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• Obtain a location and pay necessary rent and deposit. Be sure to go over the lease or rental agreement carefully (preferably with an attorney) before signing. • Arrange for utilities and pay necessary deposits. • Obtain an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS, if needed. Sole proprietors may use their social security number. • Arrange for phone and internet service. • Set up business email. • Order signage and business cards. • Purchase necessary furnishings, décor, equipment, and supplies. • Plan and publicize your grand opening. If you join the chamber, they'll arrange a ribbon cutting. Now, rock 'n' roll, but stay on top of your budget and your business plan once you open for business. PLAN B If something isn't working, adjust it. Think creatively and write down your ideas just like your business plan. For example, brainstorm how to survive in the event of financial challenges (like a pandemic). Think about other skills you have, work you could do remotely from home, or any part- time jobs you could consider elsewhere. L i s te n to T h e A B M P Po d c a s t a t a b m m /p o d c a s t s o r w h e reve r yo u a cce s s yo u r favo r i te p o d c a s t s 79 Review the savings or secondary income you have to fall back on. Although the pandemic was a special circumstance, self-employed people are usually not able to draw unemployment. Self-employment requires a certain amount of self-confidence, but it also requires the ability to plan ahead and have a contingency plan in place. The pandemic has made that clear. I hope 2021 is kinder to us all. I hope you remain well and your business survives and thrives. My best advice? Have a plan. Laura Allen has been a licensed massage therapist since 1999 and an approved provider of continuing education since 2000. She is the author of Nina McIntosh's The Educated Heart, now in its fifth edition. Allen lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with her husband and their two rescue dogs. KIRILL XUNSPL ASH Having a plan A and a plan B— for circumstances like we've found ourselves in during the pandemic—may not be a guarantee of success, but they will certainly maximize the chances.

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