Getting Set Up and Started

sdc - how to talk to a bankerLet’s go ahead and start with the easy stuff, and get your business set up and running. I think it’s important to stay organized especially during all phases of your business, especially this first phase. If organization does not come easy for you, then go get the book The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to do about it by Michael Gerber. It will help you organize and systemize your business so it can eventually scale to higher and higher profits while phasing you out, and while running itself as if on autopilot. Sounds pretty good, right? It is. That’s how all of my businesses are set up. The concept not only works, but it’s also a small business owner’s real chance at lasting success.

 

Naming Your Company

Your company name provides a great opportunity to be remarkable. Nobody wants to work with an unremarkable company. We all demand the remarkable and your clients are no different. Feel free to use a bit of humor and class when choosing a name. This shows potential customers you have character and will probably be pleasant to deal with if they hire you. One of the coolest names I have seen out there is Bling Bling Window Cleaning. If you need help with this task, take some friends to lunch and brainstorm name ideas. Better yet, ask your kids (or your neighbor’s kids if you don’t have any). Kids are always a fantastic source of creativity.

Timeline to Setting Up Your Business

Now that you have bought this package, there is no reason to delay getting started, so let’s get started today. Oh wait, you’re reading this manual, which means you already have. Congratulations on taking this first step. The task ahead of you is to read and familiarize yourself with all of the materials in this package. You’ll want to choose your name, set up your entity, open up your bank account, get insurance, spend a few days thinking through your business plan, and plot to crush the competition. You will also want to focus on the marketing plan. Once these initial tasks are completed, you’ll literally have nothing else to do except marketing until you start getting clients. Eventually, roughly half of your time will be spent on marketing, and the other half will be spent doing the actual window cleaning, as well as day to day business management. Initially however, you will spend 100% of your time on marketing. This book provides you with a detailed marketing plan. If you follow through with it, you will have plenty of clients before you know it. So get to work already!

Legal Entity Selection

You will want to create a legal entity for your business at the very beginning. You may want to start an S Corp, or perhaps an LLC, or even a sole proprietorship. Every state has different pros and cons to each. Personally, my attorneys have advised that I operate all my service-based businesses as S-Corps, though one or two are LLCs. Every business is different, every entrepreneur is different, and every state is different. You really need to consult with both an attorney and an accountant to make this decision. In many states, however, it is fairly easy to create your entity by yourself, if you want to save a few hundred bucks. Again, you may just want to pay your attorney do this for you, and I certainly cannot and will not advise you either way, because I myself am not an attorney and, thus, am unable to provide legal advice in any way. If you do, however, decide to create the entity yourself, typically you just go to your state’s secretary of state website, click on the business section, and you’ll find the appropriate page under a heading such as File a Document, Create a New Record, Create a Corporate Entity, or something similar. It may take you a few minutes to figure out and fill in the details for your state’s forms, but usually all it takes is a few minutes and a nominal filing fee. At this point, all you’ve done is create the entity with your state. Next, you’ll want to make sure to register the entity with the IRS at IRS.gov. This is free and very simple to do. At the end of this process, you’ll have your EIN number, which is sort of like the social security number for a business. Copy this number and put it somewhere safe and easy to find, and create a backup copy as well, because it’s a really big pain to try to get it again if you ever lose it. With this number, you can (and must) file taxes, open a business bank account, and create your various vendor relationships. There are two main reasons why you’ll want to create a business entity: tax benefits and liability protection. The tax benefits of owning your own corporation or business entity are numerous. The federal government stimulates economic growth by encouraging entrepreneurship. One way it accomplishes this is through tax incentives for corporations and other business entities. Don’t disappoint Uncle Sam; take advantage of his generosity by starting your own business and hiring a good accountant to help you with your accounting, tax planning, and tax preparation. The second reason, liability protection, is possibly even more important than the tax benefits. If you ever get sued, but you were acting as a business entity instead of as an individual, the plaintiff must sue the company, not you personally. This is no small thing, considering that you don’t want to lose your house and your 401K because some lawsuit-happy schmuck decides to try to take everything that you have by manufacturing some ridiculously false claim. This can and does happen, and so do legitimate lawsuits. So protect yourself by creating an entity.

Insurance Coverage

There are two types of insurance necessary to start a window cleaning business. These types include: General liability insurance, and Workman compensation insurance. Several states also require an insurance bond in order to start a window cleaning business. Check with your local insurance agent about the rules in your state. At the very least, you want to obtain general liability insurance. Be sure to shop around with several insurance companies, as some of them will allow you to pay those premiums in payments instead of all at once. You can open up your local phone book, or look on the internet to find an agent in your area. When I first started my business, my premium was around seven hundred dollars for the year, and I only had to put down around two hundred dollars to start it.

Setting up Banking

Once you obtain all of your paperwork for your business entity, and tax id number, head to the bank and open up a business account. Usually your banker can log on to the secretary of state website to view your entity, but you need to take paperwork for your tax id number. It’s a real easy process to set up a business account, and I think you can get in and out in a half hour.

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online is the best software I have ever seen to manage your window cleaning business. I highly recommend it because it is web based, therefore you will never lose any data if something happens to your computer. You can log on to it from any computer with internet access from anyplace. It also has a ton of features that are definitely worth the few dollars a month that it costs. They also have a great training program to teach you how to use it. The support from QuickBooks Online is unbelievable, so take my word on this and use it.

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