In the first month business, the excitement and stress of becoming an entrepreneur means you may not remember everything on your to-do list.
This guide is a quick reminder of the basics to address in the first month of doing business. (In the preliminary stages of starting an IT business? We’ve got a checklist for that, too!)
1. Set Up Your Office Space
Whether you work from home or lease an office space, your work environment has a huge impact on your productivity. Take the time to design it your way:
- Have you always wanted a standing desk? Get furniture and office equipment that allows you to be comfortable and efficient.
- Feel stressed about working in a stark, bare-bones room? Decorate your space with plants, artwork, or photos to feel at ease.
You don’t need to overspend on an interior decorator, but you should make your office a place where you like spending your time. When you like where you work, you work better! (More helpful productivity advice in “5 Tips to Stay Focused & Productive at Your Home-Based IT Business.”)
2. Get Your Phone Line and Website in Order
A topnotch website and professional phone system may take a backseat in the beginning, despite your best intentions.
“I think that looking [and] sounding professional is something a new business owner considers very early on, but then reality hits,” says
Len Bruskiewitz (@lbruskiewitz),
manager of partnerships at virtual phone system provider
Other items, such as finding customers and paying bills, quickly take priority.
However, as your business grows beyond friends and acquaintances, first impressions start to matter. Bruskiewitz notes certain touches “can mean the difference between success and failure,” including…
- An official company greeting for calls that get picked up rather than going to a cellphone voicemail.
- A professionally designed website.
- A business card that wasn’t printed at home.
“Customers have many more choices now, and they have little patience when they cannot immediately access the information or vendor they are interested in,” Bruskiewitz says.
Now that you’ve officially set up shop, it’s time to let everyone know you’re open for business:
- Start with your existing network. Talk to friends, family, and colleagues. Ask around and see if anybody needs IT help.
- Find a related community or professional organization. Get involved and start meeting people.
- Attend business networking events. Meet like-minded folks who can offer guidance and leads.
The key to successful networking is building relationships. Don’t try to sell your services to someone the first time you meet – you’ll come across as insincere. But don’t be afraid to tell people what you do, either. For more tips on forming a real connection, see “Starting an IT Business? Networking Dos and Don’ts.”
4. Buy Insurance
If you haven’t done it already, consider purchasing commercial liability insurance. The longer you wait, the longer your business remains unprotected from accidents and liability suits that can wipe out your assets and send you into bankruptcy.
When starting an IT business, consider acquiring the following policies:
Your liability exposure changes depending on your industry, the services you offer, and whether you grow or not, so you may want additional policies.
5. Set a Reminder for Quarterly Taxes
Business taxes are no picnic – you’ll need to pay estimated quarterly taxes. If you don’t, you could be charged a penalty at the end of the year.
These dates tend to come and go without any fanfare, so try setting reminders right now. Put notices in your calendar for every quarter so you know when taxes are due. It’ll save you stress and money in the long run.
The Internal Revenue Service’s Estimated Taxes section offers guidance on this topic for small businesses and self-employed individuals.