The Ultimate Business Startup Checklist

Starting your own business is probably one of the most important decisions of your life. Depending on your preparedness, it can be daunting or smooth-sailing. One of the most challenging tasks is knowing what all things need to be done to start your own business. This checklist is intended to help you answer that questions and provide a comprehensive list that you can check off. You can either start from the top and start checking off or check off items as you complete them according to your convenience.

Decide what your business is about.

Based on your interests, passion, strengths, and also based on market trends, opportunities, and profitability, shortlist your top 3 business ideas.

 Decide on the final business that you are most comfortable funding or financing it. This is a very important step that will drive rest of your business checklist.
Validate your business idea for viability

Do some more market research on potential customers, their problems that need to be solved, competitors, products/services in the market, price points and barriers to entry. Interview potential customers about your potential products/services and proposed price points to validate your business.

Business Plan

The thoroughness of your business plan depends a lot on your funding sources. If you are planning to fund it yourself, you can get away with a brief and a one-page business plan to capture the most important items. If you are seeking funding from external sources (banks or venture capital), you need to invest in a thorough business plan.

The key elements of a business plan are:

  • ​Company overview
  • ​Target market
  • ​Proposed products and services
  • Price points
  • Marketing and sales plan
  • Key milestones (minimum one year)
  • Management team
  • Financial statements.

Formal organizational structure

  • ​Decide on a legal business structure. Do you want it to be a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), S Corporation, C Corporation, partnership or a sole proprietorship? Seek professional (legal and other experts) help if necessary.
  • ​Hire a general business attorney for contract and general items and an Intellectual Property (IP) attorney to protect your IP
  • ​Decide on a distinctive business name and register it with the secretary of state.
  • ​Decide on a domain name for your business website and register it.
  • ​Decide on a webhost
  • ​Either build a website (if you are an expert) or get one built professionally
  • ​File for a registered trademark if you want to protect the branding of your company or products / services
  • ​Obtain necessary federal or state or city licenses
  • Apply for your State tax id number and necessary registration
  • ​Apply for a Federal tax Id number (Employer Identification Number or EIN for short) with Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Financing and Accounting

  • ​Open a business bank account
  • ​Build a relationship with your banker. You might not need a loan but you never know
  • ​Set up an accounting system or hire an accountant
  • ​Estimate your start-up costs as well as overall funds needed at least for one year. Preferably, you need to be planning for two years.
  • ​If you are self-financing it, transfer the necessary funds to your business bank account.
  • ​If you need external financing, you need to do some additional work as outlined in business plan. Primarily, you need financial statements such as sales forecast, profit & loss statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet at the very least.
  • ​Purchase insurance (the type of insurance you’ll need will vary depending on your business)
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • ​General liability insurance
  • ​Property or casualty coverage
  • Life insurance
  • Disability insurance

Facilities, Location, Equipment and Hiring

By this time, you’d have made a key decision on the type of business i.e. online business, home business, consulting/advisory business or a business that needs a physical location (retail or wholesale). Online, home, and consulting type of businesses do not need a physical location separate from your home. If you are planning to use your home, please make sure that you have obtained appropriate city / state licenses and adequate insurance to run your business. Here is the detailed checklist in this section.

  • ​Find an appropriate business location. Even though this is a simple bullet point, a lot goes into finding and finalizing the most suitable location. For some retail businesses, location is THE most important deciding factor in the success of that business.
  • ​Determine needed full-time, part-time, or outsourced employees.
  • ​Write detailed job descriptions
  • ​Reach out to hiring agencies and / or advertise for the jobs
  • ​Interview and hire employees
  • ​Determine if your business needs extensive technology setup and Point-Of-Sale systems.
  • ​Computers, printers, copiers/fax machines, paper shredder, and other office supplies
  • ​Projector, whiteboard etc. for brainstorming and ideation
  • ​Billing and payment systems
  • ​Email system and Phone Systems

​Brand your business

​A unique and differentiated brand identity is important for any business. Key brand elements are:

  • ​Unique selling proposition or Unique value proposition or key brand message
  • ​Brand color scheme or font (for print as well as web and social media)
  • ​Business cards, Notecards, labels etc.

​Market and launch your business

​A unique and differentiated brand identity is important for any business. Key brand elements are:

  • ​Create social media profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, Instagram etc.
  • ​Establish email marketing
  • ​Get ready to promote and launch your business.
  • ​Create a marketing plan
  • ​Network and join relevant trade groups or associations
  • ​Create your marketing materials
  • ​Shop signs
  • ​Brochures and flyers
  • ​Press Releases about launch
  • ​Organize an opening day

We hope this comprehensive checklist will get you started quickly. Please feel free to read more articles like these at RameshDontha.Com.