What do ya'll know about starting a business?
October 2, 2013 11:44 AM   Subscribe

I am finally about to graduate from a program to be a professional dog obedience instructor. I am completely clueless about what steps to take to start a business, legally at least. You are not my lawyer... but do I need one?

This was my question over a year ago. Due to unforeseen circumstances I am only just now finally about to graduate the program. I have no clue where to go from here. I have a business name, and a friend working on the logo, but no idea how to manage the business side of it. One of my collegues has an LLC, but I'm not sure I want to do that straight off the bat. Is there a way to be operational without going through that process? I will be the only "employee" of the company, I just need the name and rights to operate. I know that I need insurance, but I think that process will be a little bit easier as I can go through the alumni association for the program I am in. Do I need to be licensed and bonded? I also have no idea what that means, but I know I've heard others that are. I have googled things, but I still don't quite understand what is nessecary versus what I can do. If that makes any sense. Is this something that I really do need a lawyer or a third party for? Any advice welcome!
posted by Quincy to Work & Money (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
There almost certainly exists a small-business mentoring program in your community that'll hold workshops or offer counselling for you as a potential business owner to help you answer these questions. For example, SCORE -- the service corps of retired executives -- does this sort of mentoring and help.

Not that AskMe can't offer advice, too, but someone who is in your area will be able to help you with what kind of business licensing you might need from your city, etc.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:01 PM on October 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

I second SCORE! And also, you can register as a dba instead of doing an LLC. I'd so, so recommend getting an accountant. I made the major misstep of not doing this. It was dumb.
posted by kpht at 12:08 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, thanks guys! I had no idea that organization existed, and it looks like we definitely have a local chapter. I will definitely seek advice from them.
posted by Quincy at 12:12 PM on October 2, 2013

Your state will almost certainly have a small business information "portal" online that will be able to answer lots of your questions regarding starting and operating a business. E.g., here is New Jersey's and here's New York's. Some may also address ways to limit liability, though that isn't really related to licensing/permitting. For that, you can ask a lawyer, or there are plenty of other resources online.
posted by odin53 at 12:29 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

SCORE is a good organization and will have some useful information for you.

I would really encourage you to retain the services of an attorney who is familiar with small businesses. There may be issues of which you are unaware, that your attorney would know, which would trip you up in the future. Better to get everything established correctly from the outset with incorporation or company formation, than to have to do more paperwork down the line because some government agency did not have the correct piece of paper as it pertains to your business.
posted by dfriedman at 12:42 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think a bit of legal consultation is absolutely essential here. Training other people's dogs is an activity with very significant potential liability. If a dog that you've trained attacks and injures someone, and they sue you or even just ask you to cover the medical bills, you want to know that you have the right sort of insurance, and the right sort of language in your contracts and business documents.
posted by Corvid at 12:50 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would start out working for someone else so you gain experience in what it is like to run a business without your livelihood being on the line.
posted by gjc at 7:59 PM on October 2, 2013

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