10 steps to start a small business
While becoming your own boss can be a dream come true, starting a business involves a lot more than thinking up a great idea and finding your first customers. Start your business off on the right foot by following these 10 steps:
1. Research your target market
To confirm your great idea is viable, try using surveys1 or focus groups,2 or interviewing people in your target market.3
2. Write your business plan
Write a solid business plan that includes your value proposition, key partners, financial plan, and marketing plan. Use this guide from the SBA to get started.4
3. Choose a business structure
Small businesses can operate as a sole-proprietor, a partnership, an LLC, or a corporation. Research what's best for your business and consult with a CPA or an attorney.
4. Choose your business name wisely
A name should clearly convey the benefit your company delivers, be easy to remember, and be easy to say out loud. Register your business name with your state and snag a domain name for your business.
5. Get your tax IDs
Register online5 for a federal and state Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is needed to open up a business checking account, apply for business licenses and permits, and hire employees.
6. Register your business
Register in the states you do business in. A lawyer or accountant can help. You'll need to name a registered agent — someone who receives official papers and legal documents for you. Most business owners hire aregistered agent service.6
7. Apply for licenses and permits
Visit your state, county, and city websites to see what licenses and permits (if any) you're required to have. If your business is regulated by a federal agency, you'll need to apply for a permit with that agency.
8. Open a business checking account
Explore different business checking accounts to find one that best suits your needs. A separate business account offers you limited personal liability protection and you'll look more professional to your customers and vendors.
9. Set up your accounting system
Get your accounting system in place early. If you choose to DIY it, find easy-to-use bookkeeping software. If time is short, pay an accountant or bookkeeper to set your system up.
10. Get business insurance
This helps protect your personal and business assets are protected. Start by researching the different types of business insurance, then shop around with commercial insurance agents to find the best price.
Visit your local Synovus business banker to set up a business checking account.
Important disclosure information
This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.
- Meghan Lockwood, "How to Design a Marketing Survey That Yields Legitimate Results," Hubspot. Accessed May 31, 2021. Back
- Community Toolbox, "Section 6. Conducting Focus Groups," accessed May 31, 2021. Back
- Nikki Elbaz, "Customer Interviews: Voice of the Customer and Jobsto-Be-Done," CXL, updated July 23, 2020, accessed May 31, 2021. . Back
- U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), "Write your business plan," accessed May 31, 2021. Back
- IRS.gov, "Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) Online," updated January 7, 2021, accessed May 31, 2021. Back
- Drake Forester, "Should You Hire a Registered Agent or Be Your Own?" Score, published May 17, 2019, accessed May 31, 2021. Back