Small Business Checklist

If you’re a new business owner, or considering starting your own business, it’s important to have all of your bases covered as you begin your journey. You may be ready to start your own business now, or maybe you’ve got a great idea for a start-up brewing in your head. Wherever you are in the process, it’s important to be proactive and hit the ground running.

You’ve got your idea – so now what?

Well, more than anything, you need to make an educated decision about the viability of your product or service. Is the business you plan to open necessary? Relevant? Popular? Do you think you’ll have enough clients to turn a profit? If, after thorough analysis, you decide yes, it’s time to start making your business plan. A local small business expert can help you through the initial stages of creating a business plan and help you plan your startup expenses. It’s also important to make sure that your family is on board.

Establishing a presence in the community and online

First off, you need to make a good choice for the name of your business. Is it memorable? Are there any others with the same name? Is it distinct enough to not be confused with other similar businesses? Once you’ve decided on a business name, claim a web domain for it. Do you have any important patents or trademarks? It’s a great idea to use a web or marketing consultant to build your website and boost your online presence with social media management or search engine optimization (SEO). Getting a handle on this immediately can save you a lot of work later.

Legal matters for startups

Are you the sole owner of your business? Or do you have a business partner, perhaps someone in your family, or a professional connection? Have you structured legal documents about your sole proprietorship, LLC, or corporation? Do you and your partner(s) have a legally binding document about your duties, obligations, investment, and profit? If you need a retail or office space, have you found one, and thoroughly reviewed your lease terms? You may also need a business license or local permit for your company. A local small business lawyer can help you with each of these questions. Worry about choosing a successor for your business later.

Becoming an employer

If you plan on having any employees, it is advisable to register for an EIN (Employer Identification Number). This protects your social security number, and is necessary for incorporation, business bank accounts, and paying your employees. As your company grows in size, you’ll need to start considering HR software and payroll management.

Finding someone to guide you

First-time small business owners can find themselves overwhelmed by all of the things they need to do to get their startup off the ground. You may choose to finding a mentor in your same industry, or you might hire a small business consultant, which can be very useful. They will be able to offer feedback, point you in the right direction, and brainstorm with you. 

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