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Business Startup Checklist: What Your Startup Needs

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Starting up a new business involves dealing with a number of issues. It’s not only about having a good idea and selling your products and services, it’s also about putting together the foundation needed to start and grow a prosperous business.

Starting a business checklist is the best way to make sure you’re covering all the bases and setting yourself up for success. Here’s a list of items to consider to help get you started.

Describe Your Business

Name – Give your business a name that lets people know what your company does. It could be something like Al’s Pizza, Ideal Landscaping, or Ace Plumbing.

Structure – Choose a legal structure. The simplest form is a sole proprietorship, but you may want to consider forming a corporation, limited liability company, or a general partnership. The choice depends on whether you have partners or the degree of protection you want for your personal assets. Be prepared to spend a few thousand dollars in legal fees to form a corporation, partnership, or an LLC.

Business plan – Prepare a business plan that describes what products and services you plan to sell, who your customers are, and how you intend to operate the business and make a profit. A business plan will be your roadmap to creating a thriving operation.

Establish the Business

Licenses and permits – Formally establish your business by obtaining the required licenses and permits required by your local municipality. In most areas, you’ll likely need a Certificate of Occupancy at minimum.

Insurance – Obtain the various types of insurance you need for your business. This could include general liability coverage, workers’ compensation policies, health benefits for employees, and maybe even business interruption insurance. The kinds of insurance you’ll need will vary by the type of business. An electrical contractor or landscaper will require different insurance than a retail clothing store.

Prepare the Financials

Accounting and invoicing – Set up the necessary accounting procedures to record your revenues and expenses and keep up with cash flow. You could decide to hire a bookkeeper to do this work in-house or hire an outside vendor, such as Sunrise, to do the bookkeeping and invoicing for you.

Taxes – Apply for federal and state tax identification numbers. You’ll need these tax ID numbers to file quarterly and annual tax forms and make estimated tax payments. You can either file these forms yourself or have your bookkeeper do them for you.

Funding – Your business plan will tell you the amount of capital you’ll need to cover startup costs and fund cash flow deficits until the business generates enough sales to cover expenses and begin to make a profit. Startup capital can include your own savings, loans from friends, and family, capital from investors, bank loans, and startup business loans from online lenders, such as Lendio.

Acquire the Necessary Resources

Location – Decide on where you’re going to locate your business. It could be an office park, retail shopping mall, or a warehouse district. If you’re renting a space, you’ll need to negotiate a lease and have enough money for deposits on the space and utilities.

Website – Hire a designer to build a website that presents the best image for your business. Sign up with a local internet service provider.

Product – Purchase the initial materials and inventory to get started.

Equipment – Purchase or lease the equipment required for your business. Get quotes from several suppliers to find best prices and terms. If leasing, shop around to get the lowest rates.

Create a Marketing Plan

Logo, branding, and messaging – Create a brand image that is unique to your business. It should be a symbol that represents your company and is instantly recognizable by the public and your customers.

Market Awareness – Develop a plan for the public to recognize your brand and company. Have a good story to tell that creates a personality for your business.

Social media – Set up a Facebook page, open a Twitter account, and start building an email list of customers and prospects. Use social media platforms to keep the public informed about happenings and news about your business.

Advertising – Set up a budget and design an advertising plan to constantly promote your business. It could be a combination of placing ads in local newspapers, passing out pamphlets, and using social media. Set up a customer referral program. Become a member and attend local civic and business organizations to create a network with other business professionals.

Hire Employees

Payroll – Survey the local market to determine the competitive salaries for the positions you’ll need in your business. You’ll have to pay a competitive wage along with benefits. Make sure your payroll expense fits within the budget of the profit plan you developed with your financial projections.

Employees or contractors – Decide if you need to hire full-time employees or if you can use independent contractors on an as-needed basis. If you can use independent contractors, you won’t have to provide employee benefits, such as health insurance.

Resources and requirements for employees – Identify the things that will attract qualified employees to your business. This could include a comfortable working environment, up-to-date office furniture equipment, uniforms or clothing with the company logo, and maybe even a break room stocked with drinks and snacks. You’re competing with other businesses for employees, so you’ll want to make your business a place where employees want to come to work.

This business start-up checklist will give you an idea of the things you need to have in place to get your business going. Each business is unique and will have different requirements, but this list covers the basic issues. You’ll discover additional items once you get started.


Small Business Administration: “10 Steps to Start Your Business”

Internal Revenue Service: “Business Structures”

Entrepreneur: “Elements of a Business Plan”

SCORE: “Risk & Insurance”

Small Business Administration: “Get Federal and State Tax ID Numbers” “Finance Your Business”

Entrepreneur: “Equipment Financing & Leasing: What You Need to Know”

Forbes: “How to Market Your Small Business”

Internal Revenue Service: “Form 1099-NEC & Independent Contractors”

Inc: “How to Hire Awesome Employees”

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