Editor’s Note: Rinky S. Parwani, the managing attorney in her own small business, a full-service law firm, answers questions about starting your own business.
Q: I’m interested in starting my own business, but I don’t know where to start. Any suggestions?
Answer: We have all seen the TV show “Shark Tank” and know that starting a business is not easy. Here are a few tips to get you well on your way to swimming with the sharks:
Start with the U.S. Small Business Administration. The first place to begin is www.sba.gov. This site contains a wealth of information for starting a business. It also provides guidance for finding local Small Business Development Centers. This one resource will lead you to all the others. And the best part of this website is that it is all free. The No. 1 reason businesses fail is lack of resources and tools that could lead to success.
Enlist the help of a local professional. It is important to consult a good financial adviser and a good legal adviser in your state when deciding how to structure your business. I cannot stress the importance of hiring a good accountant and a good attorney either as a consultant or an employee.
Of course, as a new business owner, money is always a factor, but having the right professionals at the right time and right place can be invaluable. For example, when your business needs a phone line, an attorney can help you negotiate a long-term contract. Or, when you need to pay employment taxes, a trusty accountant can help you figure out the number.
Both of these professionals need to be on board early, and the costs should be budgeted for immediately. Most businesses today also need a strong IT professional. Perhaps the best thing to keep in mind in selecting such professionals is that they need to grow with the needs and be flexible for your business.
Select the most suitable business entity. In the United States, most states offer four basic types of entities: proprietorships, partnerships, limited liability companies and corporations. It is important to understand the basic types of entities to decide which will suit your business.
Take into consideration things such as tax implications, liability protection, continuity of the business, capital, and control of the business. These factors must be considered in light of the type of business you have as well as your business plan.
For example, state laws may limit the use of certain types of entities for certain types of businesses, and there may be unique taxation or other legal requirements such as registrations and filings.
Whether you have a whale of an idea or are a small fish in a big pond, with the right resources, advisers and tools, you will be swimming with the sharks in no time.
The information provided in this column is for informational purposes only and should not be considered specific legal advice. Rinky S. Parwani can be reached through the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service at (813) 221-7780.