You have decided to start a business. But where should you begin?

First, determine what services to offer. Remember that you want to stand out from the crowd. Focus on what will make your business different from others.

Next, have you picked a name? If you are going to operate as a DBA (Doing Business As), go to the county building to verify that your name isn’t already in use. If you are going to organize as a corporation, your attorney can review state records to see if the name is taken. After a search shows that your potential company name is available, you can apply to make it official.

A good business attorney will guide you in the right direction by explaining the difference between a DBA and various corporation.types, and how they directly apply to your specific business.

Be sure to find a trustworthy CPA (Certified Public Accountant) that has experience working with businesses. A personal accountant is not going to be able to tell you business tax laws. A good CPA should be willing to share information with you about running a successful business and to meet with you on a quarterly basis to go over your books and keep you on track.

Start your search for a CPA and attorney by asking around to other businesses and see who they use. Are they happy? Do they feel their accountant, attorney, and other professionals are helping them to grow there business? Cristina Simpson of Fancy and Affordable Designer Gift Baskets says, “Meeting the right people has helped my business grow. I know the right people to turn to for advice.”

Originally published in the Democrat & Chronicle on September 28th, 2010.