This is part five of our series, Start an LLC with Me. So far, we’ve started a Delaware LLC, gotten an EIN number, opened a business bank account, and gotten a business license.
For many business owners, all the official parts of the setup process are complete! These days it’s common to have a website and social media accounts for a business before it’s official. You may have already set up a few of these things (my partner and I had before we officially started our LLC).
Let’s look at some of the most important unofficial parts of setting up your business.
Determine How You’ll Track Your Finances
A crucial element of every business? Good record keeping. Once you’ve got your bank account set up and ready, you’ll need to determine how you are going to track business income, expenses, and distributions.
Many businesses choose Quickbooks or online software options such as Quickbooks Online, Honeybook , or Freshbooks.
Set Up a Shipping Account
Whether you’re a service-based business or you’ll be regularly mailing products, there’s a good chance you’ll need a shipping account with UPS, FedEX or DHL.
Shipping accounts often offer discounted rates to businesses depending on volume. Consider cost and convenience (how close is the closest drop box to your office?) when choosing between major carriers.
Reserve Your Domain Name
One of the most important things to do when you’re considering starting a business is to check the domain availability for your business name.
You want to reserve your business name as a dot com if possible, as it is still the most widely used domain extension (ending) in the United States. Services like GoDaddy or Google Domains make it easy to reserve your domain.
If your business name is unavailable, it might be wise to confirm that no other business holds a trademark for the name you’d like to use. You can do a US trademark search here. If not, you could go ahead and brainstorm variations of your business name or add location information to the url.
- [name of town]examplebusiness.com
Set Up a Website
Wordpress is one of the most widely used platforms for creating websites. In fact, 43% of the web is built on Wordpress!
The pros? Wordpress probably offers the most flexibility and customization options of the easily accessible platforms. The cons? There is a learning curve. But fear not! The great thing about Wordpress is that because it is so widely used, there is a Youtube tutorial for everything. Just make sure you’re on Wordpress.org with your own hosting, not Wordpress.com (their free service).
If you’re looking to keep it simple and don’t mind a monthly fee, Squarespace or Wix are both great basic options.
For an ecommerce solution that includes payment processing, try Shopify. It’s one of the most popular ecommerce platforms for a reason! You’re reading this on a Shopify site and we can confidently say, we think it’s a great service.
Reserve Social Media Handles
Whether you intend to utilize social media or not, it’s important to reserve your business name on all social media platforms. Why would you reserve your business name on a platform you don’t intend to use? Brand protection purposes – to keep someone else from getting it!
As with domain names, you may find that your business name is already reserved. This is where you may have to get creative with your usernames. If possible, keep the social media handle the same on all platforms.
Invest in a Professional Logo
It’s easier than ever to get a professional looking logo for your company. Options like Canva or Looka allow you to take the wheel with your logo design.
Want to leave it to a professional? Hire a graphic designer on 99 Designs, where you can run a contest and get initial ideas from dozens of designers before deciding which you like. Once you select their initial offering, you’ll work with that individual to fine tune the original idea. Plus, they offer fixed pricing packages to complete the job.
Purchase Necessary Paper Products
These days many businesses simply do not need any paper products. But that doesn’t mean yours doesn’t!
If you’re planning to do a lot of in person networking, grab some business cards. There are tons of options for designing and printing, from Vistaprint, to Moo, or even designing them yourself on Canva. A paper business card doesn't mean you have to be old school. Create a QR code (we promise, it's easy) to include on your business card so it's easy to get people to your website.
If you’re selling a physical product, consider designing tags or even thank you cards to include with your orders.
You know your business best so think about what types of products you might need for sales, marketing, and production.
Start a Blog for Your Business
Think blogging isn’t for you? You might want to think again. Producing original content on your website is one of the best ways to establish yourself in your industry and get noticed by Google.
Getting noticed by Google will (slowly) get you what your business really needs – organic search traffic, i.e. people finding you on Google without you paying a dime. This takes time, certainly. But writing content about your products or industry on a monthly or biweekly basis can really help you in the long run.
If you’ve got all of your ducks in a row and you’re ready to increase your business, it might be time to invest in some advertising.
The most popular options are Google Ads or ads on social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. Where you advertise is going to depend entirely on your business. How do you anticipate that new customers will find you? Start there and work backwards.
Thank you so much for coming along with us on this journey of starting an LLC. We hope you’ve found it helpful!