Do your homework before starting a new business

2014-01-06T00:00:00Z Do your homework before starting a new businessBy Diane Diamond Special to the Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

What are the steps necessary to start a business?

It’s the most frequently asked question of SCORE mentors. Charlie Higgins, a certified SCORE mentor and past president of the Southern Arizona chapter, developed this to-do list:

Get help. Contact small business advisory groups like SCORE and the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Get smart.

Take advantage of local training and counseling such as SCORE,; SBA,; Pima County Public Library,; Microbusiness Advancement Center,’; Arizona Small Business Association,

Seek advice on how to select a customer-friendly location and comply with zoning laws (Tucson, and Pima County,

Get a plan.

Develop a mission statement for your business.

Prepare a business plan — The real value lies in the process of researching and thinking about your business in a systematic way. SCORE publishes a free detailed guide at

Set up your company structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), corporation, S corporation, nonprofit or cooperative) and register your business name with the Arizona Corporation Commission ( Publish your “Doing Business As” (DBA) name in the newspaper.

Trademark your business name with the U.S. Patent Office ( and register an Internet domain name to match on sites such as

Register for local and state permits, licenses and taxes. Go to the Arizona Commerce Authority at, which has a handy checklist; for Tucson information, go to and; for state tax information, go to or

Obtain an employer identification number (EIN) and sign up with IRS online payment system at

Select accounting software like Quickbooks ( and develop procedures.

Secure funding. Besides the SBA and local banks, look into alternative lending resources such as Small Business Innovation grants (; community-development lender Accion (; the PPEP Microbusiness and Housing Development Corp.; the Microbusiness Advancement Center; the Nonprofit Loan Fund of Tucson and Southern Arizona (; Prestamos Community Development Financial Institution (; the Arizona Technology Access Program for entrepreneurs with disabilities (; CDC Small Business Finance, (cdcloans).com/small-business). offers a directory of crowd-funding sites like

Get a team. Select a business support team — a tax adviser/CPA, attorney, insurance agent, and choose a local banker and set up business accounts.

Get started!

Diane Diamond is a mentor and vice president of media relations for SCORE Southern Arizona, a nonprofit group that offers free small-business counseling and mentoring by appointment at several locations. For more information, go to, send email to, or call 505-3636.

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