Actually, you can’t just hang out a shingle and say, “Here I am!” So far, here are the steps I’ve had to take getting impactiviti off the ground:
– Find a unique niche – the best way to succeed is to find, or create, an offering that doesn’t yet exist. In most cases, it helps if someone actually wants that offering. An on-line Personalized Volcano Warning System for New England residents, for instance, may not constitute a viable niche.
– Find a unique name – you can’t imagine how challenging this is, what with all the “obvious” words dot-commed and/or trademarked (All Good URLs Taken).
– Have sufficient financing in place – start-up and ramp-up is going to involve some risk, unless the Gates Foundation decides that you already possess a vaccine that prevents all human folly (if you do, please send me a vial for QA and review purposes).
– Create a business entity – I established an LLC, and used LegalZoom for this; a very easy and affordable service!
– Reserve web address – I took impactiviti.com, and decided to point to this blog as my initial website.
– Meet with an accountant – indispensable; I’m glad I already knew one, who was highly recommended.
– Set up e-mail, contact management, and calendar services – I chose the very nice (and free) Yahoo and Google offerings. Once you start digging into all that these portals do, it’s pretty amazing.
– Set up home computing and network – this was mostly in place but needed some additions, such as a very nice Dell Inspiron laptop. While eventually I’ll go fully wireless, right now I’m using Powerline networking (Phonex), which allows networking of PCs through household wiring.
– Register business name/entity – has to be done with the state and county. Everyone wants a fee, especially in New Jersey, the capital of Fee Enterprise. Through the LegalZoom process, I also obtained a Federal Tax ID number.
– Insurance of various types – ugggh. And you can’t just write in your business plan, “Nothing will go wrong and no-one will get sick for a 2-year period.” This type of calculated wish does not work.
– Phone service – right now, going strictly cellular.
– Bookkeeping – QuickBooks. Applied for a business credit card that will download monthly statements directly into QuickBooks, to save admin pain.
– Logo – fortunately, I know some great graphical designers who don’t mind doing favors! Thanks, Greta and Becca.
– Stationery, labels, office nonsense – all this stuff can be easily ordered on-line,from companies like VistaPrint and OfficeMax/Staples/OfficeDepot.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few minor things, but those are the main practical tasks. It’s not for the faint of heart, but then again, if you do your due diligence and have some helpful contacts, it’s really not that daunting. And, even if you make mistakes, there’s comfort in knowing that some good may come of it! :>)