Checklist for Starting a Business

This Startup Checklist will help you focus on the steps needed to start a new business. No matter where you are in the process of starting a new business, Corporate Creations can help you directly or by referring others.

  1. Business Plan. The process of writing a business plan starts with an outline of what you plan to accomplish. Like our friends at VentureArchitects.com, we believe some things should be unplanned, but your business is not one of them.

  2. Raising Capital. If you plan to raise equity capital from others, you should contact angel investors (Angel Capital Association) and venture capital firms (National Venture Capital Association). We believe investors have more money than time, so concise business plans win investors.

  3. Entity Formation. Forming an entity will protect personal assets from business debts and can provide credibility and tax benefits. Contact Corporate Creations if you would like us to form your entity.

  4. Fictitious Name Registration. If your entity will do business under a name other than its legal name filed with the Secretary of State, the law requires your entity to file a fictitious name registration (called assumed name or alternate name in some states). Contact Corporate Creations if you would like us to handle the fictitious name registration for your entity.

  5. Registered Agent. Under state law, entities must appoint a registered agent located in the state of formation where state annual reports and legal documents such as service of process can be delivered. Corporate Creations provides registered agent services nationwide.

  6. Trademark Registration. You should hire a trademark attorney to protect the brand names of the products and services sold by your business. Contact Corporate Creations if you would like us to refer a trademark attorney.

  7. Employer Identification Number (EIN). All banks require your entity to obtain a federal tax identification number known as Employer Identification Number. Contact Corporate Creations if you would like us to obtain the EIN for your entity.

  8. Licensing Requirements. Depending on your type of business, you may be required to obtain licenses from state, county or city government agencies before you start your business.

  9. Governance Documents. With our corporate kit service, Corporate Creations includes standard governance documents such as bylaws for a corporation and operating agreement for a limited liability company.

  10. Insurance Requirements. Consider obtaining general liability insurance to protect the assets of your entity. All entities with employees typically obtain unemployment insurance and workers compensation insurance.

  11. Business Expansion. You can establish a business presence in other states by qualifying your entity to transact business in other states. Contact Corporate Creations if you would like us to handle the qualification forms for your entity or regular mail forwarding service from our Florida headquarters.

  12. Web Site. Register your web site address with GoDaddy.com.

  13. Marketing Materials. Hire a marketing firm to design business cards, brochures and other marketing materials for your business.

  14. Bank Account. You must open a bank account in the name of your entity to protect your personal assets from your business assets. To simplify accounting, consider opening the following separate bank accounts for your entity: Operating Bank Account to receive check deposits and to pay invoices, Merchant Bank Account to receive credit card deposits, and Payroll Bank Account to pay staff compensation and payroll taxes.

  15. Merchant Account to Accept Credit Cards. Get the most competitive credit card processing rates in the country along with no application fee, no setup fee, no annual fee, and no hidden fees in your monthly statement. Click here to apply for Merchant Credit Card Processing.

  16. Payroll Service. You should hire an accountant or payroll service company to handle your payroll, Employer's Federal Unemployment Tax Return (Form 940) and Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return (Form 941).

  17. Accountant. You should hire an accountant to help set up your chart of accounts and to prepare the annual tax return for your entity. Form 1120S is filed by an S corporation and by a limited liability company taxable as an S corporation. Form 1120 is filed by a C corporation and by a limited liability company taxable as a C corporation. Form 1065 is filed by a limited liability company taxable as a partnership. Contact Corporate Creations if you would like us to refer an accountant.

  18. Business Credit Cards. You should use one or more credit cards exclusively for business expenses. To simplify accounting, consider using one credit card for certain types of business expenses such as travel and entertainment and other credit cards for other types of business expenses such as office supplies and equipment. Your personal expenses should be charged on different credit cards used only for personal expenses.

  19. Legal Advice. Do what you do best, then hire professionals such as attorneys to do what they do best. Contact Corporate Creations if you would like us to refer an attorney.

  20. Compliance. As your company changes and grows, you may need to file entity compliance forms for qualification, amendment, annual reports, merger and dissolution. Contact Corporate Creations if you would like us to handle any of those entity compliance forms.

  21. Set Goals. Put your goals in writing to help you focus on achieving your goals, then seize the day every day.