Starting a small business could lead to a life of wealth, freedom, and luxury that you only ever dreamed of. Being your own boss gives you the ability to dictate your own schedule. If you do it right, it can also lead to considerable wealth.
However, 20% of small businesses fail in the first year. By year five, 50% of businesses go under.
If you want to avoid becoming a part of these statistics, it’s important to start your business on the right foot. That’s exactly what we’re here to help you do.
Keep reading for the only startup business checklist you’ll ever need.
Find Your Niche
Identifying your strengths is the first step in becoming a small business owner. To find success in a competitive business environment, you have to establish a niche so you can corner a specific market. Ask yourself the following questions:
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- What skills do I have?
- In what areas am I especially knowledgeable?
- What am I passionate about?
- What type of business do I want to operate?
- What products or services can I offer that consumers want or need?
You probably already have a general idea of what you want to do. However, jumping into a generic or oversaturate market will make it difficult to thrive, let alone survive.
A niche will help you identify your target market. These are the consumers who are most likely to want or need your products or services. The more you know about these consumers, the easier it will be to successfully market to them.
Research the Market
Conducting market research is the next actionable step on our startup business checklist. This process is incredibly important for two reasons.
First, market research will provide you with the information you need to write a competent business plan, which you’ll need to get funded. Second, your research will help you understand more about the industry you’re diving into.
For example, you should seek to learn more about:
- Your competitors
- The local market
- Your target audience
- Marketing tactics
- Startup costs
- Financial projections
- And more
The more information you have going in, the more prepared you’ll be to operate your business successfully.
Write a Professional Business Plan
Now, let’s talk about writing a business plan for your future company. Look at your business plan like the blueprint for a home. If it’s well-researched and thorough, it should guide you to success.
Furthermore, this step in our startup business checklist will play a major role in determining your business loan eligibility or success in finding investors. Your business plan should include:
- An executive summary of your company
- The history and purpose of your business
- A description of the products and services your company will provide
- Your marketing strategy
- A breakdown of your competition
- An outline of your business operations
- Financial projections
- Your funding request
Take your time doing research and writing your business plan. The quality of your plan will reflect on you as a future small business owner. The better your business plan is, the more potential investors and lenders will see in your company.
Learn How to Get Startup Funding
Once you have your business plan finished, you can start looking into your options for startup financing. There are several options here depending on your startup needs and the type of business you’re launching.
Most small business owners apply for an SBA loan. These loans are backed by the government, which allows banks and other lenders to offer them at lower interest rates. However, they require a minimum credit score between 640 and 680.
If you can’t get approved for an SBA loan, there are other options, such as private investors, angel investors, and crowdfunding groups. You can also use personal financing options like personal loans, credit cards, savings accounts, trusts, etc.
As a last-ditch effort, you can ask your friends and family for love money. Love money consists of donations from people who want to see you succeed and are willing to contribute to your cause.
Set Up Your Business Location
Business ownership requires a business location. This can be at a commercial location, at your home (provided the zoning allows it), or online. All businesses should have a digital presence, but some operate solely online.
Where you decide to operate your business will directly affect your costs. If you rent a commercial location, it will add thousands of dollars to your monthly expenses. However, it might be entirely necessary based on the type of business you own.
Take Care of the Logistics
The next step in our startup business checklist is establishing everything you need to operate your business. This includes:
- And more
Take your time to go over your budget to determine how much you can afford to spend on these items. For example, it might be more cost-effective to rent large equipment and office supplies, rather than buy them.
Additionally, figure out how many employees you can afford to hire. It might be best to start small and bring on more employees as your needs grow. Follow this link to get help finding employees from the best PEO for small business.
Start Marketing Your Company
Finally, business marketing is one of the most important items on our startup business checklist. It’s time to start promoting your brand so the consumers in your target market know about the products and services you offer.
We recommend developing a strong online presence, beginning with a user-friendly website. Then, increase your website visibility with search engine optimization and pay-per-click marketing. We also recommend:
- Building a social media presence
- Creating an email list
- Using local advertising techniques (for local-based businesses)
- Publishing reviews
- And more
Smart management tips suggest reaching out to digital marketing companies to help you jump-start your brand awareness campaign. They have the experience, tools, and expertise to help you make a name for yourself online and in your community.
Have You Completed Everything on Our Startup Business Checklist?
We hope this startup business checklist proves helpful and insightful. Complete everything on our list to ensure your business gets started off on the right foot. And, of course, never stop doing your research.
Before you go, check out some of our other small business articles or marketing tips to learn more about becoming a successful small business owner. Knowledge is power.