AUGUST 2014 ;e Costco Connection 15
is not trademarked. A trademark protects words,
names, symbols and logos that distinguish goods and
services. Visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark O;ce’s
website, www.uspto.gov, to search existing trademarks. Although you can apply for trademarks yourself, the registration process is a legal proceeding that
may be complex, so consider using an attorney.
If you intend to incorporate, you should check
whether your intended business name has already
been claimed and is in use. Your state ;ling o;ce
has that information. If a business is operating
under your proposed name, you may still be able to
use the name, provided your business o;ers di;erent goods and/or services or if you are located in a
Depending on what state you live in, you may be
required to register a “Doing Business As” (DBA) or
trade name. A DBA is needed if you are starting a
business under anything other than your real name
or if your business is already set up and you want to
do business under a name other than your existing
corporation or limited liability company (LLC) name.
Get needed licenses and permits. Failing to
get licenses and permits is a common mistake. In
order to operate your business legally, you must
obtain certain federal and state licenses and permits.
;e U.S. Small Business Administration (see sidebar)
has information on what licenses and permits apply
to your small business, along with links to Web pages,
application forms and instructions, at www.sba.gov/
Get clear before hiring. Before you hire, you
must classify individuals as either employees or independent contractors. Make sure you are aware of the
tax responsibilities for each classi;cation. With an
employee your responsibilities include withholding,
depositing, reporting and paying employment taxes.
Protect your goods and services. Creating
a written agreement for your clients and customers is
important. Consult your attorney regarding the spe-ci;cs of your business and what clauses are necessary
for an agreement. Overall, your agreement should
cover the services being offered, their cost, your
refund policy, disclaimers, confidentiality, what
determines termination of the contract and how disputes will be settled. C
David Horowitz is
a leading consumer
Horowitz is the
CEO of Fight Back!
and co-founder of
Email David and
Amanda at info@
Fight Back TIPS FROM
Have a question for Fight Back?
Just log on to www.fightback.com or email email@example.com. Questions and answers of the greatest interest to Costco members will be used in this column (with the permission of the contributor) and
will be posted on www.fightback.com. © 2014 AMANDA HOROWITZ MEDIA, LLC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
More in archives
On Costco.com, enter
“Connection”; at Online Edition,
search “Consumer Connection.”
Please note we are not licensed
professionals in any ;eld. If you
are seeking advice you should
consult with your own licensed
professional. We do not assume
any liability or responsibility for
the interpretation, application
or accuracy of any information
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THINKING ABOUT STARTING a small business?
Many successful entrepreneurs have a story that
includes failure. Failure can be an important part of
the process of success, because learned lessons are
then applied to the next endeavor.
;at said, if you do research before you start your
own small business, you can avoid making common
mistakes that may result in failure. Here are tips that
will help you develop a solid foundation for success.
Write a detailed business plan. Writing a
solid business plan forces you to look at the feasibility
of your idea and to acknowledge and solve problems
before you invest your time or money. If you plan to
seek investment, a business plan is your sales document. You will need to keep revising your plan as your
business grows, so don’t set it aside when it’s done.
A business plan should include an executive
summary, a company description, market/competi-tive analysis, an organization and management plan,
product/service descriptions, a sales and marketing
plan, and ;nancial projections.
Decide on a business structure. You must
decide what form of entity to establish for your business. ;e business structure you choose will have
legal and tax implications. It is wise to seek the advice
of a business attorney and a certi;ed public accountant (CPA) with expertise in startups and corporate
matters. ;ey can help you evaluate your tax circumstances, potential costs for ;ling a business entity and
what maintenance is required for the entity, as well as
Your state or local bar association has information on attorneys in your area. A list of state bar associations can be found at www.americanbar.org. Your
State Board of Accountancy will have information on
licensed CPAs. A list of State Boards of Accountancy
can be found at www.nasba.org/stateboards.
Name your business. Before naming your
business, make sure a similar name, or variations of it,
Know the basics before
you start a small business
IF YOU’RE seeking help
or guidance with starting
a small business, the U.S.
Small Business Administration (SBA) provides
free counseling for small
businesses, and low-cost
training to entrepreneurs
and established small
businesses, in locations
throughout the United
States and U.S. territories.
Standards used to
determine eligibility for
the SBA’s financial assistance and other programs
designed to help small
businesses are available
for review on the SBA
website. The site has
information on starting
and managing a business,
applying for loans and
grants, and contracting
with the federal government. Visit the site at