10 Steps to Starting a New Business

1. Assess the viability of your idea
  • Viability includes answering the following questions: Is there a need for this business in our market? Is someone else already providing the service? Can you provide the service/product cheaper, faster, or better? Do you have or can you create the capacity to conduct business? Will the business support your livelihood, or will you have to maintain a full-time job elsewhere? How many employees will you need? 
2. Project Cost and Review Finance Options
  • The Small Business Association has a great tool to help calculate start up costs on their website.  
  • Consider all the funding sources at your disposal: personal capital, traditional bank loans, private investors, crowd-sourcing from family or friends, personal loans, and grants that may be available. 
  • Now would be a good time to consider the permits you might need to operate your business. Check for federal, state and local permits for operation. Federal guidelines can be found here. You can read more about the permits required to do business in Texas here. The City has some requirements for permitting and licensing. To check on local permits required, contact the Inspections office at 903-798-3912.
3. Develop a business plan
  • Most lenders and banks will require a fully fleshed-out business plan before considering a loan application. 
  • If you need help writing a business plan, consider the SBA. You can find resources on their website, or contact their local Small Business Development Center office at (903) 434-8237. 
4. Choose a legal structure
  • The Texas Secretary of State's website has some valuable information about various legal structures. 
  • You may also want to consult a lawyer to ensure you get the legal structure right from the beginning. 
5. Check the availability of your business name
  • This can be a complicated process, and the Secretary of State's office puts out a ton of information on their website about how to check the availability of a business name in Texas, and then how to register it. However, to get the process started, you can email the Texas Secretary of State at corpinfo@sos.texas.gov and request that they check name availability.
6. Set up your record keeping system
  • Consider how you will keep records for your business. Whether it be by hand, or with a software, it's important to keep good financial records and operation notes for your business from the beginning. You could start by asking another business owner what process and system they use for bookkeeping. 
7. Understand your tax obligations
8. Limit risk while protecting your investment (insurance)
9. Look before you lease
  • Texas is a great place to do business! The state's low taxes and friendly regulatory structure are just a few of the reason top CEO's across the nation keep ranking Texas as the best place to do business. There's also no corporate or personal income tax, which is a huge advantage to business owners. 
  • It's important to know if they location you've chosen is zoned appropriately for your use. Whether you're leasing, or you've purchased property, you need to check local zoning regulations. You can contact the City of Texarkana's Zoning office by calling (903) 798-3535. 
  • If you decide to lease property, make sure you understand the terms of your lease agreement. Read the contract carefully and ask questions of the property owner if you have them. Make sure the property will work for your business use. 
10. Market analysis and marketing strategy
  • The SBDC office can help you with a market analysis, and with your marketing strategy. It's important to think about how you'll tell your story and advertise your business in the most cost-effective way. 
  • Be sure to build marketing into your budget. It's easy to overlook costs associated with marketing, but without customers, your business can't thrive.