So, you want to start a business. Maybe you’ve recently come up with a world-changing idea that you’re excited to see flourish. Or maybe you’ve been thinking about starting a business for years, but haven’t quite figured out where to start. Whether you’ve been planning for years or hours, we’ve got the perfect checklist to get your business up and running.
Map it Out
RESEARCH THE MARKET
Before you move forward with starting your business, you first need to conduct market research. Study your client demographic, figure out their wants and needs. Analyze the demand for your product or service. And research your competition to determine the best ways to prepare your business for success. Ask yourself questions to determine business viability.
MAKE A BUSINESS PLAN
Writing out a traditional business plan takes time and effort, but is well worth it. Build a detailed foundation before putting your start-up into play. It can also be helpful in obtaining partners or investors before your business is up and running.
It is well worth it to build a detailed foundation before putting it into play.
While it’s not necessary for you to stick to an exact outline, most traditional business plans include the following: executive summary, company description, market analysis (completed above), organizational structure, financial projections, and other supporting documents.
If you’re short on time, you may consider writing a lean business plan, featuring only the key information. This would include partnerships, activities, resources, company values, customer relationships, target market, channels, cost structure and revenue streams.
Organize Your Business
NAME YOUR BUSINESS
With everything ahead of you, naming your business may be the last thing on your mind, but it’s important.
Your name is one of the first things clients will use to identify you. But it’s also what you’ll use to register with local, state, and sometimes federal agencies. No matter where you file for registration, you can search and ensure that your chosen business name is available. Access your Secretary of State’s website here to make sure your name is available.
You can search and ensure your business name is available.
OBTAIN A BUSINESS DOMAIN
Now that you’ve settled on a name, it’s time to get a matching domain. This will be your website name.
A professional, relevant domain name will help both your website & email convey a trustworthy first impression to potential clients. You can obtain a domain name from a domain name registrar, such as GoDaddy, Google Domains or Bluehost.
DEVELOP A LEGAL STRUCTURE
Deciding your business structure is probably one of the most important decisions you will make regarding your business. This will affect how you pay taxes, your personal liability, and your organization’s ability to raise money.
You can organize your business as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, S-corporation, or limited liability company. Each business structure has its own benefits and drawbacks, so be sure to do your research.
Each business structure has its own benefits and drawbacks, so be sure to do your research.
APPLY FOR AN EIN OR BUSINESS LICENSE – IF NECESSARY
Depending on your business structure, location & industry, you may need to obtain either an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or a license to conduct business.
An EIN is important to open a business bank account or incorporate your business. And it can be obtained for free from the IRS. Your city or state may require that you also obtain a business license in order to conduct business for your industry. Check with your local government’s business laws to identify whether or not you need one for your business.
An EIN is important to open a business bank account or incorporate your business. And it can be obtained for free from the IRS.
DEVELOP YOUR BRAND IMAGE
Make it easy for potential clients to find your business and familiarize themselves with your brand.
A brand image includes your logo, website, social media, business cards and beyond.
Start by designing or hiring a graphic designer to develop a logo that will define your brand’s visual identity. Although your website and social media profiles don’t have to be fully developed right away, having an online presence gives your company credibility in a digitally-based society. The sooner they’re set up, the easier it’ll be to market later.
Having an online presence gives your company credibility in a digitally-based society.
Get the Essentials in Place
SET UP YOUR SPACE
Whether you’re working from home or from a rented commercial space, set up your space to conduct business.
If you are looking to rent, start searching for the perfect space that capitalizes on low rent and ideal placement. You may want to look into other business essentials to set yourself up for success. Having a clean, fully prepared work space can boost your productivity and success.
OPEN A BUSINESS BANK ACCOUNT
While it may be easier at first to use your personal bank account, it becomes a hassle down the road. The sooner you open your business bank account, the easier growth will be.
Separate business accounts also provide legal benefits such as personal liability protection. They also provide emergency lines of credit and credit lines to build your business credit history.
Separate accounts provide legal benefits such as personal liability protection.
SET UP YOUR BUSINESS PHONE & EMAIL
While you can conduct business via a personal phone and email address, it doesn’t mean you should.
Having a business phone number can help separate your personal and work life. If you like to work on-the-go, no worries! You can forward calls made to your business line to your personal device. Additionally, setting up a business email allows you to conduct professional correspondence with your customers. Don’t worry about this one either – much like your phone calls, you can also forward to your personal account if you wish.
PURCHASE BUSINESS EQUIPMENT
Whether it’s furniture for your office, an espresso machine for your coffee shop, or a skid-steer loader for your landscaping company, in many cases you will need to purchase equipment before you can conduct business. While this equipment can be quite costly, financial experts like Amerifund make it easy. We can help you obtain funding for your start-up’s equipment needs! Click here for 5 tips to a quick and easy funding.
Build Your Team
DEVELOP OWNER ROLES
Developing co-owner or shareholder roles before you hit the ground running helps keep communication clear as your business grows. Define leadership’s responsibilities so everyone has a clear understanding of expectations. This structure will also help define a clear communication structure while starting your business.
Developing co-owner or shareholder roles before you hit the ground running helps keep communication clear as your business grows.
If your business requires an extra hand or two to get things moving, be sure to hire some help.
Don’t try to do everything by yourself. Trying to be “Superman” or “Wonder Woman” and doing everything can leave you exhausted & unable to think big picture. By bringing on full or part-time employees, or freelancers, you can focus on long-term success.
HIRE SALES & MARKETING
Once you develop effective sales & marketing teams, you create room to breathe as a business owner. You’d be amazed at how much this can free you up to grow your business. Delegate day-to-day roles to your staff so you can run your business to the best of your ability!
We hope this was helpful and gave you a roadmap to getting your business ready for takeoff. With big dreams and passion anything is possible. You’ve got this and we’re always in your corner!