Launching Forthright: The First Two Weeks
Starting my own company has been my goal for as long as I can remember. Deciding to start Forthright was one of the scariest decisions I've made in a long time. If not for some truly incredible people who have been helping me every step of the way, I very well may not have done it.
The last two weeks have been a whirlwind, and I want to share what I've done before I get swept up in the work of running my own company. I hope that this blog post will serve as an inspiration and a guide to others, and they will feel more comfortable embarking on their adventures.
The first thing I did was start setting up an official business in my state. It's significantly more challenging to get anything else done before having your business registered and obtaining an EIN (employer identification number). This process varies state-to-state, and I used a registered agent so that I didn't have to deal with any of the hassles, and it gives you an official physical business address to use for things like your bank accounts.
You don't need to use the registered agent to get your EIN. They will try to upsell you on it, but you can do it for free yourself as soon as your business is officially registered.
I also started working on the initial brand and identity for my company. I created my logo and then borrowed a lot of the styling that I already had from my website. It not only gave me a great foundation to start from but created consistency between my brand and my company's brand.
I paid for expedited processing and had my business officially registered in about three days. I set up a virtual mailbox and a company bank account as soon as I had that. You'll need a place for all mail to go that isn't your home address, and you can't ship anything to your registered agent's address, so I set up a virtual mailbox that will forward mail to my home address, and I can pick up any packages from their offices.
Since I'll be consulting, and likely globally, I used a modern bank that uses virtual debit cards, makes it easy to create accounts, supports money transfers of all types, and doesn't charge for transfers. I set up multiple accounts and configured them so that any money deposited would be broken up and distributed to the proper accounts. This way, I'm accounting for taxes and other expenses like insurance.
I also applied for a company credit card. The card is to put off using any money in my accounts until the end of the month, which is when I will also be getting payments from contracts. Using the card makes it a lot easier to prepare my finances for taxes as well.
Once my virtual mailbox was set up, and I had a bank account and a credit card on the way, I started focusing on setting up any services I'd need to run the business. The first thing I needed was a domain name to set up a website and email addresses for myself and the company. I purchased my domain and set up Google Workplace for emails and Drive for document storage.
Once I had email addresses, I started to set up accounts for the services I would need for my business:
- Freshbooks for accounting
- Notion for document writing and sharing
- DocuSign for contracts
- Airtable for pretty much everything
- Twitter for marketing
- Netlify for website hosting
- Figma for design
- Superhuman for email
- Calendly for all things calendar
Once my credit card arrived I switched billing information for all my accounts to get charged in the right place. Next, I sat down and worked out the type of work I wanted to do through my consultancy and then started on my website. I spent the next few days focused on that single goal and did nothing else.
I have an official business set up for me to take on work and a website where folks can get a better idea of my services. I'm confident in the foundation I've built up, and now I'll turn my focus to promoting my company and signing my first clients!
The best advice I can give is to get your business official before doing anything else. Get yourself a bank account and credit card as soon as you have it. You'll be blocked on just about everything else. My second piece of advice is to outsource anything you can afford to. I don't have a lot of runway so I took on all of this myself. My last piece of advice is that the first contracts you take will set the tone for what kind of work you end up doing. Stay true to your goals and be okay with turning down opportunities that aren't quite the right fit.
Starting a business is a lot of work, and it's scary as heck. I'm lucky to have some amazing people in my corner helping me out. I'll be sharing more of my experience over the next year, so be sure to follow me on Twitter to follow along!