You’ve got a great business idea and are ready to strike out on your own—you’re just not sure where to begin. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place!
Starting a business in Massachusetts takes time, but it may be easier than you realize. This article will guide you through the basic steps of registering your business in Massachusetts, from setting yourself up for success to finding customers. We’ll even tell you how to get business insurance for Massachusetts startups to help protect what you’re building.
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Pre-planning and research
Creating a strong foundation for your business is essential for future success. Research and strategy planning can go a long way toward helping your business go the distance.
- Research the market – It’s important to understand how your small business will fit into the existing market. Think about the products or services you plan to provide—Are these needed in your community? Are there other businesses already selling them? How much do these businesses charge, and how do they advertise?
- Hone your idea – Now that you’ve done your research, you can use what you’ve learned to make your future business even better! For example, you might discover that your competitors aren’t selling to key demographics. You may be able to offer additional services or products that meet those customers’ needs.
- Write a business plan – A business plan is a document that helps guide your decisions and reach your business goals. It includes your market research, as well as other information about your future business—how it will be structured, the products/services you’ll sell, proposed budgets, financial forecasts, etc. A business plan may be necessary to receive a business loan or other funding.
Step 2: Make it official
With your business idea set, it’s time to tackle some admin. Doing business in Massachusetts means taking steps to ensure you are operating safely and legally.
- Choose a business structure – You can choose from several different business structures in Massachusetts. Each has different legal and tax requirements, so it’s wise to do some research in order to choose the ideal structure for your business. Popular options for small businesses include sole proprietorship, partnership, and LLC.
- Register your business in Massachusetts – Depending on your business structure, you may need to take a couple of steps to make your business official. Filing a “Doing Business As” (DBA) certificate at your town or city clerk’s office is a quick and simple way to do this. However, you may also need to register your business with the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office.
- Get necessary permits and licenses – You may also need special licenses and permits to run businesses in certain industries, such as health care, construction, and real estate. The Massachusetts state website can help you discover which permits and licenses may apply to your small business.
Step 3: Sorting your finances
As the old saying goes, “It takes money to make money.” When you’re starting a business in Massachusetts, it’s essential that you get your accounts in order before you begin trading.
- Get an EIN – An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is necessary if you plan to hire employees, run your business as a partnership, work in certain industries, or sell specific products (including alcohol and tobacco). Head to the IRS website for full details on who needs an EIN and how to register for one.
- Open a business bank account – Some business structures require you to have bank accounts solely for your business. However, keeping your personal and business accounts separate is usually wise. It makes it easier to track your income and spending and may simplify filing your business taxes.
- Secure funding – You may need money to set up your business and keep it afloat during your first few months. Business loans and grants are common ways for small businesses to get the capital they need.
Step 4: Protecting your business
You’ve put a lot of work into setting up your business. You might want to consider ways to protect it!
- Identify risks to your business – Anything can happen when you’re running a business. Brainstorm all the ways things might go wrong—workplace injuries, damaging customer property, unplanned interruptions, mistakes in your work… The list may be long!
- Write a risk management plan – Once you’ve identified potential risks, you can begin to find ways to prevent them from happening (your risk management plan). For example, if mistakes in your work are a huge concern, you might create a checklist for going over work before it’s sent to your clients.
- Consider business insurance – Massachusetts business owners also consider business insurance to help protect them and their finances. Accidents can still happen, even with a comprehensive risk management plan. Policies like Professional Liability and General Liability simply act as a backup plan in case things go wrong despite your best efforts.
Step 5: Branding and Marketing
Finding customers is often a challenge for new businesses. It may take some trial and error for your marketing efforts really take off.
- Choose your business branding – Branding is the various elements that make your business unique. From your logo and colors to the language you use on your website and in emails, your branding helps make your business memorable to clients and customers.
- Build a website and social media profiles – Most small businesses have a website and social media accounts. Customers have come to expect them, and they can help your business be found in search engines.
- Advertise to customers – You probably can’t sit back and wait for customers to find you. You’ll likely want to be proactive by using different types of advertising. Social media and online ads are popular options for many Massachusetts small businesses.
Here’s to your success!
Starting a business in Massachusetts is an exciting step in your career. With some thought and prep work, you can create a solid foundation for building your success.
Want to learn more about business insurance for Massachusetts small businesses? BizInsure can help you get instant coverage to protect what you’re building.