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I’d been trying to get my side hustle small business off the ground for many years, and at one point, I made an inventory of the roadblocks that kept me from moving forward. One barrier I grudgingly admitted to myself was my lack of knowledge on exactly how to set up the business basics: banking account, credit, accounting and taxes. On top of that, I didn’t know how I would manage the business financials while doing marketing research, creating products and working with clients.

In a moment of clarity, I decided to handle the financial setup of my business first and give myself about a year to set up my accounting system, find the best business credit card option and feel comfortable with my financials. It was the best decision I ever made, and here’s how I did it.

Compare Chase Ink Business Credit Cards

Credit Card Intro Bonus Annual Fee Rewards Rate Learn More

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

$750Cash Bonus More Info

Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

$0 1.5%Cashback More Info

Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business. The advertised rewards type is cash back, but it’s important to note that you’re technically earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points (which can then be converted to cash back).

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

$750Cash Bonus More Info

Earn $350 when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months and an additional $400 when you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first six months after account opening

$0 1% - 5%Cashback More Info

Earn 5% cash back on your first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year. It also offers you 2% cash back on your first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year.

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

100,000Chase Ultimate Rewards Points More Info

Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $2,300 (100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points * 0.023 base)

$95 More info

This fee includes extra cards for authorized users, such as employees, at no additional charge.

1x - 3xPoints More Info

Earn 3x points on the first $150,000 of combined spending in a number of key business categories

Ink Business Premier® Credit Card

$1,000Cash Bonus More Info

Earn $1,000 bonus cash back after you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

$195 Up to 2.5%Cashback More Info

Earn unlimited 2.5% total cash back on purchases of $5,000 or more and unlimited 2% cash back on all other business purchases.

I Prepped for Starting a Business With Research

woman working from home

By focusing exclusively on my business' financial structure ahead of other tasks, I honed in on the bank requirements for business accounts and credit cards and then did any necessary setup for federal, state and local municipalities. For example, l learned that my bank required proof of business with an EIN (employer identification number), which was easy to request from the IRS website. From there, I could open a business checking account and credit card.

The extra time also allowed me to speak with other small business owners, who could warn me of pitfalls. That was especially true regarding setting up local tax payments, where the online information was not clear. If I had been juggling clients and doing my other business startup tasks, it would have overwhelmed me.

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I Shopped for the Best Business Credit Card

The extra time allowed me to really do my due diligence on business credit card offers to compare points packages, other perks and fees. There are a lot of choices in the market, and finding the card to best fit my needs was time-consuming. Starting the process early also helped take the pressure off the decision because I knew I didn’t need the card immediately and could afford to take time to decide.

I Prepared My Start-up Expenses

The old saying of “measure twice, cut once” applies here—buying things in haste is never a good look. Having the luxury of taking my time, creating the inventory of what I needed, shopping for the best price, and then applying that knowledge when selecting a business credit card was a game changer.

I Established My Business Credit History

business purchase

If you believe that “how you do anything is how you do everything,” then starting off caring for your credit bodes well for the success of your business. I made purchases that allowed me to get my credit card deadlines and other payment schedules before the avalanche of work, which helped ensure I’d be on top of things. And, even though I have an 800+ personal credit score, I learned my business credit score is separate, so I was starting from scratch.   

I Got the Scoop on Credit Card Hacks

Having time before I was consumed with client work to meet face-to-face with my bank’s small business advisor and others on their team to get the inside scoop on options and business credit card hacks was invaluable—like taking advantage of the welcome bonuses and business tools some accounts offer.

While a year in advance may seem excessively long to set up your business and get a business credit card, you'll probably be happy you took the time before you start getting busy (hopefully!) with your clients.


Stephanie Gregerman

Stephanie Gregerman is a women’s personal finance and entrepreneurship writer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She started her career working for a Nobel-laureate neuroscientist, after earning her degree from Barnard College in English and Economics. Since then, she’s channeled her passion for understanding the motives behind our thoughts, words and actions into leading the communications for large global organizations, including financial powerhouse Morgan Stanley, and started her own communications company, Detto e Fatto (“Said and Done” in Italian). When away from a computer, Stephanie enjoys painful workouts with barbells, planting street trees and urban hiking around Philadelphia. You can connect with Stephanie at her company Detto e Fatto profile: