Start Your Business
Basic Steps and Resources to Get Your Business Started
Starting a business is a challenging and rewarding undertaking. The basic survival skills you’ll need include a working knowledge of record keeping; financial management; personnel management; market analysis; break-even analysis; product or service knowledge; federal, state and local tax knowledge; legal structures; and communication skills. In addition, you need to be prepared with the facts and resources necessary to legally run and successfully compete in your industry.
Following are the basic steps required and resources to help you get started and the SBDC Small Business Start-up Toolkit.
Four Steps to Startup Success
Step 1: Conceive Your Business
- Research Feasibility - So you’ve got a great idea for a business and you want to know if you can make it work. You will need to do some research and look at your idea from all angles. Create a business feasibility guide to help you answer these and more questions.
- Choose and Register a Business Name - A trade name is required for legal entities (corporations, LLC, and legal partnerships). When filing your trade name, pay attention to the law regarding what is required to be included in the name for the legal business entity type. First check availability by performing a search at the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT). If the name is available, register it. Fee quotes are also available on the site. Also, perform a search at the US Patent and Trademark Office for the new business name’s prior usage as a trademark, if any.
- Write a Business Plan
- Determine Location
- Secure a Website Domain Name - Use Register.com or any number of other providers
Step 2: Structure Your business
- Choose a Business Entity
- Consult Professionals - accountants, attorneys, etc.
- Set Up and Manage Your Recordkeeping and Financial Systems -
- Determine weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly tasks
- Understand and determine methods for improving cash flow
- Understand management of receivables
- Set Up Detailed Recordkeeping Systems for Deductible Expenditures
- Set Up System for Tracking Information for Income Tax Forms
- Decide whether you should hire employees, contractors, or temps and develop support tools and processes
Step 3: Prepare all necessary Federal, state, and local forms, permits, and licenses
- First, Register Your Business Entity - Determining your business type will lead you to the correct registration process for the State. You can obtain the correct documents for the legal business entity you have chosen, or download them at the “Forms and Application” page of the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation website. Scroll down to "Create or Start a New Business in Maryland" and select the business entity structure you desire.
- Obtain Federal Business Identification Numbers - All legal entities need to fill out the federal tax identification number IRS Form SS-4, Application for Employer Identification Number (EIN). You can do it online and the IRS will provide a printable notice with your new EIN.
- Obtain State Business Identification Numbers - Depending on your legal entity, you may also need to file a State Combined Registration Application for a State identification number. You must have a federal employer identification number (EIN) before you can register your business, unless you are a sole proprietorship, or applying for a sales and use tax license only and do not have a EIN. For state tax requirements, all legal entities are automatically filed for property taxes when the organization is registered with SDAT. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships that own or lease property or need a business license must file an annual personal property tax return and fill out an application for a State Identification Number through SDAT. For questions on other county and local tax requirements call your local County Finance Department or Treasury.
- Obtain All Necessary Licenses and Permits (link to the Legal/Taxes info page, appropriate spot)
- Secure Intellectual Property (Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights)
- Open Bank Account - Take your Certified Copy of your Articles of Organization or Incorporation that you purchased from SDAT. Also take the notice provided by the IRS when your EIN was established.
- Fulfill All Employer Requirements
- Determine and Fulfill All Tax Requirements - IRS Information for Businesses, Maryland Taxes
- Obtain Business Insurance
Step 4: Fund Your Business