Start a business? At some point most people probably think that having your own business would be a dream job. Who wouldn’t love to be their own boss? Who wouldn’t love to answer to themselves, design their own hours, be in charge of their destiny?  For most people, the reality of needing a steady paycheck that someone else is responsible for generating, with all the benefits of PTO and health insurance stops the idea of self-employment as unrealistic.

But for the special breed of innovators who dare to dream, who are willing to take big risks in order to some day reap rewards AND who just happen to have a great idea in mind, they may find themselves following the 10 steps of starting a business:



Research Research Research

Market research. Sourcing Research. Competition Research. Pricing Research. To launch on the right foot, it is critical to know as much about the universe in which you are going to compete. Learn More



Put a Business Plan on Paper

A written Business Plan forces you to get organized and to prioritize. It also is the document that can quickly be assembled to later write marketing materials, website content. It will guide the documents you will need to generate for your incorporation. It will inform the criteria you will have for hiring decisions, identifying your raw materials sources and your overall methods of production. AND Business Plans are not historical documents. They are written and re-written as you grow and adapt.

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Find Your Money


Whether you use your own cash, borrow from a bank or crowd source, your business will need money to begin. Raising funds means that you must become brutally honest about what you need money for and how much you will need as well as how quickly anyone can expect to be reimbursed for what they have seeded you or begin to share in your profits (the ROI/Return on Investment)  if you partner with your funding source. Learn More

Where on the Map Will You Locate


Your business may have pragmatic concerns about where you will locate based on your customers, suppliers or what you can afford. But there are other things to consider like zoning, business taxes, and even property tax consequences. Learn More

Pick a Legal Status to Register Your Business


One of the most important long-term decisions you must make is what type of business you will be. There are large differences in Corporations, Limited Liability Corporations, S Corporations, Non-Profits c(3) or c(4) or c(6), B Corporations, C Corporations and even a Sole Proprietorship. The different types of incorporation have implications for your personal liability, the taxes you will pay and how you will be paid. There implications for Federal, State and even counties and cities requirements as you pick your structure. This is an important decision! Learn More

What’s in a Name


Names mean everything. You will need one that clearly communicates what you are selling, is not already being used by another business, can fit into a small graphic for your social media accounts and website, does not incorporate tons of colors so you can afford to print it, and is essentially square in shape. Get help from a graphic designer to bring your vision to life and get the logo into the right software so you can use it easily in many formats. AND you will want to register you name so that nobody else can use your brand. Learn More

Get Your Legal Status from the Feds, State, County and Local Governments


With a name and a decision about what type of business you will be, you are now ready to register the business with all the government entities that need to license you, inspect you and know that you exist. This varies by state, by type of business and even by what your business is going to be selling.

Everybody Has to Pay Taxes


In addition to your registration and licenses, you also must obtain your tax ID from the IRS and from your State in which you are incorporated. You must have tax IDs even if you incorporate as a NON-PROFIT.

Get All the Right Permits


Depending on what you are selling and where you want to locate, there may be a variety of state and local permits you will need in order to open your doors.

Open Your Bank Account


Your banking partnership can be a major asset for assuring that your business transactions run smoothly. Examine banks for their locations and hours, but also for the types of accounts you could qualify for that offer lower fees and perhaps offer small business perks – especially during your start up years.

For More Information and Help


Help link for finding resources in Tennessee: