Florida and Pennsylvania are great states for those who are looking to launch a new business. These states are booming demographically and economically. Since the recession almost a decade ago, both Florida and Pennsylvania have been the site of consistent, solid economic growth. Florida doesn’t impose a state income tax, and several years ago, to attract employers, Florida reduced business taxes. If you choose to launch a new business in either state, do it with the services and insights of an experienced business attorney.
Both Florida and Pennsylvania have talented and diverse workforces and can satisfy the needs of any employer. For example, international corporations locate their manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution facilities in Florida for easy access to the Caribbean and to Central and South America.
Florida and Pennsylvania benefit tremendously from their systems of public universities and community colleges, a system that meets the needs of employers in scores of industries. Florida and Pennsylvania offer employers the best potential employees and millions of potential customers.
When you start a new business, the number of details that you must keep track of and the number of decisions that you must make can lead anyone to feel a bit overwhelmed. What do the successful business owners do to facilitate success when they start a new business? There’s no magic key, secret formula, or ideal checklist, but the most successful business owners would agree with these ten recommendations for starting a new business:
1. CREATE A SENSIBLE BUSINESS PLAN
If you intend to launch a new business in Florida or Pennsylvania – or anywhere else – you really must create a business plan – and put it in writing – before you actually start or “go into” the business. A proper business plan defines the business and sets forth its goals and procedures. The plan should include information about your products and/or services, your proposed budget, and how you will identify and interest potential customers.
A business plan should also include a profit-and-loss projection, a break-even analysis, and a cash flow forecast. An experienced business attorney can create or help you create a practical, reasonable business plan that articulates your goals, satisfies your needs, and safeguards your long-term interests. A proper business plan can also help a new business obtain a loan, and a good business lawyer will act as your representative with banks, other financial institutions, and government agencies.
2. COMPLETE THE PAPERWORK
Most counties and municipalities, the state, and the federal government all require an owner of a new business to complete and submit all types legal forms and paperwork for all kinds of reasons. Every legal jurisdiction and each kind of business has its own requirements and regulations.
Have an experienced business attorney ensure that all of the necessary documents are accurate and filed on time. A new business will also require a number of licenses. Your business attorney can see to it that you have the licenses your business needs.
3. START SMALL AND LOCALLY
Start out small. Don’t spend if you don’t need to. Don’t rent space unless or until you have to. Employ independent contractors or temp workers until you have enough work for full-time employees. It’s always a good idea to launch a new business enterprise with a focus on building a reliable local client base first.
When you focus first on growing the business locally, you can test out – and then revise and refine – your products, services, and business practices “as you go” so that when you are ready to expand the business, you’ll be able to expand it confidently and successfully.
4. BE WELL-ORGANIZED
Especially at the beginning of a business, when you are so busy with so many other responsibilities, if a task isn’t urgent, it’s tempting to let it slide. Don’t. It’s a bad habit to fall into and a bad precedent to set. Being disorganized is a negative for most customers, and when you’re disorganized, it’s easier to lose or misplace important legal documents or financial paperwork.
5. GET IT IN WRITING
Have everything put in writing, always and without exception. This includes leases or real estate documents, storage agreements, contracts for services, purchase orders, employment contracts, and hiring and employment policies.
Get everything in writing, have your business attorney review every important document, and never sign any agreement or contract unless you understand exactly what you are signing and agreeing to.
6. KNOW YOURSELF AND YOUR CAPABILITIES
“Know yourself” is ancient advice, but it’s just as important in business today as it was in the days of Socrates and Shakespeare. You should know exactly what you are capable of and what you can and can’t do by yourself. Don’t be proud – you can’t do everything.
You might have sales, marketing, and promotional skills but no talent for accounting or finance. Or vice-versa. Determine what you cannot do on your own and find people that you can trust to do those things well.
7. BE SMART ABOUT ADVERTISING AND MARKETING
It’s almost impossible in the United States today for a new business to flourish on “word of mouth” alone. You need to make sure that you are promoting your company using the proper tools. Try radio, television, print, and internet marketing, and determine what seems to work best for your company. Talk to your customers. Are they people who stay at home in front of televisions and computers? Or do they spend a great deal of time on the road, looking at billboards and listening to radios?
You also need to be aware that some basic laws govern most marketing and advertising, and some professions impose additional rules and regulations. If the advertising for your company includes a statement of fact that can be proven to be false, it’s a violation of federal law. If the Federal Trade Commission believes that your advertising violates the law, you’ll probably be notified and issued a warning, and you’ll need to comply.
8. BE FRIENDLY AND MAKE FRIENDS
Nobody wants to do business with grumpy or unfriendly people. Go out of your way to build and keep good relationships with everyone your business comes in contact with: customers, contractors, suppliers, employees, neighbors, and business partners.
Good relationships are genuinely the best way to avoid lawsuits and all other kinds of legal trouble, because friends don’t sue friends. Instead, they work it out.
9. PICK THE RIGHT NAME
Even for something as simple as the name of your business, you’ll want a business attorney’s advice. Is the name you want available? If you do business on the internet, is a domain name available that’s similar to your company’s name? And can your company’s name receive trademark protection?
Every business should register its trademark to protect it legally. That’s a service that a central Florida business attorney can provide.
10. WORK WITH A FULL-SERVICE BUSINESS ATTORNEY
With an experienced, full-service business attorney working on your behalf, you can be confident that the legal matters affecting your business will be handled properly. Every business owner today needs a guide through the maze of hiring and employment laws and the almost endless list of tax, zoning, advertising, and environmental regulations. You need someone who can advocate vigorously on your behalf if your business is sued by a private party or taken to court by the government. You also need an attorney who can help you draft and negotiate contracts, protect your intellectual property, and act as your corporate registered agent.
Experienced Central Florida business attorney Melody Lankford offers these insights: “It works out well to establish a relationship with your business attorney from the outset before a crisis arises. It’s important to develop a relationship based on mutual respect and trust so that the client feels comfortable reaching out to the attorney on any issues that will indefinitely arise in the start-up phase.”
Attorney Lankford adds, “The attorney can assist in identifying compliance issues that a business owner may not have thought of – from the specific industry to city, county, state, and federal government branches. It’s critical that governing documents among partners and investors are memorialized from the outset to avoid costly misunderstandings and conflicts later on. Finally, it’s likely that the attorney has valuable community contacts and can assist the client with selecting service providers and subject matter experts.”