starting a small business

So far, I have found starting a small business to be a series of puzzles…basically things that I need to sort out one by one until everything can fall together into place.  Most of the puzzles I have found to be a lot of fun.  I’ve learned some of the techniques described by The Lean Startup and have successfully put together a business model canvas.  I’ve had help from Brett designing a website that will meet the needs of each anticipated customer segment.  I’ve had a LOT of fun figuring out what my site needs to feel like, look like, and offer…and how I can go about trying to make a living from the site.

The puzzle that I have been putting off for a week now (finally got it done, woot!) has been some of the paperwork involved in forming a small business.  🙂  For some reason, figuring out how to register a “doing business as” name, getting whatever license/certification I need to buy things at wholesale, and how to officially register my business seemed unnecessarily complicated and scary!  Let me tell you though, the million sites that I needed to wade through in order to figure out those pieces of info were not always helpful in dissuading my fears and anxieties about the whole process!  haha 🙂  There didn’t seem to be a one-stop place where I could figure everything out….lots and lots of following every link on a page was happening.  I think I had over 100 tabs open at one point 🙂

So far, I have figured out exactly what tax forms are necessary and required and how they each work (though…maybe it will finally be time to hire a tax person next year? haha)  I have sorted through how to estimate a small business’s estimated quarterly taxes, what those taxes go towards, and what the different between income tax and self employment tax is.  I have discovered what an employer identification number is and who needs one and what retail licenses exist within the state of Illinois.

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I’ve figured out the somewhat ridiculous process of registering an assumed name for a business in Champaign County (including filing the forms, publishing the info for 3 weeks in a local paper, and then filing the forms given from the paper), how to register myself as an official Illinois business under this assumed name, and how to buy things at wholesale to then resell them so that sales tax doesn’t get collected twice.  Every site I found, whether it was from the IRS, the US Small Business Administration, or another random site, had slightly different information with slightly different wording.  It took quite a bit of dilligence and bookmarking of webpages to figure it all out.  I saved forms, took notes which then were starred, arrowed, and underlined as more information became clear and relevant.  I made some calls to make sure I understood the next couple of steps that I needed to take and planned out a day of literally driving around town taking care of some of the local forms and paperwork.  Whew!  🙂

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I am very excited that this next major step of registering as an official business owner in the state of Illinois under an assumed name has been almost taken care of!  My notice is currently being published in the Champaign News Gazette for three weeks.  The paper will then issue me Proof of Publication that I take back to the County Clerks office.  Then I officially register with the state and voila!  🙂

Are you sitting on the edge of your seat in anticipation yet?!  😉  I will let you in on the rest of the details within the next month if all goes well!

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