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This paper is a hands-on reference to starting and setting up a successful business. The areas it covers are advertising, location, licensing, financing, credit, customer service, and taxes. First, decide whether you are selling a product or a service. Avoid starting a home-based business. Excellent retail locations pay for themselves. Signage, word of mouth, newspaper, yellow pages, radio, and T.V. are less effective in that order. The value of a retail location is based on the number of cars that drive by everyday and your ability to get a percentage of those customers through your front door. If you have a great sign and your store looks dirty or dated, you will actually drive many customers away. If the property owner and the city will allow you to put up a bright, highly visible, custom sign, then your ability to turn people driving by into shoppers is enhanced. Moving signs and electronic message signs are more effective. You must put a picture on your sign that represents what you do. Get a business license. I recommend an L.L.C.; it may reduce your liability by ninety percent, and you do not have to pay any additional corporate taxes. It takes ten minutes to create at the Secretary of States office for about $200. Make sure that your name is one or two words. Do not share the ownership of the company with others unless they make an initial investment of at least $20,000. Otherwise, they have nothing to lose. You will need s business plan to get any type of financing. The S.B.A. has free online software to help you write a complete business plan. A lack of financing and planning are the number one and two reasons why businesses fail. Do not go to an incubator to get funding to start your business. The easiest way to get funding for your business is to get an S.B.A. loan. You must have a minimum of a 700 credit score on Experian to qualify for an S.B.A. loan and enough income to repay the loan. A track record is twenty-three months of consistent profits in an existing business. Angel investors will loan you money based on how much they believe in your idea and the relationship you have built with them prior to asking for their help. Pay off your credit cards to less than nineteen percent and keep them there, get rid of any installment loans that are not deferred over two, and have a minimum of three secured or unsecured credit cards with limits of three thousand dollars or more. You must pay these cards and all of your loans on time, for at least three years, with no over limits or non-activity. Do not file for bankruptcy unless it is impossible for you to pay back the money. Doing the work yourself with decrease your expenses initially and give you a better idea of what to train your new employees. Always mail or direct deposit your employee’s checks. You should setup your business to provide the best customer experience possible. Never use push tactics to sell your products or services. Pull and gorilla marketing tactics are much more effective and involve using advertising and introductory offers to build a customer base. Keep all of your receipts because they are your business deductions. You can write off are travel, entertainment, food, gas, mileage, lease payments, utilities, paying your significant other or child a salary, and other business expenses. If you know what you are doing, it is even possible to legally make several hundred thousand dollars a year and not be required to pay any income taxes.

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