Small Business Tips

Throughout the years I’ve had a couple of small businesses. Yeah, it can be a huge headache and a bit overwhelming, but there’s a couple of tips I thought I would share with you to help ease the pain!

1. Get a computer.
This should be obvious. Everything is done online and through email these days. Make sure you download all necessary software (legally), set up your email account, and back everything up often! You might also want to think about investing in an external hard drive to store your larger documents and keep your backup files.

2. Form an LLC.
If you don’t want to be liable for any company debts or liabilities, you will want to form an LLC, Limited Liability Company. This can protect your family from any unfortunate events relating to your company. You will need to register your LLC with the Secretary of State and the fee varies per state. You can easily apply for the LLC yourself online, or use a website like LegalZoom.

3. Obtain an EIN.
This stands for your Employer Identification Number. This number will come from the IRS and is used for tax purposes. If you do not obtain an EIN, you will need to use your social security number instead.

4. Open a business bank account.
It’s best to keep your personal and business bank accounts separate. You will find it much easier to do your taxes and see exactly how much you’re spending and making each month.

5. Sign up for a PayPal account.
So many transactions these days are made through PayPal. All you need is an email address to create an account! Then you can link up your bank account, credit card or both to make and receive payments.

6. Purchase accounting software.
You will need to keep track of all your invoices for your small business. Buying professional software is a great way to create your invoices, keep track of expenses, track your sales and keep all of your records for tax season. I use QuickBooks for my accounting software, but have also used Peachtree it the past.

7. Hire an accountant.
Yeah, there’s some questions about small business taxes you just can’t answer. Ask a professional. They’ll be able to help you analyze your accounting software data that you’ve collected, help with your business and tax planning for the entire year, offer personal finance advice in relation to your business, see the trends in your growing business and help plan for the next step, and so much more.

Also, since you will be paying your own taxes make sure you are taking at least 20% out of each paycheck and putting it into a separate account! Yes, you may end up paying more or less than 20%, but at least it’s a start for savings. You will have a lot of write offs and most companies don’t make money in their first year (or second…or third).

8. Trademark your name.
This might not be necessary for your company, but if you have a catchy name you might want to protect it.

9. Marketing 101.
To ensure your company stands apart from the rest you will want to invest in some marketing. One of the most important decisions you will make for your company is your logo (which will probably be one of your first decisions as well). Color schemes, fonts, icons, etc. … this will set the tone for the rest of your brand. Choose wisely and research your options for graphic designers, who can help design your business cards, website (very important!), brochures and anything else you might need to succeed. Remember, put your best foot forward. Perception is everything.

Oh, and that iPhone cover above? It’s just a clear case with something I designed in Photoshop on the inside (see tutorial here). Yep, just normal laser printer paper that I cut to size with a pair of scissors.

10. Spend money to make money.
Ah, this is probably the hardest pill to swallow.  Almost all of the items above require money. It’s costly to start up a small business, but the end result can be a successful company with the most awesome boss in the world… YOU!

Business meeting flat illustration concept
These tips don’t only apply to bloggers, but any small business that you’re trying to get off the ground where you plan to make some income. Good luck to you!