American Independent Business Alliance

IBA Start-up Guide: Year 1 Roadmap

To help make it easier for you and your helpers or board members to get started, we created this timeline to help plan and execute your first year of benchmarks. For AMIBA affiliates, this is a companion to the IBA Start-up Handbook you received with your start-up materials.  Refer to the Handbook and to links provided in the roadmap for more detailed support.

You may approach milestones at different times, but our intent is to ensure you’re aware of key elements and build a solid foundation. Remember to engage a team and not do everything yourself!  Call upon AMIBA staff with questions at any time — we’re here to help you succeed!

Download this checklist to help keep you organized and on top of each element, from who is handling it, when it’s due, and when it’s complete!  But be sure to return to this page (and use your Handbook) to gain the full benefit of information on each step (we included the url on the checklist to help).

Templates and Examples

We help you get up, running, and legal — all in accordance with the IBA model.

Month 1: Legal and Practical Considerations 

– these should be in place before pursuing business memberships or accepting payments. 

    1. Take advantage of the materials you received from AMIBA. If you haven’t yet informed us of the outreach materials you’d like, please do so now to receive them promptly and put them to use in your community!
    2. Register your preferred web domain name and social media handles 
      (Even if you’re not certain you’ll use them all, try to reserve the same handle for Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and others you’ may consider)
    3. *Obtain your Federal ID # (EIN / FEIN) 

      How to Obtain your EIN
      EIN Online Application (link to IRS) 

      * If you intend to apply to the IRS for tax-exempt status (on your own or through AMIBA’s 501c6 Group Exemption Program), be aware that the IRS will revoke tax-exempt status if an organization fails to file a required annual information return or notice (990N postcard, form 990 EZ or 990) for three consecutive years.  When you apply for an EIN, you are presumed to be legally formed and the clock starts running on this three-year period. 

      We have inserted securing the EIN here because many banks require it to open a non-profit checking account.  You can put off securing your EIN until you absolutely need it.  Alternately, you can secure it now, but with our advice to start submitting the annual 990 the year following your group’s formation (it’s due 4 1/2 months following the end of your fiscal year).

    4. Establish your physical address

      Unless you have an assurance of a long-term office address, consider renting a post office box or using a stable residential address.  Please inform AMIBA of any address changes, as we want to ensure that we can provide your most current contact information and stay in touch.

    5. Create your organization’s generic email address – even if this is temporary, we recommend creating a Gmail address for your organization that would stay with your organization as it grows. Please provide this to AMIBA as well.
    6. Establish your Board of Directors

      Board of Directors Overview
      – Questions to ask Board Candidates
       Sample Board Member Agreement

    7. Create your Articles of Incorporation (this gains you non-profit status and provides your organization with limited liability and indemnity for your board of directors).  We’ve crafted language to help you file your Articles right the first time — and in readiness for potential 501c6 tax-exempt status application. Also see 501c3 or 501c6: Which should we choose? And Resources for Tax-Exempt Groups — what you need to know to keep your status current and to comply with federal and state laws.
    8. Open a non-profit checking account (banks and credit unions typically require an EIN and approved Articles of Incorporation to open a non-profit checking account).  Use a community bank or credit union — even if it’s not the most convenient — they are key allies and it’s vital for public perception!
    9. Create your bylaws – our template can get you started!
    10. Register with your state department of revenue (optional at this time – unless you will have at least one employee immediately. Good to tick this one off the list regardless!)

AMIBA office staff are your go-to for help and resources throughout the process, but will be in touch with you frequently as you get established!

Months 2-4: Marketing/Publicity – Creating your public presence

    1. Secure organizational contact means: permanent telephone number, email address, stable mailing address
    2. “Launch” of IBA with an event, holiday campaign, Independents Week, or other campaign
    3. Host an AMIBA speaker for community presentation and workshop
    4. Design a logo and create a tagline. See our advice and gallery.  We’re happy to offer help.
    5. Create your social media presence (AMIBA staff can help if needed)
    6. Technology – decide how you will manage your data, memberships, and email news
      – Assess The Databank’s platform for your database, email marketing, SMS marketing, invoicing and other needs
    7. Schedule discussion with AMIBA staff about the template offered by AMIBA
      – See our website examples for best practices
      – See our Example “Join us” page for specific content guidelines
    8. Take Advantage of AMIBA’s Free Outreach Templates and Tools, which can be customized with your logo and shared on social media or used on your website
    9. Determine a dues scale if you plan to raise some of your funding from business memberships (click for some representative examples)
    10. Create membership materials 

      Member Brochure or Welcome Kit
      – See also Membership Recruitment

    11. Recruit member businesses
    12. Determine first initiative/campaign

Months 5-8

    1. 6-month checkup. This call or video conference will be scheduled in advance to discuss progress and address any help needed – perhaps with the board or just a few representatives.
    2. Continue recruiting member businesses
    3. Design a window decal to provide to member businesses (but keep distributing your “Come In We’re Local” decals to any independent business that wishes to display them to get maximum reach for the message).
    4. Working groups established (see our webinar on board committees here)
    5. Membership goal for year 1 determined

Month 9 

    1. Apply to AMIBA’s Fiscal Sponsorship program to help prepare your group to accept grants and gifts and add income streams. As a 501(c)(3) charitable tax-exempt organization, AMIBA can provide sponsorship for donations and grants to our non-charitable affiliates for the public education work. AMIBA holds the funds in escrow on your behalf and releases them upon written request.
    2. Schedule conference call with AMIBA staff member

Month 12

    1. Scheduled call/video conference with AMIBA staff member
    2. If your group intends to gain tax-exempt status, whether on your own or through AMIBA’s 501c6 Group Exemption Program, and you included language to this effect in your Articles of Incorporation (our template includes this), you will need to file an IRS form 990 (990N postcard, 990 EZ, or full 990) after you incorporate. The filing deadline is 5.5 months after the end of your fiscal year.  If you intend to participate in AMIBA’s Group Exemption Program, your group’s fiscal year will need to be Jan 1 – Dec 31, making your annual 990 filing deadline May 15.

Month 13

    1. Apply for 501c6 tax-exempt status through AMIBA’s Group Exemption Program — this opt-in program for qualified affiliates helps your group gain federal 501c6 tax-exempt status through AMIBA instead of the IRS. This needs to be done within 15 months of incorporation (which we recommend doing month 1).
Member Resources
AMIBA Overview
Renew Your AMIBA Affiliation
Share Your Story
AMIBA Programs for Affiliates
New Tools: Database/Communications Package and Website Template
501c6 Group Exemption Program
AMIBA 501(c)(6) Group Exemption Program FAQs
501c3 or 501c6 Status: Which Should We Choose?
How to Complete Your 990N Postcard
Instructions for completing the IRS Schedule C
Maintaining Your Status in AMIBA's 501c6 Exempt Group
Resources for Tax-exempt Groups
Fiscal Sponsorship Program Info and Resources
Fiscal Sponsorship Program Guidelines
How to Handle Funds You Receive
The Flow of Funds -- What to Expect and Do with Funds Raised in AMIBA's Fiscal Sponsorship Program
Membership Recruitment and Retention
Sample Member Recruitment Page for Indie Business Coalitions
The Value of Surveying Your Business Members
Automated Dues Payments
Setting up an Electronic Funds Transfer for Member Dues Collection
Business Membership Dues
Citizen Membership Dues
Community Organization Membership
Ideas for Engaging Community Organizations
Dues Collection Information & Suggestions
Member Recruitment
Engaging Member Businesses in Member Recruitment
Member Welcome Kit
Membership Brochures
Recommendations for Dealing with Franchises, Co-ops & Recruitment Grey Areas
Should Franchises Be Part of "Buy Local" Initiatives?
Sample Statement on Dealing with Local Franchises
Automotive Dealerships
Co-ops
Gas Stations
Who Sells Motor Fuels in the United States?
IBA Program & Project Ideas
B2B Shift Your Spending Challenge
B2B Shift Challenge – Milwaukee Form
B2B Shift Challenge – Milwaukee Announcement to Businesses
Buy Independent, Buy Local Campaign
Sponsorship Outline — Shift Happens Campaign
Community Benefit Card Press Release Example
Farm to Restaurant Program
Farm to Restaurant Program Overview
Farm to Restaurant Program Graphics
Farm to Restaurant Program Funding Proposal
Local Business Bingo – Raleigh, NC
Portland "Eat Local" Map / Directory
Rapid Response Team — a Tangible Member Benefit
Time Capsule Book
Public Education & Media
AMIBA's Tips for Effective Presentations
Tips for Successful Facebook Posts and Facebook Closed Group Contributions
Corvallis IBA "Welcome Dollars" Program
Engaging Young People
Enticing Community Newcomers to Buy Local
Hashtags Come to Facebook! #SoWhat?
Media Resources
Press Release Example – Holiday, Including Shift Your Shopping and Small Business Saturday
Press Release Example: Decrying Amazon-UW Partnership
Letter and Op-Ed Examples
Don't Forget Portland's Locally-Owned Businesses
Letter Example — Big Box Not in Community Character
Letter example: Community not hostile to business, just subsidies given to national retailers
Letter to Editor Example – Humboldt
Letter to Editor Example – Raleigh
Op-Ed: Portland Buy Local
Making the Most of an Editorial Board Meeting
Op-Ed Outline and Lead Tips
Op-Ed and Persuasive Writing Tips
Press Release Example: Positive Outlook
Press Release Example Spun for Holiday/Year End Launch
Press Release: General Example
Press Release Template
Public Service Announcement Examples
Tips on Effective Letters to the Editor
TV Ad Examples
Tips and Resources for Outreach with Video
Videos from Independent Businesses
Why Support Locally Owned Businesses
Why Support Locally Owned Businesses – Portland Buy Local
Trade Associations
AMIBA Member Web Stickers
AMIBA Affiliates Web Decals and Logos

Member Resources Account

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