You have your product and supplier lined up, you’re conducting the last round of interviews with potential employees, and you’ve got an SEO strategy ready to go. You should be ready to open your business in the next week or so. But before you do, there are some important things you must consider before you get started. Here’s five of them.
1. Trademark Your Name
You’re going to invest a lot in the business name you use as you build your brand. That’s why you must register it. Start by going to the United States Patent and Trademark website to get the proper forms, according to Forbes. If you don’t register your name, you risk losing a lot of money, especially if someone else is using it. And don’t think the name’s not being used because you can’t find it online. Get an attorney to be on the safe side, as he will know how to better research the name if it’s in use.
2. Factor in Living Expenses
Whether you’re working a part-time job or diving into a business full time, factor in your living expenses when creating your business plan. Living expenses include things like rent or mortgage costs, groceries, and utilities. Intuit recommends that you keep six months of reserve cash on hand for living expenses when starting a business.
3. Test Your Promotions
Since the degree of your success is contingent on your marketing and promotions, track all your advertising. If you’re running a direct mail campaign, use a department number or a key for each mailing so you know from which mailing a response was elicited. Other effective ways to track ads include using a special phone number for respondents to call, including a coupon in the ad or creating a landing page for your website for each ad, according to Target Marketing. Study your sales and profits from your advertising. Invest more in the ads that pull in responses or orders and drop the duds.
4. Know Your Local Laws
If you’re starting your business from home, your city may have certain zoning laws, especially if clients come to your house. Check your local city administration office to better understand zoning laws. You’ll also need to know which licenses you’re required to procure before you open your doors. You may need a state license and permit or even a federal license, depending on the products you sell, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Make sure you fully understand which forms you need to fill out to avoid getting penalized. Choosing the right location to start your business on the front end will help you avoid costly expenses of relocating your office down the road.
5. Deduct All Expenses to Which You’re Entitled
It’s great if your sales are taking off, but controlling expenses is another way to maximize your bottom line. Therefore, make sure you know which business expenses you can deduct. Generally, you can deduct 100 percent of all supplies, advertising, postage, copies or anything that’s directly related to conducting business. If you operate out of your house, make sure you take the home office deduction. Use IRS Form 8829 to account for this expense.