Starting an Online Small Business
Although this article provides information for starting an online small business, the information can also be used for starting a brick and mortar small business in any industry.
The first step in starting your online or offline business is to name it. When considering the name of your business, make sure it reflects the products or services you will be offering. Take into consideration not only the products you will offer today, but also the products or services you could possibly offer in the future. Once you have named your business, it is a hassle to change it; especially, if you have done extensive marketing.
If you choose a name for your business that is different than your surname, you have to file a FBN (Fictitious Business Name) Statement with your county. For example, if your business name is Brown & Baker Associates or Brown & Baker Sons, you are required to file a FBN Statement. Although, your surname is Brown, as well as Baker being the surname of your partner, associates' and sons' surnames are unknown; therefore, filing a FBN Statement is necessary. If the name of your business is Sally Brown Business Services, then you are not required to file a Fictitious Business Name Statement, because you are conducting business under your legal name, Sally Brown.
Once you have filed your statement, it is effective for five years and will need to be renewed at the end of that time period. You are also required to publish your FBN Statement with court-approved newspapers once a week for four consecutive weeks. If your business is located in San Diego County, the county clerk's office provides you with a list of newspapers for you to make your selection. If at the end of your five-year period you haven't changed your business name, ownership, or business location, it is not necessary to publish your renewed statement. Copies of your filed statement are available, including a certified copy. You will need your certified copy to open a business bank account.
Be sure to check with your county for their exact requirements as they may vary from the aforementioned, which are based on the requirements of San Diego County.
You will also need a business license, which is required by your city and is renewable annually. When you renew, there is an administrative fee plus $.05 on every $100 ($.0005 x gross receipts) you earned in the previous year. Different cities may have different formulas to determine the fee for a business license. The City of Oceanside uses the previously mentioned formula. Again, check with your city for their exact requirements.
After you have taken care of all the administrative tasks, now the real work begins. Marketing your small business is very time-consuming and a lot of work. However, majority of the internet marketing tools available to small business owners today cost little to no money.
You may want to consider working with a Virtual Assistant, who is also a small business owner. You can think of virtual assistants as your online administrative assistants. Chances are they are using the same internet marketing tools and strategies to market their business; therefore, they will know how to apply the same marketing strategies to your business. They can also help you with your other administrative tasks.
Overall, operating a small business has its pros and cons. It is your company. No one can fire you or lay you off. However, it consumes a lot of your time and it takes discipline. Becoming a successful small business owner doesn't happen overnight. Working with a Virtual Assistant will free up a great deal of your valuable time, as well as help you to be organized. This will allow you to focus on your products and/or services, in addition to gaining clients.