Whether you’re a lawyer, an accountant or a tech entrepreneur, starting your own business can be an exciting, promising and sometimes frightening proposition. On the one hand, it’s the American dream to work for one’s self, call all the shots and chart one’s own success. On the other hand, there are always unknowns in the business world. But if you arm yourself with the proper tools and resources, you can infinitely increase your chances for creating a successful business that will grow and expand over time.
Law & Order
Unless you’re a law firm, you’re going to need to retain some basic outside legal services to run your business. Fortunately, there are a number of online services these days, such as LegalZoom, that can make the process simple, painless and cheap. These services can help you determine the best structure for your particular business, and then walk you through the set-up, file the paperwork and provide you with any additional legal documents you may need. If you’re looking for a more long-term option, some of the services charge a monthly fee for full access to their legal document library and other features, as well as discounts on local lawyers that can help you with any more complicated legal issues you may come across down the road.
Make the Right Call
You’re a modern-day business; you need modern-day phone service: In most cases, VoIP (otherwise known as Internet phone service) is much cheaper and more efficient than traditional phone lines. Leading business VoIP providers offer plans for low monthly fees, which include a wide range of free features like conference calling, voicemail-to-email transcription, call-forwarding and call-hunting, and an auto-attendant for answering and routing calls. If you’re renting executive office space, make sure to ask the building’s IT department about VoIP and other phone and data options.
In need of a business loan? Here’s a little-known fact: Business credit cards have provided the initial funding to millions of businesses. Choosing the right card will give you both the most rewards for your expenses and a nice 0 percent introductory APR, which functions as an interest-free loan. Keep in mind, though, that most of the consumer protections for credit card holders required by the CARD Act, such as limits on fees and increased interest rates, do not apply to business credit cards. And since you’d have to provide a personal guarantee on your new business’s credit card anyway, you may want to consider getting a personal credit card to use for business expenses.
Back it Up
Losing files or – God forbid – an entire hard drive can mean the loss of months or years of hard work, something your new business can definitely do without. Online backup services, such as Carbonite, are an easy, hassle-free way to keep all of your company’s important files in the cloud. You don’t have to purchase any additional hardware or worry about remembering to back things up. Starting at just a few dollars a month, think of this as cheap insurance for your valuable business files.
Set Your Site
Even if your business has nothing to do with the Internet – and it’s hard to imagine a business that doesn’t these days – potential customers will want to check out your company’s web site. So have one. Web hosting providers like GoDaddy make setting up your business website simple and cheap. Even if you don’t know the first thing about web design, many hosts have great web site builders for beginners that can help you launch a professional-looking site up in no time.
Take a Letter
Even those dreaded trips to the Post Office can be avoided nowadays, thanks to the Internet. Online postage programs like Stamps.com allow you to buy and print your own custom postage and shipping labels. Better yet, if you just need to contact your customers, an email marketing service can help you deliver messages for practically nothing. If you choose an executive workspace with an in-house mail room and shipping services, all the better.
Make it Easy on Yourself
If you really want your business to soar, start your company at an executive office location that provides you with all the basic tools and resources you need – from high-tech phone and data services and IT support to up-to-date copy, fax and scanning equipment to a friendly, professional receptionist who will welcome all your clients. Leave these kinds of details to your building hosts, and that way you can focus on the big picture: Making your business a huge success.
For further reading, check out Inc.com’s excellent list of 15 Things Every Business Owner Should Know.