Incorporating your business is a huge step in protecting it, but once you’ve completed the incorporation process, there’s still plenty of work to do. Use these to-do points as a rough guide to move forward toward success.
. Get your federal tax identification number, also known as your employer identification number. This number is comparable to Social Security numbers for individuals. The Internal Revenue Service uses it to identify your company for tax purposes. You also should check with the tax department for your state and get a state tax identification number if required.
. File applications for any permits or licenses your municipality, county or state might require.
. Review your incorporation documents for accuracy. Make corrections if needed.
. Publish notice of your incorporation in a local newspaper or file additional follow-up paperwork as required by your state.
. Apply for trademark protection if you intend to do business nationwide–state registration of your business name stops others from using your business name only in your state.
. Have your corporation file new Doing Business As paperwork for each of the variations of your official business name (e.g., MyBusiness.com, MyBusiness, Inc.), if needed.
Governance and Operations
. Complete an initial organizational meeting to lay the operational foundation for your business. Shareholders and proposed directors or officers should attend. Activities at this meeting may include the formal election of board members and officers, adopting the articles of incorporation, adopting bylaws, and issuing stock.
. Lease office or warehouse space (if applicable) and set up necessary utilities and furnishings.
. Hire general employees as well as professionals who can advise you on business-related issues, such as accountants and attorneys. Remember that the interview/hiring process can take time. It’s better to take a bit longer and find the right candidate than it is to bring someone on board that’s not a good fit.
. Organize other elements of operations, such as policies and procedures and automation of repetitive tasks.
. Set up your financial and accounting methods or tools. This might include tasks such as purchasing and installing accounting software such as Quicken, selecting inventory techniques, choosing a tax year or applying for business credit. You also should open a business bank account, as you are required to keep personal and business finances separate as an incorporated company.
. Insure your business with a reputable agency.
. Review current regulations in areas such as payroll, meeting minutes, data security, OSHA and unemployment and take steps necessary to ensure compliance.
. Follow all rules regarding the treatment and maintenance of your business as a separate entity. For example, do not pay business expenses from personal accounts. This applies to areas like loans, pensions, employee contracts, vehicle insurance and meeting minutes.
. Create and register your logo.
. Order supplies such as envelopes and business letterhead.
. Design a business website and register your domain name.
. Develop a formal marketing plan.
Moving your business forward after incorporation takes effort and time, but after you complete these critical steps, you can continue to grow your company with far less personal risk.