Starting your business requires making a myriad of decisions. You’ll have to consider everything from a marketing budget to the theme of your website to how you’re going to arrange your office. But if you give careful consideration to the financial decisions concerning your business, you’ll start off on the right foot.
What is your business structure going to be?
Business structures have different tax and liability implications, so although there are only a few to choose from, make your selection carefully. You may consider:
Sole Proprietorship: A sole proprietorship is the simplest of business structures. It means there is no legal or tax difference between your personal finances and your business finances. This means you’re personally responsible for business debts and taxes.
Limited Liability Company: Under an LLC, profits and taxes are filed with the owners’ tax returns, but there is some liability protection in place.
Corporation: A corporation has its own tax entity separate from the owners. It requires special paperwork and filings to set up, and there are fees involved.
Do you need employees?
This may be a difficult decision to make at first. It will most likely depend on the performance of your business. If you are selling goods or a service and have only a few orders a day, it might not make sense to spend resources on employees yet.
However, if you’re planning a major launch, you may be flooded with orders immediately. In this case, you must be prepared with the proper staff.
If you’re starting small, consider hiring a part-time employee. As you grow you may wish to access freelance help through referrals or even an online service.
What are your startup costs?
Even the smallest of businesses have startup costs. You may need computer equipment, special materials, or legal advice. You may have to pay a security deposit on a rental space, secure utilities, and purchase equipment. Where you access the funds to start your business is a major financial decision.
Personal funds: You may have your own personal savings to start your business. Maybe you continue to work at your “day job” while you get your business off the ground. (Just be mindful of potential conflicts of interest.)
Grants or government loans: There are small business grants and loans available. You can access federal programs through the Small Business Administration. You may even consider a business loan from a friend or family member. Just make sure to protect the personal relationship! People first, money second.
Bank loans: Securing a traditional bank loan is also an option to cover your startup costs. Expect to go through an application process. You’ll also likely need to have some collateral.
Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding is a relatively new option for gathering startup funds for your business. You may want to launch an online campaign that gathers donations.
What’s your backup plan?
A good entrepreneur prepares for as many scenarios as possible – every business should have a backup plan. A backup plan may be something you go ahead and hammer out when you first create your business plan, or you might wait until you’ve gotten some momentum. Either way, it represents a financial decision, so it should be thought out carefully.
Develop a backup plan for every moving part of your business. What will you do if your sales projections aren’t near what you budgeted? What if you have a malfunction with your software? How will you continue operations if an employee quits without notice?
How much and what kind of insurance do you need?
Insurance may be one of the last things to come to mind when you’re launching your business, but going without it may be extremely risky.
Proper insurance can make the difference between staying in business when something goes wrong or shutting your doors if a problem arises.
At the very minimum, consider a Commercial General Liability Policy. It’s the most basic of commercial policies and can protect you from claims of property damage or injury. You may also want to consider a life insurance policy with living benefits for all key players in the business in case someone gets sick there will be money to keep the business going or to close gracefully if needed.
Make your financial decisions carefully
Business owners have a lot to think about and many decisions to make – especially at the beginning. Make your financial decisions carefully, plan for the unexpected, insure yourself properly, and you’ll be off to a great start!
This article is for informational purposes only. For tax or legal advice consult a qualified expert. Consider all of your options carefully.