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, southernarizona.score.org; SBA, sba.gov/az; Pima County Public Library, library.pima.gov/; Microbusiness Advancement Center, mac-sa.org’; Arizona Small Business Association, asba.com.

Seek advice on how to select a customer-friendly location and comply with zoning laws (Tucson, tucsonaz.gov and Pima County, pimaxpress.com/Planning).

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 tinyurl.com/kfdjrly.

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 (azcc.gov). Publish your “Doing Business As” (DBA) name in the newspaper.

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

Register for local and state permits, licenses and taxes. Go to the Arizona Commerce Authority at azcommerce.com/smallbiz, which has a handy checklist; for Tucson information, go to cms3.tucsonaz.gov/finance/licenses and cms3.tucsonaz.gov/etax; for state tax information, go to azdor.gov or AZTaxes.gov.

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

Select accounting software like Quickbooks (quickbooks.intuit.com) and develop procedures.

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

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 www.southernarizona.score.org, send email to mentoring@scoresouthernaz.org, or call 505-3636.

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