How to Start a Business

Learn more about how to successfully write a business plan, secure financing, market your business, and manage employees and day-to-day operations.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What’s a good profit margin for a new business?

    Profit margins are financial metrics that are used to measure a business or company's profitability. Net profit margins vary by sector and can't be compared across the board. By nature, industries in the financial services sector, such as accounting, have higher profit margins than industries in the foodservice sector, such as restaurants. If you own a bakery and you make some of the best wedding cakes in town and came up with a net profit margin of 21% and your friend owns an IT company that installs complicated computer networks for businesses and has a net profit margin of 16%, this doesn’t mean you're a better business owner because your profit margin is five percentage points better. It doesn’t work that way as the profit margin is industry-specific. Profit margin doesn’t measure how much money you will make or could make, only how much is actually made on each dollar of sales.

  • Should I choose an LLC or an incorporation?

    The creation of a limited liability company (LLC) is a much simpler process than creating a corporation and usually requires less paperwork. LLCs are created under state law, so the process of forming one depends on the state in which it is being filed. Two types of corporations can be formed: an S corporation and a C corporation. An S corporation is a pass-through entity, like an LLC, where the owners are taxed on profits and losses of the corporation. A C corporation is taxed at the corporate level, separately from its owners, through a corporate income tax. Corporations offer more flexibility when it comes to their excess profits. Whereas all income in an LLC flows through to the members, an S corporation is allowed to pass income and losses to its shareholders.

  • What are the pros and cons of being a nonprofit business?

    Some of the benefits of a nonprofit business are that nonprofits can qualify under the 501(c) federal corporate income tax exemption and be exempt from state and local tax laws, an increased chance of investments to a nonprofit, as individuals are more willing to donate to organizations that will help reduce their tax liability, and the individual founders are completely separated from the nonprofit, protecting them from debts, lawsuits, fines, and other legal matters. Some of the disadvantages are that when businesses try to take off the ground, they need to raise capital from investors and attract talent with competitive wages, the public is often reluctant to give nonprofits the same leeway as for-profits, and nonprofits face costly administrative tasks, like applying for federal tax exemptions and public reporting requirements.

  • Should my venture be a franchise or startup?

    When it comes to starting a business, there are pros and cons to choosing to franchise or start your own venture. Franchise owners benefit from being part of a larger, successful company that has already paved a successful path that will generate profits. While having a steady paycheck is enough for some people, being tied to a bigger organization can also be challenging. A startup may make more sense for Individuals who believe they can build a better mousetrap and want the freedom of entrepreneurship.

  • Should I finance my business with equity or go into debt?

    Start-up small businesses may use equity financing or debt financing to obtain money when they are cash poor. With debt financing, the lender has no control over your business. Once you pay the loan back, your relationship with the financier ends, and the interest you pay is tax-deductible. The significant advantage of equity financing is that the investor takes all of the risks. If your company fails, you do not have to pay the money back. You will also have more cash available because there are no loan payments, but to gain the funding, you will have to give the investor a percentage of your company.

Key Terms

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