Incblog for Entrepreneurs

Covering entrepreneurship and business start up questions for non-residents and US citizens.


Mar 01 2016

You’ve Set Up Your Company. Now What?

by John Gordon | 15:03 GMT

Congratulations! You’ve set up your business in the United States and registered it in one of the 50 states. Now what? Here are the next steps for launching your business in the United States..

Getting a Tax ID number

If it was not included in your formation package, and you intend to do any business in the US, you absolutely will need to obtain a federal tax number. Not only is this number used to communicate with the IRS for tax purposes, it is required to open a US bank account, to deal with most state governments, and will be required by most US customers that buy from you. Formally known as an Employer Identification Number, it is used on federal income, payroll and other taxes. If none of the founders has a Social Security Number, it is more difficult but not impossible to obtain the EIN for a company.

Opening a US. bank account

In order to do business in the US, a US business banking account is a must. US customers do not like to send their money overseas when making a purchase. A bank account for your company used exclusively by your company is the best way to document your financial transactions when preparing a tax return, or defending against a tax audit. Business bank account opening requirements vary but all banks will require at least the following:

  • Business incorporation document
  • Tax ID number
  • Copy of your passport
  • Proof of address

Opening a US business bank account is not easy if the owners are not US residents. Many banks will refuse to open such an account, and others will consider the account to be high-risk until long-term trust has been established. Under federal law, it is required that the signers on the business bank account appear in person before a bank representative when opening an account.

Understanding your tax situation

Understanding your tax situation may be challenging since tax laws for the United States and your home country are different. The best course of action is to hire an accountant who is familiar with US international tax law. The filing of tax returns for non-residents is substantially more complicated than those for US residents, so accountants with this experience are more expensive they can actually save you money on taxes – and help you avoid expensive penalties for incorrectly-filed returns.

Following up on your annual compliance needs

Most states require a company to file a report annually after you have formed your corporation or LLC. The completion of the annual company report updates your corporation and registered agent addresses, among other details. You are required to file it each year even if there are no changes.

In addition to filing an annual company report, you must keep records of your shareholders, director and officers, if a corporation, or members and managers if an LLC, plus a record of any company resolutions.

Consulting with an immigration lawyer and building your business plan

If you’re starting a business in the United States as a way to gain a visa or residency, consult with an immigration lawyer. There are several types of visas, and experts who deal with foreign business owners and entrepreneurs can help you determine for which one you should apply. One of the keys to gaining approval for your visa is to have a solid business plan. Most immigration lawyers will work directly with you or engage a third party vendor to ensure you have a strong business plan.

You might have already built your business plan. If you have, that’s great, but check out the advice provided here and tweak it if needed. If you haven’t built your business plan, you need to get started before you apply for your visa.

Ask yourself these questions before starting your business plan:

  • Why does your company exist? What’s its purpose?
  • Who are your intended customers?
  • What are your goals?
  • What are your costs for providing the goods and services your company will produce and provide, and how will you finance those costs?

A good business plan shows where your company is headed, how it will overcome obstacles, and what it needs to do to sustain itself. It has to be coherent and believable.

There are several resources online and in the business section of your library or your favorite bookstore for writing a solid business plan, but all good plans cover the following:

  • The purpose of your business and how your company will reach its goals
  • Your company’s extended goals and how they fill your market’s needs
  • Research on your target market
  • Your company’s organization and management structure
  • Your company’s service or product, to include any copyrights and research and development activities
  • Market penetration and growth strategies
  • Estimated costs of doing business and financing plans

Start to Build your brand and advertise

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that nearly half of all US businesses fail within four years. So how do you avoid being one of the failures? This may be true for your home country as well, but one of the keys to success in the United States. is to build your brand and advertise. What makes your company special? What unique value does it bring to the market that your competitors don’t? You need to determine your company’s value proposition and then communicate it effectively. How do you do this?

  • Be clear – ensure your customers know who you are and the value you bring to them.
  • Be concise – keep your messaging brief – don’t go on and on.
  • Be compelling – make your customers want to take action when they hear or read your words.

Your brand is more than what product or service you’re selling; it’s who you are and the unique value you bring to the market. How do you communicate your brand? Your company website, logo, and social media profile are essential tools for communicating your brand. Take advantage of social media to build your brand. Don’t underestimate its power. There are several articles and resources online about how to market your business via social media.




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