Starting a Business in Michigan: A Checklist

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After Michigan’s “lost decade of the 2000s,” citizens there wondered if they’d ever see the light at the end of the tunnel. During this time, the state saw a plunging economy and record-breaking unemployment rates. But with great adversity comes great determination and their economy is now on the uphill swing. In other words, there’s never been a better time to start a business in Michigan. 

Just like any state, Michigan has its own regulations and procedures you need to be aware of. But with this detailed guide, you should have no problem opening the doors to your new business as soon as you’re ready.

Pick a name for your business

Many people assume they can pick any name they want for their business, but that’s not necessarily the case. Some names are trademarked, preventing anyone else from using them, and some are simply already taken in your area. But even if you are able to use a name that’s already taken, it’s not usually a good idea. For one thing, consider the advertising confusion it can cause. If people already know another business under the same name, how will you make yours stand apart?  

Another thing to consider when choosing a business name is the webspace you’ll be able to create. Whether you’re doing business online or not, you’ll probably eventually want to build a presence there. So, do a quick check on a website like GoDaddy to see if your business name is available as a domain name. If not, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to ditch the name, but you might want to check out the website that has it to make sure they’re not a competitor. 

File your paperwork

Once you’ve picked a name, the state of Michigan requires you to file a DBA (Doing Business As). All counties have specific requirements that you can find out about on their websites. You’ll also have to file separate papers if you wish to incorporate your business. To do this, it’s advisable to hire an attorney or a professional registered agent. In some places, it’s even required.

In addition to these basic procedures, certain types of businesses may have to get licenses from various entities. For example, HVAC specialists in Michigan may have to get licensed within their city or county with building code organizations. And a food truck owner will have to be licensed and inspected to sell food. 

Learn how to market

Every successful business needs a good marketing plan, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, some of the most successful campaigns start with the free resources already available on social media. Social media marketing relies on the fact that 77% of the population uses it. And some very simple tactics can get you started. Mainly, connect and share. Give away as much helpful information as you can relating to your business and get involved in people’s conversations. 

Hire an accountant

Hiring an accountant at the beginning can save you a lot of costly mistakes down the road. A good accountant can tell you whether to incorporate or operate a sole proprietorship. They can also help you with anything that might be required if you ever hire employees. Many business owners think they can get by without hiring an accountant until the end of the year. And this may be true for some small startups, but if you decide to go this route, keep a few things in mind. First, not every business is taxed the same. To name a few, a sole proprietorship, S Corp, and LLC are very different types of entities that are taxed very differently. Also, every type of business has different types of allowable deductions. For example, someone who sells remanufactured office furniture will be able to deduct a lot more supplies than someone who offers consulting services.

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