I have a thing where I hate to backtrack and touch a document twice.  I want to be done with it when the action is completed.  Unfortunately to avoid my normal paralysis by analysis, I’ve put the cart before the horse which is forcing me to backtrack and make corrections.  I had a checklist for starting a business and a few items on it could be done at anytime in no particular order.  Well now I’m here to tell you, if you are applying for a corporation status, get your legal name confirmed before applying for the EIN (federal tax number).

After spending multiple days coming up with an appropriate company name that wasn’t cheesy, wasn’t trendy, wasn’t fluffy, cliché or overused, I finally settled on the name Elite Personal Care. It’s a good idea to check if the name is already trademarked or branded so I searched the site:  http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/index.jsp, and found no confirmation of a brand or trade mark on the name.  Of course I Googled the name in Georgia, and found one senior home with a similar name but the phone number was disconnected.  I couldn’t find any updated info so I felt it was safe to proceed with that name.  (Yea go ahead and comment away on that underwhelming thought.)  I was thrilled to discover I could self- apply for the EIN (can we say cheap at $0 cost) at www.IRS.gov .  The website form took the info, and spit out an almost instant EIN.

Next I linked to  www.LegalZoom.com to apply for LLC status; they asked for a 2nd and 3rd choice of names just in case the original name was unavailable. (BTW, you can self-apply with the state for your legal structure; current cost is $100.)  Thinking I had it all in the bag (because of the extensive research), and not wanting the site to time out, I threw out a few variations of the company name without any research.  A few days later, Georgia approved the optional name, “Elite Care LLC.”  Now I think to Google that name variation and find that name is active in Michigan, Ohio and probably a few other places that I failed to advance to in the search.  Quel horror!  I immediately called www.LegalZoom.com  to see if I could change the name – nope the process had started and they didn’t legally have to search any further than the state of application, as the state controls the name approvals.  The rep generously offered that she had just taken a call where their customer had received a “cease and desist” order for their company name because it was already in use.  O joy, just great.

Because it will cost to revise the LLC name, I’m going to run with it for now.  I’ve been told I can always create another “dba” name, that is doing business as which is legal.  In other words the legal name is still Elite Care, LLC but I can do business for example, as Elite Solutions.  Still thinking on that, but I did have to revise the EIN name to match the LLC name.  I sent that change request off to the IRS today, and am waiting confirmation. 

After I get through this process, I hope to compile a handbook of basic A-Z’s for starting a business.  Until then I hope these thoughts and tips posted here will help you. 

Your thoughts and comment are welcomed!  To be so cliché, have a great weekend!

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Ever had an idea for a business?  I’ve had several throughout the years.  A few I’ve seen come to fruition, though I only found out when I saw them advertised on TV commercials.  I recently had an idea for a service…since I’m on the Entrepreneurial path at the career transition agency, I met with my coach and tossed the idea around with her.  She mentioned that a good business needs to satisfy a pain, or generate pleasure, enough for which people would give up their hard earned dollars.  Pain used here isn’t literal – it’s an analogy that stems from a critical need which is not being met. 

She thought my idea was good, and actually started spoking (is that a word?  I’m making a verb off spoke)  off ideas which could become an extended service from my initial idea.  Through classes taken at the agency, and at Dpt of Labor, I generated a business plan.  But before doing that I took a class which presented a list of questions to determine if you have the right frame of mind to start a business.  Ideas are one thing, but actually getting the idea off the ground is another. 

The four basic types of businesses:                                                                                              Start up a business                                                                                                                          Buy an existing business                                                                                                                   Buy a franchise                                                                                                                            Become a consultant                                                                                                                      

Here are some great questions to ask before you initiate any of your energies:

1.  Why do I want to start my own business?   What are my motives?                                      2.  Do I have all the skills needed to run a business?  Accountant, Legal, Secretarial,  Customer Service, Sales, Operations, Purchasing, General Management, etc.                          3.  Am I in love with the idea?  Do I have a passion for it?  Am I prepared to sacrifice my personal life and activities to devote time to the business?                                                          4.  Will there be an impact to my family, negative or positive?                                                    5.  Is this the right time – financially, emotionally, physically?

After the in-depth evaluation of self, if you still want to move forward, then you need to clarify your idea…I’m talking like I’m an expert right, but it makes sense yes? 

What and who is the market?  What pain are you solving?  What pleasure are you pushing?  What value are you offering?  Is it unique?  Research your competition, what percent of the market would you like to capture?  How will the product or service be marketed?  How will the company be structured?  Non-profit, incorporated, LLC, sole-proprietorship, etc?  Also important – location, location, location. 

Next it’s time for the business plan.  It will further focus and develop your ideas, build an idea of what the company will look like as far as marketing, finances, organization, and operations of the company.   Check out www.sba.gov ; they offer great planning resources for starting and developing a business, including on-line classes, and business plan templates.  Also check out SCORE http://www.score.org/index.html  –   it’s a resource of retired executives who offer their advice and counsel for free.  They are available to meet face to face, or via email questions.  I’ve done all the above, and have finished my business plan.  I’ve requested a 2nd meeting with a SCORE counselor to review my business plan, and discuss next steps.  Will keep you posted!

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