After typing up my post regarding the apps I'm using for my business, I thought I would outline everything I have done to get my business ready to grow. Before getting too far down the road of making money and needing to backtrack, I took a few steps to ensure my business was setup and ready.
PICK A NAME
This might seem like an easy step, but there are a few places you want to check before going down the road of getting registered. I would check with your state's business registry to see if your desired business name is available. I would then purchase a domain name and register social media accounts before paying to register that business name. My recommendation would be to put your name in your business name so you can establish a recognizable brand. If you're creating a second studio or business (i.e. Neil Krauss Weddings and Neil Krauss Adventure) I would then consider using a unique business name for the second business.
This is an easy step in the process because it can be done entirely online (in Utah at least). I used my state website to register my business name and then applied for an EIN (Employer Identification Number) through the US Government. If you have questions or need help during this process I would highly recommend getting in touch with an attorney or an accountant. Often they will set up your business for a flat rate (roughly $400) and this will ensure everything is entered correctly and all of the necessary paperwork is completed. They will also help you decide if you should be member managed or manager managed and if you should be giving equity away to help reduce tax responsibility.
Your web domain name will be an essential part of your business. I can't tell you how often I have searched for a photographer's name and not found his or her website. Try and get your own name and your business name both. For example, I own www.neilkrauss.com and www.neilkraussproductions.com. I don't currently use the second domain, but at least I own it so a competitor can't purchase it and put up a website. I know there are cheaper sites out there for registering a domain name, but I use GoDaddy to buy, track, and auto-renew all of my domain names. One login and one account makes it easy. One side benefit is that you can purchase a single email address to go with your domain name to up the professionalism. I would use your own name or something generic like hello@ for your email address. I also forward all of my business accounts (I have several) to my main Gmail inbox. I then set up a colored tag and different signatures based on each address. This helps me keep all of my email in a single location.
You don't want to publish your home address on a website that advertises the fact that you own $10,000 worth of photography gear that you keep in your attic. Spend $56 and get a PO Box for the year. This will come in handy when you create business cards, print checks, and put up your website. You can always forward your mail to your home address for convenience, but at least you'll have home and work separate out in the digital world.
Get a second number for your business. I know I talked about this in my last post, but a second phone number is cheap ($15/month through Line2) and easy to manage. Not to mention the fact that it will make you appear more professional. Nothing turns off a potential client like "Whaaaaaaaat's uuuuuuup? Beep" on your voicemail. In fact, it might be nice to spend 5 bucks on fiverr.com and get someone to record your voicemail greeting for you. If you're a man, a woman's voice might be a nice touch and give the appearance of a studio manager.
SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS
Social accounts are an easy sign-up. While you're at your computer, sit down and do it. Maybe even put up a first post to get things under way. I would at least register your business name and then focus on one platform at a time. As a photographer, Instagram definitely makes sense as a good starting place.
Did you know you can't cash/deposit a check made out to Neil Krauss Productions the business as Neil Krauss the person. I must have a separate business account to do this. In order to open a business account, you will need an EIN number from the federal government.
Now that you've registered everything, you can start printing checks, designing a logo, creating a website, and printing business cards. Most of these are easy items to change and update at any point down the road so pick a direction and run with it.
The last thing I would do is set up all of my business apps using my new business information. This would include templates for incvoices and estimates, email signatures, and the like.
I hope these helped in some way.