Starting a Small Business

Common Pitfalls

Not assembling a team of support

If you think you want to go ahead and try to develop your idea into a full business plan, you need to create your team of support. While you will be the person who is ultimately responsible for all decisions, you must involve others so that you have a group of people who can advise and support your efforts. This is especially important for people with disabilities, because there are many more things to think about.

No businessperson can figure out the answers to all of their questions alone. Your informal board of directors can help you find answers, ideas, and solutions that can make your business a success.

Not separating your business finances from your personal finances

Be sure to separate your business finances from your personal finances. If you get Supplemental Security Income (SSI), any resources you have in a business bank account will not be counted by SSI. That means that you can have more than the SSI resource limit as long as the money is in a separate business account. It is absolutely critical that only business income and business expenses are run through this account; if you use money from your business account to pay for personal expenses, you might lose your SSI benefits.

Not paying attention to your credit score

Getting funding is a huge issue for anybody who tries to start a business. To get a loan to start your business, you must have a good credit score. Your credit score is a measurement of how well you pay your bills. If you don’t pay your bills on time, don’t make the minimum payments, or go over your credit limit, your credit score will go down. Your credit score is very important to lenders because it helps them decide if you are a “good risk.” If they are going to lend you tens of thousands of dollars so you can start a business, they want to be as certain as possible that you are going to make your loan payments each month.

If you have a low credit score, you should talk to a nonprofit that provides credit repair help so that you can get a loan in the future.

Not paying your taxes and insurance

If you go into business by yourself, you may have to pay many additional expenses, including insurance, taxes, and licenses. You may have to collect sales tax, pay payroll taxes, and pay business fees. This is another reason to have a good team helping you with your business. If you have mentors who know about the requirements of doing business in your local area, you can make sure you are prepared to deal with them.

The IRS website has tax information and publications for small businesses. Two publications are especially helpful:

  • A tax calendar for small businesses and people who are self-employed.
  • Publication 4591 (PDF) provides information about federal tax responsibilities and reporting requirements for small businesses.

Learn more