Starting a Small Business

by Meryl K Evans | Category: Business, Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog 5 comments

Lifehack asks the group how to start a small business. Funny thing, I never wanted to start my own business. It means dealing with bookkeeping/accounting, legal stuff, marketing, and finding clients.

But in 1999, after completing my certificate in Internet Technologies, I thought I wanted to do web design on the side. At the time, I worked for a large company. But the more I did web design, the more I didn’t enjoy the work. An opportunity to write an article came along, and I discovered I enjoyed this. Slowly, I received more writing and editing assignments.

Repeatedly, I’ve come across advice that recommends starting your own business on the side while you have a full-time job. Keep building up that business and then switch when the time and finances are right. This is exactly what I did. I spent about five to six years building my business, then I went full-time in August 1995.

2006 was my first full-year as a content maven. I’ve been lucky that it was successful and that I didn’t get into a situation where I had to urgently find new clients. But that doesn’t mean I’m not marketing on a regular basis. Marketing isn’t limited to phone calls. Writing articles, blogging, and asking current clients for referrals worked well.

As for the accounting stuff. I finally got the hang of QuickBooks. For someone who digs into software easily, I struggled over a year to stop relying on a crude Excel spreadsheet and do all of the work in QuickBooks. Sure, I could outsource this, but even a friend of mine who has had her own business for years says it’s better to do the accounting yourself. A friend of hers lost a lot of money because her accountant stole from her business.

I’m not saying to avoid accountants (we have quite a few good friends that happen to be accountants) — the key is to know exactly what’s going on with your business’ finances. For me, the easiest way is doing it myself with QuickBooks.

As for making your company official, many states let you do this online. Check with your state’s Secretary of State’s web site. When I established meryl.net as a business, I contacted the county clerk’s office and someone mailed the Assumed Name Certificate. I filled the form, took it to a notary, and mailed it in with payment.

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5 comments

  • Posted by Ken Larson on January 29th, 2007, 11:12 AM

    There are many good points in your article. I would like to supplement them with some information.

    For an all-volunteer site, dedicated to small businesses who wish to succeed in federal government contracting, please see the below site:

    http://www.smalltofeds.blogspot.com/

    The federal government will contract in excess of $80B to small businesses in the next fiscal year.
    There are over 50 agencies or “Departments” in the federal government. Each of these agencies has a statutory obligation to contract from small business for over 20% of everything it buys.

    Contracting officers must file reports annually demonstrating they have fulfilled this requirement. Not fulfilling the requirement can put agency annual funding in jeopardy. Small business has a motivated customer in federal government contracting officers and buyers.
    Large business, under federal procurement law, must prepare and submit annual “Small Business Contracting Plans” for approval by the local Defense Contract Management Area Office (DCMAO) nearest their headquarters. These plans must include auditable statistics regarding the previous 12 month period in terms of contracting to small businesses and the goals forecast for the next year.

    The federal government can legally terminate a contract in a large business for not meeting small business contracting goals. Approved small business plans must accompany large business contract proposals submitted to federal government agencies. Small businesses have motivated customers in large business subcontract managers, administrators and buyers.

    There are set-aside opportunities available for small entities,veterans, disabled veterans, women and minorities. All it takes is navigating the system, persistance, asking questions, registering, marketing, teaming and working hard.
    Small Business America is good at that.

  • Posted by Allison Kessler on February 2nd, 2007, 2:20 PM

    Wow, I’m about 5 years behind you, having started my business in 2001. I just gave up the Excel accounting system at the end of last year and bought QuickBooks 2007 Pro. It appears like such a powerful program, but I didn’t plan on all of the time I’d have to spend learning it. It doesn’t seem forgiving to mistakes. A client of mine said he couldn’t figure out how to legally make an owner’s withdrawal :) Anyhow, there are a lot of similarities with how you started your own business and how I started mine. Thanks for sharing your article!

  • Posted by Sue Canyon on February 27th, 2007, 9:45 PM

    I have gone through this site it was very good i got more information on small business and i have seen similar site it is also a very good in giving the information on small

    www. businessbooming.com

  • Posted by Andrew on June 1st, 2007, 8:20 PM

    If you are interested in starting your own small business you should check out I’m Finally in Business for Myself…Now What? by Mike Sandy. He has a lot of useful insights. Feel free to check out his blog and ask him questions. He has over 16 years of small business experience. http://finallyinbusiness.blogspot.com/

  • Posted by Samantha on December 24th, 2007, 7:55 AM

    Hi thanks for the great information! I love the information on this blog. I have my business plan written up hopefully i can get everything up by the new year.

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