Updated: Jun 2

If you’ve got a great idea for a business, you’ve done the research to know that it’s viable and you’re ready to share it with the world, I’m proud of you.

You’re doing something that most people only dream about. You’re actually making your dreams a reality and that takes great courage.

Now that you've mustered up all the courage to say, "F' it, I'm going for it!" you've got to get set up.

Setting up your business is like putting an “I’m for real” stamp on it.

Assuming you’ve fought through the fear and procrastination and you’ve got the resources to get started, we’re going to review a few things you need to do to officially set up your business to make it legit before launching.

Here are 5 basic business start-up to-do’s.

This checklist does not include marketing and actual launch activities (I’ll write a separate post for that), but it will help you get set-up.

One thing I’ve learned: Don’t overthink it. Keep it simple starting out. Overthinking can lead to indecision and procrastination. We’ve done away with that!

Ya ready?! Let’s do it! (We’ll pick up after you have a solid business plan. Even if it’s written on a paper napkin *wink *wink.)

To-Do #1

Register your business name through your state aka. Tell the world you’re in business.

Registering your business name is different in each state, but this is a step you won’t want to skip.

Technically, you could just use your birth name as your business name and many self-employed individuals do that, but if your business name is different than your given name, you’ll want to set-up a DBA, LLC or some other business entity to do business as.

A DBA is the simplest and easiest way to go. It’s basically saying I’m Jane Doe doing business as The Doe Agency.

Although this is the easiest and most affordable business entity to set-up, it doesn’t offer legal protection if you’re sued. If you’re limited on financial resources, starting out with a DBA ($10-$100 on average) and transitioning over to an LLC ($70 to $500 depending on your state) at a later date is common practice.

If you have things tied to your personal name, like a house, car, or savings, you may want to consider setting up an LLC to protect your assets.

Always consult with a CPA or a professional who can help you choose the business structure that best fits your individual circumstances if you are uncertain.

If you’re stuck on choosing a business name, check out “Starting a Business? How to Choose a Great Business Name”.

To-Do #2

Get an EIN aka. Register your business with the IRS for tax purposes.

An EIN or Employer Identification Number is like an SSN, but for your business. Not all businesses are required to have one. Sole proprietors generally use their SSN when filing taxes. So skip this if it does not apply.

It’s typically used, however, by businesses that have at least one employee, but it can also be used by single member LLC’s where the managing owner pays herself.

Others uses include…

  • Opening a business bank account

  • Setting up trade accounts

  • Investing or making purchases in your business name.

If you're unsure whether you need or could benefit from having an EIN ($0), be sure to consult with your CPA or someone you trust to provide you with sound business advice.

To-Do #3

Open a business bank account aka. Keep your business and personal finances separate.

Keeping your personal and business expenses separate plays a critical role in record keeping and taxes. It’s important to distinguish your business from a hobby.

To open a bank account in your business name, you’ll most likely need an EIN number. However, if you plan to do business in your personal name, opening a separate checking account in your name for business expenses is recommended.

To-Do #4

Set-up business accounting aka. Put a system in place to track your business finances and taxes.

With an accounting app or software you’ll be able to track…

  • Your income

  • Your expenses

  • Your mileage

You can either hire a CPA to help get you set up properly or utilize an online accounting app that you can set up yourself.

Although Intuit QuickBooks is a popular and easy online accounting tool to use amongst small business owners, entrepreneurs, and sole proprietors, there are others to consider, such as FreshBooks, ZohoBooks, Netsuite and Xero.

There are so many options out there, you’ll have to choose the one that’s best suited for your business type and level of expertise, and preferably easy to use. For example, QuickBooks has a solution specifically for the self-employed. That would include freelancers, gig workers, and independent contractors.

If your budget is tight, opt for using an Excel spreadsheet to track your sales revenue and expenses. Some credit card providers and banks provide the ability to itemize your expenses into categories, making it easier for you to differentiate between business and personal expenses.

To-Do #5

Set up a business email aka. Keep your email professional.

Email is the main way to communicate with potential customers, clients and subscribers. It’s also where you receive your most important notifications. And it gives you the storage space you need to store and archive important communication and files.

To keep all business correspondence separate from your personal, you’ll need a separate inbox or unique email address all together.

Using a domain email for your business is highly recommended. There’s a level of professionalism and credibility between a third-party email address ( and an email using your own domain (

A domain is basically the physical name of a website. For example,

Even if you don’t have a physical website, you can still utilize your domain name to create an email address for your business.

To set up a business email using your domain, you’ll need to purchase a name through a domain registrar ($14 to $20 per year on average). Check out Go Daddy, Name Cheap, Bluehost or any other domain registrar. There is a relatively low yearly domain registration fee, so keep that in mind.

Once you’ve registered a domain name, you’ll need a business email host service provider ($0 to $14 per month on average). Domain registrars typically offer an email service. If not, you can utilize an email platform like G-suite or Zoho Mail.

Setting up your business is not as hard as you think. Take your time and complete each step.

Grab a cup of tea, coffee, or glass of wine and get to work! And please... introduce your she-business in the comments. I’d love to check it out.

Congratulations on your new business. I’m wishing you great success!

P.S. If a webinar going through the steps of setting up a business would be helpful to you, let me know below.


Wanauma Graham is a creative and lifestyle entrepreneur, author of "Totally Unstoppable", and creator of She's dedicated to helping women work through fear and do something they’ve been inspired to do.

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