Of all the decisions you make when starting a business, probably one of the most important is the right name for your new venture: The right name can make your company the talk of the town. The wrong one can doom it to obscurity and failure. If you're smart, you'll put just as much effort into naming your business as you did into coming up with your idea and writing your business plan.
An effective name will establish your marketplace presence, convey what you do, and create a memorable impression. Thumb through phone books, DBA filings, directories and The Trademark Electronic Search System to research names already in use or similar to yours.
Enlisting the help of a trademark attorney or at least a trademark search firm before you decide on a name if highly advisable. The extra money you spend now could save you countless hassles and expenses down the road. And once you've made a decision, determine if your chosen name has an available domain name for your future Web site, and reserve it. Even if you won't be selling products online, a Web site is crucial these days for marketing purposes.
Also important in the success of your business is is the type of legal structure you select for your company. Your structure can make a big difference in how you pay taxes (how much and how often), raise money, handle lawsuits, or dissolve or pass on the business. Will you operate as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, S corporation or limited liability company? Because each business form comes with different tax consequences, you'll want to want to make your selection wisely and choose the structure that most closely matches your business's needs. If you're not a tax or legal expert, you should seek advice from a professional on how to pick the structure that'll best manage your liabilities.
To work through the startup paperwork maze, visit your city's One-Stop Business Center. You can usually find it through the government listings in your phone book or through your local chamber of commerce. These offices can provide information about licensing, permits, your particular business type, and running a local business in general. Find more information at your local library in Gale's National Directory of State Business Licensing and Regulation. You can also learn about other laws that may affect you from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The agency offers hundreds of free business publications.
Tomorrow: Day 7. Develop a Marketing Plan