As any seasoned business coach will tell you, starting a business depends on a wide range of factors. These include having the right personality traits (such as passion, persistence, and the ability to overcome hurdles) to engage in such an ambitious undertaking.
Equally important is the need for a comprehensive business startup checklist.
Why? A staggering number of startups never make it past the crucial “live or die” stage. The ones that do almost always employ a checklist clearly delineating a process by which an entrepreneur can get from Point A to Point B.
Otherwise, as the National Federation of Independent Business notes, “you may be feeling overwhelmed by all the to-do items—or unsure of how to begin!” An entrepreneur can’t afford to “miss any crucial steps that could impact your business’s success,” while at the same time staying focused on “launching your business, connecting with customers, and generating cash flow.”
Here is a quick list of essential to-do items every would-be business owner must attend to:
Come up with a name.
What will your business be called? Ideally, you want a short, snappy name that encapsulates what the business offers. In a world cluttered with existing business names, choosing one that people can easily remember and search for online won’t be easy—but “short and to the point” can make a big difference in marketing later on.
Register a website domain.
Go to one-stop domain registration sites such as GoDaddy and Web.com and register your business domain name (and any names closely resembling your choice). It’s easy and cheap to do—and an absolute necessity as the first step in creating a website and ancillary marketing resources for your new startup.
Draft a business plan.
This is your roadmap for what lies ahead; without such a roadmap, you’re stumbling around in the dark without a flashlight. Fortunately, there’s an abundance on online tools and software to guide you through the process. According to Chase, key elements of an effective business plan include:
- What your business does and how it differs from the competition
- A thorough marketing analysis of your chosen industry
- How the business will be organized and managed
- A strategy for creating and marketing your great new idea
- Budget and financial projections
Don’t worry about getting the business plan perfect right out of the starting gate. It “doesn’t have to be set in stone,” Chase notes, but instead is designed to serve as “a plan for how you intend to launch your business, as well as your strategy for long-term success.”
Hire an attorney and accountant.
Bringing on a part- or full-time staff takes place a little further down the road, but at the outset, it’s vital to enlist the services of a knowledgeable attorney and accountant. The right attorney will know your industry and help guide you to making key decisions when they count the most. An expert accountant help lays the groundwork for dealing with taxes, selecting the most effective bookkeeping system, and offering a detailed financial projection that keeps expenses in check.
Select a business entity and obtain relevant permits.
There are tax and cost implications for the business entity you choose (incorporation, sole proprietorship, S-corporation, C-corporation, LLC). Your attorney and accountant can assist in making this all-important decision, as well as in obtaining the business licenses or permits needed to start operations.
Assess your technology needs.
No business can survive today without the right technology. As part of your business plan, make informed decisions about the fundamental equipment needed (computer, smartphone, etc.), as well as technology relevant to your industry (software, apps, etc.). Research the types of equipment used by other businesses in your chosen field.
Identify sources of capital.
You’ll need money at just about every stage of the startup process. Initially, funds may come from personal savings or the generosity of family and friends, but soon enough you’ll need a fresh injection of capital originating in loans from banks, credit unions, angel investors, and so on. This is also where a detailed, well-drawn business plan will come in handy.
The startup business checklist doesn’t end there. Other key elements include designing a business logo, identifying where the business will be situated, opening a business bank account, determining prices for your products or services, and hiring new personnel. For now, though, checking off the items listed above will get things rolling in the right direction.
It’s never too early for a budding entrepreneur to explore the benefits of executive business coaching services like TAB. Membership in this world-class peer advisory group organization can help accelerate your progress from dream to reality, while avoiding the kinds of costly mistakes made by others. Find out more about how TAB can help make your entrepreneurial dreams come true!