Energy Foundry

Business Cards

Why it’s important

Even in the age of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, you still need a physical contact card. It’s a normative business practice to carry your business cards, you don’t want to get caught without one at a client meeting or conference.

What to expect

Typically, the process includes: selecting from a range of existing business card design template or uploading your own design, customizing the design and selecting paper. Online vendors Vistaprint and Moo both do a pretty good job at a fair price. Business card printing at Vistaprint and Moo start from $16 and $20 respectively.

Get started

We don’t recommend using the free business cards options. Your business card helps build your brand and the free option gives you limited options to choose from.

Given that cards are cheap, don’t squander an opportunity to make an impression of how cool your product is by handing a potential client a dull business card.

D-U-N-S Number

Why it’s important

If you ever want to do business with Uncle Sam, compete and win federal grants, contracts or subcontracts you’re going to need a DUNS number. It is a unique nine-character number that identifies your organization and helps the federal government track how federal money is distributed.

What to expect

  • Approximate time for completing online application is 15 mins.
  • Online application will take 1-2 business days to process. You will receive an email with your number.
  • If you need the number immediately, you should apply online, note the reference number provided at the end completion of an online application and call up customer care on 1-866-705-5711 (toll-free). Provide customer care with the reference number and they can expedite the process the application immediately for free if for a government application
  • No application fee.

When applying, keep the following information handy

  • Legal structure of the organization (corporation, partnership, proprietorship)
  • Year the organization started
  • Primary type of business
  • Total number of employees (full and part time)

Get started

  • Apply Online > ‘Request a new DUNS’ > ‘Company Lookup’ > Click on ‘Request a new D-U-N-S number button’ (bottom right) > Proceed

Support

  • If you have additional questions refer to FAQs‘ on the DUNS website.

Employer ID Number

Why It’s Important

This is a Social Security number for your business. Also known as Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) or the Federal Tax Identification Number, it’s a nine-digit number issued for the purpose of tax administration.

What to Expect

  • Approximate time for completing online application is 15 mins.
  • Application gets processed immediately. When you finish you will get a letter of confirmation (Do not forget to save it and print it out). You will also receive an EIN, which can be used immediately for most of your business needs.
  • It’s a free service provided by IRS.

When applying, keep the following information handy

  • Your organization/business structure (LLC, Corporation, Etc)
  • Your Social Security Number (SSN)

Get started

  • Apply Here
  • Operation hours for the online application are Monday through Friday 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Eastern time.
  • Remember that IRS limits Employer Identification Number (EIN) issuance to one per responsible party per day.
  • The application does not save the information for later completion, therefore you will need to complete the application at one go.

Support

If you have additional tax questions the IRS publishes a comprehensive FAQ and resources guide for small businesses. if you need further clarification we suggest consulting your accountant.

If you are facing some issues or have some concerns you could call IRS Customer support at 1-800-829-4933 (toll free)

 

Email

Why It’s Important

Because email is a prevalent method of communication today, you need your very own “@”. It builds your brand and reinforces your credibility in operationalizing a business.

What to Expect

You can easily set up a professional email using an online service provider. Selection of a service provider should be based on support, security, features, storage space and price We use Google Apps, which offers productivity apps in addition to email services. Google Apps basic packages start at $5/user/month.

To get started, you will need to sign up and link Google Apps to a domain name, which you already own. The walkthrough below is used to illustrated the process.

Get started

Google apps sign up

1. Visit Google Apps and click on ‘Get Started’ button (you could start with a trial of 30 days, no credit card required)

2. Complete About You section

3. Assuming you have bought the domain name already, select ‘Use a complimentary mygbiz address’ option and proceed

4. Before you can Login as an administrator, you may be asked to Verify your email account

Linking google apps to your domain name

1. Login using username and password (you can access google admin account later using url: www.admin.google.com)

2. On console view page, click ‘Domains’

3. Click on ‘Add a Custom Domain’

4. Confirmation message popup, select ‘Use a domain name you already own’ option

5. Enter your Domain Name

6. To verify your ownership of domain name, select your domain name registrar (not the hosting service provider) from the dropdown list and you will be guided through the process.

7. If you want to use TXT record to verify your ownership, click on the link ‘Add a TXT record’ to get detailed instructions, specific to your domain name registrar. For alternative methods, click on the ‘Alternative methods’ tab.

8. Once the verification is done, you are all set! Use admin console to customize the settings for the Google apps suite

Illinois Registration

Why it’s important

Illinois Department of Revenue requires you to register your business with the state if you conduct business in Illinois or with Illinois customers. You should have registered your business before you make any purchases, sales, or when you hire an employee. Refer below for step by step application process.

What to expect

  • The application can take you approximately 15 mins to complete.
    • Applications take 1-2 business days to process. Once the application is approved, you get a certificate of registration and Tax ID number.
  • There is no application fee for registering a business.

Keep the following information handy

  • Federal employer identification number (FEIN) / Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Illinois Secretary of State identification number (Drivers License, State ID)
  • North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Number
  • Each owners’ and officers’ information (Name, Address, Date of Birth, SSN)

Get started

  1. Go to MyTaxIllinois > Click ‘Register a New Business’

Support

  • If you have additional business registration questions you can refer to FAQs on IL revenue site or call customer support  at 800 732-8866 or 217 782-3336

Phones

Why it’s important

VoIP calling offers multiple advantages like lower costs, flexibility in the modes of communication and remote access. You could use VoIP comparison tool online to decide the best service for you. We recommend services like VocalocityUberConference or Skype which offer convenient plans for small businesses.

What to expect

Refer to the VoIP Guide for small businesses, for more information on VoIP.

The easiest way to get started is to request a quote. The sales consultants would help you with the selection and to answer your questions. Since we use Vocalocity, we have used it as an example site for a walkthrough, as shown below.

Get started

1. Click on the ‘Get a Free Quote’ button
2. Fill out your contact information and Submit.
3. Vocalocity sales consultant will contact you. Or you can also write to vocalocity at sales@vocalocity.com or call them at 877.VOCALOCITY.

Web Domain

Why it’s important

Choosing the right domain name allows you to create a credible, unique brand online. These tips could be helpful in selecting a good domain name for your business.

What to expect

Remember to keep your domain name searches safe from poachers.  These folks troll registrations sites and can find out what domains are being searched in order to register them first, just so they can try and extract a higher price for a URL that they now own.  Some procedures to follow to avoid this from happening are to perform your domain name searches at InterNIC, and then go to the registration site (i.e. godaddy) to purchase it immediately.

Ideally if your desired domain name is available, you should buy it immediately. We also recommend that you register multiple extensions available for your desired name, i.e. .net, .org, .co, etc.  You can then redirect these sites back to your main .com extension.

Get started

Godaddy is the one of the most popular domain name registrars. You could also use other registrars such as NetworksolutionsDomain for the domain name registration.

Typically, registration process is similar for most service providers. Therefore, we have used an example site (Godaddy), to illustrate the process, as shown below.

1. Search for the domain name (which you know is available)
2. Add domain names that you want (with popular extensions) to your cart
3. When you click on checkout, you may be suggested to add different services (hosting, email, design) to your cart. If you want, you could add them to the cart or just proceed further.
4. On review page, make sure you review your cart carefully. Check the selected term for the domain name and delete all the add-ons you may not have added but are present in your cart.
5. When you are ready, click on checkout button. You would be guided through the standard checkout process.

Web Hosting

Why it’s important

Once you’ve purchased your domain name you’ll need to decide how to host your site. A site host is an infrastructure to stand your website. It is where your website will live.

What to expect

It’s important to consider bandwidth, space, support and scalability before choosing a service provider for hosting. You could compare features of various web hosting services at Hostmonk.

We recommend using sites like HostgatoripageGodaddy. These sites also offer domain name registration service. Based on your needs, you could buy both the services from the same provider or go for different providers.

Typically, registration process is similar for most service providers. So, we have used an an example site (hostgator), to illustrate the process below.

Get started

1. Check and analyze available plans. Once have made the choice and are ready, click on the order now button.
2. Enter your required/registered domain name. Considering you have already purchased your domain name, you should select ‘I already have a domain name’ option.
3. You will be guided through the checkout process. Remember to check the billing cycle for which you are buying the hosting service.

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