Business Startup Basics

Starting a business can seem overwhelming, but don't let the details the best of you. From choosing the right form of business to avoiding tax tangles, here's everything you need to know to get started.

As you get ready to launch your new business on eBay, your head is spinning with dozens of details to take care of, and questions about things you need to do. Should you incorporate? Will you need a lawyer? And just what should you call your company anyway?

Slow down, take a deep breath, and relax. Then read on. Our startup overview covers all the major factors you need to consider before you open for business.

Naming Your Business

While many of you are running businesses on eBay, at some point you may need to name an eBay Store. You don't need professional help to come up with a name. With a little creativity, anyone can use the same basic steps professional namers use.

Your company name should reinforce the key elements of your business, so start by defining the qualities you want your business to be identified with. Will customers seek you out for bargains or for one-of-a-kind art objects? If you're targeting young, single men, you'll emphasize different qualities than if your customers are middle-aged moms.

Begin brainstorming by looking in dictionaries, books and magazines to generate ideas. Get friends and relatives to help. Your name should be easy to pronounce (if people can't pronounce it, they'll avoid saying it). If you target global consumers, make sure your name has no negative connotations in other languages. Come up with five to 10 names you feel good about.

Before making your decision, do a trademark search. Enlisting a trademark attorney or trademark-search firm early on saves time, money and hassles down the road by ensuring that competitors cannot infringe on your business name. If it seems every existing word that could describe your business has already been trademarked, consider new spellings.

Another factor many businesses on eBay have to consider is a domain name. If you've decided to have a Web site, your first to-do item is to make a list of possible Web site names. Then go to your favorite search engine and type in "domain registration." You'll find a list of companies, such as www.namesecure.com, www.networksolutions.com, www.nomonthly.com, www.register.com and www.siteleader.com, all of which will guide you through domain registration. For a modest fee ($15 to $70), you can register a domain name for two years. Register.com is particularly helpful, because it not only tells you if the name you've chosen is taken, but it also goes a step further by offering a list of alternative names that are still available.

Once you've chosen a name, prompts on the domain registration site guide you through a simple registration procedure. You'll generally be offered one-, two- or three-year registration packages; choose based on whether you are completely happy with the name or think you'll want to switch in a year or so.

If you have an eBay Store, you can also register a personal domain name directly from the "Manage Your Store" page. Sellers can use their domain names to direct shoppers to their eBay Stores and to sign up for e-mail plans. For example, if Joe sells antiques from his eBay Store, he can register www.joesantiques.com, forward the domain to his eBay Store, and use joe@joesantiques.com as his e-mail address.

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