Ask Bri via Facebook: Can you walk me through the steps of getting a business licensed. Thanks in advance! (Texas)
Thanks for your question! Surprisingly, the process is fairly easy, but you must educate yourself before you begin the process to be sure you understand the legal and tax implications. Let’s assume you already have an idea for your business: one that is specific in purpose and has a target audience.
First, give considerable thought to your business name and get feedback! Begin with the end in mind: people will need to locate your business on the web and let’s be honest, no one wants to type victoriashairandnailshoponline.com. Think about what your website name will be and use this tool to see if the domain/website name you desire is available; but, do NOT purchase it (more on this later). If you come up with a great idea but still need more time, you can reserve the name with your Secretary of State but it’ll cost you a little.
Next, put your tax dollars and mouse to work. You need to get facts from a trusted source. Someone you already pay to work on your behalf. That trusted source is the Small Business Administration (SBA). Their website is packed with information, resources, guides, templates and more. Watch the video to get an introduction to the SBA, then spend 30 minutes taking this online course: Young Entrepreneurs An Essential guide to Starting Your Own Business. Module 2 covers six basic steps you must take: 1) Have a plan 2) Get assistance 3) Find a mentor, 4) Decide on a business model/structure 5) Finance your business 6) Register your business. The SBA has local offices all across the country. You can even locatea course in your area to see what courses and resources they offer.
Be sure you understand the options for business types! The graphic below provides a high level overview but always use the IRS’s designations, found here, as the ultimate authority. The LLC is a common option because of the personal protections, so start there and use process of elimination for the others. Know that if you decide on a LLC you must have the those letters in your business name (i.e. Bri ALys, LLC).
When you are ready to file, it must be done with your Secretary of State. (Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Ohio). Getting a business licensed is as simple as filling out a form and paying a fee. There are no other requirements and filing online is much quicker than snail mail. Fees vary by state but typically are only few hundred dollars or so. Once it is approved you’ll get a certificate in the mail and you’re ready to go!
Once you have your certificate in hand (and only then), establish an online presence. Few tips here:
Create a single logo to use on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram to help get the word out about your product or service. Use Word, PowerPoint, or whatever tools are at your disposal and mock-up a design, something you like.
There is no reason for you to create a website that you can’t manage and update yourself. You can create a FREE blog that looks just as good as any website and there are hundreds of design options, see TechCrunch. Bri Alys is also a BLOG! With most blogging platforms like WordPress, you can buy your own domain/website name, add email and pay a nominal fee to remove ads from your site. I like WordPress because they also have Mobile Apps. Total cost: <$100, a little time and creativity.
Create your own hashtag (think #selfie) so that when you post or advertise on social media, your content is easily discoverable. We use #brialys. You can also use other common phrases that associate with the content of your post (i.e. #women #tech #business)
Keep your startup costs low and put in the work! Be mindful that 8 out of 10 small business fail. But that’s ok: learn from other’s mistakes ! Bri Alys is one of many ideas I’ve had over the years. And not to worry, whether your new business is made up of 1 or 100 employees, Congratulations! You’re now one of those small businesses politicians like to talk about helping (insert side eye).