Business Logistics

Congratulations! You have taken several major steps toward starting your business. Consider setting your foundation now. There are many administrative tasks that, executed properly now, can save you time later.

Watch this quick overview video: The Basics of Business Formation (Women’s Business Center of Northern Virginia)

A domain name is the web-equivalent of your business address. It tells a search engine where to find your business.

Because it is usually related to your business name, you may want to secure your domain name before you officially register the name of your company, so that you know the name is available.

There are several platforms where you can purchase domain names. Search the web using “domain name service” to find them.

Consider:

  1. Short and simple is best. You want something that people can remember, and that will direct web traffic to your site.
  2. Don’t be too tricky. You want a name that is pronounceable and easy to type so that people remember it. Avoid using numbers and hyphens.
  3. Be specific. Pick something that reflects your brand. It’s a great way to get your name out there.
  4. Choose carefully. If you decide to change your domain name, it’s like starting fresh. You will likely lose your following.
  5. You can choose the extension. The most common are .com, .org, .net. You want something that people can remember. Most businesses choose .com, because it is what people generally expect the extension to be.
  6. You can have more than one. Multiple domain names can “point” to the same main site.
  7. Pricing varies. Multiple factors including the length of the name, the extension, the length of your purchase period, and keywords, as well as the host. Don’t be afraid to check around.
  8. Be unique. Make sure it isn’t trademarked or used by a competitor or another business by checking the USPTO trademark database.
  9. Be discreet. Using a private browser when you are searching the web to do your research about names will help protect your options before you make a selection.

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A marketing plan serves as a roadmap of activities and strategies to achieve your business goals.  Typically, a marketing plan has the following components:

Market Research

  • An introduction to your business idea.
  • What products/services do you intend to offer?
  • Who/where is your competition?

Potential Customer 

  • Who is your intended customer? Where are they?
  • How are they influenced to consider, and then choose your product or service?

SMART Business Goals (Sensible, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Specific)-

  • What are your goals for the first year?
  • Sales? Revenue?
  • Number of Clients?

Strategies and Tactics

  • What is your message?
  • How do you plan to communicate with your potential client?
  • What problem or situation does your product/service solve?
  • How is your product/service different or similar to the existing ones in the market?

Budget

  • What is your marketing budget, including creation, development and distribution of your marketing materials?
  • How much will you spend on digital marketing and social media?

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Open a business bank account

It’s a good idea to keep your business finances separate from your personal finances. Consider opening at least a checking account and credit card account in the name of your business. Depending on your business type and characteristics, you may also want to open a merchant services account to allow you to transact business with your customers/clients.

Contact your bank to determine what documentation you will need. More than likely, they will ask for the following:

  • An Employer Identification Number (EIN). Sole proprietors may be able to use your social security number.
  • Business formation documents like a Certificates of Organization, Fictitious Name documentation
  • Partnership/ownership/operating agreements, if you have multiple people who will have access to the account
  • A business license from the locality in which your business is registered

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Know Your Audience

Consider who your clients/customers are and how/where they are most likely to find you. Spend your time and money wisely and promote your business directly.

Be Authentic

Your website and your social media pages should be as unique as your business. The tone of your marketing can and should be professional but can also convey your personality. How you convey your message is as important as the message itself.

You Can Build Your Website and Promote Your Business

Free, quality platforms exist, and if you are capable to establish a business, you can learn to create and maintain your social media. If you are interested to learn, Fairfax CORE partners can help.

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Obtain business insurance

Business insurance policies can protect your business, your employees, and yourself from losses and claims related to your business activities.

It is a good idea to speak with an insurance agent to understand the types of coverage that are available to you, and what is recommended for you, based on the unique characteristics of your business.

Generally, you want business insurance in the following instances:

  • You have two or more employees (the Commonwealth of Virginia requires the business to carry Worker’s Compensation Insurance)
  • Your business has a physical location
  • Your business has assets that may be stolen or damaged
  • There’s a risk that your business might be sued
  • You travel for your business
  • You use your personal car for your business

In addition, most professional service businesses, including but not limited to, attorneys, doctors, accountants, and real estate agents, are required to carry insurance. Make sure that you understand what is required — and what is good practice — for your business.

As always, check your sources and make sure that you are dealing with licensed professionals qualified to provide services in Virginia. The Virginia Bureau of Insurance’s database is an easy place to find information about licensed agents.

Contact at least 2 agents (3 is better) or companies and request a quote so you can compare the policies and premiums.

Like your business plan, you will want to keep your insurance policies current. It’s a good idea to review them annually with your insurance professional.

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Set up an accounting and record-keeping system

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Make sure you have all your legal documents in place, including customer contracts, terms of use for your website, independent contractor agreement (if you plan on hiring 1099 contractors).

Becoming an Employer

 Making the leap from business owner to employer brings new responsibilities.  Make sure that you understand your legal requirements as an employer.

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Finding employees

Fairfax County is talent rich. Our workforce is educated and skilled, and ready for work. 

Fairfax CORE partners have various programs and means to connect employers to potential employees. From high school job fairs and college job postings through internship/apprenticeship resources and part and full-time jobseekers, Fairfax CORE can help.

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Cybersecurity and technology security are vital to protecting your business. Understand your risks, learn how to protect yourself and know what to do if you think there’s been a breach.

 

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Learn more:

  • Create your own cybersecurity plan using the Federal Communications Commission’s customizable Cyberplanner (fcc.gov)

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