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Career Corner
Today's Entrepreneur: First Steps to Starting Your Own Business

ReGina Crawford-Martin -- Before the business cards, flyers, and postcards, there are several steps you need to take when starting your own business.

First Step: Securing your chosen company name.

There are two parts to this step:

1) registering your company name with state in which the company is located; and
2) and registering you company name as a domain name on the Internet.

The process for registering with any state is fairly simple, and is handled by the Secretary of State for that state. You will have to fill out a Name Registration form, and pay a filling fee which differs from state-to-state. You don't have to decide if and how to incorporate at this point; you are just reserving your company name for future incorporation.

Keep in mind that not all businesses need to be incorporated. For instance, if you never plan on expanding the business and hiring employees, you don't need to incorporate.

Registering a domain name on the Internet is also a simple process. There are a number of Web sites that allow checking for name availability, as well as registering your name if it is available for purchase. The cost for this is relatively inexpensive, ranging from $8.00 per year to $15.00 per year.

Why is this step so important? It prevents anyone else from doing business under that name, and it protects you against a law suit if you operate a business under a company name registered by someone else prior to your use of the name. As for the Internet, you don1t want to have to purchase your domain name from another person once your business takes off. Believe me, they will charge you a premium price if they sense how much you want the name.

Keep in mind that even though you have registered a domain name, you don't have to create a Web site right away. The company you register with will automatically display a page when the domain name is typed in, thus you don't have to worry about Web site design or hosting services.

Second Step: Register the Business with the government and Dun and Bradstreet.

You can register with the IRS online at http://www.irs.gov by selecting Businesses, then Employer ID Numbers, Apply Online, and Apply Online Now. Your number is returned on the screen in under five minutes, and there is no fee.

You can register with Dun and Bradstreet online at http://smallbusiness.dnb.com by selecting Manage Your Business Credit, then D-U-N-S Number. Your Duns Number will be emailed to you within a few days, and there is also no fee.

After receiving your Duns Number, go back to the Duns Web site and register for the eUpdate. This will allow you to update your company information as necessary.

When your Dun's number is received you can register your business with Central Contractor Registration (CCR) system. This is done online at http://www/ccr/gov, and Start New Registration. This system is accessed by all levels, Federal to all 50 states, of government for all government contracts regardless of the amount of the contract.

Third Step: Create a Business Plan.

If you don't know the what, who, where, and when's of your business, how can you effectively manage the business?

What?

You need to determine the type of business you are starting. Are you offering a product? Or services? Or both? Having this information will allow you to determine your start up costs, and where to go to obtain financing.

Who?

You need customers for your business to be successful. Who is your target market? You must consider age, sex, social standing, and economic standing. You are not considering these items to be discriminatory, but you need to focus on these items to determine where you will locate your business and how you will market your business. You don't want to locate your Black Tie Clothing store in an area where 95% of people don't attend black tie affairs. In the same token, you don't want to market you nail salon with a construction worker on the advertising materials.

Where?

You need a location for your business. Are you going to start with a home office? Or do you need a commercial location?

When?

Are you products and services based on seasons, or a holiday? This factor will determine when you open your business. You don't want to start a business catering to beach wear in the middle of December. Nor do you want to open a tax service on April 16th.

For more detailed information contact G Styl Productions Incorporated at Prod@GStyl.com.

ReGina Crawford-Martin is president of G Styl Productions, Inc., located in Cleveland, OH. For more information, visit her site at: http://www.GStyl.com or contact her at Prod@GStyl.com.

© 2004 ReGina Crawford-Martin

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The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of College Central Network, Inc. or its affiliates. Reference to any company, organization, product, or service does not constitute endorsement by College Central Network, Inc., its affiliates or associated companies. The information provided is not intended to replace the advice or guidance of your legal or medical professional.