Obtain a credit card that will be used exclusively for business. You can use a personal credit card but if it is dedicated to business use, it will be easier to keep track of company purchases and it will make it easier to deduct the interest expense.
Establish a way to accept customer credit card payments. Even though there are fees associated with accepting credit cards, it is worth making it easy for customers to give you money. You can arrange with your bank to set up a merchant account that will make processing credit cards possible.
It is also easy to set up an account with Square. Go to www.squareup.com to find out more.
It is hard to imagine how companies used to be run without computers. They make bookkeeping, data entry, printing, finding customer information, communication, and getting information manageable for a one-person operation.
There are many sources to get a free email address. Get one to use for business. Be sure to include that address on your business card and any other places you list your contact information.
The internet has made starting a business easier. Abundant information is available at your fingertips.
You must back up all of your business information regularly and store it in a fire-safe box, at some other location, or on the Cloud. Computers are not safe enough to trust alone for your business information. They can crash, get viruses, be stolen, or burn in a fire. Protect your business from these tragedies.
Basic printing ability is all you need in the beginning.
Please refer to the online reference portion of the start-up guide to get additional suggestions for meeting your software needs. You do not need to become a computing expert. Keep it simple. Find a knowledgeable friend to help you or direct you to people that can teach you the basics of what you need to know. You do not need to take college classes to learn the necessary skills. There are one-day classes and on-line opportunities to learn the skills you need.
You need computer software to accomplish three tasks:
B. Keep track of customer and job information (Wizard Solution).
C. Publishing to design flyers and advertisements
Establish a monthly bookkeeping system. A bookkeeper can assist you in setting this up for you. They can label the expense categories and setup report pages for the bookkeeping software. Once the system is customized for your needs, it should be relatively easy for you to fill in the appropriate numbers in the correct places.
The bookkeeper can let you know what information the tax preparer will need to do your taxes. This is an area that can eventually be easily “out sourced”.
Determine the system you will use to keep track of unpaid invoices. Determine how you will follow up with customers that do not pay in a timely manner.
This system is critical for your success. Usually works best if the person making the follow-up call was not who did the actual work. You may get office help with this without having them generally answer the phone and quote customers.
Establish a system to record and organize customer information. The data should be uploaded at least on a monthly basis. Wizard Solution is available to you as a member to use for this purpose. This is one of the first things you will want to “out source” without using that person to generally answer your phone, especially if your typing skills are not good.
Determine and organized a system to make periodic bank deposits. Steady cash flow is critical for the survival of a business. Customer payments must make it safely into your checking account.
Determine the schedule and system to print, prepare for mailing, and send out customer follow up materials. This part of the business is as important as servicing the customer. Future company profit is dependent on this system. This is something that is OK to eventually “out source” to someone to do for you, like a stay at home mom or your niece or someone without having to come into an office or to generally answer your phone.
These reports are needed to evaluate the status and progress of the company. Example of some of the needed monthly reports are profit and loss, customer sources, and services provided. These accurate reports are necessary to make important adjustments to how the business is run.
Determine the system you will use to pay your business bills in a timely manner.
Determine who will answer the phone during the work day and after hours. Will it be you, an answering service, or will the call go to voice mail? Repeat and referral customers are generally willing to leave messages on a voice mail and wait for your return call. Shoppers who haven’t used you before will generally hang up if they cannot talk to someone who can answer their questions and schedule an appointment. Do NOT hire anyone to answer your phone (or use your wife). They cannot schedule or quote a price so why bother?!
Determine how you are going to keep track of customer appointments. Will you use a physical schedule book you can purchase from an office supply store or an electronic one on your computer?
Will you use a “window of time” for your arrival at homes such as a 30 minute window for the first appointment or a two hour window for subsequent appointments?
Determine the scripts you will use to answer the phone, answer consumer questions, schedule appointments, and make quality check calls. Whatever you do, do NOT hire anyone to answer your phone! You can and should eventually hire someone to do quality check calls, but NOT talk to new customers!
Most people dedicate a part of the home for this purpose. At the start-up stage of your business, it is not appropriate to invest a lot of money to create an effective office. Spending should be kept to a minimum to establish your office.
The area should be dedicated to business use. You need to know where all of your records, receipts, forms, and office supplies are. Other family members should not be using this area and supplies for other purposes.
This area needs to be quiet when you are using it for business. You must be able to concentrate and talk on the phone without background noise. A customer on the phone should not be able to hear children, dogs, or a television playing in the background. So unless you have absolutely NO quiet place to return calls then absolutely do NOT rent office space outside your home.
File folder box
Week/Month-At-A-Glance schedule book
Work order book (invoice)
Pens and pencils
You can get a “literature rack” to keep these things in next to your desk, so they are readily available to you. Also useful to keep various literature pieces in that you regularly use.
Business requires that money transfer from customers to your company and then out to suppliers and your personal banking account. You need to establish a business checking account with a banking institution to make this possible.
A good place to start will be to use the bank that you currently use for your personal banking. They will assist you in setting up the accounts you need.
You need a dedicated business checking account that can accept payments made in your company’s name. This account should not be used for personal expenses. Your bank representative will need a copy of your fictitious name document. Be prepared to deposit cash into the account in order to open it.
Your first official decision is to name your company. It is a good idea to put some thought into this choice, but at the same time, don’t lose sleep over the fear that you must come up with the perfect name. There is no ideal name that will make your company succeed. You can always change it later if you should receive a vision of a super name.
There are some things to consider: You want to keep your name “woman” friendly if you want any residential work. A name like “The Dirt Destroyer” may not be the best. Spend some time searching the Internet for ideas. Look up “carpet cleaning” in various cities across the country and see what other companies have chosen for names.
Unless you have decided to target budget shoppers, avoid the names that imply low-price such as “budget” and “affordable.”
Once you have selected a name you like, do an Internet search to confirm that no one else is using the same or similar name in your county and surrounding area. It would be a shame to choose a name that had previously been used by a company that had a bad reputation.
Ask for the opinion of several people that represent your target market. If you want to target occupied residential homes, it would make sense to test your potential name with women homeowners. Again it does not have to be “super,” you just don’t want it to be really bad.
Now that you have chosen a company name, you need to register it with the county clerk. This is required to link your new company name to you. Banks require this registration to open a business checking account. Banks will then be able to allow you access to money that was made out to the company name.
You must go to the county clerk and verify that no other companies in your county are using the same name, fill out a form, pay the registration fee, and in some areas publish a public notice of the new company name. The county clerk’s office will guide you through the process.
Check as completed when you have acquired general liability insurance.
You need a dedicated telephone number. This is the number that consumers will call to request your service. Calls made to this number must always be answered in a professional manner.
The easiest and least expensive option is to request an additional phone number to be added to your current cell phone plan. Some people carry two cell phones, one personal and the other business. Be sure to clearly identify which phone is the “business line.”
The phone number you choose needs to be capable of call forwarding if you should want to use an answering service to receive your calls when you are unable to pick up the calls live.
The voice mail service that comes with the phone may be another option to use in order to capture after hours calls.
Check as completed when you have acquired Vehicle Insurance