A Checklist for Starting Your Business
As your business grows, you will encounter new opportunities and challenges. Your network of professional advisors — your attorney, CPA, banker and more — can help you navigate them. You will be pushed to grow beyond what you think is possible, but persistence and determination are keys to your success.
Remember what you’ve read in this book, and, as you are starting your business, use it as a guide to ensure you’ve done the work necessary to build a viable business. Be sure you’ve thoroughly researched the business you want to start, and that you have taken plenty of time to write a thoughtful, detailed business plan.
Be sure to keep your family involved in every step of your journey to start a new business, and tell them often about your progress. Set goals for yourself and your business, and create personal and business budgets so you know how much money you have and how much you need for your new business. Talk to professionals and build a team of advisors, including an accountant, an attorney and an insurance agent, who can guide you. Take a bookkeeping class and learn the basics so you can always stay informed about the financial health of your business.
Find a location for your business and begin assembling the equipment and supplies you need. Tell everyone you know about your new business, and plan the types of marketing and advertising you will use to promote your business. When you have questions, look for resources such as Small Business Administration offices or Women’s Business Center that can give you guidance, and search online for web sites that offer help to small businesses.
Throughout the process of starting your business, develop the habit of using a paper or electronic organizer, and learn to carefully manage your time so you can be as productive as possible and stay focused on your goals.
This checklist will serve as a reminder of many essential tasks that you, a new entrepreneur, need to do to build a solid foundation for your business. If you can do everything in this book, on this checklist, you can run a business.
To Do (Chapter 1)
- Research businesses you want to start.
- Organize your notes about your research.
- Talk to your family about your plan to start a business.
To Do (Chapter 2)
- Create a financial plan so you know how much money you have to go into business.
- Write a business plan.
- If you have found a business you’d like to buy, in addition to answering questions for your business plan, gather the appropriate financial documents from the seller.
To Do (Chapter 3)
- Make a goal card.
- Make a budget for yourself and/or your family.
- Make a plan to begin saving some amount of money each month.
- Get a copy of your credit report. Begin taking steps to improve your credit.
To Do (Chapter 4)
- Estimate your business expenses.
- Using your personal budget and business expense list as a guide, estimate how much money your business and family will require each month.
- Begin researching loan options.
To Do (Chapter 5)
- Contact an attorney.
- Contact a certified public accountant (CPA).
- Contact a financial institution.
- Contact an insurance agent.
- Contact the city, county and state agencies.
- Contact the Department of Revenue.
- Contact the Department of Health.
- Contact the Department of Labor.
- Register your business name.
- Contact a real estate broker to help you find a location for your business.
- Select a business location; have your attorney review any lease before you sign it.
To Do (Chapter 6)
- Set up a business budget.
- Set scheduled times to review your business bills, inventory your supplies, and perform other tasks.
To Do (Chapter 7)
- Make a list of equipment and supplies you need at first for your business.
- Set up your files.
- Set up your office.
- Buy an electronic organizer or appointment calendar.
- Make lists to keep track of tasks that must be done daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly.
To Do (Chapter 8)
- Write a statement about your business that will help you define your brand.
- Design a logo or have one designed for you.
- Create or order business cards/flyers.
- Make a list of people you know personally and begin actively marketing to them.
- Review the marketing plan in your business plan or create a new one.
- Find a web site designer and have a web site created and/or start a blog for your business.
- Find out what business networking groups are available to you and what their membership fees cost.
- Find out what a chamber of commerce membership costs and what services are available to you.
Make sure you are as informed and prepared as possible; knowledge can help you avoid many mistakes and problems as you launch your business. Review this checklist to be sure you have not missed any essential steps described in this book to help you start your business. Even though you may feel more comfortable handling some tasks than others, each is an important part of realistically developing your solid, financially healthy business. Each step will take you closer to your goal of building a sound business that will survive and thrive.
“(Owning a business is) a risk. Every day, you have to keep taking them. Will people buy this? Should I order more? Try something different? Is this too expensive? Is this too cheap? You have to spend money to make money, and that’s scary. … I get excited when something sells, or I get a new client, or finish a project I’m proud of, but then you have to go right back to making it all happen. It’s a jump, a leap of faith. Every day. But it’s worth it.” - Jamie Meares, entrepreneur and designer
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