Starting a Business: Get Help Now
More than a half-million new businesses start every year, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Almost as many businesses close every year and that includes 20% of new business startups. Your new business doesn't have to be among that number.
Starting a successful small business requires research, planning, guidance, and financial resources. It doesn't require a college degree or a lot of business classes. It doesn't even require prior experience in the field (although that certainly helps).
FindLaw's Start a Business Section has pulled together a wealth of information to help you start your small business, including links to government agencies, Small Business Development Centers, and Small Business Administration offices in every state. On this site, you'll find advice on everything from writing a business plan to getting an employer identification number to getting a business loan.
This page links you to key information in the Start a Business section that take you step-by-step from great idea to financing and business entities.
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Is Business Ownership Right for You?
The Coronavirus pandemic was a difficult time for small business owners, but it was also a time when a lot of people made the jump to self-employment. Some workers were required to work from home. Rather than work at the whim of an employer, they decided to start their own business.
Starting and operating a successful business isn't for everyone. Is it right for you?
- Is Entrepreneurship for You?
- Entrepreneurship Guidance (from the Small Business Administration (SBA) Learning Center)
- Evaluating Your New Small Business Idea
- Start-Up Basics
- When Should You Set Up an LLC with a Spouse?
- Operating a Home-Based Business
Researching Your New Business
There are lots of good business ideas, but it takes research to match a good idea with a good market, and a good strategy to reach that market. Before you commit time and money to a startup business, research similar businesses in your area. Is this type of business overly competitive, or is there an untapped market? Market research will answer that question. Research on social media and spot consumers' wants and needs.
If you've never done market research or industry research before, talk to people with the know-how to start a business — Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), the local office of the SBA, trade journals, magazines and local Chambers of Commerce. Don't forget the Senior Core of Retired Executives (SCORE). They can provide invaluable technical assistance.
Once you've done your research, it's time to start your business plan. You will need this plan to secure funding.
- State Guide: Chambers of Commerce
- State Resources: Starting a Business
- Finding a Niche
- How to Write a Business Plan
- Contents of a Written Business Plan
Starting a New Business
Once you've done your research and you know that your good idea can be a successful business, it's time to visit local government agencies and fill out the required forms. These pages provide links to the right office in every state to begin business formation for for-profit and nonprofit companies.
- Business Formation QuickStart
- How to Incorporate a Business
- Starting Your Business: Business Name Availability
- Ten Steps for Choosing a Business Name
- State Guide: Forms and Filing Fees for Business Formation
- State Guide: Articles of Incorporation
- State Guide: Corporation Laws
- State Guide: Corporations Offices
- State Guide: Obtaining Licenses & Permits
- State and Local Small Business Licenses for Start-Ups
- State Guide: Business Opportunity Disclosure Laws
- State Guide: Franchise Disclosure Laws
- Local Business Licenses
- State Business Licenses
- Federal Business Licenses
Small Business Financing
Financing options change across the lifecycle of a business. Small startup businesses are often funded by the business owner from their own bank account or credit card, with help from friends and family, and maybe some crowdfunding. New business owners can also be on the lookout for small business grants offered through economic development agencies.
If you are buying an existing business, one with a track record, it is probably eligible for a business credit card or a business line of credit from a lender. It may qualify for small business loans and state and federal government grant programs.
With a year or two of business experience — or a market-changing product idea — your business may attract equity funding/venture capital.
Learn more about eligibility for various types of small business financing.
- Financing Basics
- Financing a Small Business: Loans vs. Equity Investment
- Getting Money From Family and Friends for a Business
- Getting a Loan for a Small Business
- Sources of Small Business Financing
Hiring a Business Attorney
Entrepreneurs typically need legal help with at least some aspects of their operation. Small business attorneys can help you choose the right business structure, draft and file your business registration paperwork, negotiate a lease agreement, and more. You may need a patent or intellectual property attorney if you are designing a new product. The following resources will help you determine your legal needs and better understand the process of hiring a business lawyer.
- Hiring Legal Help When Starting a Business - Overview of how a small business attorney can help you.
- Hiring Legal Help with Business Formation
- Find a Business Lawyer in Your Area - Search by city, county, metropolitan area or state.
- Hiring a Business & Commercial Law Attorney - When and how to hire a business attorney.
- Why You Need a Lawyer for Your Startup: Ten Reasons
Working With an Attorney
- Fee Agreements - Basics of estimated costs, basic charges, and fee arrangements with attorneys.
- Types of Legal Fees - Overview of common fee arrangements, such as retainer fees and an hourly rate.
- Types of Legal Costs - Explanation of the different types of billable legal costs.
- Reducing Your Costs and Expenses - Various ways you can lower your legal bill.
You may also find helpful information in the Start-Up Toolkit.
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.