew to almost 3 times their original size. We put an automated attendant on the main number, and our recorded message makes it clear that you can talk to our friendly receptionist any time. Nobody has complained, we still get important calls through Ruby, and our bill went back to a normal size. There are some things that Ruby can't do that make me sad. They can't take payments for us. They don't answer phones on the holiday, and there aren't really any good options for 24-7 or emergency paging. When we started getting into these kinds of services, we had to find other ways to solve those challenges. Even so, they still play a very important part in all mt business dealings, and I would recommend them to anyone starting their own company.

Domain Name

Most businesses these days could not imagine being able to prosper without a decent DNS domain name. Your Internet name is the starting point you'll need to set up a web site and e-mail. It's how people will find you on Google. Try to make it a good one. Pick something short and easy to remember. Avoid hard to spell terms like antidisestablishmentarianism-dot-com. The domain name field is crowded, so you may need to get creative to find an open name. Would having a dash in the name be awkward or hard to explain to customers?  There's not pat answer. Think it over and do what's best for you.

Choose a Registrar

These days, most people use GoDaddy to get their domain name. Some people use Network Solutions, but I don't recommend it since they're the old guard, basically resting on their laurels. I've used EasyDNS. They're pretty good.

Domain Contact Info

When you register your domain name, you'll be asked for some contact information for the owner of the domain, the IT guy, and the billing contact. That's one reason why it's a good idea to have your business phone in place before creating the domain. But wait, you say, I don't have an email address yet. That's OK. To be honest, you probably don't want these contact to go to e-mail at the new domain, because if you lose control over the domain (or it expires), then you won't be able to communicate with the DNS registrar to get the problem resolved. I have seen this happen to many clients, and the paperwork involved in recovering the domain can be quite costly in terms of both time and money. Use a Gmail account and set up a forwarding rule to send a copy of the notices to your business account. (Some people say, "Aha! Tom, you missed a chance to pitch Outlook.com!" No, I just don't like putting all my eggs in one basket, plus I own an Android phone. ^_^) We won't use this Gmail account as the main company email for dealing with customers, but it is a good idea to tie to whatever Google services you're setting up, such as AdWords or Google Business. It'll also be useful as the recovery e-mail for services like Office 365 that we talk about elsewhere.

Domain Privacy

Consider getting domain privacy protection. It costs a bit more but will make it easier for you to conceal the contact information that you must share with your registrar. Certainly, you don't want a bunch of people calling you up and e-mailing you spam trying to sell stuff to you just as you're getting your business spun up. When you're ready to buy, you'll go to them.

E-mail

Once you have a domain name, you'll need company e-mail accounts. Business runs on e-mail. It is the telephone of the 21st century. Don't rely on a free mailbox or the one that came from your Internet provider. I can tell you for sure that I've ruled out working with a vendor because they had an AOL or Yahoo! Mailbox. To me, it just says "I am too naïve, short-sighted, or just plain cheap to properly invest in creating a positive and professional image for my company." (I'm looking at you Mr. and Mrs. Electrician, Mr. Plumber, and HVAC Guy) Business class e-mail should only cost you a few dollars a month, and many of the other Office 365 services I talk about here also include e-mail. A lot of small companies are tempted to have just one mailbox and to do everything through info@blahblah.com or the like. Others just have first name mailboxes for the founders. Let me give you a little advice, if you want to grow and you want to look well-established, don't do this. There will be times when it will be absolutely necessary for things to feel as if you have an entire team of people working with you. Someday if you work hard and are very lucky, you actually might have one. Office 365 has this great feature called Groups. These are like a distribution list or a mailbox alias, but they keep their own copy of all the mail and you can also have a copy sent to your own inbox and other people's as well (group members). They have other features too that will help you organize your business as teams emerge. Create at least these groups or something like them:
  • Info@ or Sales@
  • CustomerService@ or Help@ for your customers who have a problem and need assistance
  • Purchasing@ to manage your suppliers, place orders, etc.
  • Billing@ if you send invoices to your customers
  • AP@ if you get bills (and who doesn't?)
  • Finance@ for key communication with people at the bank, your lenders, etc.
  • IT@ so you can keep computers and services running smoothly
  • Management@, Mgmt@, or Execs@ for the big bosses - and maybe lock it down so that only people in your company can send to it
Notice something? There are separate mailboxes for customer and supplier facing communication on both general and money related matters. This will be important later on. Think of what would happen if you accidentally sent an angry collection letter to your supplier or a wholesale PO to a customer who pays you the retail price? What if your suppliers starts talking to your salespeople? Separation of duties is important to help prevent mix-ups, conflicts of interest, or leaking of trade secrets. With those out of the way, go ahead and create your own mailboxes for personal use and to receive group e-mails. I like to use firstname.lastname@ as the format. Some people prefer flastname@ but this can cause conflicts as a company grows. If you want to look big on day one, I recommending doing things the way that a big company would do them. I did have a customer once with a very long first and last name. You know what, you do whatever works best for you. Maybe they can have a short login name to make it easy to check email on their phone, but have an alias with their full name so that their e-mail address will be consistent with other people in the company.

Website

Next, you'll probably want to get a web site stood up quickly. If you haven't written your business plan yet, this could be a challenge. You may not know what your message is, or who is your target market. Go back and write a good plan. Likely, you went to GoDaddy or Wix to get web site services. Many people set up their websites on WordPress. These services will offer you turnkey designs/themes and templates for creating your site. Some people hire a web designer and this can get good results if they're focused on following the latest trends and getting good search engine rankings. The web is a discipline all its own, so even if you're technically savvy, you'll probably want to hire someone that specializes if you plan to do anything fancy using your website or if its functionality is a core part of your business plan. I've always been in IT, so I like rolling my own, but this can be an expensive option. If you're in Office 365, you can host a web site more or less for free using your account's Azure portal. This is what I've done with our business. But it's a lot more work. Whatever option you choose for your website. You'll need some information up there even before you publicly announce that your business exists.
  • Home Page with Elevator Pitch - what is this business all about?
  • Business Contact Info: address, phone, e-mail
  • Social Media links. See next section.
  • A few pages detailing specific products or services you offer
  • A blog. Trust me on this. It is what will attract people to your company and it gives you an excuse to post on Facebook.

Social Media Accounts

OK so you have a website. Now, you need to get social. Go sign up for accounts on these services:
  1. LinkedIn
  2. Facebook
  3. Twitter
  4. YouTube
  5. Google+
  6. Instragram
If that seems like a lot, just do 2 or 3 of the top sites. There are also social media specialists who can do this for you as a service, so you don't need to. Whenever you post to your blog, also announce it to these sites to tell people what you've posted. This builds up inbound links to your site, which is another metric Google uses to rank you for search.

EIN, Dwei, Drei

Okay, so you have your entity established, and ways for people to communicate with you. You know who's really going to want to talk to you now??? The tax man. Go to the IRS and get yourself an Employee Identification Number. It's easy; I think you can even get one the same day you apply. Once I felt very lucky because I got an EIN where the last four numbers were all the same. That business ran into tough times. Usually, we don't get cool numbers. Save vanity-number-lust for your main phone number. People don't care so much about what number the government gives you.

State and Local Business Licenses / Permits

Just because you have a corporate entity and a tax ID number, don't think you're done yet! Your state and local governments are going to want a piece of the action too. Apply for Sales Tax license in every state you plan to operate in. You can skip places where you won't have an office. So, just your base state is probably OK. If you're in an area that borders two states, or you plan on selling to the government, it may be a good idea to get licensed in more than one state. Check with your local city or county government to see about getting a business permit at whatever office you are using as your address. If you're primary using your home, you have a choice. Do you want to give the government your home address? Remember that it will become part of the public record. If your goal is to keep your role in the business private, then maybe use the virtual office we talked about earlier and don't send this stuff to your house. Think about how the business taxes work in your area. For example, if you set up the main office address in a place like Delaware, then you may not have very many taxes to pay. On the other hand if you establish a business in Baltimore, you'll need to pay property tax on all the business assets. Set up in DC and you will end up paying sales tax for both goods and services you provide. In the modern world, where employees and business partners are spread all over the country and often work from home, unless your business requires brick-and-mortar, you're basically free to set it up to your maximum advantage. If you have employees, you'll have to get insurance for worker's compensation. You may even have to insure yourself if you're considered self-employed. Likely, you'll also pay unemployment taxes. These things will require you to send statements to your state or local department of labor usually every quarter. Of course, if you don't have any employees, no need to worry about it. Will you be subcontracting everything? Maybe not, maybe so. I guess it just depends on what your business model is, but keep in mind that if you hire people 1099 and then tell them how to work, the IRS can come back later and demand huge quantities of back-due employment taxes when they reclassify your subs. Finally, consider if there are other licensing requirements in your state. These are common in construction, finance, healthcare, childcare, and insurance industries. Make sure you know the laws about whether you're required to license your business or certify your employees. Now, I'm not a lawyer or an accountant. What I say above is based on experience and should not be interpreted as legal or financial advice. Do your own research, and seek professional advice if you need it.

Business Bank Account(s)

Got all that other stuff taken care of? It's time to go get business checking and savings accounts. If you have plan on having payroll, create two checking accounts - one for Payroll and one for your General Ledger. The savings account is important for two reasons. Number one, you need to focus on savings early on in your business, because there will come a time when you will need something to fall back on. Secondly, you need somewhere to park the taxes while you're accumulating those for the quarterly return. Don't dip into tax savings when you run into trouble. If it helps you stay honest, create two savings accounts also. For the love off all that's good and holy, please don't just run into Bank of America! Do some research and pick a bank that has business services that you'll need:
  • Decent web banking
  • Wire transfers (domestic and/or international)
  • ACH and direct deposit
  • Check scanner
  • Business lines of credit
  • Merchant services
  • Business and financial advice

Merchant Card Processing

You have someplace to put your money now. That's great. But how are people going to pay you? You can take cash and deposit it in the bank every day or week. Many businesses work this way. Even so, it's not a very safe proposition for large amounts of money. So, unless you're cleaning houses or mowing lawns, maybe best to set something else up. You can accept checks. This comes with its own risks. If your customers are consumers, then the chances are very good that you'll be dealing with bounced checks and you may want to look into services from your bank (ChexSystems is a popular one) that will help you verify that the person paying you doesn't have a history of writing on rubber commercial paper. Businesses are a different story. Will your customers be buying things that cost a few hundred, a few thousand, or tens of thousands of dollars at a time? Often, a reputable business simply won't write a check that they know will not clear. But, not getting paid on time hurts just as bad. Be careful about using invoice leveraging services, as they can be costly and aren't without risks. Often the best answer is to have more than one customer; don't put all your hopes on that one big check. By far, the best way to get paid in the modern age is by taking credit cards. Best of all its pretty easy to do. Depending on your business model, you can use a service like Square, Intuit Payments (GoPayment), or PayPal. Your bank may offer more sophisticated merchant processing, or offer to charge you lower rates. Do your research. As a final note. Offering credit is something best left to the banks. If you feel like you must offer financing for your products in order to drive sales, work something out with a lender and have the customer apply for credit that way. Simply offering six-months-same-as-cash to everyone who walks in your door would be a great way to go out of business within the year. PayPal has a service called Bill Me Later, you may want to look into it or something like it. Some businesses expect NET Terms; this is always a difficult situation to be in and you should avoid offering terms whenever you can. Have a credit check process, and make customers complete the forms before you make a bad decision you'll regret. Get some part of your money in advance wherever you can. Offer NET 30 / 15 -3%; the discount will encourage many companies to pay earlier. You can always raise your regular rate by a few points to make up for the discount.

A Good Set of Books

OK, so you have a bank account - probably with almost nothing in it. You have a way of getting paid. Presumably you have a plan that involves buying and selling things in an effort to put money in the bank. That's all great. Let me tell you what you don't do next. You don't just run out there and start selling your fool head off. There's one final step you need to make sure that things begin in the right way and stay on track. A wise man named John Herman Jr. once said to me and a roomful of other hopeful entrepreneurs "No math. No money." He explains this idea in his excellent book "Hermanisms", along with many other pieces of sage business advice. You Can Buy a Copy on Amazon. What he means is that you need to do the accounting and track your income and expenses. If you miss this step, the inevitable outcome will be an empty bank account - and possibly a lot of debt. Get yourself a real business accounting package. I don't care if you use Xero, Mint, or QuickBooks Online. My business uses Microsoft Dynamics Business Central - Financials, because the price was right and because it integrates well with Office 365 and Dynamics. The point is that you need to have something better than a pile of Excel spreadsheets. (Trust me, you will likely have a bunch of those anyway.) Once you have an accounting package, start a relationship with a CPA that know that software. For this reason, probably most businesses start with QuickBooks. There are just more accountants who know it. Can accounting be expensive? Sure it can. You know what's really expensive? Not having an accountant. Every month that passes where you don't have one, it will get harder and harder to undo the damage and fly right. If you are lucky enough to grow without the advantages of solid bookkeeping, the problems that arise will be far larger than they would have been when you were small and just starting out. This is a mistake I've made a few times, sometimes because I couldn't face what felt like bad news, and once because my favorite software vendor got out of the small business accounting market for nearly 15 years. (Thanks Microsoft!) Sometimes, I put too much faith in other people and didn't take the responsibility myself. In this respect I am an idiot. You should do as I say and not as I did. Never again. If you read in the years after I write this that I've become fabulously successful and wealthy, then you'll know I learned my lesson. I hope Herman's still around and kicking, because I've got an idea for a new business and I want to run it past him before we start.

The Last Word

Okay, if you've completed all the items above, you are well on your way. You have your corporate armor, your business office, a phone number and somebody to answer it, domain name, web site, e-mail address, LinkedIn and Facebook pages, tax ID, various business licenses, bank accounts, ability to take payments, a decent accounting package, and a CPA. You considered your personal privacy, business image, and the ability to divest yourself from your new venture whether it succeeds or fails. So far, you've been doing a lot of jobs that have more or less nothing to do with whatever your great business idea is. You might say "but Tom, I really just want to remodel bathrooms! I haven't even so much as picked up a wrench all week." Don't worry. Not too long from now, you can actually get started with doing the thing that's whole reason you wanted to be in business in the first place - which is probably to make a ton of money doing something you're really passionate about. By putting these things in place at the beginning, you're setting things up to be sustainable, scalable, and hopefully somewhat self-correcting. You could do many of these things yourself, but you don't have to. Helping your business with all the technical stuff I've talked about is something my company does, and we can do that for you. We can't help you write your corporate charter, choose your office location, or request your tax ID. But for all that e-mail, phone, accounting software, and website stuff we've got you covered! It doesn't even need to be particularly expensive. Reach out to us if you'd like a hand. Hope you enjoyed part I. Best of luck with your new business venture!

Credit: this post was republished from Liquid Mercury Solutions' Staff of LiquidHg with permission from the author and/or publisher; original post URL is LiquidHg.