Frequently Asked Questions
You should start with a business plan. It begins with a mission statement that defines your business, encompasses your business principles, and helps keep you focused. The business plan then outlines your business organizational structure and methods of delivery of goods and services. Due diligence identifies strengths and weaknesses that need to be considered as strategic goals are identified and marketing methods outlined. The business plan specifies funding sources, which are then allocated among business assets and human resources for maximum operating efficiency. Financial forecasts should be prepared as an integral part of a well-crafted business plan that takes into account business cycles and other factors to help plan operating cash flow and debt service. More information on business plans can be found at www.sba.gov. Part of your business plan should be to establish good working relationships with professionals in the areas of tax preparation and planning, accounting and financial reporting, business consulting, legal advice, insurance advice, and information technology.
There are several legal aspects to starting a business, including the form of business organization that is right for your business. State and federal regulations regarding licensing, permits, and registrations that may apply to the goods and services your business will deliver need to be researched and considered. The various state web sites are a good place to start, along with local chambers of commerce. Another resource can be found at www.business.gov.
Depending upon your business organizational structure, the owners may be considered employees for legal and tax reporting purposes. Your business plan will specify your need for other employees. Having employees will require meeting IRS and state payroll reporting requirements. Also, other federal and state laws and regulations need to be considered that deal with, among other things, employee benefits, anti-discrimination laws, overtime pay, etc.
There are tax and financial benefits to having family members work in the business. A family oriented business can be rewarding, but additional considerations come into play in taxation and business succession planning. Betts & Hayes, Ltd. has extensive experience working with family-owned enterprises.
Financing considerations for your business would be defined more precisely in your business plan, but generally would consist of a combination of owners' equity and bank or commercial lending sources. The alternatives to be considered would also depend largely on the type of business, capital intensive (real estate, inventory, and equipment needs) or service oriented. Capital intensive businesses would normally seek asset-based lending or leasing sources. It is important to establish a good working relationship with a bank that will work with you not only in the startup phase by providing short term financing needs but in the longer term by providing for or participating in longer term asset-based or mortgage lending needs. Leasing real estate (office and warehouse needs) and equipment should be evaluated as an alternative to or in combination with financing your business, especially in the startup phase. The SBA at www.sba.gov has various financing programs available that can be structured directly with them or in combination with a traditional bank or commercial lending. You may want to consider bringing in partners or family members to be a part of the business to provide additional capital, either as owners or lenders.
Good accounting processes are vital to the success of any business, not only in the startup phase but in more mature businesses. Most record-keeping systems will be centered around computer systems and software. Your computer systems and software needs should be evaluated based upon the type of business and future growth as contemplated in the business plan. Whether just starting your business or have a more mature business, establishing a relationship with a CPA and business consultant is important in designing a computer-based accounting and record-keeping system that encompasses or integrates with database, customer management, and human resource programs. Betts & Hayes, Ltd is a ProAdvisor for QuickBooks. We offer services in QuickBooks software installation, setup and support, and ongoing training and support. Learn more about Quickbooks.
Smaller businesses and those in the startup phase may only need a computer with simple software to run their business. A business startup that contemplates fast growth pursuant to their business plan, will ultimately need to consider more advanced computer hardware and networking capabilities, largely based on your type of business and the customers your business serves. Even smaller businesses can benefit significantly from advances in computer hardware systems that allow networking and multi-tasking formerly only considered by larger companies. Betts & Hayes, Ltd. can help you sort through the options.
Your business plan should address how you will market the products and services you will sell. The marketing plan should define the geographic areas and customer profiles your business will target. You may consider working with a marketing and advertising professional to assist your business in reaching your target customers. Your business plan should also contain a due diligence study on the number and strength of competitors, and the potential for your market based on this study. Your business image to new and existing customers is vital to initial and continuing success. A good marketing and advertising program need to be well planned and well budgeted to achieve success.