I want to start this new year with an admonition, for all those who are still working at a day job, and thinking that at some point they may want to run their own business, but who haven't decided to do so yet.
Register a business, today.
When selling to people directly (whether you're selling services, or selling products to large companies), people will, as part of their due dilligence, often check when your company was registered. If your company registration date is 2 months ago, you will be at a disadvantage in negotiations about price, up-front payments, and other similar things.
If your company was registered five years ago, though, this point will not be brought up.
In addition, many potential bits of business may come your way over the years. If you have no registered business, you may discard those opportunities because of the perceived difficulty of setting up a business to take advantage of them. Having the business already there may give you the necessary push to grab opportunities.
Finally, simply having a business will change your mindset ever so slightly, and make it more likely that you do some day take the jump. This is simply because of the way our brain works. By taking this extremely easy and minor step towards running your own business, you will make it easier for yourself to take the more difficult, future steps in that direction. Consider it a minor brain hack.
There are no really good reasons not to do this. In most places like the UK and US, a dormant business costs very little to register and keep dormant. Prices in the US should be around the $100 mark. In the UK, it can be as little as £50. It can be done online, quickly, without much hassle.
Choose a name that is generic enough. If your name is Joe Bloggs, you might want something like Bloggs Consulting. If the name is taken, find something else that is reasonably generic (John Smiths will have to be creative...). You don't want the name to tie you down to a specific activity. Bear in mind most places allow you to rename your business later if you need to.
In most places, you can just find a website that will automate the filing processes for you. You will need to decide where to locate your business (in the US, different states offer different situations), and what type of business to start (aim for the equivalent of a LTD in the UK, or LLC in US).
Set yourself up as the sole shareholder and director, and keep the company dormant until you need it. The yearly costs and responsibilities should be minimal (the only filing required is to confirm that your company is still dormant).
Websites are open 24/7. Do it now.
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