Every business starts with an idea or a problem that needs to be solved. Once you have that, perform market research to determine if there is a need for your business, product or service. The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC) can assist with market research. Useful resources can also be found at the Arkansas Secretary of State's website and through AEDC.
It is critical to start your business with a plan. A business plan provides you with a strategy for launching your business and making it succeed. There are a variety of resources to help you develop a business plan, including Startup Junkie, The Generator, and Conductor.
Deciding a name is a fun, but important, step of starting your business. Make sure that your business name has not been used before by checking the Arkansas Secretary of State's Business Entity Search. Also, a business might own the national rights to a name that it registered as a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This trademark might not be registered with the Arkansas Secretary of State's Office, but you could still be violating the law by using that company's nationally registered name in Arkansas. You can check the national availability of names here, but it is highly advised you seek the assistance of an intellectual property attorney with this process because it is a more complicated process.
You must also decide on a structure for your business. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a handy guide that explains different business structures. You should always seek the guidance of a qualified business attorney and accountant to determine the right entity choice for your business. Building your company's foundation properly and legally is vital and takes financial investment in the beginning, but many local professionals can assist you with this process.
Every business needs funding to get off the ground. Whether you self-finance, raise capital or borrow money, there needs to be a plan in place for your funding. Learn more about funding options here.
Before you officially go into business, you must register your company with the Arkansas Secretary of State's Office. At the Secretary of State Office's website, you can register online or download paper copies of the necessary forms. The Secretary of State's Office also offers a guide for small business owners, addressing topics such as business insurance, taxes, and permits.
After registering your business, you must obtain federal and state tax identifications, which allow you to pay federal and state taxes for your business. To learn more and to obtain these IDs, click here.
A business bank account will help you manage the financial operation of your business. Locate a trusted financial institution and inquire about opening a business checking account.
What are the location requirements for your business? Do you need a large warehouse or a small shop? The unique requirements of your business will help determine where you need to locate your business.