Top 30 Checklist on Starting a New Business

checklist new business Jan 01, 2022
Top 30 Checklist on Starting a New Business

So, you’re starting a new business! Once you get over the initial excitement, it’s time to break down the process of launching your start up into manageable chunks.

You might get overwhelmed with the sheer number of items on your to-do list. But not to worry; we’ve broken down this start-up checklist into the primary tasks you need to do now, and those that you can defer until later.

 

Stage1: What You Need to Do Now

 

Do the following tasks either before launch or during the early days post launch:

 

1. Determine viability

Be brutally honest. Your business needs to be something you can make a profit doing or delivering. Ask yourself: would you buy it? Run the numbers: will customers 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 document that you revisit and adapt regularly.

 

3. Figure out the money

Most start-ups 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 business. 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. Even if you don’t want to set up a limited company yet, check whether your name is available at www.companieshouse.gov.uk. Otherwise, you may grow value as a sole trader which then dissipates if you decide to move into a limited company.

 

6. Register a domain name

Get a matching domain to your business name. A Hotmail or Gmail 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 start up can protect your personal assets but sometimes it is simpler in the early days to start as a sole trader. If you form a company you have to prepare annual accounts within 22 months from incorporation. If you can’t do these yourself then you will need to employ an accountant which can be expensive in the early days of your business cycle. Talk over proposed structures with an expert as everybody’s circumstances are different.

 

8. Register with HMRC

An absolute must. Whether you decide to be a sole trader or incorporate a company, you need to tell HMRC so they can tax you at the right level. Also, don’t forget VAT.

 

9. Investigate and apply for business licences

You may need one, if not several, business licences or permits for your start up, depending on your industry and where you are located.

 

10. 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. Every business nowadays holds data of some sort so ensure that you are complying with the Data Protection Act 2018 (commonly called GDPR). Your website needs a privacy and cookie policy as a minimum. Also, if you have a limited company, you need to add your company name, company number and registered office on your website.

 

 

11. Register social media profiles

Getting set up on the major social media channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, to start) will make marketing on them easier later.

 

12. Start your revenue stream

Start generating revenue as soon as possible. At the early stages of a start-up there is never enough money – resist the temptation to wait until things are “perfect.” Think about how you are going to contract. Do you need any customer contracts or terms and conditions setting up?

 

13. Rent retail or office space

If you’ve got a bricks-and-mortar business, you’ll need to sort this out. If you plan to run a retail business, pay attention to foot traffic, accessibility, and other factors that will affect the number of people that will walk in your store. If you don’t have a bricks-and-mortar or retail business, then hold off renting an office as long as possible to avoid saddling your start-up with rents which can get really tricky.

 

14. Order business cards

As a start-up 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.

 

15. 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.

 

16. Set up your accounting system

Once you have your bank account set up, choose an accounting program. Start as you intend to go. Few things will doom your business faster than books that are a mess. Cashflow issues are one of the biggest reasons

 

17. Assign responsibilities to co-founders

If you have one or more founders, it’s imperative that you decide who will do what up front. Put it in writing. Co-founder disagreements can destroy your business.

 

 

Stage 2: What You Can Do A Bit Later

While you don’t want to put off these tasks for too long, they don’t need to be checked off your list before you launch.

 

18. Upgrade your smartphone and choose apps

As an entrepreneur you are going to be on the go – a lot. I can’t emphasize enough how useful a good phone with good business apps can be, in running your start-up. Get a credit card swipe device to accept payments, too.

 

19. Sign up to a business insights website

Your business and the law will continue to move. We’re currently existing in a business environment which is subject to a lot of change, new regulations and Government advice. Ensure you keep in touch to make sure you don’t fall foul of any legislation or miss out on any incentive news as your business starts to grow.

 

20. Consult your insurance agent and secure coverage

Depending on the type of business you’re starting, you may need insurance of one kind or another, like liability, employer’s liability, professional indemnity insurance, health insurance, especially if you hire full-time staff.

 

21. Hire your first employee

Depending on the type of business you have, you may need staff from day one (e.g. retail) or you may be able to outsource to freelancers, interns, and third-party vendors for a while (e.g. service and tech businesses). Trying to do everything yourself takes you away from growing the business and it is easier now more than ever to locate the right staff on a flexible basis if you need.

 

22. 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 think about this later.

 

23. File for trademarks and patents

Think about trademarks, copyrights and patents and then you may be able to defer filing for a while, depending on the nature of your business. Do you need to register a copyright? Whilst this is another expense if you have a product that you have invented yourself or a brand name that is crucial to your business you should definitely protect this.

 

24. Work 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/or help with business surveys.

 

25. Don’t waste time on “partnerships”

Be careful about wasting time on “business partnership” discussions. Your business won’t be attractive to potential partners unless and until you start making headway. Focus your precious time to make sales and get customers.

 

26. Refine your pitch

You need a good elevator pitch for many reasons: potential investors, customers, prospective new hires, bankers. If you can’t persuasively and clearly pitch your business, how can you expect key stakeholders to buy in?

 

 

27. 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.

 

28. Secure your IT

Whether you’re running a tech company or not, you’ll 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.

 

29. Get a salesperson or sales team in place

In many start-ups the business owner starts out as the chief sales person. But to grow you need a dedicated sales function, so you can focus on activities other than day-to-day sales.

 

30. Get a mentor

It’s all too easy to work “in” your business rather than “on” it. We need to be working “on” our businesses if we want them to grow and flourish. A mentor who has succeeded in your industry can provide you with priceless advice and serve as a sounding board.

 

Your checklist might be longer than this, but organising what needs to be done before you launch really can save you lots of time which will be crucial when you’ve launched and are in the thick of it.

 

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