1. Determine your Business Structure

The first step, and one of the most important, in starting your business is deciding how to structure it. There are several different types of business structures, from sole proprietorships to Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) to non-profit organizations. For a good description of the types of businesses in Texas, you can visit the Texas Secretary of State site. The way you structure your business will have large implications on how you are allowed to operate and how you are taxed. When deciding how to structure your new Texas business, you should consider consulting legal and accounting professionals for advice. They will help you understand the complexity surrounding legal and tax requirements.

2. Name your Business

Naming your business does not necessarily have to be the next step in the process; however, it is generally best to choose a name early on in the process so you can be consistent when talking with potential suppliers or investors. You can brainstorm business names yourself, or you can contract an advertising firm to help you choose something catchy and memorable. Of course your name cannot be the same as a competitor, nor can it be offensive. Once you have come up with a few options, you will need to check their eligibility with the Texas Secretary of State. For a detailed list of actions required to register your name, you can view the checklist on the Texas Secretary of State website.

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3. Put Together a Business Plan

Arguably the most thought-intensive part of starting a new business is creating a business plan. In steps one through three you put some thought into the basics of your business. However, now is the time to think through all of the details. A business plan is a guide for how you will set up, operate, and grow your new business. Having a thorough and well-baked business plan will guide you through the process of getting your business on your feet, and it will also be a help you attract potential investors and financiers. Writing a business plan will also help you identify and think through any risks or potential roadblocks that your business may face in early operations.

A typical business plan contains at minimum the following elements: executive summary, company overview, market / competitive analysis, organizational structure, marketing / sales, and financial plans. This is the information investors and potential partners will be looking for when deciding whether to support your venture. For additional guidance on what to include in your business plan and how to structure the document, you can refer to the Small Business Association website, which has many resources to help you get started.

4. Register your Business

In Texas, you will need to go to your county clerk’s office to register proprietorships and partnerships. Corporations need to be registered with the Secretary of State’s Office.

After registering your business, you will need to file paperwork with federal, state, and local governments. To file your federal tax papers, you will need to visit the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website. All legal businesses in the United States are required to file with the IRS. Next, you will need to file state tax papers. In Texas this is done through the Comptroller of Public Accounts. Lastly, you will need to file local taxes with the appraisal district and tax office in your county. You can find a list of local appraisal district and tax offices for the counties in Texas here.

In addition to filing tax paperwork, you will need to determine if your business requires any special licenses, permits, registrations, etc. The requirements will vary based on the type and size of your business. In Texas, the Business Permit Office can provide you with information on the types of state permits and licenses you will need to operate. Tax and permit paperwork can be daunting, so consider consulting a lawyer or accountant in your area if you have any questions.

5. Check Compliance with Employer Regulations

Once you have registered your business and filed tax and permit paperwork, you will need to check that your business is compliant with both federal and state employer requirements. As you can imagine, there are many laws surrounding employment at both the state and federal level. The Texas Workforce Commission lists Texas’s employer requirements on their website.

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