Careful planning may still not insure success, but lack of preparation
means failure. Spend time before you spend money or other resources.
Here are a few basic considerations. The Department of Economic
Development also offers its own guide.
Define the Product or
What do you want to build or sell? Is this a true "invention?" Or is
someone else already providing the thing? Can you make the widget
better? Cheaper? How many people might buy it?
Write a Business Plan
your idea for the business.
Describe as accurately as possible what you plan to sell. If you
believe the item new or revolutionary, search for other patents. The U.S. Patent Office allows a search.
Examine the market.
How may potential buyers exist? What do you provide they do not
yet have? Why will they want it? The US Census offers detailed population parameters, age, sex,
levels of education. etc. The Bureau
of Labor Statistics describes incomes.
Who else is providing the same, or similar, product? What are the
barriers to entry? Even if you go into the market first and enjoy
success, what prevents a rival from starting another such business?
Open the Yellow Pages. Search the web. Read trade magazines. Consult
industry groups. Seek information from local business associations
or chambers of commerce which list companies and their type of
The Comptroller records state sales tax information quarterly by county. By special request, you can
also obtain quarterly data at the city (even zip code) county, and
state level, sorted by Standard Industrial Classification codes.
Write a Business Plan
The plan tells not just what you want to do, but exactly how you will
proceed. The plan develops a highly detailed forecast which itself
becomes a schedule. You describe each part of the process and how to
measure performance along the way: what to do first, then next, and how
to know whether you have in fact finished each task. The length of time
needed to complete different phases of the plan should be realistic--and
followed closely. The plan imposes deadlines. Discipline evident in the
plan, and the ability to execute accordingly, is crucial to convince
others: buyers, suppliers, investors, and creditors.
This document will present formally and systematically the ideas you
developed in defining the product and market. While many variations
exist, most plans include the sections outlined below:
At the beginning should appear a concise description of the
business, stating the main points, each of which is elaborated
in the following sections.
A very specific definition is required here.
Identify potential customers and competitors. Characterize
the industry. Chart trends in the client profile. For example,
is the target segment of the population increasing or
Plan how much product and on what schedule you can deliver
the goods, how long after final assembly to sell, when to be
paid in full.
Estimate the startup costs, other costs--fixed (plant and
equipment) variable (raw materials, labor, energy), storage,
time after sale until payment, and operating capital to bridge
Describe the key people and how their personal histories fit
the business. Find the right persons for sales, operations, and
finance or administration.
The business plan should contain cost estimates and projected cash
flows. Do you have enough money to build the product and wait until you
sell it? And receive payment after some delay?
Banks lend against collateral or cash flow. The entrepreneur
might have no liquid assets such as property to pledge for the
business. The new venture may not yet generate a stable source
of revenue to service conventional debt. The Small Business
Administration also provides help to early stage companies. An
already going concern can gain approval for a loan against
The entrepreneur may decide to avoid debt by sharing ownership,
giving some portion of his/her business to another in exchange
for money invested in the enterprise. The National Association
of Venture Capitalists promotes an industry with many members.
The Small Business Administration also maintains a database of
federal grants. The Governor's office lists state grants in
Texas. The Foundation Center provides information on grants to
certain kind of businesses which meet the purpose of charities
promoting social goals.
Choose a name for the business. Obtain an identification number. Decide
on the legal form. Discover which licenses or permits you may need, and
what kinds of taxes you might owe.
Check State Government Rules
State and local
governments may establish requirements in addition to the national
The Texas Department of Economic Development keeps a
list of state regulatory bodies. The state also requires some public
displays. The Texas Workforce
Commission tells which posters,
like frequency of payment (at least once a month) and unemployment
insurance should be visible.
The The Texas Department of Economic Development also maintains a
list of licenses or permitss needed for business activity.
Get an Employer Identification Number
Just as an
individual possesses a Social Security Number, a business receives
this one. The Internal Revenue Service assigns the numbers.
You can apply for the number at the IRS using Form SS4. You
may need Adobe
The state Business & Commerce Code describes the use of a business name.
Choose the Legal Entity
Three basic forms of business
organization exist: proprietorship, partnership, and corporation.
The form defines ownership of the enterprise and liability for its
actions. The Texas Legislature Online provides links to sections of the
Commercial Code for different kinds of businesses. A new site at the
Small Business Administration also explains legal terms in plain
An individual may choose to operate in this most
simple form as a single owner. If he/she does not call the
business by his/her personal name, then the enterprise name
should be registered at the nearest County Clerk's office, which records the company name as the
DBA and refers to the person "doing business as... "
If the business has more than one owner, they may decide
upon a partnership. The owners can share assets and
liabilities equally, or in various proportions. A
partnership agreement will stipulate the terms. Some
investors may want to separate their personal property from
the business assets. They can become Limited Partners.
Limited partnerships are required to file organizational
documents with the Secretary of State.
Other investors may bear full personal liability for the
business. They are General Partners. General and limited
partnerships may opt to register as limited liability
partnerships in order to limit liability, but are not
required to do so.
A corporation can have one or many owners, whose personal
liability is limited to their investment in the enterprise.
Ordinarily, creditors have no claim to the personal assets of
corporate owners in the absence of fraud or other types of
wrongdoing. A corporation must also register with the Secretary of State.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: The information in this document is presented solely as technical
assistance and as a resource available to entrepreneurs. The
information does not serve as a substitute for legal advice or tax
advice nor replace the independent judgment of an appropriate
specialist. An entrepreneur should consult his/her attorney,
accountant or other appropriate professional to answer specific
questions about establishing various forms of business
organizations, and the advantages and disadvantages of each entity.
Check National and Industry Specific Regulations
National government standards of health and safe practices
apply to some industries, and private or professional
associations' guidelines extend to others.
The company must also display
publicly the basic business laws setting relationships
between employer and employee. Public displays should include
provisions relating to minimum wage, family leave, equal
opportunity, polygraph, and migrant workers. Federal Contractors
should, in addition, display rules about construction work (the
Davis Bacon Act) and service contracts (the Walsh Healey Act).
You can read a more complete list of rules beyond the
displayed fundamental rights at the U.S. Department
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration sets standards
for different industries and for firms of a certain size.
Other divisions of the Labor Department may, in addition,
focus on specific issues.
The Small Business Administration now offers a section on laws.
Private member associations, such as the American Bar
Association, American Medical Association, Association of
Certified Public Accountants, etc., also regulate their
National government standards of health and safe practices apply to
some industries, and private or professional associations'
guidelines extend to others. Laws also cover the relationship
between employers and employees.
A part of doing business.
State Employment Tax
Some employers must contribute to the state unemployment insurance fund.
State Sales Tax
Information for New Businesses
Sales taxes can reach a maximum 8.25%. The state levies an
amount of 6.25% of the sale's price on qualifying items. The
State also collects sales taxes for the cities and other
municipal taxing authorities, which can reach an additional 2.0%
combined, then rebates money to the local authorities.
State Franchise Tax
Corporations above a certain size in assets or level
of income may owe franchise tax, a general business levy.
Other State Taxes
Please check for any other taxes on this index page.
Recent Changes to the
State Tax Code
You can read changes to the laws here.
Ask Questions about State
Yes, you can speak to a
person or send e-mail and get an answer from another person. You can also
visit any of the Comptroller field offices for help.
Federal Income Tax
The Internal Revenue
Service offers special advice to small businesses about tax
Federal Employment Tax
The Social Security Administration describes the
obligation of employers.
Take free -- or, at least, low cost -- advice
Several organizations, some government, some not, give advice about how
to achieve profit in local markets.
Economic Development Corporations
Funded by a sales
tax, these are government organizations which promote business in
Chambers of Commerce
These are private, non profit
corporations which also promote
These may be publicly or privately
owned--often connected to a university--organizations which help new
businesses share costs like rent or secretarial service, under one
roof. Many also offer management advice. After some period, the new
companies then move to their own premises. The National Business Incubation
Association and the Texas
Business Incubator Association nurture new companies.
Small Business Administration Offices
These are U.S.
government entities. The agency has many programs designed to help,
including the SCORE, or Service
Corps of Retired Executives who donate their time advising new
The state also provides help to
small businesses. Many local colleges and universities also operate
business development centers.
Expand Your Client Base
Sell to the government as well as to private clients. Find foreign
Sell to the government
customer of all needs a variety of goods and services.
United States is a huge buyer of all sorts of things, but the
special ways in which the government purchases goods and
services can confuse the seller. Different agencies may have
their own rules, and all of them adhere to a formal process of
bidding; however, because of their large size, the entrepreneur
could profit by learning more and winning a bid. The Small
Business Administration has created a library whose highly readable short subject pamphlets provide a good
introduction. The national General Services Administration gives
additional help to small businesses or those owned by women and minorities.
State and Local
Texas purchases most items through its own Texas Building and
Procurement Commission, which describes its process. Again,
the state also offers special
help to women and minorities. The Texas Marketplace gives additional information.
Foreign markets present additional opportunity
The national government encourages American companies to
seek foreign markets. The Department of Commerce provides a Trade Information Guide containing a list of trade offices around the country at which
people can get help as well as information about particular
countries. The federal government, also through the Department
of Commerce, further promotes international trade by providing advice.
The North American Free Trade Agreement brought significant
change to the US economy. Mexico has become the second largest
trading partner of the United States, after Canada, and most
trade with Mexico flows through Texas. Export.gov contains data both for aggregate amounts and
types of goods to different countries . The Bureau of Economic
Analysis provides accounts of international trade
The Department of Commerce also grants local authorities the
permission to establish Foreign Trade Zones, in which customs
clearance and other regulatory steps are greatly simplified and
Trade associations for different groupings of
countries exist. The North American Free Trade Association includes the USA, Canada and Mexico. Mercosur comprises
Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Asean encompasses
many nations in Southeast Asia. And, of course, Mexico has many links to the USA.
Know where to get facts quickly, especially the same information you
will want updated periodically.
The Texas Comptroller posts many economic
statistics on its website.
The Comptroller also provides information about taxes.
The Texas State Data Center
also keeps extensive records.
The Workforce Commission keeps statistics .
The Department of Economic Development offers community profiles and city
The Texas Department of Transportation has detailed maps.
The Texas Department of Agriculture offers assistance.
The Texas Legislature Online posts the Business & Commerce Code.