So you’ve got an idea for a business. However, taking your idea from concept to reality can be an extensive, multi-step process. This helpful checklist can keep you stay on the right track and prevent you from missing any key tasks:
1. Make a Plan
Make things easier for yourself by taking time to plan. Using this checklist as a starting point, write down each step you need to take. Organise tasks according to priority, and make sure to be especially careful of approaching deadlines.
2. Assemble Your Team
Starting your own business is not a solo task. Choose a team of hardworking, dedicated individuals who can assist you in completing the steps outlined on this list. While hiring freelancers and temporary contractors is a valid strategy, you should also select permanent team members who will be dedicated to your business.
3. Money Aside
Most businesses will spend a significant part of their early life “in the red”. Make sure that your financial situation be stable and not at risk during this time by setting aside a “safety net” of emergency money. Ideally, you should have at least six months to a year’s worth of operating costs set aside before officially opening for business.
4. Choose a Name
This seemingly simple step is often overlooked by many small business owners. Your company’s name is an extremely important part of its identity – it needs to be catchy, relevant, memorable and, most importantly, easy to market. Once you’ve chosen a name or trademark,register it so that it belongs to your business alone.
5. Incorporate Your Business
Incorporation is the step which truly takes your business from “concept” to “entity”. However, small business owners have an important choice to make: what they choose to incorporate as.
You can become a sole proprietorship or partnership, which is a business closely tied to its owner to the point of personal liability. On the other hand, if you are willing to trade simplicity and ease of setup for a lack of personal liability, you can incorporate as a standard corporation (C-Corporation) or small corporation (S-Corporation).
Lastly, a relatively new option combines the best of both worlds: a limited liability corporation (LLC). This hybrid corporation allows the owner to file taxes similarly to a sole proprietorship while also removing the issue of personal liability.
6. Establish Your Online Brand
Once you’ve got a trademarked, incorporated name, it’s time to spread the word. Create social media accounts for your business on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. These accounts can be used to reach out to potential customers and announce sales and other important company events.
7. Design a Logo
Catch your audience’s eye with a colourful, unique logo. If you don’t have a graphics-focused team member, it’s worth spending money to hire a freelance designer – this image will become an integral part of your brand’s identity. Choose something simple and memorable which can easily be reprinted on flyers and business cards.
8. Obtain Office Space
Today, it is possible to conduct a business entirely online. However, many companies still choose to establish themselves in physical office space to encourage team collaboration and in-person communication with customers. You can choose to either purchase your own space or lease it from a landlord – just make sure you select a space which is safe, comfortable, and encourages productivity.
9. Set Up Record-Keeping
Now, it’s time to handle what is often considered the “less than exciting” side of things. You need to create a business bank account so that you have a place to store money when your company begins earning profits. It is also recommended to hire or appoint a member of your team as an accountant to oversee the management of transactions and funds.
You should also set up a record-keeping system to organise important documents such as employee timesheets, necessary operation permits, and sales receipts. Organisation will become one of the most valuable tools in your corporate arsenal as you navigate the chaotic early days.
10. Spread the Word!
Once you’ve completed all the steps listed above, it’s time to get your name out there. Hand out business cards, make posts on Facebook – your reach will be greatest if you adopt a blended strategy featuring both online and offline marketing. Your goal should be to establish a regular customer base, one that will keep coming back to your business as you grow and expand.
There’s no reason to wait – get started checking the steps on this list off today. These ten simple tasks will help you with some of the biggest early-day hurdles as you establish a solid base of roots from which your business can grow. With this business start-up checklist in hand, you can move forward with confidence!