Starting a Business: The 8 Things That Should Be on Your Checklist
When starting any new endeavor, getting off on the right foot is best. Becoming an entrepreneur is no different; your ability to maintain a positive, productive attitude depends on your planning skills. Here are eight items that should be on your startup checklist, no matter what field you’re going into.
Come up with a Business Plan
Business doesn’t run on good intentions or wishful thinking. If you’re truly serious about succeeding, you’ll devise a strategy that charts a clear path forward with actionable, concrete steps.
What should your business roadmap include? It’s about way more than vague executive summaries or investor pitches. At a bare minimum, you should get specific about defining the following:
- The goal that you hope to fulfill;
- The strategies that you’ll use to accomplish the mission;
- Market, consumer base, and competitor analyses;
- SWOTs, or strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats;
- Operations plans;
- Marketing and outreach strategies;
- Financial analysis;
- Leadership, ownership, legal and organizational structures;
- and Key performance indicators, or KPIs, that you’ll use to quantify your success.
Although every business model is different, the uniqueness of your dreams is no excuse for insufficient planning. Even if you change your tactics later, you should define these basics before diving in. Thorough planning is the best way to ensure that your organization can survive its inevitable ups and downs.
Handle the Legal Formation Requirements
You must follow applicable laws whether you want to operate in-state or internationally. This means registering as a business entity, obtaining a license, filing for permits, and submitting the proper paperwork for specific jurisdictions.
Each state is different, so these procedures can be confusing. Check out our guides to learn more about the nuances of starting enterprises like LLCs.
Build a Base of Operations
Are you planning on revolutionizing the tech world or capturing the hearts of consumers with innovative sales strategies? Your factory, R&D facility, storefront, or warehouse could make or break you.
Refer back to your business plan to identify the operations and activities essential to your mission. Find a space that accommodates them the most cost-effectively and sustainably.
Get Your Finances Right
Funding a business out-of-pocket is often an unwelcome necessity for entrepreneurs, but it should never be the default. Professional leaders always maintain a healthy degree of fiscal separation by keeping the following in check:
- Opening independent business bank accounts;
- Setting up credit cards and other payment methods for authorized employees;
- Linking bills, supply fees, and other accounts payable to their business accounts;
- and instituting purchasing guidelines that all employees, including the leaders, must adhere to.
Countless people go into business to make money. Still, many fail because they don’t know how to handle their assets responsibly. Eliminate temptation, make oversight easier, and simplify your accounting workload by instituting dedicated finance practices.
Use a Dashboard
Modern startup leaders have it a thousand times harder than their entrepreneurial predecessors did in previous generations. Today, you must market, manage and hold meetings seemingly all at once, and you rarely get time off to pat yourself on the back for good performance.
Human talent comes at a premium, so why waste it on administrative tasks that machines could perform better? Use dashboards and other software tools to track performance indicators, manage customer relationships, cultivate leads, publish digital marketing content, and schedule alerts that let you know when it’s time to move projects to the next stage.
Insurance isn’t a prerequisite for every form of business, but there’s nothing wrong with playing it safe. Is there even the slightest chance that your activities might expose someone else to losses or damage? Save yourself the trouble of potentially going bankrupt in court: get business coverage before opening your doors.
Get a Real or Virtual Business Address
A physical address, whether a real or virtual business address, is a good idea, even if you’re operating exclusively in the digital world. Since a real-world address makes you look more professional and less like a fly-by-night operation, it imbues your consumers with confidence.
Keep Yourself Honest
Creating an organizational culture of accountability is a big part of being a successful entrepreneur. However, this doesn’t just mean holding your staff members to their word. It’s equally important to hold yourself accountable.
Return to your business plan KPIs and any others you identify along the way. Use these standards to analyze your organization’s performance continually. Keeping everyone on the same page is the easiest way to ensure you can get back on track even if someone drops the ball.