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How to Start a Small Business in a Few Hours

Starting a business is surprisingly simple--you just need to take the first step. Here's how to get through the administrative hurdles faster than you think. A neighbor had been talking about starting a business for at least six months. Whenever I saw him, that's all he talked about. Eventually, I got tired of it. 

"What the heck are you waiting for?" I finally asked. It turns out, he thought the process of starting a business was really complicated. "I don't want to go through all that stuff," he said, "unless I'm absolutely sure my idea is perfect." Like a lot of would-be entrepreneurs, he was stalling because he was intimidated by the apparent complexity of the administrative and legal tasks involved in starting a business.



So I bet him lunch that we could take care of all that in less than three hours. Keep in mind, I'm only talking about setting yourself up to do business: I'm not talking about writing a business plan (although if that's what you want to do, here's a comprehensive guide to writing a business plan), sourcing financing, developing a marketing plan, etc. The goal is to get off square one and get on to the fun stuff.

Here's how:.

1. Get over the company-name thing.

Many people agonize endlessly over dreaming up the perfect company name. Don't. If you're waiting until you come up with the perfect name, you're also waiting to start making money. Instead, at least for now, forget branding and unique selling propositions and all the business-identity stuff. And don't worry about finding the perfect URL or website design or promotional literature. You're putting those carts way before your business horse, too. Just pick a name so you can get the administrative ball rolling. Remember, your business can operate under a different name than your company name. (A "doing business as" form takes minutes to complete.) And you can change your company name later, if you like.

2. Get your Employer Identification number (EIN).

An EIN is the federal tax number used to identify your business. You don't need an EIN unless you will have employees or plan to form a partnership, LLC, or corporation. But even if you don't need an EIN, get one anyway: It's free, takes minutes, and you can keep your Social Security number private and reduce the chance of identity theft, because if you don't have an EIN, your SSN identifies your business for tax purposes. Note: If you're using an online legal service to set up an LLC or corporation, don't use it to get your EIN. Instead, apply online at the IRS website. You'll have your EIN in minutes. Now it's time to head to your locality's administrative offices.

3. Register your trade name.

If you won't operate under your own name, your locality may require you to register a trade name. In most cases, you'll get approved on the spot.

4. Get your business license.

Your county or city will require a business license. The form takes minutes to fill out. Use your EIN instead of your Social Security number to identify your business (for privacy reasons if nothing else). You may be asked to estimate annual gross receipts. Do your best to estimate accurately, but don't agonize over it. You're just providing an estimate.

5. Complete a business personal-property tax form (if necessary).

Businesses are taxed on "personal" property, just like individuals. Where I live, no form is required for the year the business is established. If you are required to file a business personal-property tax form and you plan to work from home using computers, tools, etc., that you already own, you won't need to list those items. If you purchase tangible personal property during your first year in business, you will list those items when you file your business personal-property tax form the following year.

6. Ask your locality about other permits.

Every locality has different requirements. In my area, for example, a "home occupation permit" is required to verify that a business based in a home meets zoning requirements. Your locality may require other permits. Ask. They'll tell you.

7. Get a certificate of resale (if necessary).

A certificate of resale, also known as a seller's permit, allows you to collect state sales tax on products sold. (There is no sales tax on services.) If you will sell products, you need a seller's permit. Your state department of taxation's website has complete details, forms, etc., if you decide to apply online, but most localities have forms you can complete while you're at their administrative offices.

8. Get a business bank account.

One of the easiest ways to screw up your business accounting and possibly run afoul of the IRS is to commingle personal and business funds (and transactions). Using a business account for all business transactions eliminates that possibility. Get a business account using your business name and EIN, and only use that account for all business-related deposits, withdrawals, and transactions. Pick a bank or credit union that is convenient. Check out your local credit unions; often they provide better deals than banks.

9. Set up a simple accounting spreadsheet.

Worry about business accounting software like QuickBooks later. For now, just create a spreadsheet on which you can enter money you spend and money you receive. Bookkeeping is simple, at least at first. All you need are Revenue and Expenses columns; you can add line items as you go. Instead of spending hours playing with accounting software, dreaming up potential expense and income categories, and creating fancy reports with no data, spend that time generating revenue. As long as you record everything you do now, creating a more formal system later will be fairly easy. It will also be more fun, because then you'll have real data to enter. And now you're an entrepreneur, with all the documents to prove it.


Entries in this blog


Setting Expectations

In this business of direct sales/network marketing, many people invest an enormous amount of effort and time in bringing in a new business partner. But without setting the proper expectations and helping them get quick results (earn their ROI month one, achieve a company “fast start” bonus or goal, and get their first customer and partner), many new people leave this business before they even get started. When I started with my company, my mom and I were two of the first distributors. We didn’t have training materials, trainers, or systems at the time. We had to develop those systems–and learn how to set expectations. As a result, we are both earning 6-figures MONTHLY with our company.     Last week’s blog post was on “systems” and how to get a new distributor started (I suggest you read it, as it compliments this post). This week I want to talk to you about setting expectations. Systems and setting expectations must go “hand in hand” when you are working with a new partner! Here’s a few things you must share with your new distributor to set realistic expectations as they enter into their partnership with you, and the company:       NetWORK Marketing Is WORK In my professional opinion, we aren’t responsible for people’s success or failure (as this is independent business ownership)–but we are responsible to get them off to a great start. Let your new partner know that you will “match their efforts”–and be available for their prospecting calls, events, and “income producing activity”–but it’s up to them to take the initiative and work their prospect list, and incorporate prospecting into their daily lives. Teach them the sponsorship series (who to reach out to, language/ideas on how to reach out, what to invite them to next: a call with you or an event). Talk about activity goals (reach out to 3-5 people per day, and inviting them on a call with you–or to an event). Let them know you will partner with them from there in sharing the message, handling questions and objections, and asking them to join (on the products, in the business, or at the very least–you’ll ask them for referrals)! They bring the prospect to a call or meeting–you match their efforts from there in presenting and closing! This Is Not “Get Rich Quick” My very first check was under $50, and today I am earning a multiple six figure monthly income, but I’m here to tell you it didn’t happen overnight. Teach your team members to earn “right now” money with upfront bonuses and product sales. Remind them that they will make instant cash by selling our products, but to build a bigger paycheck, they’ll need to build a team of independent business owners who join you, and this takes time. As a general rule, it takes about 18-24 months to become really competent. You’ll get to know the basics, you’ll cover expenses, and you’ll still be learning. In most cases, it will take about 3-5 years of consistent effort to become a 6 -figure earner or above. It doesn’t mean you can’t make more than that in the short term, as many are. We just don’t to make promises as building a team, finding the right people to join you and the duplication process takes time. But all businesses take time to become highly successful. Develop a 3-5 year mindset: do not quit before then! Delay is Not Denial Not everyone is right for our business, and they won’t always see what you see. Remind your newbies: When people tell you “no”, don’t take this as personal rejection. I want you to learn to take the pressure off when you’re prospecting. Think of it this way—you are just sharing & inviting. I don’t want you to be emotionally connected to the outcome. Think of yourself like a waiter or a waitress pouring a cup of coffee. A server is not offended when you say “no” to the coffee. They keep offering it to everyone. Take all emotions out of this- and if people say no, keep pouring. Some people say no now, but may change their mind later. Ask them to try your products, and keep pouring. Sometimes your prospect just doesn’t have need of what you’re offering, or perhaps timing isn’t quite right. Sometimes no simply means I don’t know enough about what you’re offering. Other times it means “no, not right now”. They may decide to join you at a later time. Revisit them later. Daily Activity is Critical The last thing that I share with my new consultants is that activity matters the most. When I started I didn’t have training systems. What I did have mastered was a story and I told that story daily…my story, and the company’s story. I tell them that it doesn’t matter what the outcome is so much, but the goal is to share the story and get the message out. If it’s not for them, gain referrals. You can’t say the wrong thing to the right person who is interested in a business or your product! Teach them to reach out to 3-5 new people daily. Personal activity is the cure to what ails you in this business. If you talk to enough people over time, you will be successful! Remember: Systems are important (finding out their “why”, goal setting, working their list & teaching a “sponsorship sequence”, and helping with their live and virtual launches.) But if you’ve not set expectations, you’re setting yourself and your new partner for disappointment. Here’s the bottom line: 1) Set them up for success with getting started training/ “next steps”/ systems 2) Set expectations 3) Match effort Practice saying this with me: “I WILL MATCH YOUR EFFORT!: And continue to start the process with new people, regularly! Your wildest dream come true: you create a team full of independent, empowered entrepreneurs, who are building a ROCKIN business! That’s my wish for YOU!




Starting your own direct sales business

If you are starting your own direct sales business then you are going to put yourself out on the front line. You will need to dream up ideas that you think will work and start to get an understanding of how this type of business works. Door to door, telephone sales or even direct advertising are all considered to be direct sales because there are no intermediaries involved between your and your clients. You will need to do some research into important factors like location, competition, storage, shipping and advertisement. Doing your homework will pay off in the end, and make you more confident in what you know and what your going to do.   Taking these initial first steps can often be the hardest for most people and sometimes don't even happen, so you are going to need to commit to this if you are serious about making it work. Businesses often fail within the first 6 months because of cash flow problems, miss-spending or lack or organization and focus. You should set your goals high and work towards them, even if your business is comparatively small compared to other local competition. One of your goals should be to make a profitable business. Careful planning and organization can help you achieve this. Looking at possible problems and working out strategies to solve them is one way to help you prepare.



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