Do you know that starting a small business without a business startup checklist is the major reason why most businesses failed?
You may have heard that starting a business seem like an endeavor of immeasurable scope. This is because of the many facets that need to be worked on…
In a nutshell, starting a business is the beginning of an exciting – and sometimes challenging period in an entrepreneur’s life.
This is because you will find yourself immersed in a whole new world of strategic planning, marketing, licensing, leasing, and insurance – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
That said, Business Startup Checklist is one document that enables you to cross all the Ts and dot all the Is regarding your business idea
We have created a checklist to help guide you through the early stages of establishing your business.
Follow the steps as described in this post to help you clarify somethings and determine if you are ready to go into business, how you will get started and where to seek help in the process.
This is where the preliminary work begins because you will need to work very hard here and focus on getting the job done.
It might require that you painfully inconvenient yourself all day, yet really getting set up is essentially down to ensuring you’ve “checked all the boxes.
Which is precisely what this business startup checklist is designed to enable you to do.
Once you’ve framed your business idea and know where you’ll obtain the money to fund your new start-up, the next step is following our instructions for starting your business right the first time!
Starting and running a business has many benefits. You can be your own boss, achieve your dreams and enjoy greater flexibility. Have freedom and be independent. However, it also involves hard work, frustrations, and setbacks.
An important step in assessing your suitability to start a business is to consider the realities you may face.
As a business coach, I am frequently asked for a checklist of items to consider when starting a business.
To this end, here are my seven steps business startup checklist which has been compiled to show the things you need to get done in starting a small business enterprise.
These things apply to even large organizations but our focus is on small businesses.
The different tasks to be undertaken have been categorized into various units for ease and for further study on the subject matter.
These categories will enable you to complete each stage of beginning the process.
If you need to quickly pull this through you can get a copy of our Business Startup Checklist to be sure you are properly guided. Enter your details below to download it
Without much ado, you can read through the detail steps of the Business Startup Checklist below.
Steps in the Business Startup Checklist:
Every one of the tasks in our business startup checklist belongs to one of the following overarching steps:
- Assessing your opportunity (what do you want?)
- Make a commitment to your business
- Branding your business
- Your business financing
- Planning for your business
- Setting up to operate
- Marketing and launching your business
1. Assessing your Opportunity (what do you want?)
A decent business idea or thought isn’t only one that is profitable. It’s one that is a solid match for you personally, for your target market, and for your location.
Remember you are going to be in business for a very long time, and so you will want to pick a niche you can live and relax.
Below are some of the things you need to pay careful attention to.
- Why do you want to start a business?
- Conduct a SWOT analysis to identify your strengths and weaknesses involved in your business idea
- Assess your strengths and weaknesses as an entrepreneur
- Come up with a business idea that caters to your strengths
- Establish business and personal goals
- Decide whether you want to provide a product or a service
- Decide if you want to build an online business or bricks and mortar.
- Define what success looks like for you
- Do your research and ensure you know your market
- Assess how much capital you have to risk and how long it will last
- Determine if you want the business to be part-time or full-time.
- Discuss your plans with family members to ensure they are behind you.
2. Make Commitment to your Business
Planning on starting a business for the first time will change a lot about you including your lifestyle, professionally and personally, and can involve a substantial financial commitment.
You will have to make commitments to assess how relevant your business idea is and how it fits the problems of your immediate society.
You may start by making a commitment to talk to real people about their opinion of your business idea or you can use other methodology to figure out your market.
Whether your business succeeds or fails depends on many things including your abilities, initiative, and capacity to work, as well as the economic and business environment.
Here is a list of what to do
- Make a list of business ideas that fit your strengths and interests.
- Identify businesses that are having success today.
- Define and Understand the problem(s) your business will solve.
- Summarize the “solution” your business offers
- Figure out the best place to set up shop
- Outline the team that will help you execute your idea
- Define the market you want to pursue and your target customer.
- Validate your idea by talking to potential customers about it.
- Evaluate how customers solve this problem today, as well as what the competition offers.
- Map out business milestones or goals and the plan on how and when to achieve them.
- How will your business team functions and what will be the key responsibility of each member?
- What advantages does your solution have over your competitors?
- Create a quick financial plan, identifying costs and forecasted sales to see if your business can get you to a profit.
- Estimate your basic expenses and forecast sales to ensure that you can make a profit with your business
- Interview potential customers as a way of validating your idea to ensure that they have the problem you are trying to solve
- Validate your idea also by interviewing potential customers to validate that your solution is something your customers will pay for.
- Validate your idea: Determine if your initial price points will work for your customers
3. Branding Your Business
A strong brand can be the difference maker for your business. This separates yourself from competitors. Helps you create marketing campaigns that grow your company.
It helps you create an emotional connection with your audience. It is the key to customer loyalty and higher sales.
Branding is so important and all-encompassing in reality, a lot of small business owners struggle when they set out to brand their business.
This is where all the hard work is rewarded. It enables you to know a bit more about your target audience. It is an opportunity—through your brand—to grab your target market attention. And of course, to have fun doing it!
Here are a few things to do while branding your business;
- Select your business name and search the internet to make sure it’s not being used or choose a brand name you know you can trademark
- Register your business name
- Decide on your “brand message,” also known as your unique selling proposition or value proposition
- Develop a tagline
- Identify your brand’s “tone of voice”—the heart and soul of all your written communication, your voice is what you say and how you say it
- Define what your brand looks like (choose a color scheme and fonts)
- Decide on a legal structure or business structure and incorporate
- Register a domain name and get your website up and running.
- Establish your company’s accounting plan: get an accountant, select an accounting system, and a fiscal year.
- Create a logo
- Obtain any federal and state licenses or permits that you need
4. Planning for Your Business
Effective business planning can be the key to your success. While that is said, you don’t necessarily need to write a 25 to 30-page business plan before you start your business.
A business plan can help you secure finance, prioritize your efforts and evaluate opportunities.
For a start, you can start with what I call a one-page business plan which is like a one-page pitch that pinpoints the very essentials.
You may also decide to sum up the key activities to form a five-page business plan.
Even though writing a full business plan may initially seem like a lot of work; however, a well-prepared business plan can save you time and money in the long run.
There are no rules about what your plan should cover or the level of detail. In general, plans need to include information regarding the sections listed below;
- An Executive Summary that summarizes your entire business plan
- Company Overview that includes basic information and a summary of the management team.
- Product Description describing your products or services and what problems they solve.
- Market Analysis that describes the total market and your target market, specific segment needs, competitive offerings available, and any trends that will affect the analysis.
- An Operating Plan for the business, such as operating hours, number of employees, key suppliers, or seasonal adjustments your business might need to adjust to.
- Marketing and Sales Plan that includes a “Go to Market” or launch plan, pricing, how your business will generate leads, and close new business.
- A Financial Plan that shows a startup cost, break-even analysis, projected profit and loss and projected cash flows.
- An appendix that provides additional information that could not be captured or elaborate in the main sections.
You can download our business plan template and guide to assist you to complete your plan
5. Financing Your Business
Every step taken in starting and growing your business comprises learning, testing, and exploring different options.
Funding your small business is no different. Getting the right financing options for your business starts with your understanding of what you have available.
Depending on situations and circumstances, the perfect funding solution may vary.
Also note that while it’s not every business Startup that needs outside funding, most businesses do require some help to kick start.
Having a well-prepared business plan should always take care of your financials.
Even if it means pitching it to Angel investors, bankers or what have you.
Things to note include but not limited to;
- Estimate your start-up costs
- Decide on the source of financing your business
- Prepare the relevant financial statements
- Refine your elevator pitch for investors
- Open a business bank account
- Set up an accounting system
- Know your exit strategy
A lot of business start-ups especially those providing services do not really need start-up funding. Critical planning can help you stay on track to achieve your goals.
If you’re a freelance writer, a graphic designer, a management consultant, a web designer, a business plan writer, or anyone else making use of a skill that doesn’t need a lot of money behind it, just get started.
6. Setting Up to Operate
Since almost all businesses need a physical business location. You are requiring to locate one, set it up and furnish it to your taste. you’ll be ready to begin marketing.
- Find and secure a business location, even home offices need good design.
- Define your staffing needs (do you need full-time, part-time, or freelance employees?)
- Identify and set up any needed technology: Point of Sale (POS) System, Email, Phones, CRM, Billing and Payment systems
- Ensure your technology systems are secure with your information or customer information.
- Set up an Accounting system
7. Market and Launch Your Business
Now its time to let people know what you have been preparing for the scene.
This is your opportunity to get things going according to plans! you’ll be able to spread the word yourself, as well as ask others to do their bit in getting promoting your business.
- Create a marketing plan and marketing materials
- Create and fine-tune an Elevator Pitch through conversations with anyone who will list.
- Begin distributing or displaying your marketing materials: shop signs, brochures, or banners.
- Purchase hosting and Build your website
- Online, initiate digital marketing through blogs, emails, or SEO strategies to drive traffic to your website.
- Let the local or regional press know you are opening.
- Utilize Guerrilla Marketing tactics to generate traffic.
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If you will like a more in-depth information on any of the topics listed in the business Startup checklist above, check our Know the Basics section for a list of articles that will get you up and run in no time!
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