45 Ways to Create a Better Small Company

When we are caught in a major recession, one result is that new companies with fresh approaches to the market are formed by those leaving larger firms. But being qualified in your industry and knowing how to run a small business are two very different disciplines. Launching a successful small business is challenging in the best of times, but in this tough economic environment, new entrepreneurs must muster every resource they can to make the new company work.

  1. Outline your company’s mission statement, goals and define your corporate culture.
  2. Outline your business plan. It is critical to have a detailed business plan for the first 60 days, the first six months and the first 12 months.
  3. Create a three-year budget because your potential equity investors and debt lenders will demand it.
  4. Find an accountant geared to small business to help you select the best business structure for your operation: C corporation, S corporation, LLC or another structure.
  5. Set up a legal entity and register the company name with the state.
  6. File for state and federal tax ID numbers.
  7. Find an attorney geared to small business issues.
  8. Do a company name search to avoid conflicts with existing firms.
  9. Get legal advice on shifting personal assets to protect them in case the business does not thrive as planned. If your spouse is not a guarantor, shift assets to him or her.
  10. Carefully plan and implement employees/partners compensation plans. If the plans are too generous up front and you need to cut back on them later, it can be a disaster.
  11. Research and competitively bid group health care insurance. Use a broker to help you get the best deal.
  12. Buy business insurance, general coverage and liability.
  13. Hire a design consultant to help design a logo and pick colors for the firm for letterhead, business cards, business message text, brochures, envelopes, etc.
  14. Test the logo. It should look great on your business card and large on your office sign.
  15. Go with electronic letterhead if possible, which IS less expensive and more efficient than printed letterhead. In fact, print as many electronic forms and business documents as you can to avoid high printing bills altogether.
  16. Go with an e-FAX service on the Web to save FAX costs.
  17. Acquire a free conference call service. Even if you make just one conference call in your entire career, you will save money over what the phone company would charge.
  18. Create an electronic signature you can “cut and paste” on letters and contracts.
  19. Set up an overnight express package service account, such as FedEx, on line.
  20. Sign up for an Internet service like www.yousendit.com to send large files over the Web that are too large to go bye-mall thereby saving overnight express package charges altogether.
  21. Set up a business credit card like Visa or MasterCard.
  22. Look into free “office suite” business software you can download online to save that initial large cost.
  23. Always look for and use business coupons to save on your business purchases.
  24. Buying online? Insist on free shipping to cut your costs. Amazon and others will now do this routinely.
  25. Find office space that is already “built out” close to your needs. You may want to consider using an Executive Suite. There you can generally rent fully furnished office space that includes a phone, receptionist, internet access and conference rooms. They pay all the rent and operating expenses to the Landlord and sublet to you on a short-term basis.
  26. Take a short lease. The terms for the office space, since you are a start-up, should be a one-year lease and a one-year renewal. There are too many unknowns with a new business to commit to a longer term.
  27. Office image should reflect only what your new company “really needs” to be credible.
  28. Another alternative is to set up a “virtual office” at an office business center, which will furnish you with a business address to receive your mail and a live receptionist to answer your phone in your company’s name. When you need a real office or boardroom to meet with clients, you can rent that space by the hour, day or week.
  29. The office should be very convenient to your home and to your customers to save on commuting time and expense. You should also have easy access on weekends and nights for the initial long hours you will need to put in starting your new business.
  30. Your office equipment should be minimal and used – just what you need to start. It should include computers, back-up data drive, copier/scanner, color printer, business card scanner, refrigerator and coffee maker.
  31. Furniture should include desks, filing cabinets, conference table, bookshelves, white boards, office supplies, etc.
  32. Consider going wireless versus land line for your office telephone.
  33. Consider using pay-as-you-go cell phone plan to pay for only what you use.
  34. Consider a VoIP phone system to save on phone company costs.
  35. Get your internet, cable and phone services from one provider to save money.
  36. Internet access is cheapest if you can find a building with commercial cable such as Verizon FIOS because T-1 lines are very expensive.
  37. No receptionist is necessary in today’s times to have credibility—it’s a luxury. If you really need one, get an executive suite or virtual office that comes with a live receptionist at a reasonable cost.
  38. Set up a domain name and e-mail addresses. Keep it simple and flexible but a system that can be expanded such as Network Solutions that allows access to business e-mails from home.
  39. Hire a consultant to design and launch the Web site. It is better to have one up than not. Keep the first version simple so that it gets up and running without delay. Improve on it later.
  40. Set up a company bank checking account and get initial checks printed.
  41. Set up a line of credit with a bank….no easy task in this economic environment!
  42. Set up as many company bills as possible to be paid online by checking account or credit card.
  43. Set up Intuit/QuickBooks online (give your accountant online access) to manage company accounts, payroll, business accounts, invoicing, etc.
  44. Build a company database for future mailings and promotions. Buy lists or use your ACT or Microsoft Outlook software to begin collecting names for the database.
  45. Draft a press release announcing the company formation and circulate it to industry media. You can hire a public relations firm or do it yourself.