20 Startup Checklist for your New Business
For starting a new business, there are certain things that must be taken into consideration.
Oftentimes, once you get over the initial excitement of launching a startup, the reality of actually starting steps in, you might get overwhelmed with the sheer number of items on your to-do list, but there’s no need to worry.
We have summarized into 10 basic places the tasks you need to check off your list before you launch your new business:
1. Determine viability
Your startup needs to be something you can make a profit doing or delivering. Ask yourself, if you were in your client’s shoes, would you patronize you? It is also important to ascertain whether your target customers can pay enough so that you can cover costs and make a profit.
2. Create a business plan
It’s easy to convince yourself that you don’t need a business plan, but creating a business plan with financial projections forces you to think through details. Keep your plan a living breathing thing that you revisit and adapt regularly.
3. Figure out the money
Most startups take a lot more time to get off the ground than you expect. Know where your living expenses for the first year will come from (savings, a job, spouse’s income, etc.). If you need financing for the business start investigating as soon as possible.
4. Get family behind you
Spend time to make sure your spouse and other close family ‘buy into’ your startup. You’ll have enough challenges without resistance from family.
5. Choose a business name
You want a name that will stick in your target audience’s heads. And it shouldn’t already be taken by another company. Do Google searches and use a corporate name search tool to see if the name you have in mind is unique. Check at the state and Federal level.
6. Register a domain name
Get a matching domain to your business name. An AOL email address or a website with free hosting and a name like mysite.wordpress.com makes it seem like either (a) you are not running a real business or (b) you don’t plan to be around long.
7. Incorporate / figure out legal structure
Incorporating your startup can protect your personal assets. Talk over structure (corporation, LLC, sole proprietorship) with your attorney and accountant.
8. Investigate and apply for business licenses
You may need one, if not several, business licenses for your startup, depending on your industry and where you are located. Most licenses are at the state or local level. Here in the United States, the SBA has a helpful business license and permits tool.
9. Set up a website
Get your website up and running as soon as possible. Today, it’s necessary for credibility. Even if your product is not yet built, you can start with company information.
10. Register social media profiles
Getting set up on the major social media channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, to start) will make marketing on them later easier. Also, it’s important to reserve your brand as a profile name. Try Knowem.com to reserve the names.
11. Order business cards
As a startup founder, you’ll be doing a lot of networking, so order plenty of business cards. They are inexpensive enough that you can reorder them later if things change. Without cards you lack credibility.
12. Open a business bank account
It’s all too easy to use your personal bank account to pay for business expenses, but it becomes a gnarl to untangle later.
13. Hire your first employee (if applicable)
Depending on the type of business you have, you may need staff from day one (retail) or you may be able to outsource to freelancers, interns, and third-party vendors for a while (service and tech businesses).
You must also keep in mind that trying to do everything yourself takes you away from growing the business.
14. Line up suppliers and service providers
Finding a good source of inventory is crucial, especially in certain types of businesses (retail, manufacturing). Beyond inventory, line up good reliable suppliers and service providers so you don’t have to sweat the details.
15. File for trademarks and patents
The best thing to do is consult an attorney early about the need for patents, especially. Get the advice early. Then you may be able to defer filing for a while, depending on the nature of your business.
16. Expand your network
Reach out to former co-workers and colleagues, as well as friends and family. Don’t pressure them to buy your products or services. Instead, tap into them for introductions and help with other things on this startup checklist.
17. Refine your pitch
You need a good elevator pitch for many reasons: potential investors, customers, prospective new hires, bankers. This would help fine tune how you pitch your business and attract key stakeholders to buy in.
18. Refine your product, and marketing and sales approach
As you go along you will learn more about the marketplace. Use customer feedback to refine your product and service offerings, and your go-to-market approach.
19. Secure your IT
Whether you’re running a tech company or not, you likely have sensitive data on computers and devices that you want protected. Protect it from intrusions and disasters. Back it up! IT problems can derail a fledgling company.
20. Get a mentor
A mentor who has succeeded in your industry can provide you with priceless advice and serve as a sounding board.