Do you want to become an entrepreneur and start your own business? Do you think you have a great new business idea? It is easier than ever to start a great company that looks and sounds professional for peanuts. With all the virtual services available today, you do not need many of the things that were traditionally required in years past.
And to top it off, some are even free. There are countless business owners starting companies with very little money and turning them into a multi-million dollar companies years later. Here are some tools and services you can use to help start your adventure.
First things first. Before your business can have any sort of existence, you need a company name, logo and identity. You can have a professional custom logo made for as low as $99 to $149. There are many cheap logo design agencies with impressive portfolios out there. Once you have a logo, you will need some business cards printed. Overnightprints.com will do it for as low as $10.
If your business requires a place to conduct your work and meet with clients in a professional atmosphere, the cheapest way is to use what they call executive office suites. You are renting an individual office or room in a building housing a number of other offices all rented to other business owners. Many of them have common amenities such as furniture, phone, Internet, kitchen and meeting rooms. Web sites like readyoffices.com should help you find what is available in your area.
Technology has really improved and help advance telecom systems. Do you want your business to sound like a fortune 500 company with a phone system? You can with a service they call a virtual pbx or phone system. You can have your own toll-free number with an auto attendant. No matter where you are, you can sound professional and stay connected.
Companies like grasshopper.com have plans starting at only $10 a month. There is also a service called Google Voice that is fairly cool and free. It allows you to pick a local number that you can have forwarded to as many land lines or cell phones as you want.
Buying a fax machine is so 1990 and using a digital or virtual fax service online is so 2010. You can receive faxes and download or have them emailed to you. Faxesanywhere.com is a good choice for only $7.95 a month.
Credit Card Merchant Services
Like most businesses, you may need to accept credit cards as one of your payment methods. If you need this ability, we recommend obtaining a merchant account. This is a professional way to accept credit cards as well as having the most products to choose from to process your cards.
Such products can be terminals, Internet gateways, wireless terminals, electronic registers, etc. There are hundreds of processors to choose from including many of your local banks. MerchantMaverick.com is a great review site that has reviewed almost a hundred different processors and should help you find a solid, reliable processor.
Making it Legal
Many businesses should opt to incorporate their business. Forming an LLC has become the most popular option in recent years. It has a lot of benefits over other structure types and is relatively easy to do. You can use a service like legalzoom.com or do it yourself for free. You will still have to pay the state fee regardless of how it is done.
To do it yourself, simply go to your Secretary of State’s web site. Follow their instructions on how to file, fill out the articles of organization form and submit the papers. If you are a sole operation, it is not necessary to file the Operating Agreement. This agreement spells out the financial and management rights & responsibilities of the LLC members. You can file this anytime after you form your LLC, but it is recommend to work out the details before hand with any other partners to avoid any agreement issues. You can find templates for this file online for very cheap and even free possibly.
Number Crunching the Easy Way
Hiring someone to do your book keeping can be expensive. You can do it yourself for not very much. There are several online services that charge very reasonable prices, such as outright.com and freshbooks.com. Freeshbooks even has a free plan to get you started.
Guest Blogger Curtis Stevens works with Gotmerchant.com, a merchant account provider that helps merchants accept credit cards. They also provide ecommerce tips to businesses through their company blog. Image by Ali Edwards under CC license. You can also submit guest posts and share your business tips.