I’ve compiled a list of 21 things that should be comprehensive in terms of creating a start-up. Throughout the process there are things to consider, that you may not have thought of yet. Taking the time to consider your options, plan things out, and do the necessary prep-work is the best way to start off on the right foot, and make sure that there are minimal surprises down the road. It’s a way to mitigate the risk of starting a new venture.
Depending on your venture, and where you’re at, this process could take anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months, to two years. You may need to prototype your solution multiple times, gain traction, and go back to the drawing board to get things just right. But getting all your ducks in a row, early, will serve you throughout this process, and keep things simple.
1.Business Plan & Financials (Based On Research & Trends) – Compiling a realistic, clean, and clear business plan that will guide your venture, and anyone looking to be a part of it, is an essential first step in creating a company. It doesn’t need to be extraordinarily long, but it needs to be professional, descriptive, and well thought out. There are plenty of Business Plan & Financial Templates online that you can use to fill in and explore as you complete this portion.
- Business Plan Templates – SCORE – Business News Daily – Forbes
- Financial Templates – Smartsheet – BDC – Finmark
- Questions: What are you creating for the world? How Does Your Vision Or Value Proposition Fill A Need or Niche Within Your Community? How is your business solving Climate Change, or Healing People, or Both? In what ways is it better than what’s out there? In what ways may it not be? How much funding will you require? What’s your projected time to profitability?
As you go through this process, you’ll learn so much about the hard facts surrounding your industry and your community. Use the learning process to fine – tune your vision, and remember that being customer-oriented will ultimately win people over to your side. Put your mind, in their mind.
2. Website, Domains, & Hosting – Find a home for your business on the internet. Depending on your needs you can have a website built for anywhere between $300 to $10,000 or more. You can also build one yourself if you have an eye for aesthetic. If you’re thinking long-term and have a lot of things you’d like to house online, then it would make sense to use a web design service that’s beyond a simple drag-and drop website.
3. Branding & Logo – Find a designer or company who will bring your logo & branding idea to life. Depending on the company you’re creating, this may be more (or less) important. There’s plenty of cost-effective options, but if you want something that stands out you may do well to find a designer who’s able to bring a level of authenticity and craftsmanship into your business that may pay off in the long run. Branding & a logo are how people will remember you & your business.
4. Legal Business Structure – Find the business structure that meets your needs, and matches your long term vision for the future. Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation, Limited Liability Company, or even a Non-profit. Below is a link that will walk you through each of the structures, and let you know what’s going to be best for you.
5. Business Bank Account – You can’t run a business with your primary checking or savings account. You have to do it through a separate business bank account. This is helpful for tax, accounting, and legal purposes. To start a business bank account, you’ll need to have your business documents (EIN & Proof of Registry, etc.). If you register your business through an online filing company like incfile, you can easily download the documents and bring them to your chosen bank.
6. Business Insurance – Most businesses require some level of insurance to cover property damage or liability claims. This keeps you from paying out of pocket if expensive equipment is damaged, or something else happens that results in extra costs on your end. If you have employees you will be required to have workers compensation, unemployment, and disability insurance.
7. Register For Tax IDs – Taxes can be filed quarterly or once a year. It’s better to apply for this, sooner than later, before you start earning revenue and selling.
- IRS – Register to obtain an EIN number
8. Start Compiling Tax Deductible Business Expenses – The government, on some level, rewards economic and entrepreneurial activity and gives tax breaks for start-up expenses. Start recording all the expenses that go into starting your business. $5,000 in business start-up costs and $5,000 in organizational costs can be deducted if your total startup costs are $50,000 or less. If they’re more, your deductions will be reduced.
9. Create Social Network Accounts – Set up all the social networking accounts that you’d like to share your companies content on. Find cross-platform posting software that will allow you to post to all of them at once, allowing you to save time, and automate your messaging.
10. Create A System For Receiving & Recording Payments – Depending on the size of the company an accountant will be able to help with this
11. Build The Right Team & Network – How many people will you need to build this company? What’s their skillset, experience, personality, values, and mindset? How much funding will you have to pay them in the beginning? As you expand?
Will you need a lawyer, accountant, a web designer, a graphics designer, an assistant, etc?
12. Determine What Technology, Software, & Systems You’ll Need – Things that will streamline processes, save time, and organize all the information that your business will process day to day, from communications, to sales, to project management, to plugins, to branding & design, etc. What equipment, and programs will you need to purchase to run your business smoothly from day to day?
13. Determine Funding & Financing – If you’re looking to borrow money for your venture, you’ll have to take a look at all your options and see what’s best for you. There a number of ways to borrow money, including grants, business loans, personal loans, credit cards, investors, venture capital and more, but these are the main ones. It’s difficult to get loans from a bank for business, unless you have around three years of business history, and can reasonably pay back the bank, but it’s also one of the safest options in terms of financing a business because they’re (generally) lower interest rates, and you don’t lose any equity.
How much will you need to borrow? How much equity would you like to retain?
Minimizing investment helps you retain equity and ownership, but having money earlier on can save you time in building a company. If you’re thinking about your equity – think about how much money, time, and energy you’ve invested and created at the time by which you’re looking to add investment to your business so that you can evaluate what’s a reasonable deal to strike with an investor. Everything you’ve put into building a company (network, connections, intellectual property, and other forms of work) are all value that you’ve created that build up the value of your business, that need to be accounted for when making a pitch to and negotiating with investors.
14. Look Into All Licenses & Permits – Obtain a local business license to do business in your area as well as a DBA. Make sure to have all the proper licenses (depending on your industry) in place before you begin searching for funding, or have the costs of the licenses written into your funding request.
15. Research & Connect With Vendors, Suppliers, Or Manufacturers – Determine what supplies & resources you’ll need. Then do the research to find the suppliers that you believe are in you & your business’s best interest (cost, ecologically sound, distance from supplier, etc.).
16. Create A Marketing & Promotion Plan – This part will be in the business plan, but some other things to consider. Creating copywriting that speaks to the needs and heart of your customers. Choosing a CRM software, depending on how large you plan to grow, is essential to store all your customers (or potential customers) information. If you’re thinking long-term, it may be wise to pick out a CRM software, early, that will meet your needs down the road.
17. Have A Strong Support System – Make sure to have people in your life who want to see you win and succeed. People who will be there when things get difficult. People who will grow alongside you. This will smooth out the downs, and help to celebrate the highs.
18. Understand The Skills & Knowledge You’ll Need – When starting a business, generally, there’s always a gap in our skills and knowledge that will need to be filled throughout the process of beginning a venture. Selling, Presentation, & funding are some more obvious ones that you may have to pick up. Having knowledge of everything happening within your business is also important. You don’t have to understand everything about financial accounting, but it might serve you to understand it a bit.
Determine what gaps you have to fill, and have a plan to fill those gaps throughout your process.
19. Have A Business Map – Having a map that has everything involved in your business, is incredibly helpful when dealing with a lot of information. It brings a sense of cohesion, order, and control into handling a company. Use a project map to pull everything together and have it all in one place, keeping it organized.
20. Contracts – Have a complete set of contracts, or drafts of contracts that you can edit as necessary for delivery of services, NDA, NCA, legal agreements, and anything else you may require as you move through different areas of running your business.
21. Remind Yourself Why You’re Starting – This is process can be daunting, or it can be liberating. If you handle it with a sense of rational and purpose, it can be incredibly rewarding too. Enjoy the process, as new ideas and realizations will hit you about what it means to run a business, or a company, and you’ll grow as a result.
Depending on the business you’re starting, some of this checklist won’t be as necessary for you, at the stage your at. That said, the more you set up initially, the smoother things will go in the long run as things expand. You won’t need to retrace your steps to figure something out later on.
If you’re brand new to everything, it’s okay to take your time to absorb all the necessary content, and methodically go through your process in a way that makes sense for you. Investors will appreciate you more if they can tell you’ve taken the time to understand everything about your business, your industry, and your product or offer before you bring it to them asking for their money.
Wishing you all the success that you’re fully capable of.