So, you’re starting a business of your own? Congratulations! Starting your business means having to do a lot of hard work and committing to work on it at all times. To begin with, you will have to do a number of things, but don’t get overwhelmed with the long to-do list. You will have to wear a myriad of hats — from creating a brand strategy to dealing with legal hurdles to the tech tasks, you’ll require multi-faceted talents of your team.
To make things easier for you we have made a startup checklist, all you simply have to do is tick off the boxes from the list and get your business going.
Assess Your Business Idea
To make sure your business idea is going to work, you need to begin with doing a market research. A startup is driven by people who know their market; this knowledge can come from experience and/or from doing some thorough research.
This involves gaining information about the industry, analyzing your competition and surveying potential customers. Through this, you will be able to identify the strengths and weakness of your business and will be able to make improvements. Your research should be able to answer the following:
- What solution does your business offer?
- Will your business be relevant with time?
- Who is your target market?
- What is your financial plan?
Once you have a clear answer to these, you will be able to move ahead with your business idea.
Create a Business Plan
No matter how big or small your business is, to make it successful, it is important that you create a business plan. In the beginning, it may seem like a lot of work and hassle, but in the long run, it will help you save a lot of time and money. A good business plan can help you in thinking through the details of your business.
Few tips for creating a business plan:
- Write an executive summary
- Write your company’s overview
- Jot down your products/services and how they help the customers
- Write down your target market details
- Develop a marketing and sales plan
- List your management team
- Have a financial plan
Settle Your Financing
For running a small business, it is important for you to set up and manage your finances. You will have to work on your financial plan — figure out how much money will you need and whether you have enough money for a startup.
Besides the startup costs, you also need to plan how you will get money for your future ventures. Not every startup needs funding, but most businesses require financing, at least at the beginning.
For obtaining finances or getting a loan, do a thorough research about a Guide to Small Business Loans and make sure to have a proper business plan to pitch to your funder. Apart from bank loans, there are alternative business loans with easier terms and conditions, suitable for startups.
Choose a Business Name
If you want your business to stand out among others, then you need to choose a unique name for it. Your business’ name should reflect what your company is about. Choose a name that will stick in your target market’s heads. It should not be lengthy or difficult to pronounce, so it’s more easy to remember.
Once you have decided on the name, make sure it is not taken yet. Do a research on state and federal level, to be sure your name is unique and not already registered, as this can cause copy right issues. Once your research is done, register your business name immediately before anyone else takes it.
Afterwards, you will also need to register a matching domain to your business name. Make sure it’s genuine and sounds serious; a lengthy domain name can make people think your business is not for real.
Make Your Business Legal
Before you set up your business, it is crucial to make it legal. Talk with an attorney who can help you in the process of legalization. This includes a lot of things like registrations, licenses, taxation and insurance.
Before you start doing business, make sure you have understood all legal obligations and have all the necessary boxes checked to stay away from penalties and fines.
Apply for an EIN
EIN stands for Employer Identification Number. This is necessary for incorporating a business, opening a business bank account, and for processing payrolls. An Employer Identification Number helps you in keeping yourself separate from your business, meaning once you have an EIN, you won’t have to give out your social security number. This will keep you safe from any kind of theft.
Obtain Licenses and Permits
For running a legal business, there are a number of licenses and permits necessary for you to have.
- Federal License/ Permit
Depending on your type of business, you may require a Federal license or permit.
- State License/Permit
Laws vary from state to state, depending on your business you may need a State license or permit. A state agency can help you in this process.
- Sales Tax Permit
If your business deals in selling physical products within the state, then it is necessary for you to collect and pay sales tax, for this you require a sales tax permit.
- Business License
Most countries or cities require a business owner to have a business license, even if you are running a home based business. This license gives you the authority of doing business in that country or city.
Order Business Cards
For a startup business, you will need to do a lot of networking to make contacts and let people know about your business. A great way of doing this is by handing out business cards. These are not expensive so you can order as much as you like, and even if things change in the future, you won’t have wasted a lot of money.
Set Up a Website
Today, the entire world is on the Internet and for your business to be successful, that is where you have to be as well. Get a website designed and have it running as soon as possible. A business without a website loses its credibility.
Even if you haven’t decided on your product/services yet, start with just having your company information on it. Your website should also be mobile friendly, because that is the medium where most people will access it from.
Develop a Marketing Strategy
Once you have set up your business, it’s time to market it. Many small businesses come up with great ideas, but they fail because of a poor marketing strategy. If you want your business to be successful, then marketing is one area you should be focusing and investing in the most.
No matter how great your product/service is, if it does not reach out to its target audience, then it’s nothing. Create a marketing plan that targets your audience and reaches out to them. You can advertise your business on different platforms; use social media for promotion and even hire professionals for getting the word out. If you are opening a store or shop, then you can have a grand opening and also involve press.
These are some necessary points for you to have on your checklist for starting a small business. No matter what type of business you do, make sure to fulfill all the prerequisites in order to make it successful.