More Business FAQ – Starting a Business in California

This week is sort of a bummer. I got sick and am laying in bed while I’m typing this. But truth is, nothing can get me down. So along with our giveaway that we’re announcing on June 10th, I thought I’d share a little more information about starting a business here in the great ol’ state of California. It’s pretty easy as long as you’re well informed and do your research. I can’t stress this enough, educating yourself before starting a business is key. If you’ve read my previous post about opening a business in California then you know there are a lot of things to think about when starting one. So you’ve got your DBA in hand, you got

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your tax permit, and you’ve got your FB and Twitter set up, so now what? Here are a couple questions to ask yourself:

1. Am I selling goods or a service? In the state of California, if you are selling any type of goods you need to have a reseller’s license from the California State Board of Equalization, who will be collecting your sales tax from you. Depending on where you conduct business, the nature of what you are selling, and what kind of sales volume you have the BOE will arrange the correct payment schedule (quarterly, annually, etc.).

2. Did I open a bank account yet? You definitely want to keep your business and personal financials separate. The last thing you want to do is get them mixed up, so go to your favorite bank and set up a business bank account.

3. Do I have my business plan set? This is such an important part of the start-up business process. What is the goal of your business? Where do you see your business in 5 years? In 10 years? What sets you apart from your competition? How do you plan on approaching your target market? These answers are all found in your business plan. The hard questions are answered here so you are ready to present it to people that matter. Of course, your business might grow and change as time goes on so make sure you keep updating your business plan accordingly.

 

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I Fell of the Wagon – Here’s a Look into my Time Management System

Yeah, that was me. The girl that whirled past you – hair a mess, make up all over the place, wardrobe – forget about it. Life has been spinning me in so many different directions that I don’t know which way I’m facing anymore! But I’m drawing myself back – back to the days of sanity and organization. Back to the days where I was working smarter instead of harder.

A good friend of mine asked me how I keep track of my schedule. After a long series of trial and error I found a system that works, for me at least. I tried having a date book, I tried a binder with divider tabs, I tried my computer…and nothing would stick. Until recently. Thanks to the wonderful things like Google Apps and iCloud I finally have a system that I’ve created for myself that I’ve been able to maintain.

1. I need flexibility. The problem with having a datebook that I wrote into – pens are so concrete. Ha! I know, this may sound silly. But the thought of putting something down on my calendar using a pen makes it so finite. Even pencil wouldn’t do. My obsessive-compulsive side wouldn’t allow me to leave any sign of erase marks in my sparkling clean datebook. Plus, the thought of having to carry yet another thing in my bag will make the strap break in half (I carry my whole world in my purse!). My schedule is always ever-changing and the flexibility of having that option to change it on my iPhone or iPad with ease is gold. But wait, it gets better.

2. Thanks to good ol’ iCloud and Google Apps, I can sync all my devices so that all the same information is everywhere!!!! I.Love.This. I can’t even begin to explain how much I love this. Now people can ask for my availability and I can tell them in a second. I can even share

my calendar with Charlie so he knows what my schedule is like throughout the week. Life made easier. LOVE.ETTTT.

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3. But, I still use my stack of post-its and notepads. For what? My to-do list. There’s nothing like the feeling of crossing something out when you complete a task. So freeing i-tell-ya. ūüôā

4. At the end of the day, before I shut down my computer I make a list of things I need to do the next day and review my schedule for the next 7 days. I’ll then update my calendar or add to my to-do list as time goes on. But this gives me a chance to download and clear my head to make sure I can enjoy the rest of the day/evening with some peace of mind.

So there you have it! But, le sigh, I’ve fallen off the wagon. I haven’t even touched my calendar in weeks. Someone keep me accountable! I’m getting back on the horse on Monday!

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How to Start a Business in California and Frequently Asked Questions About Marketing

It makes me really happy to see people starting businesses. As a fellow business owner and advisor for many people that have started a business here in the great ol’ state of California, it’s just a great thing to see. People with hopes and dreams making an investment in themselves. In my ¬†almost 7 years of being a business owner, I’ve seen many businesses come to an unfortunate close. But in the past few years, I’ve met and heard of many people starting new businesses again! For many, being the owner of a business is a scary thought. The lack of a “steady” paycheck, start-up costs, (sometimes) longer hours, and other things can be daunting. Though there are cons to owning a business, there are lots and lots of pros as well – doing work that you are passionate about, the satisfaction of seeing something grow from the ground up, contributing to the economy, seeing the value of hard work, networking and meeting new people, and so much more. A lot of people have asked me to weigh in on what they need to do to start a business here in California, so I hope to answer many of the frequently asked questions here.

FAQ’s

Q: How do I start a business in California?
A: You first have to decide what kind of business structure is best for you. Sometimes talking to your accountant or lawyer for advice is best. They can give you valuable information about the pros and cons of business types so that you can make the right decision with an educated mind. If you do not want to seek the help of a professional, I would do research. Lots of research. The Small Business Association (SBA) is an EXCELLENT resource for all things business related.¬†I’ve personally started sole proprietorships, partnerships, s-corporations, and LLCs – it all depends on the nature of your business and the amount of protection. The next step is to think of your business name and check if it’s available. You can find out more information here. Thought it’s not required, I’d also recommend getting your company trademark as well. Make sure you also check your tax certificate requirements for your city (for Los Angeles, download the form here).

Q: What kind of expenses go into starting a business?
A: There are filing fees when you start a business. For example, if you start a sole proprietorship in Los Angeles there is a fee to file your DBA and to publish your name in a local ¬†newspaper. If you start a partnership, LLC or corporation there is a $800 yearly there is a franchise tax. Then you have the expense of printing business cards, setting up your website, setting up your accounting program, internet and telephone lines, office rent (if applicable), and office supplies. I know, it’s scary. But the good news is these will help you when you file your taxes at the end of the year!

Q: How can I market my company?
A: There are many approaches to marketing your company nowadays. The best advice I can give is to hire a great designer. The branding of your company will be the forefront of how your audience will perceive you. And trust me, that perception means EVERYTHING. Branding doesn’t just mean your logo, but the avenues you’ll use for marketing, what your brochures and business cards will look like, what kind of content you put on your blog and website, every.thing. And having a firm grasp about what you want is key. Once you figure that out, come up with a realistic plan. Maybe you need to start small – start by telling your friends and family about your new business, start marketing your business on your Facebook and/or Twitter, join the local Chamber of Commerce and start attending networking events, etc. Or maybe you want to start off with a bang. On top of your local market, you want to start a full-blown marketing campaign complete with a launch party, online advertising campaign, and press release. There is no wrong way to do it, to be honest. Just make sure you know what is best for you and your brand.

Q: Should I create a Facebook Page and Twitter for my business?
A: This is probably the 2nd most popular question I get from people. My answer is always in the form of a question. Are you going to use it, and actively post relevant content on there? If not, then it’s probably not for you. The whole point of blogs and social media is to create conversations. The point is to engage people with relevant content and do so on a regular basis. If 6 months go by and you haven’t posted anything on your Facebook page, sometimes I’d wonder if people are still in business. Social media is not an “easy” marketing strategy. It’s just like any other form of marketing – it takes work.

 Q: What is the best advice you can give to someone starting a business?
A. I always stress 3 main things. One is be patient, not all businesses boom overnight. In my opinion, lots of the businesses that have overnight success sometimes are short-lived and don’t have long-term business success. Two is find your niche. No matter who you are and what you do, the best thing is to narrow your market to an ideal client. You can’t be everyone’s cup of tea. ¬†Third, work hard and believe in your product. It starts with you first. If you believe in what you have to offer, then others will believe in it too.¬†

 

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