When starting any new endeavor, it’s best to get off on the right foot. Becoming an entrepreneur is no different, and your ability to maintain a positive, productive attitude depends on your planning skills. Here are eight items that definitely ought to be on your startup checklist no matter what field you’re going into. Starting a Business


  1. Come up with a Business Plan

Business doesn’t run on good intentions or wishful thinking. If you’re truly serious about succeeding, then 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 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 the inevitable ups and downs it will face.


  1. Handle the Legal Formation Requirements

Whether you want to operate in-state or internationally, you’ll need to follow applicable laws. This means registering as a business entity, obtaining a license, filing for permits and submitting the right paperwork for specific jurisdictions.

Each state is different, so these processes can be confusing. Check out our guides to learn more about the nuances of starting enterprises like LLCs.


  1. 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 kinds of operations and activities that are essential to your mission. Find a space that accommodates them cost-effectively and sustainably.


  1. 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

  • 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, but many fail because they don’t know how to handle assets responsibly. Eliminate temptation, make oversight easier and simplify your accounting workload by instituting dedicated finance practices.


  1. 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.


  1. Get Insured

Insurance isn’t a prerequisite for every form of business, but there’s nothing like 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.


  1. Get a Real or Virtual Business Address

Having a physical address whether it be 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.


  1. Keep Yourself Honest

Creating an organizational culture of accountability is a big part of being a successful entrepreneur. This doesn’t just mean holding your staff members to their word, however. It’s equally important to hold yourself accountable.

Go back to your business plan KPIs and any others that you identify along the way. Use these standards to analyze your organization’s performance on a continual basis. Keeping everyone on the same page from the start is the easiest way to ensure that even if someone drops the ball somewhere, you can get back on track efficiently. 

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