Defining Your Business

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#172e8a”]Choosing a Business Structure[/typography]

Defining your business is critical and it starts with selecting a legal business structure. The U.S. Small Business Administration has a good overview for [typography font=”Times New Roman” size=”14″ size_format=”px” color=”#2d51bd”]Choosing a Business Structure[/typography]. It would be wise to review your options.

The most simple and least expensive is a [typography font=”Times New Roman” size=”14″ size_format=”px” color=”#2d51bd”]Sole Proprietorship[/typography]  and adopted by countless online entrepreneurs. I am not recommending that it is the ideal option for everyone. You may want to [typography font=”Times New Roman” size=”14″ size_format=”px” color=”#2d51db”]incorporate your business [/typography] in order to protect yourself legally and financially.

In order to avoid inadvertently breaking any laws or causing unnecessary complications and expense for yourself in the future, you should familiarize yourself with all the basic types of business structures that are available.

If you can afford it – it is smart to consult with an attorney who specializes in Online businesses. However, do not do this until you have your plans in place. An attorney can advise you on the legal forms you must complete, and how they should be displayed (if at all). An attorney will ensure that you do not miss any steps specifically required by your city, state, province, and the Federal Government. At the very least, you will probably need a privacy policy, terms of service and disclaimer.  If you plan to display affiliate links, you will need all three.

Finally, you must determine if you need a [typography font=”Times New Roman” size=”14″ size_format=”px” color=”#2d51bd”]Federal Tax I.D. (EIN)[/typography]. Generally speaking, it is not required for a sole proprietorship; but, for any kind of corporation, a business partnership, or if you have regular employees, you should have one.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#172e8a”]Establishing Your Business Identity[/typography]

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Choose a Business Name[/typography]

In order to complete the legal registration of your business, you will need a name. Take time to choose wisely. You want a name that identifies who you are, what you sell, and/or what you do.

Do the research and look for popular keywords on the search engines that will clearly identify your business. This is the beginning of developing your personal “branding.”  One way to go is to register your own name as a domain. If it is already taken, add an extra descriptive word onto it. For example, if “annsmith.com” is already taken and you are planning to run a paper quilling empire, register “annsmithcrafts.com”.  (Try to use a .com address, if at all possible.)

If your business if  based on a product, especially one you want to brand, register it as, “yourproductname.com”.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Create Your Mission Statement and Tag Line[/typography]

Empty Road with arrow.

Know where  you are going and take the time to put it in writing.

This may sound hokey, but it is important. A clear, honest mission statement will help you focus your energy and help you plan more easily. It will also give you a powerful “elevator speech” (30 second blurb) to use when people ask what you do.

You can add a Tagline (slogan) to your mission statement. A tag line is extremely useful for business cards, brochures, website headlines, social media posts, and signatures.

A tagline can be highly creative or a simple description of what you do such as, “Serving joggers with foot problems since 1982.”

 Guidelines:

  • Be clear, not flashy, cute or clever
  • Showcase the biggest benefit you provide customers
  • Never leave the reader thinking, “So what?”
  • Reflect your company’s mission and its audience.

The main purpose of a tagline is to brand you, your product, or your site as strongly as possible.  People should automatically think of your business when they hear your slogan. For example, what do you think of when you hear:

  •  “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is”
  • “The Quicker Picker Upper”
  • “Have it Your Way”
  • “Play.  Laugh.  Grow.”

Your Mission Statement should state what you do and how people will benefit, as well as letting them see the passion that drives it.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Build a Website[/typography]

The best choice is to hire someone to do this so that it is done correctly from the beginning.  You can do it yourself, but I guarantee you will have problems with the site, it will not always do what you want it to do, and eventually, you will have to have it redone by a professional in order to monetize it correctly and to get the results that you want.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Provide Contact Details on Your Website[/typography]

Buyers want to know that you are “for real.”  It is reassuring to find a physical phone number and address on your Website. In fact, if you are buying goods from wholesalers or drop shippers, this may be required.

Box numbers are generally considered suspicious, especially by suppliers.  If you are using one to preserve your family privacy, providing a phone number along with the box number goes some way to alleviating suspicion; particularly if you are up front about your name and provide at least a head shot of yourself on your “About” page.

Your dedicated bank account will also help to establish a strong business identity. You can use the credit card that usually comes with a business bank account for all your business-related purchases and monthly payments.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”24″ size_format=”px” color=”#172e8a”]Document Your Business[/typography]

Think big and plan ahead! You will not always be a one-man/woman shop. This leads us to another area of planning. How will your business run when you have a whole team in place (either near you or outsourced)? For example, you may need to hire project managers, an office manager, or an affiliate manager. You are only one person and at some point you will need help if your business is going to grow. Plan ahead.

One step that many people ignore when they are first beginning is documentation of how the business works. You should create documentation from the beginning. It will save you enormous headaches in the future.

For example, if you are a copywriter planning to outsource client work at some point in the future, you should create Style Sheets, so that all work will be formatted in a uniform way by you and other writers. These sheets will not only create a consistent feel and “voice” to all of the content produced by your company; it will also speed up  training and production when you start to expand your formatting team and contracted writers.

At the very least, you should have documented information that would be needed for someone to keep the business running, in the event some catastrophe befalls you. This should include locations of critical information, a list of passwords and usernames, as well financial accounts – money coming in and going out; plus bills to be paid – including details about automatic payments.

[typography font=”Myriad Pro” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Create a Company Manual[/typography]

The manual should include all the critical information to keep the company running near the front with other information divided into sections that follow. Developing a manual will be easy if you compile it as you go – updating when necessary.

An Online folder is fine (and you should have one) – but don’t stop there. Print out a hard copy and keep it in a binder in plain sight (always update both the electronic and hard copy files).  A hard copy is often easier to find and navigate that an online folder. It is not always easy for others to figure out your personal electronic filing system.

Want all of the information? Begin at the beginning: Building an Online Business.

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”12″ size_format=”px”]Copyright © 2014 Blurtigo Holdings, LLC All Rights Reserved.
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