Thinking of taking control of your life’s destiny by starting your own business? Go ahead and do it! For less than $200 you can be set up as a legal business entity in a couple of hours all by taking this first step, registering a fictitious business name.
If you want to operate as business entity with any name other than your own personal name you will need to register the name with your state or county. Next, in order to open a business checking account, accept credit card payments or establish most other business services you’ll need to provide the bank or merchant service provider with proof of your business entity.
Setting up a corporation or limited liability company can costs hundreds or thousands of dollars initially and, in states like California, will cost $800 per year in minimum state taxes. However, filing a fictitious business name at your local county registrar’s office typically costs between $25 and $50 and is valid for five years. The only other mandatory cost is publicly announcing your fictitious name in a local paper which again, is typically $25-$50.
A fictitious business name is essentially a sole proprietorship just like operating under your own name. Therefore, it does not provide your personal assets the protection of a corporation or LLC but, it does allow you to legally operate as a business and is recognized by banks, merchant credit card providers, the post office, landlords, the phone company and others as a legal entity.
With your fictitious business name in hand, you can order inexpensive business cards from online vendors like Vistaprint or, better still, just buy some Avery business card stock for under $20 and print your own. Go to your local post office and rent a PO box for as little as $50 per year. You can get a free phone number from services like Google Voice, search online for banks that offer free business checking (typically with a $100 minimum deposit), get a free email account and that’s it, you’re in business for under $200.
Now go out and change the world!
As always, I welcome your comments and, if you have any questions, feel free to post them here and I’ll be glad to expand on this or other topics. Please feel free to RT as well.