Are you thinking about starting a business? If so, congratulations! Starting a company is one of the most rewarding things that people can do. That said, it’s important to take some time before you get started and make sure that your idea has potential and your plan is sound.
Table of Contents
Start A Business Checklist
To help guide you in this process, we have created an ultimate start a business checklist with 29 tasks divided into three categories: Beginning Basics, Financial Basics, and Marketing Basics.
Starting a business can make anyone a little apprehensive. To make it easier to get started, it’s essential to take a little time before you get started and make sure you have all the basics covered, outlined in the following 12 steps.
Research the industry and market you plan to enter.
The first and most important step on the start a business checklist is to research. It would be best if you had an idea of what you’re getting into. It’s essential to research the industry and market you plan to enter before jumping in headfirst. You need to know that your idea has potential and your plans are sound.
Write a business plan.
A business plan is a written document with your company’s goals, objectives, and strategies for the various parts of the business. It also points out potential problems which could happen in the future. Whether you’re flipping products or interested in making money publishing low content books, a business plan is a must.
This can be an extensive process, but it helps you guide yourself throughout your startup journey. Your goal should outline how much money you want to make with this business, what you will need to do to achieve that goal, and how long it should take. In addition, there are other essential items like your company’s mission statement or a list of the top competitors.
Choose a name for your company.
It would be best if you came up with a name for your company that is memorable and reflects the product or service you provide. Keep in mind that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to change this later on, so take some time when choosing your business’s moniker.
Some general tips include using easy-to-read font size and making sure the logo has enough room for wordplay (i.e., acronyms).
The best way to brainstorm is by taking into account what words describe you or your services well and then looking at available domain names.
Choose business hours of operation.
It is crucial to decide the hours of operation for your business.
Consider what time zone you’ll be working in and whether or not customers will find these times convenient, too.
Some tips include: picking a standard hour like Monday-Friday from nine until five, including Saturday mornings up until noon, or being open on Sundays through Thursdays only from noon to six p.m., etcetera. Remember that exceptions may apply depending on where you live and work (i.e., you might need some evening hours during the summer months).
The best way to figure out if this schedule works is by asking potential clients their thoughts about when they could use your services — it’s pretty unlikely that everyone shares the same time, but you’ll at least get a general overview. Of course, this will be different if you do everything online.
Outline a monthly and yearly budget.
Next on the start a business checklist, you’ll want to figure out what your monthly and yearly budget looks like. The amount you can spend will depend on what type of business you’re starting.
Monthly Budget: First, figure out your monthly budget by looking at how much money the business will make in a month (or multiply that number by 12 if you want to know your yearly income). This is an estimate now because it’ll change depending on who hires or purchases from you, but it’s a good start! Then divide this amount by four and write down the smallest number here as monthly revenue.
Yearly Revenue: Next, take your projected yearly revenue and divide it into twelve months so that each has one equal share. You can then subtract any living expenses such as rent, food, utilities, etcetera from these numbers before coming up with what remains.
Obtain required licenses and permits.
If your business requires licenses or permits, get them. If you are unsure of what these may entail, find out as soon as possible. For example, if your business involves a lot of physical activity, such as in the case with fitness instructors or sports coaches, it would be essential to obtain a permit for this type of thing.
You don’t want to run afoul of the law regarding licensing requirements because that could hamper your business before you even get it off the ground.
Choose a legal structure for your business.
Choose a legal structure for your business. This task is one of the first items on the start a business checklist because this will determine what type of paperwork you need to do, how taxes work, and other factors that are integral to the success or failure of your venture.
To choose which one would be best suited for you, there are various things to consider, such as whether people can own shares in it separately from each other, where liability falls within the company (making sure that ownership isn’t too heavily concentrated), and if any outside parties have a say in management decisions and more.
This decision needs careful consideration but once made, it should save time for filing paperwork with different agencies later on down the line.
Acquire a Federal Employer Identification Number.
For some businesses, especially those that are sole proprietors, your social security number might work. However, if you want to create the company separately from your personal life, an Employer Identification Number is the way to go.
You can get an EIN from the IRS by applying online.
The process usually takes about two weeks to be approved and will only take a few minutes to complete when you submit your application.
Find business insurance.
What does business insurance give you and why is this on the start a business checklist?
First, it will help protect your assets in case of injury or property damage.
Second, and most importantly for those using a home-based office or studio space as their business address (or if you do not have another office), liability insurance helps cover any legal proceedings that might be taken against you.
Thirdly, health care is something that should never be overlooked when starting a new company with employees. You want to make sure they’re covered, so the startup does not become bankrupt due to medical costs if one of them gets sick.
Find a lawyer.
You want a lawyer that knows how to protect you and your business.
There are a few different types of lawyers you should look for based on your needs.
A business lawyer will help you with any legal issues that arise, so they’re helpful to have through the whole process of starting and running your company. An employment law attorney is also important because it’s often difficult to find qualified employees and go through the hiring process without them.
Lastly, an intellectual property lawyer can keep track of any patents or trademarks necessary for your line of work–that way, no one else steals ideas from you and profits off them (like stealing someone’s idea for a new smartphone).
Become familiar with regulations and compliance requirements.
To start your own company, you must be familiar with what regulations are in place and which ones apply to you as an individual or small entity.
For example, if you want to sell food products through your home-based bakery, then there may be specific health requirements or inspections that need to take place before launch day. The same goes for any other type of product; it’s essential to know about these things ahead of time and have compliance procedures set up in advance, so nothing slips through the cracks.
Explore virtual office options for added services at a low cost.
A virtual office gives you a professional presence without the high cost of renting space. It’s an ideal solution for small business owners who want to maintain autonomy over their employees and operations while having access to added services like mail forwarding, conference calling, or secretarial support at a fraction of the cost associated with traditional offices.
The benefits alone make it worth considering when starting your own company and saving money in the long run; however, there are some drawbacks. So you’ll have to figure out what works best for you and your situation.
Next on the start a business checklist is the financial basics.
It’s essential to take care of the financial basics from the beginning so that you can be prepared for when your business takes off – which is why it should be one of the first steps in starting a company.
Select an accounting system.
Once you’ve selected and implemented an accounting system, gather all documents related to any assets or liabilities on hand at this time, such as receipts, invoices, contracts, bank statements (both personal and business), insurance policies, loans taken out, etcetera.
If auditing becomes necessary later down the line, everything will be ready for examination without delay. It also helps with reducing tax obligations since these are often calculated based on past expenses recorded by year-end balances rather than in real-time.
When it comes to the type of accounting system you choose, whether you’re selling low-content books or making money with stock video, there are a few things to consider, such as whether or not your business will be profitable in year one and if you want an automated solution that is web-based so it can be accessed from any device that has internet access.
If you’re good at accounting, you can start your own accounting business.
Make a plan to obtain funding/financing.
Next, decide if you need funding. This is important because even the most successful businesses find themselves in need of funding at some point.
If you decide that it’s necessary, then plan to obtain funding as soon as possible so you can develop your business without worrying about how you’ll be able to make payroll or pay for materials and inventory.
There are many different ways to obtain funds, such as seeking a traditional bank loan, applying for equity investments, turning to angel investors who might want an equity stake (in return for their investment), pursuing grant money from the government or private foundations, etcetera.
The best options depend on what type of financing your company needs but all require preparation before approaching potential funders with a proposal outlining why they should invest in your venture.
Open a bank account and a merchant account.
An important item on the start a business checklist is to get a business bank account that is separate from your personal account. Be sure not to use personal checks for payroll, invoicing, or any other operational reason — only corporate checks should be used when handling money for the company’s finances at this point.
The merchant account will allow you to accept credit card payments for your goods and services. The best way to get set up with both of these accounts is through the same company, as they can handle all of this in one place. It also usually takes less time than trying to do it yourself or find two different companies.
Select an accountant.
Just like you selected a lawyer in the previous section, here, you should focus on choosing an accountant.
Your accountant will be the one who works with you to file your taxes, keep track of finances, and make sure that all money transactions are accounted for correctly.
You can also use online resources like Yelp or Google Reviews if they’re available where you live. It’s important to take note of whether these references are clients or simply people trying out different companies — while it would be great if everyone loved their accountant, this is not always the case! It would be best if you got referrals from other business owners to find a good accountant.
Once again, do some research before making an appointment so that you know what sort of experience you’ll have ahead of time. This way, there won’t be any surprises when the bills start coming in.
If you have staff, find payroll services.
If you don’t have staff, you don’t need to worry about this. Skip to the next item on the start a business checklist. If you do, though, you should find a payroll service. This is especially useful if you’re not the most organized person in the world because someone else will take care of all of this for you!
The job of a payroll service is to handle all the tedious accounting and payroll stuff so that you don’t have to. It’s worth it for this reason alone, but there are other benefits too!
Payroll services usually help set up employee withholding taxes as well, and they can also provide tax filing support when necessary. They’re a real boon if you want to take care of everything without getting bogged down in paperwork or headaches from trying to figure out things like quarterly estimates on your own.
If you have employees, become familiar with labor laws.
If you don’t have employees, this is not something that will affect your business. If you do work with staff, then it’s essential to know the labor laws for the state where you live or operate so that there are no issues later on down the line.
There can be many complicated rules about overtime or breaks in different states and how much time should elapse between shifts if an employee works more than one job! It may sound like common sense, but I’ve seen people unaware of these things get into big trouble.
Finally, in regards to the start a business checklist, it would help if you took care of your marketing basics, which will help you find clients and customers willing to pay for your product or service.
Develop a business identity.
It’s a good idea to develop your company’s personality, even before it starts. Make sure you have an easily identifiable logo and slogan that will help people remember who you are. If they don’t know about the brand, then there won’t be any need for them to come back!
Developing your business identity includes building connections with influencers in related industries so that when someone searches their name on Google or Facebook, they’ll find yours too.
Finally, make sure everything has been set up correctly through social media accounts since many customers research businesses online these days instead of going into physical establishments.
Write and distribute a press release announcing your new business.
A press release is a great way to announce the launch or rebranding of your business and increase exposure, and is an important addition on the start a business checklist. In addition, it can help you generate more leads by reaching out to new prospects that find your story interesting.
How do I write one?
Press releases are written in three parts: First paragraph (who/what), second paragraph (why?), and third paragraph (how). The first sentence should be short and compelling so that readers will want to read on. Make sure there’s enough detail about your company but not too much detail that they lose interest halfway through reading! You must also include an active link back to where people can learn more about what you’re doing and contact information for further inquiries.
Register trademarks, copyrights, logos, patents, etc.
Registering these legally protects your business from being copied. This is important because it’s one of the only ways to protect your intellectual property.
Registering these isn’t cheap, but you can find much more affordable trademark registration and copyright protection alternatives if you’re starting. For example, in defending against a claim of infringement based on trademark use alone, some companies may be able to rely upon common law rights (e.g., without registering the mark), so long as they have been using that mark continuously from at least five years before someone else used it first.
This is called “priority” or “seniority” because such an entity has priority over later users who are infringing upon its established rights under federal trademark laws.
You should also register any patents – this will help make sure nobody steals your ideas or any other intellectual property.
Purchase a domain name for your website.
You should purchase a domain name so that when someone types in the web address, it will take them to your site and not somebody else’s or some other company altogether. Make sure you purchase one with keywords people might be searching for if they are looking for a product like yours. Otherwise, this may lead to confusion and potential customers going elsewhere instead of coming through on your business’ homepage.
There are lots of different places online where you can buy a domain name. Some of the more popular include:
- Google Domains
- Name Cheap
Find a web hosting company.
Like there are many places online to register a domain name, there are also lots of places online to sign up for web hosting.
To make it easy, I’ll recommend the one I use.
Bluehost is a good web hosting company for anyone.
Create a website.
The first step is to decide what website builder you want.
A popular and easy-to-use option for beginners is Wix.com.
Wix has a drag and drop functionality, so it’s not as complicated as other options like WordPress or Joomla! These two will require a little more time learning the ins and outs of how they work before you can start building your site with them, though – but if you’re looking at spending a lot of money on web design, then these might be worth considering too, especially if this isn’t your first rodeo).
However, Wix isn’t the only option. I use WordPress, and it works great for what I’m trying to do.
There are two options when it comes to building your website:
Design it yourself
Designing your website can be a great way to learn more about building websites, but it will take some time and effort. You’ll need to know how to design in HTML and CSS if you go this route, which everyone does. Suppose you’re interested in trying your hand at creating the site yourself.
In that case, there are many free tutorials available on YouTube that can teach you what skills you need – or you can do the same training I did to learn everything about building a website.
You could also use the same program I used to build this website. It’s called Straightline Web Design and I highly recommend it.
Pay someone to do it for you.
If you don’t want to design it yourself, you can pay someone to build it for you. Of course, if you go this route, you’ll have to pay a bit more. Keep in mind that while you may not be able to do it yourself, this can be a great way of getting the site designed quickly while spending more money.
There are plenty of sites where you can find designers who specialize in designing WordPress websites for businesses: Upwork (preferred), Fiverr, and Freelancer are just a few examples.
If you’re looking for someone local, there are likely freelancers or agencies near your location on these platforms too.
Once you’ve chosen which website builder to use, the next thing is deciding what type of account plan makes sense for your needs (you may have different.
Write a sales and marketing plan.
A sales and marketing plan is a document that outlines the strategy for your company in terms of both product offerings as well as relations with potential customers. It will be crucial to have one during any stage, from getting started to growing your business. Still, it’s vital when starting up because you want to come out strong right away – not only do you need people interested in what you offer, but also excited about it.
People tend to spend more time on sites they’re familiar with or ones that are easier to navigate, so if there isn’t an established customer base at first, then a good way around this can be through effective advertising campaigns like SEO (search engine optimization) which help increase traffic by making sure your website shows up highly among search engine results.
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of conducting a business, then it can be helpful to set up a blog or website to provide more information about what you do or are looking for. This way, people get an inside look into your world without having to worry that they might have invested time before realizing it’s not what they wanted.
Most importantly, one should never forget that there is no such thing as ‘the perfect plan.’ Whether starting on their venture or growing an existing company, entrepreneurs must constantly reassess priorities based on new circumstances while still being aware of future needs – which means flexibility is key.
Starting a business can be challenging. But, it doesn’t have to be complicated if you know what steps to take to make your company successful. Now that we’ve covered the basics of starting and running an online business, I hope this has been helpful for you on your entrepreneurial journey! It’s never too late in life to follow your dreams and pursue entrepreneurship–because there is always room for growth as long as you’re willing to work hard enough.
The steps in this start a business checklist may seem daunting, but if you take them one by one and focus on what’s most important to you in the early stages of your company’s development, nothing is stopping you from making it big! What are some other tips that will help me succeed as an entrepreneur? Let us know below.
Frequently Asked Questions
How old do I need to be to start a business?
There is no minimum or maximum age to start a company.
How do I get customers?
Start by telling people about your business, and make sure you have something for them to buy! There are many ways that companies can reach potential buyers–one popular approach is using search engine optimization (SEO) in your blog articles. Let me know if you would like me to write those for you.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a strategy for improving the visibility of your company’s website or web content in search results on sites like Google. It involves various factors, including link building and keyword choice, but it all starts with high-quality content that resonates with your customers.
What’s the most important thing to do when starting a business??
You have to figure out how you will make money. This can be accomplished in many ways, but the most common approaches offer a product or service and use advertising models (affiliate programs, for example).
Is the checklist the same for digital companies?
Not all of the questions on this list will apply to every company. For example, if you’re not selling a physical product or service, you won’t need office space or inventory management software.
Is starting a business worth it?
Starting a business can be stressful, but it also offers you the chance to learn new skills, boost your income, and make money. I think everyone should at least try to start their own business.
Question: What are the most common mistakes that new entrepreneurs make?
Some of the most common mistakes include not having enough money to last for six months, not knowing how much time and energy is needed to start a business, and making unrealistic assumptions about customer demand.
What’s the best way to avoid business pitfalls?
The best way to avoid business pitfalls is by educating yourself. You’ll need to know and understand all about the legal, financial, and marketing aspects of starting a business before you can get started.
When should you hire someone to help you with your business?
If you are interested in a business that requires lots of travel or long hours, it may be best to hire someone else to run the day-to-day operations. As you get bigger, you may want to hire a team of marketing experts or other staff members.