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    Getting Your Business Started

    The best steps towards entrepreneurship! Get Started!

    Have a Good "Think":
    Many people come to me wanting to 'start a website' but I encourage them to think about 'starting their business' first. Here is what I tell them. By no means is it exhaustive, complete...

    1) Ask yourself 'what is the purpose of this website'. Write it out as a vision statement. Consider where you want to be in 5 years in terms of growth and revenue. Write that out. Think about the name of your business. Decide if you want to name it something descriptive,your name, or a name of a person, place, or thing. Do you want it named after yourself? An animal or mascot? Or the function of the business? "Joe Smith's Accounting", "Accounting Express", and "Cheetah Services" are 3 respective examples.
    2) Search for a domain name and register it at a website company like Godaddy.com or Bluehost.com - those are the two I'd recommend. These are not 'affiliate' links, I am not compensated through either one. I have experience managing both and have both very easy to manage and very cost effective.  
    3) Purchase hosting at the same website so they can be configured together. Get a mid-level shared package, not the cheapest, not the most expensive, probably $150 total cost for a year.
    4) Sketch / write out the sections of your website. Many websites are laid out like this: Home, About, Services, Contact. Each word represents a page. So write out your sections on a piece of paper and write out a description of what each one is, then write on a seperate piece of paper each page,  and waht it's about. So at the end you have a piece of paper that has your pages listed, then stapled to it are individual sheets, 1 for each page, listing what you want on the page. 
    6) Decide on a CMS, or Content Management System - I recommend WordPress - if you want to manage it yourself. If you do not, a custom HTML 5 design or modifying an existing template may work for you. Make sure either one is mobile friendly.
    7) If you are going the theme or template route, find a theme or template you like and can live with and then hire someone to install Wordpress, install the theme, adapt the theme, and implement the content.  This should run you about $1500-$2000.
    8) Configure the email through your service provider.
    9) Show your site to the world. Get some feedback, make some changes and make some money!

    Total cost on the low end would be $1500, on the high end, $2000. This is assuming you do ALOT of the work, $1500 is achievable. But think, you'd need to do alot of writing, gather your photos, and be satisfied w/the theme you pick to be adapted. 

    http://www.lemurtechnology.com/ - my simple website. I will be changing it, it's an adaption of my personal website.  It's also a theme adapted. 
    http://singlesourceprocessing.com/ - strong simple call-to-action website. This is a theme adapted.
    http://tnpublichealth.org/ - Custom built 'intranet' based repository site. Custom built, it's a beast!

    Business Planning:

    1) Ask yourself 'what is the purpose of this business'.  Do a business plan,do some feasibility work - at minimum a cash flow to see what the business looks like and what an investment break-even point looks like along with an operational break-even point looks like. 
    2) Do a business filing for your LLC - in Tennessee you can go to: https://tnbear.tn.gov/Ecommerce/RegistrationInstr.aspx
    4) File for your local taxes / business license, depending on where you live, i.e. Davidson, Williamson. It may be a little different but start here: https://apps.tn.gov/bizreg/ also find out if your locality has other registrations you need to do. Find out if you need to collect Sales Tax and Franchise Excise. It varies. But you will file county / municipal even if it's a minimal amount. In Tennessee you can use the link cited here. Check for your responsbility for personal property tax. That is very important a well as any other business taxes you are responsible for. Calling your local secretary of state office is a great start as well as your local Small Business Administration and Chamber of Commerce.
    5) Design a logo and print business cards, your first round does not need to be fancy.  They need to get you by. 
    6) Open up a business bank account, have a few hundred on hand to do that. You also need all your paperwork from steps 2-4. Step 5 helps but isn't necessary. 
    7) You are done, more or less. Get quickbooks or something. 

    Total cost of business planning is probably $500 after all is said and done if you have a good print shop and your card already designed.  That's $300 for the LLC fees, $100 for the opening deposit and $100 for your cards and anything else in the state of Tennessee. Other states may vary! You will also need to file with your local city and county seperately which varies by city and county.

    You'd pay these fees on TOP of what LegalZoom does...they charge a service fee and then you still have to handle your own filing fees. 

    Those are some thoughts to run with!