Starting a small business can seem like a daunting task. Where do you start? What can you do to set yourself apart? What obstacles are out there standing in your way? Luckily, we’re here to tell you everything you need to know about starting a small business in Kentucky.
Having started several small businesses myself here in Kentucky, I know some of the challenges you’ll face. Something I struggled with was finding out exactly what all needed to be done. My hope is that this article will help you answer most, if not all, of the questions you might have about starting a small business in our state.
What You’ll Need To Get Started: The Basics
- A Business Name. The name of your business tells the world what you do and what you can do for them. Your business name may convey sleek professionalism, or show your creative side. A unique name can stay in a customer’s head like a song. Do a search for your business name ideas to make sure it is available before you fall in love with it. The Kentucky Secretary of State has a free FastTrack Business Search tool.
- A Business Address. One of the best abilities a company has is availability. Having an address and displaying it prominently will help direct customers where to go, keep the foot traffic coming and keep your phone ringing.
- Owner and Business Contact Information. Customers will want to know how to contact you. Keeping your phone number conspicuous is extremely important. It is also a good idea to create a business email address as another form of contact for those interested in what you do.
- A Domain Name. These days, having a web presence is crucial in growing an interactive and loyal customer base. The launching pad is your website, where you can display everything about your business and your contact information, and update it easily. Unsure of where to start? Luckily, Dedicated Web Design has an easy-to-use domain name search that can steer you in the right direction and help give you a sense of what is available.
- A Business Plan. After you identify your business, it’s time to start developing the future. What goals do you have for your business? Who is your target customer? What is the most efficient way to target and draw in that customer? What will your business look like a year from now, and what steps can you take now to make that happen? No amount of planning is too much planning, and the more you are able to look ahead and strategize, the more ready you’ll be for the unexpected ups and downs of the business world.
An important logistical step for small business owners is securing the right licensure. You’ll need to be ready to take steps to secure state, city, and/or county licensure to get things up and running. Luckily, it’s easy to register your new business in the state of Kentucky. Starting out as an LLC is the simplest way to register and a good starting point. Do your research to determine costs and be aware of yearly minimum taxes. The Kentucky Limited Liability Entity Tax (LLET) is based on gross receipts or profits, but there is a minimum of $175 regardless. If your business operates as a sole proprietorship, it would be exempt from state corporate income taxes; however, income taxes for this model would run through personal taxes with Schedule C.
Along with state taxes, you will also want to be aware of county or city taxes. This would, of course, vary based on where your business would be located. Generally speaking, the average cost per year would be around $10 – $20. You would also want to plan for income tax based on your location. For example, income taxes in Madison County are 1%.
Tools in Your Tool Belt
Once you have a name, contact information, and licensure in place, it’s time to start getting the tools together to help you reach your goals. Branding and networking will take you far, and the tools outlined below will really raise awareness of your brand and get the business wheels turning.
- Your Website. So you’ve secured your domain name and you’re looking to make an easy-to-use, informative and communication-enabled website. Where do you start? We’re in the information age, and your website is something that is easy for almost anyone to find and access, meaning that your website is something of a digital business card. All of your contact information, your business description and mission statement, and the overall look of your website should be tailored toward your target customer base, and making your website easy to navigate so that each customer can find what they’re looking for is crucial. Depending on your background and knowledgebase, finding the right look and feel can seem like a challenge. Luckily, you can head over to our website design page to see all the ways we can help you make the perfect website for your brand.
- A Logo. In a perfect world, your business logo is a design customers so strongly associate with your business that it conveys everything simply and instantly without the need to spell it all out. How many businesses can you think of whose logos are so recognizable, you can tell a bystander their name just by glancing at that design? Developing the right logo can be difficult, and it can require you to flex your creative muscles in a way that you may not be prepared for. Luckily, we offer branding and print design services on our website that can hopefully take that creative step for you. We will work with you until you absolutely love your logo!
- Business Cards. Keep it traditional with physical business cards to go along with your website. While it may be easy for someone to find and navigate your website, it’s also memorable when someone can physically hold something with your business name and logo on it. Keeping a sleeve of business cards on your person at all times allows you to easily grow your brand awareness simply by handing them out. Our graphic and print design services are tailored toward this sort of spontaneous but effective person-to-person interacting, allowing us to work with you to convey the message your aiming for with business cards that your clients will remember.
- Business Email. Setting up your website to host email is crucial not just for steering customers your way, but also helping to keep things organized as your business grows. If profits and customer base soars, don’t clutter up your own personal inbox with business correspondence as well. Funnel your business traffic through an email address hosted on your website, and make sure that contact information ends up displayed prominently on the site, but also on your business card and any other marketing materials you have.
- Use a Local SEO. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) grows the visibility of your website when a user searches for services online. The best SEO services also offer the ability to easily update your business information online to ensure that, no matter where the customer finds it, that information is correct. SEO builds customer trust and funnels all customer inquiries to the right place. Our local SEO service is a great place to start.
- Join a Chamber of Commerce or Networking Group. Word of mouth can be the best route to exposure, and that is the bread and butter of networking. Small local businesses should always seek out local Chambers of Commerce, which benefits members with access to community events, member networking, and more. Your local Chamber of Commerce could be the door through which your small business finds new success.
Starting a small business in Kentucky can be an exciting step for small business owners, and ensuring that you know where to start, how to license, and what tools are at your disposal can quickly and easily get you started in the most successful path to realize your vision.
If you find any information on this article is outdated or incorrect, please let us know.