If you haven’t read it, here’s my article that I wrote for the July issue of Lifestyles of Denton County:

It’s been a rough few years for the American economy.  With all of the downsizing and layoffs, many people are turning to entrepreneurship.  Here are a few simple steps to help you get your business started:

1. Do Research – If you’re not an expert in your business, you’ll need to become one, or at least be able to talk like one.  Try finding people who have started similar businesses and learn from them.

2. Create a Business Plan – Writing a business plan is essential.  When you’re trying to find investors or get approval for a loan, people are going to need to see your business plan.  It will encompass the business’s information including financials, market analysis, and descriptions of your products and services.  You can find examples of business plans on the internet, or you can go to www.sba.gov for more information.

3. Register Your Business – Businesses can take many forms.  Sole proprietorships do not require registering with the state.  You can just file an assumed name certificate with the county in which you’re doing business.  While this is the cheapest and easiest way to set up a business, you will be personally liable for anything associated with the business.  Alternately, many people choose to register with the Secretary of State’s office.  Decide on the type of entity, pay your fee, and follow the instructions to register online.  It’s more expensive than a sole proprietorship, but many of the structures provide people with limited liability.  This means you’ll only be liable up to the amount that you’ve put into your business.

4. Get a tax ID number – You’ll need a federal tax id number.  Do this at www.irs.gov for free.

5. Set up your bank accounts – Visit your bank and set up an account in your business name.  This account will allow you to cash or deposit checks made payable to your business.

6. Get Help – Depending on the type of business you start, there could be many more steps that the city, county, or state will require.  If there are things you don’t understand, get help.  Having a good lawyer, accountant, or other business professional to advise you is invaluable.  It’s always cheaper and easier to do things right the first time than it is to get yourself out of trouble later on.