The intention of this post is share my journey and resources that I found helpful, utilized, and/or recommend.
I would have to admit that the ideas in my head were like scrambled eggs in a bowl! Yes, there were a lot going on, all mixed together with no concrete structure or order. The ideas seemed realistic, but I needed to organize and prioritize them. So, I sorted my ideas while I sat in that very small space (picture on right) that I had decided was going to be my home office.
My initial task list:
- List the business ideas down and explore available and other possible resources I could tap into to start. I had some money saved that I could use.
- Determine what products I’m going to be putting out there (am I selling something?) and/or services (am I providing something?). I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the what and how. It is normal to find yourself indecisive in the beginning. The goal is to figure it out. Without that, building and launching a business would become even more challenging.
- Start a market analysis to get an idea of what’s out there and how much others are charging for it. This preliminary assessment should help make the initial discovery of what others are doing and what customers are looking for.
- Determine which business ideas are the easiest to accomplish with as little resources as possible. While I should dream, think, and plan big, I also have to “start small” to remain sensitive to the budget.
Simultaneously, I thought about business names and logo and began thinking and forming my mission and vision. The latter is important in guiding my path to moving forward. Read on to learn more about my journey.
“When you feel like quitting, remember why you started” – LesMills
Within the first month
I found myself eager to get started, and I was sure I’m not alone on that one. While it’s fun, it’s also overwhelming. There’s a lot of research that needed to be done. It’s one thing to be a nurse; it’s another to be an entrepreneur. It’s a steep learning curve ahead, which means a lot of opportunities to grow and change. Depending on your business idea, not all of what’s written below may be necessary, but here are what I recommend:
- Decide on your business entity: sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation. Read up on this from these sources:
Secretary of State, California – look up the state where you are going to do business in for requirements and any specific procedures you may be required to follow (mine was CA of course)
National Nurses in Business Association – sign up as they are a valuable resource for nurses venturing into business
Small Business Administration (SBA) – sign up in this another valuable resource
Business Licenses, LLC – License Suite is what informs you of what licenses/permits to apply for. They email you a link to the forms you need.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – don’t forget about taxes. Start learning a little bit everyday about business taxes. Consult with a CPA. During this early stage, you might already have some minor expenses. Remember to record everything.
Score – check out this other valuable resource for new business owners. They offer mentoring and webinars and it’s another great way to network.
2. Draft your business plan: this may originate from your notes as you thought about what your business is going to be. Sooner rather later, make it a point to fine tune each component of your plan. Templates I recommend to check out are from SBA and Score.
3. Decide on a business name and get started on your licenses and permits applications. Visit your Secretary of State website to perform a business name search to make sure your chosen name isn’t already taken.
4. Apply for the licenses and permits for your chosen business entity. Make sure you fill out and submit all that’s required of you. Federal requirement is usually the IRS tax payer ID. Then there’s the state and city requirements, so it’s important to check what each state and city require.
5. There are also certain documents needed depending on the type of business entity you’re applying for. LawDepot can assist you for free with legal forms needed for the business structure you choose and even for other non-business document types. Another is Legal Nature but it requires a subscription after a 7-day trial.
6. Think of your logo: have a little break from the hard part and do something fun. I actually thought of a logo while I was thinking of my business ideas, and it is important when you get to branding your business. When you’re ready:
Sketch your logo or check out Canva and Pixlr programs to help you create one. I got my kids involved in narrowing my logo idea and had my niece sketch it for me (go my team!).
OR outsource to who has the talent to do it. There are many companies that offer logo design. It can be pricey, so ensure that you have a variety of quotes to choose from.
7. Set-up your office equipment and communication accounts dedicated for your business: another fun thing to do
Laptop or desktop is a given must-have to begin anything nowadays (I think most will agree).
Printer is something you’ll most likely need to have soon to move forward
Email – this is a matter of preference. It is best to have a separate email address for business communications rather than mixing it with your personal email. I decided to go with Google G Suite Business account because of all the integrated features and I’m already familiar with how to use Google.
Domain and/or Website – get this checked off the list prior to creating other accounts, so you can get everything with your personalized domain name if you’re considering it (not required at this time of course). I found this task very technical and there’s so many components to consider. Consider outsourcing if you’re financially able sooner than later (a mistake I made).
Business phone – another matter of preference. You may consider a Google Talk number to start with and link it to your current cell phone provider. This way, there’s another number to put out there instead of your personal cell phone, but it’s entirely up to you.
Business fax – not an utmost necessity but it is up to you. Determine whether to get an actual fax (fax machine, paper, toner, fax line) or subscribe to a web/cloud-based fax. I recommend going green and subscribe to a web-based fax: some charge a monthly fee and others charge per number of faxed pages. Imagine the money you’ll be saving from a printer toner and band paper if you had a digital fax.
Gotta have a phone & fax? Check out if Sonic.net services are available in your area. Their plan comes with internet, phone, and web-based fax.
8. Set-up your finances straight: let’s put the serious hat back on. Depending on the type of business account you’re opening, certain documents may be required when establishing bank accounts (i.e. articles of incorporation, seller’s permit, EIN, etc.). Determine what features you’re mostly going to need, such as invoicing, e-commerce for an online or physical store, and/or merchant services.
Bank accounts – first thing I thought about is separating the business finances from personal finances. This will assist in monitoring your business expenses and getting your recordkeeping straight and organized from the start. If you’ve had to get business loan to get started, you’re further ahead in this step than I am. Great job!
Merchant account – there are many companies that offer this type of product/service. PayPal is one of the well-known ones. It is best to research on the fees and features that come with the product.
Accounting and bookkeeping software – I started with Hurdlr app (iOS version) to expenses I have. Then I moved on to free Wave Accounting and later Quickbooks. It’s convenient to be able to attach a picture/PDF of your receipt because this is a part of your recordkeeping. If an IRS audit arose, you’d be required to provide proof of your expenses.
9. Draft or begin thinking about drafting your business’ bylaws (i.e. policies and procedures):
LawDepot can, again, assist you for free with legal forms needed for the business structure you choose and even for other non-business document types.
LegalZoom is another source that I found useful
Even if it is a small business (like mine and many others starting), you’ll need to have some structure in place and written down. This is what describes how you are operating your business. The links I listed in item #1, provide many resources, including templates, that I’m sure you’ve already come across by now if you checked them out early on. I hope they are helpful in keeping you organized and on top of things. Whew, a lot has happened within the month!
There are many more things to do and this is just the start. Though I, obviously, have not made any revenue building my business in the last month, I’ve accomplished several things and I wanted to reward my efforts by expanding my home office space. My family was generous in supporting my nursing business venture and allowed me to take up a little more space:
Any type of inspiration goes a long way. My point is that you should acknowledge your accomplishments (big and small), challenges (frustrating and encouraging), and failures (especially this, if any, because they teach you the lessons on how you can be better tomorrow than you are today).
Cheers to you, me, and our businesses! Stick with those dreams and plans and…
“When you feel like quitting, remember why you started” – LesMills