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9 Point Checklist for Starting a Small Business

by Reena Aggarwal

You have found “the idea” for your business. 

An idea is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot of work that you need to do before converting the idea into a business and earning money from it. 

Following a checklist for starting a small business can make the process smooth and easy. 

The checklist will help take care of the minute things you might miss out on in your excitement about starting the business. 

Ready to go through the checklist?

The 9-point Checklist for Starting a Small Business 

Every detail counts! It would help if you considered everything from the name to the feasibility of starting a business. This checklist will act as your guide through your starting process. 

1. Test the Idea

Your idea may sound great, but testing the concept may help you realize if it is feasible or not.

Ideally, you want to confirm if the idea has the scope to grow and whether you have the expertise to build on it.

Here is what you can do:

  • Seek feedback from your friends, families, and past customers. 
  • Roll out the idea to people you might consider your target audience. 
  • Check if the competition or other people have incorporated this idea in the past. 

2. Choose a Business Name

This is one of the most critical and time-consuming tasks on your checklist for starting a small business. 

You will need to find a name that is relevant and catchy. It should also be short and easy-to-spell.

When used on the website, people should be able to remember it.

3. Create the Business Plan

A roadmap is essential for building, launching, and even growing the business. 

You need to have a thoroughly defined business plan.

How do you see your idea converting into a business? For example, if you are planning a photography services business, you’ll need to consider:

  • Who is your competition?
  • What is your scope for growth?
  • How will you differentiate yourself? 
  • What are some of the tools you need for getting started? 

It is important to write the vision statement which is the starting point for our business plan. 

It is akin to writing the thesis statement for your paper. 

You should have a hook (the viable product or service idea), and the purpose of the business. This will help you define the vision and mission. 

4. Plan your Financing

Before you start working on the idea, think through the finances.

You will need some money to get your business started. 

Even with a low investment business idea, you will still need to shell out a few bucks. 

For example, to create a photography business, you need a camera. You may also need to invest in your website. And these are just some of the costs. 

For a more expensive business, you might need funding. 

Here are a few options:

  • Small business loans from banking and non-banking financial institutions
  • Venture capitalists or funding partners
  • Crowdfunding for your unique business idea
  • Credit union financing option
  • Grants
  • Marketplace lending

Apart from the money required to start the company, consider your living expenses as well.

Businesses don’t start with profits; it will take some time to make good money. Plan how you will manage to pay the rents, manage your daily expenses, and other aspects.

5. Registration and Other Legal Work

Before you begin the actual work, you should go through all the requisite documentation and government legal work. 

You’ll need to figure out the legal structure before you can begin the registration process. Will it be a partnership firm or a single-owner company? 

You should also register the business name, obtain a tax identification number, and other registration documents. 

Consider familiarizing yourself with all the legal terms and paperwork involved. Find out the licenses and permits you need to get started with the work. 

At this point, you should also consider opening a bank account for your business.

6. Create your Website

Whether you choose to have an on-location service or plan to go online with your products/services, you need a website. 

It helps connect with people at the right time and convert faster. It also helps with boosting brand awareness and improving visibility. 

You can create a simple  website first to get you started and create a more detailed site later.

Here’s a quick checklist to get your website set up:

  1. Choose a domain name (your business name works)
  2. Choose a hosting company for the website
  3. In case you plan to sell products, you might want to select the eCommerce framework. If you want to build a simple website, you can use the website builder tools
  4. Choose the theme for your website
  5. Install the essential plugins, widgets and other elements
  6. Add content 
  7. Optimize the content for search engines
  8. Test your website for customers. 

7. Get your Logo

A logo makes the business memorable and should be part of your checklist for starting a small business. 

Ideate the logo before you get a designer on board. You should know what you want to show in the logo, the relevance you want to depict, and how you visualize it.

It will become easier to explain these details to the designer once you have an idea and vision in place.

Here are the five elements that make a logo look good and relevant for your business.

  1. Simple and easy to identify
  2. Relevant to your brand, customers, and all the stakeholders
  3. Memorable. Coca Cola enjoys maximum top-of-the-mind recall from its customers owing to the relevance and colors
  4. You should be able to resize it to different sizes and frames
  5. Timeless. It should be devoid of trends and should be time agnostic

8. Determine the Marketing Plan

This is a crucial step in your checklist for starting a small business. 

It answers the question of how to get more people to visit your business and earn profits?

Start by sending out emails and messages to friends, families, and past customers informing them about your business. Ask them to refer your products and services to others. 

Now to strengthen the marketing plan, including online efforts such as building a social media presence, improving reach through press releases, and other marketing activities. 

You should include in-store marketing activities too to improve your outcome.

Keep marketing even after the business has gained momentum.

It’s also helpful to have a plan designed to improve the quality of your sales leads and increase conversions. 

9. Hire Key Resources

It is not possible to handle all aspects of your business alone. 

It would help if you had vital hires to make it less challenging and more productive. 

With a marketing person watching your business database, lead generation and a finance hire handling your monetary affairs, you can start getting settled in the role of an entrepreneur. 

As an entrepreneur, you might find it challenging to know which roles to fill in first. Here are a few tips that might help:

  • Know your weak points
  • Identify the gaps that exist in your work at the moment
  • What is your productivity killer?
  • What is working for your business?

For example, if you are facing challenges with marketing and social media, you should hire the key resource for this department first. 

Slowly but gradually, you can hire more people as the business grows.

Conclusion

Starting a business can be pretty overwhelming if you follow an unguided path. 

This 9-point checklist for starting a small business will help you manage all the criticalities of starting a business. 

It will also help you lay the foundation for your small business. A solid business plan will guide you on slowly entering the market, while the marketing and sales plan will help you get more conversions. 

You should have all the right tools, people, partner agencies, and support to grow your business.

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