Starting a business is an exciting opportunity, but it can be challenging. To guide you through the aspects of starting a business and finding information to help you succeed, there are various federal resources available.
A centralized platform, BusinessUSA ties together business-related information from government agencies to make it easier for businesses to access services to help them grow and hire. BusinessUSA focuses on three areas:
Wizards - Get resources to guide you through the steps of starting a business.
The Start a Business wizard walks you through the process and connects you to important information. It also provides other resources for starting a business, including help with writing a business plan, as well as registering and running a business.
You can also get business advice from experienced executives through SCORE, a non-profit resource partner of the SBA.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
The IRS provides federal tax information for people starting a business, as well as information to assist in making basic business decisions. Read the IRS Checklist for Starting a Business for information on the basic steps you should follow to start a business.
Each state has additional requirements to start and operate a business. For links to information regarding state-level requirements for starting a business, refer to the IRS State Government Websites directory.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The FTC's Business Center gives your business the tools to understand and comply with consumer protection laws. It covers several important areas:
Advertising and Marketing - Under the law, any claims in advertisements made by a business must be truthful, cannot be deceptive or unfair, and must be evidence-based.
Credit and Finance - Businesses that extend credit to consumers, are in the business of offering loans, or help companies that do, have compliance responsibilities.
Privacy and Security - Businesses must protect sensitive data and be clear about their information-sharing practices.
Selected Industries - Stay up to date with the rules and laws of various industries.
Resources for Military Veterans
Find resources for veterans starting a business:
Register your business to be eligible for special purchasing opportunities at VetBiz.gov.
Visit the Office of Veterans Business Development. Its mission is to maximize the availability, applicability and usability of all administration small business programs for Veterans, Service-Disabled Veterans, Reserve Component Members, and their Dependents or Survivors.
A nonprofit organization commonly performs some type of public or community benefit, without the purpose of making a profit. The tips below will help you find important information and services for starting a nonprofit.
Types of Nonprofits
There are various categories of nonprofits recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS):
Each category has different tax benefits yet is required to comply with different restrictions. While the majority of nonprofits are classified under 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code as charitable organizations, you should review the categories to determine the right choice for your nonprofit organization.
Incorporating a Nonprofit
This process is very similar to creating a regular corporation except that you have to take the extra steps of applying for tax-exempt status with the IRS and their state tax division. These are the steps you should take to incorporate your nonprofit:
Choose a business name. Make sure to check the state-by-state information on the various laws that apply to naming a nonprofit in your state.
Apply for nonprofit federal and state tax exemptions. A nonprofit organization may be eligible for exemption from federal income tax. The IRS provides guidance and instructions on applying for tax-exempt status.
A pyramid scheme, also known as Ponzi scheme, is an illegal form of multilevel marketing. In these programs, your ability to earn profits is based on the number of new participants you recruit, instead of the amount of products or services you sell. Sometimes there actually aren't any real products that are being sold. These types of schemes are common with investment and independent direct selling opportunities.
These schemes rely on the income from new participants in order to pay fake "profits" to people that have been part of the scheme for longer amounts of time. However, the scheme falls apart when there aren't enough new recruits to pay into the system, so the earlier participants no longer receive earnings.
Tips to Avoid Being a Victim
You can take steps to prevent yourself from getting involved in a pyramid scheme:
Be wary of "opportunities" to invest your money in franchises or investments that require you to bring in more investors to increase your profit, or recoup your initial investment.
If you want to start your own home-based business, the Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a guide for home-based businesses. This guide includes start-up resources, tax information, and information about buying a home-based franchise.