For many doulas, the actual how-to of starting a business is a bit unclear. What all do you need to do? What do you do first? How do you actually go about that? I know it’s a lot to start a small business. Here’s a quick intro with 10 steps that will establish your business and get you ready to take clients.
Start an email for work separate from your personal email.
You can use something like Gmail or use an email through your own website.
Get a phone number for your business.
Add an additional line to your plan or get a new phone? Both of those can be expensive. Some phones do allow for two phone numbers with one phone. A free way to get started is using the app for Google Voice. Once your business gets going and making steady money, you can transfer a Google Voice number over to your regular phone company such as Verizon.
File an LLC in your state.
The requirements in each state will vary. Here in Ohio, it costs me $99 to file an LLC. Some states may be a few hundred. How often you have to renew your LLC depends on the state. If you are also selling any physical products in addition to your doula services, you may need a vendor’s license in your state.
Once that goes through, attain an EIN from the IRS.
This is a tax identification number. It’s free and you get it directly from the IRS. You do need to file for an EIN. If not, you’ll have to use your social security number on your paperwork.
Open a bank account for your LLC.
You’ll need to set up your account and register with online banking. You will receive a bank card you can use for business purchases.
Choose what type of payment methods you’ll accept.
If you’ll be taking payments through a company such as Paypal, Square, Venmo, Google Pay, etc…you’ll need to set up an account with each company.
Practice creating and sending an invoice.
If you’re using Paypal or Square, you can send an invoice through your business account with them. Take a look at it and learn how it works. Practice sending one to your personal email.
Make an appointment with an accountant to discuss tracking business expenses, paying taxes, etc.
You will need to keep track of your investments and your profits. Throughout the year, set aside for your income taxes. The rule of thumb is set aside 30% of your income (the profit you make after subtracting expenses).
Get your paperwork in order.
At minimum, you need to have a contract drafted before accepting clients. Know what you want in your contract. Decide on your policies such as refunds. Decide on your fees. You’ll need to outline your plans for appointments (consultations, prenatals, postpartums). Also consider having a closure of services paper or card with an evaluation form for feedback.
Create your website and social media pages/profiles.
Having a website is having a home on the web. It lets people see that you look legitimate and get to know you a little better. Social media shows people who you are, what you believe, how you do your job. It’s okay to start these things before you’ve started taking clients.
That’s it. There are the 10 steps to getting established as a business and being ready to take clients. See, that wasn’t so hard? You can do it. Take it one step at a time. Be gracious with your timeline. While you are getting everything set up is a good time to study and review. You’ll get there.