Launching your career as an entrepreneur is an exciting time for prospective business owners, but it’s also a hectic time full of planning and preparation. If you’re thinking of starting your own business, you might be wondering what you can do now to set yourself up for success in the critical first 90 days of operation. Let’s take a look at the steps you’ll need to take to make your first quarter a strong foundation for future growth.
Before You Begin
It’s easy to get ahead of yourself when you’re feeling impatient to get your business going, but careful planning now will be your biggest asset. Before you get to the actual day-to-day responsibilities of owning a business, you need to take the important first steps of the formation process. So once you’ve decided on what your business will be and have chosen a name, you can get to work on making it legal, getting your EIN and naming a Registered Agent. If it feels overwhelming, use this handy checklist for starting a business.
What to Do in the First 90 Days of Business
Once your business is formed, the real fun (and the real work) begins. By planning for these key steps now, you’ll be in a great position to start growing right out of the gate. Here’s our list of action steps to get started in your first 90 days of business:
Get Your Finances in Order
Managing the financial ups and downs of a new business is a daunting task, but there are many resources available to get you moving in the right direction.
Business Checking: Keeping your business and personal finances separate is paramount in achieving success, so your first step is to open a business checking account. This will help legitimize your business and will make it easier to work with vendors, contractors and employees. We recommend Bank of America as a great starting place.
Business Credit Card: A business credit card is another useful tool to separate your finances and make accounting and bookkeeping easier. Remember to use it responsibly so it doesn’t negatively impact your business credit score. Check out our list of business credit cards to find the right fit.
Build Your Brand
Running a successful business is about more than racking up sales (though that’s important, too); it’s about creating a relationship with your customers. To do that, you’ll need to have a strong business brand that tells people who you are, what you do and what matters to you. Branding is a big job, but you don’t need a big budget to get started.
Trademark: A trademark does more than protect your business name; it builds your reputation and strengthens your brand. Perform a trademark search to ensure your brand has legal backing.
Website: Whether your business is brick and mortar, online or a combination of both, you’ll want a website to welcome customers and educate them about your brand. As your business’s digital storefront, your website should be clean, easy to read and informative. Create a business website to open an online store and start your ecommerce operations on the right foot.
Help Customers Find You
You can’t build relationships or make sales if your customers don’t know where to go to buy your products or services. Incfile has several options to make finding and communicating with your business simple and effective.
Virtual Address: If you’re starting an online business or operating out of your home, a virtual address is essential. With a virtual mailbox service, you’ll get a fixed street address and the ability to open your scanned mail from anywhere.
Virtual Phone: You likely don’t want to put your personal phone number out there for the world to see, but setting up a traditional phone service is an expensive and time-consuming hassle. With virtual phone service like Grasshopper, you can maintain your privacy and take business calls on any device, from any location.
Google My Business:Google My Business is a free tool from Google that enables businesses to create a profile that will help them get found on search. You'll also get invaluable insights about how customers are finding your business, how they view your business on Google and any actions they take, such as visiting your website or calling.
Prepare for Tax Time
Business taxes can be overwhelming, but there are steps you can take now to be ready when tax season rolls around.
Sales Tax: Depending on the state in which your business is formed, you may need to collect sales tax for every product purchased from your store, which will then need to be accounted for in your taxes. A sales tax calculator can help you determine how much you need to collect.
S Corp Election: If you’re looking to reduce taxes, you may benefit from an S corp tax election for your LLC. This may mean you’ll pay less in self-employment taxes, social security, Medicare and FICA.
Quarterly Taxes: Four times a year you’ll need to make quarterly tax payments. You’ll estimate your taxes owed for each period and submit it to the IRS. When tax time rolls around again, you’ll settle any overages or underages. Find out how and when to pay quarterly taxes.
Protect Your Business
The first 90 days are a great time to get business insurance secured. The right business insurance will protect your LLC, your employees, customers and products, and can be a make-or-break decision when it comes to your business finances. Our partners at CoverWallet can find a policy that fits your needs and give you a free quote and access to a representative to answer your questions.
There’s a lot of work to be done in the first 90 days of running your business, but with our handy list, you’ll be prepared and ready for the exciting (and hectic) times ahead. Good luck getting your business started and getting through your first 90 days and beyond!
Wendi is a freelance writer based in Indianapolis, IN, with over a decade of experience writing for a variety of industries from healthcare to manufacturing to nonprofit. When she isn't working on solutions for her clients, she can be found spending time with her kids and husband, working in the garden or doing more writing (of the fiction variety).