Do you think you have the next best idea but you are not sure how to turn that idea into a business? These are just a few tips I learned in my business adventure.
The most common forms of businesses are sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, and Limited Liability Companies (LLC). To determine your legal structure you need to consider how you plan to protect yourself from liability, how you want to be taxed, and how you plan to manage your business. Inspired by Baby, Developed by Mommy™, MOMMBY LLC, was formed as a Virginia limited liability company because MOMMBY™ started out as a parenting website, MOMMBY.com, and I wanted to protect my family from liability.
In your business plan you describe your business, including the mission, vision, values, and goals; products and services; your marketing plan, including the industry, target customers, and distinction from competition; your management and personnel plan; and financial information. If you are not sure how to write a business plan take advantage of free training and counseling services offered by your local colleges, business centers, and support organizations. You may also want to schedule a meeting with a SCORE representative for free advice.
Licenses, Permits, Bank Account
Refer to the U.S. Small Business Administration. You need to make sure you register your business name with your state government; obtain a tax identification number from the IRS; register for state and local taxes; and obtain any federal, state, and local licenses and permits required. MOMMBY LLC is run out of my home; therefore, I obtained a home occupation permit in addition to my other licenses. It is also important to separate your business from your personal accounts; hence, I have a separate MOMMBY™ bank account and business credit card.
Protect your intellectual property (IP), including patents, trademarks, copyright, and trade secrets; and also do not infringe on other companies’ IP. You are not required to register a mark but there are advantages if you register. If your mark is unregistered you may use ™ after your company logo or slogans. You are not allowed to use the ® unless your mark is registered with the USPTO.
If your business is based on a product you invented, protect yourself and file a patent application. Filing a patent application can be expensive due to legal costs and registration fees. I filed a patent application for my Peek-a-Bye-Baby™ cover, which functions as a nursing cover and a burp cloth. I was able to limit my legal expenses by writing my own patent application and having a reputable lawyer review my application rather than paying a lawyer to write the entire application. Patent prosecution is very specialized and complicated and I urge you to seek professional advice for your patent application.
An important consideration when selecting a business name is ensuring you can get a similar website domain name. Most businesses benefit from a website even if it is to simply list products and services. MOMMBY.com started as a parenting website; evolved into a parenting store selling the PATENT PENDING Peek-a-Bye-Baby™ cover, the Burp Cloth that Won’t Fall Off™ and the Nursing Cover for Baby to See Mother™, and the MOMMBY Storage Bags™ that solve the toy storage problem; and continues to be an organized informational site for parents to read product reviews, watch parenting videos, and obtain support, guidance, and encouragement.
You may have heard “you have to spend money to make money” but you should also take advantage of free sources to market your business. Connect with others through social media via Facebook, Twitter, and other online communities. Utilize YouTube and other video sites to market and advertise. Also, take advantage of websites like my website, MOMMBY.com, that publish articles or video reviews of products or services.
Start your business for the right reasons. Be passionate about your business. Be ready to work hard. Hire professionals as needed, such as accountants and lawyers. Have a support network. Many say, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” and so I wish you the best of luck.