This post originally appeared on allBusiness
Starting a business can be an exhilarating time, where everything seems full of potential and purpose. But amidst the excitement, navigating the logistics of launching a business can be daunting for the first-time entrepreneur.
Starting a business doesn’t need to be scary. Here are seven basic steps to address the logistics and make sure that your new business is legit:
1. Check that your business name is available
Before you invest too much time and money in your branding, you should make sure that your proposed business name is legally available; in other words, that it won’t be conflicting with the name of an already existing business. By checking availability upfront, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that you won’t be ordered to abandon your business name a year from now because of a trademark dispute.
There are a couple of ways to check the availability of a business name. First, you can perform a free trademark search to make sure that no one in the United States already has a trademark for your business name. If it’s clear, your next step is to conduct a comprehensive name search to see if someone is using your name in your state or county.
2. Pick a legal business structure
Every business has a business structure. For example, some are sole proprietorships, partnerships, Limited Liability Companies (LLC) and Corporations. If you never formally apply for a business structure with the state, then your business is a sole proprietor (single owner) or general partnership (multiple owners) by default. These are the easiest business structures to manage, but they don’t offer any kind of liability protection for the owner and their personal assets.