Small Business Start Up Checklist

                       Small Business Start Up Checklist

Starting your own business has long been a dream of yours. So,of course, a small business start up checklist is the no-brainer place to begin.

Research your ideas or small business concept. Whatever you choose you must have a passion for your new business and a long term commitment…..who would want a short term business ? Your new business must check many boxes but first among them is your passion for the idea.

                                     No Matter The Business

  The Following Checklist Can Serve As Your Guide

  • What is your passion ? Can you make a business out of it ?
  • Is there competition ? if there is… is a good sign; you’re not alone in thinking the idea is a good one.
  • Where will it take you in one year, Three or five years ? How will you measure if it is successful for you ?

         Market Research –

The Key For Small Business Start-ups

    • What need will your business fulfill ?  Does it solve a problem ?
    • Who is your target customer ?  Go beyond picturing them; research who is supporting your competitors.
    • How will your offering be better or improve upon the competitions ?
    • Research, talk to and study successful people in your niche
    • Design your businesses framework.and align your order of tasks to be done
    • Will you need a partner or employees ?
    • Set attainable goals

  Business Plan?

Provides Direction And A Road Map

  • Develop a concise (less than 2 minutes) verbal sales presentation – this will open some doors for you.
  • If you want to borrow money you’ll need a business plan; the more money the more detailed the plan will need to be.
  • Funds from family or friends ? A one-page plan should suffice (and is a very good idea)
  • Executive biography. Past accomplishments.
  • What is your company about ? Brief description of why your company will meet a need.
  • What products will you sell ? How will you source them ?
  • Marketing plans. Pricing your wares.
  • Outline your growth plan.
  • Provide the numbers – Money in / money out for years 1 through 5.

* for a good reference book  look here – Small Time Operator– by Bernard B Kamoroff

                Choosing A Name Or Brand

  • Think today and several years ahead. Bob’s Carpentry may fit today but not in 5 years when you’re developing entire neighborhoods. Robert’s Construction may be a better choice.
  • Will you have an online presence? A necessity in todays world.
  • Is your name of choice available ? See if the domain name is available and if not find one that fits and register it.
  • Find an attorney that has experience in your area of business.
  • An accountant is a good idea; also someone experienced in your business type.
  • Be sure your licensing and tax situation is in order.

                         Location Can

               Make Or Break A Business

  • Find an experienced local business realtor – can save you time, money and unseen mistakes.
  • If you are starting a service company that works remotely, such as a plumber, carpenter or landscaper your location can be in a general area and not on Main St.
  • If you need people to come to you then you need to be where the people are. A medical practice needs less traffic than a retail store and a business that needs a lot of foot traffic will need to be where the people are. The more traffic the higher the price per square foot you’ll pay. Research is key here; hence the business realtor.

   Your Small Business Start-Up

Will Need A Legal Entity

** here the advice of both an attorney and an account is necessary.

  • 60% of small business start-ups in 2017 were Sole Proprietors – If you work for yourself, by yourself, then in all likelihood this is how you will file your taxes. If you are a writer, a speaker, a barber or hair dresser this is your probable course.
  • Many small businesses form a LLC ( limited liability company ) – as the name suggests this removes some of the businesses liabilities from you personally.
  • A corporation or an S-corp are other legal forms.

                    Financing Your Business

  • Many small businesses self finance or turn to family and friends. Be careful, do your research and be as sure as you can before you risk your money or money from your circle. I’m not saying you shouldn’t borrow from this group as most likely they’ll want to help and may even be eager to invest in your business. Everything is a risk but research and a good plan will provide a solid foundation.
  • The larger the startup the more likely you’ll need to find outside investors. Be prepared.
  • Your business plan will have to be fleshed out with the help of your accountant. The bank will expect to see your projections and forecasts in a format and language they’ll understand. And because you say something is so, that’s not enough; facts, figures and history will be very important.
  • How much is enough ? Big question, no easy answer. The most often quoted answer here is 110 – 125 % of what you think you’ll need. Having been through the process 4 times myself I’d have to agree.

                         Setting Up Shop

  • Your location, your plans and your money are all in place. Another checklist, the details of running You inc. on a daily basis needs to be completed. Each business has it is own set of details to be completed. Your job here is, yet again, research and check off the boxes.

    Marketing Your Small Business Start Up

  • You have your marketing plan
  • You’ve networked your friends and family
  • Shop signage
  • Handouts
  • Brochures and fliers
  • Website up and running
  • Social media in place (hopefully a 30-day countdown to your opening )
  • A soft opening for those involved in your business
  • A grand opening, with press if appropriate.
  • Give aways and prizes.

*  A good reference book here is – Small Business Hacks – by Barry Moltz & Rieva Lesonsky

    It feels so good to be ” In Business”

34 thoughts on “Small Business Start Up Checklist”

  1. Thanks so much for writing this article! This information is essential to anyone who would want to start a small business. I am a huge fan of checklists and use them in my every day life as well as in my own online business. I don’t know what I would do without them! There is so much to think about at the beginning (a lot that you mention never crossed my mind), so thank you for highlighting it in such detail. I really found it helpful!

    1. Hey Steve that was fast; just posted it !  There is indeed so much involved in a new start-up but taken in small bites very doable.  Thanks for checking it out. Let me know if I can be of help in any way –  Mike  

  2. What a helpful start-up checklist this is, Mike.  Thank you!

    A lot of the points you bring up are “common sense”…and some of them are also likely to be forgotten or put off until some later time as you try to deal with all of the details.  Having a handy checklist like this lets you tackle things and make sure they are done before going on to the next and the next.  

    For myself, the most important bit of advice is “Set attainable goals.”  Pie-in-the-sky projections are self-defeating and if you don’t hit your deadlines, for whatever reason, it’s likely to get disheartening and feel like you’re hitting wall after wall after wall.  Been there, done that.  Not doing it again.

    1. Hello  Netta – As you know – common sense is often in short supply.  Every new plan has to start with an end in mind and a known series of steps to get there.  I agree that you need to be realistic and that really is where seeking experienced professionals to help with your new business pays big dividends. 

      I appreciate your feedback; if I can assist you in any way please let me know – Mike 

  3. I agree with you that passion is arguably the most important pre-requisite for starting a business that will be successful. If for some reason you do not like what the business and all it entails, chances are that the business may not succeed.Many thanks for sharing this checklist to guide us as we set up shop. I do hope to be in business soon, and will definitely apply your checklist.Many thanks

    1. Hello Victor ( my favorite uncle was a Victor)  Several people have mentioned the importance of passion; that’s because we humans are emotional creatures and it is emotion or feelings that drive us.  To be happy in your work is wonderful and contagious with those in your life.  

      If your heart wants it bad enough your mind and body will follow.  Best of luck – Mike 

  4. Your checklist is very thorough and useful.However,it seems to be directed to brick and mortar businesses.I would like to see a list focused on starting a small business online. Starting small online provides the opportunity to check the business concept and product on a small scale without the expense and full commitment required for a brick and mortar business.This is the way to go if you do not have access to start-up capital.Once your small business proves to be successful online then it will be much easier to raise the capital required to expand.

    1. Hi Carlos – Thank you for reaching out.  Stay tuned and you’ll find a bit from me dealing with online businesses very soon.  What a great planet we have with so many opportunities, it seems there is a reason to get up every day after all !  

      For cost of entry there is nothing like affiliate marketing; however the bottom line is still passion, hard work and ….giddy-up !    Talk soon, I hope. 

  5. Thank you for sharing with us this great article on small business start up checklist.Many people are not happy with their full time jobs that’s why they always look for small businesses which can help them earn extra money.

    I am happy that you mentioned to do what we like as passion because when we do what we love,we will be benefiting in two ways.One for earning money and another for satisfying our heart’s desire.

    1. Hi Julienne – The happiest people on the planet are those that are happy with their work and you are right about passion being so very important ….it actually takes the “work” out of working.

      I appreciate you’re checking in – Mike

  6. Thanks for sharing this informative and educative post. I lost my job about four months ago although I have gotten over that. So I have been thinking of setting up a business of my own because I think that is the best for me where I have to be my own boss . Reading this post has enlightene on everything I need to know on starting up a business I now know the next step to take. Thanks a lot.

    1. Hello Lok – Sorry you lost your job …..but what a great opportunity !  There is nothing better than working for yourself.  With the right attitude, strong work ethic and a little guidance (if needed) you’ll be glad your job is gone and your new business awaits.

      If I can be of service please reach out.  Thanks Mike 

  7. outstanding checklist for a small business.  The one that really sticks out to me is. 

    Location, Location, Location.  You can have the greatest business imaginable but if no one sees it, it does not matter.

    Getting an experienced realtor is probably some of the best advice you can give.  And everyone always seems to overlook that little aspect.

    1. Hey Mike – I learned this one (realtor) the hard way; eventually going bankrupt in part because of it.  One thing I learned and benefited greatly by is to seek advice, talk to people that are doing what you hope to do.  It’s amazing how giving they can be.

      Thanks for checking in, let me know if I can help in any way.  Mike

  8. Good Day, Mike.

    This is a very extensive list of what is required to start a new business. 

    Depending on the business, as in Bob’s case, liability insurance and “WorkSafe, if your employees get hurt” should also be included. This depends on the business and the number of employees you have. 

    You do cover a lot of ground and I wish I would have had this list when I started my business many years ago. Hell, there was no Internet in those days.

    I would also like to mention that laws vary greatly from country to country and city to city. Bylaws can be another nightmare.

    What was the hardest obstacle for you when you started?

    Did you make big changes along the way, or did you stick closely to your original plan?


    1. Great response Paul, thank you.  I was young, dumb and poor when I started my first business.  I made a lot of mistakes and suffered along the way but I was very determined, learned to ask for help and advice and did OK.  Since then I have had 3 other businesses, went bankrupt once but got right back in the game and have done well and love to work for myself.

      The list was indeed a “general list”.  Each industry would need to develop an additional list to fit their field.  The lists are available and so are knowledgeable people not only willing but anxious to help.  I was always pleasantly surprised by how helpful others in my fields of endeavor were even close competitors.  

      So to answer your questions …yes I made changes along the way; live and learn.  One of the things I did learn was to reach out to the professionals that one needs in setting up a business. 

      My biggest obstacle was also my biggest asset- an abundance of enthusiasm – so much so that I constantly got ahead of myself.  If you want something bad enough you can find a way to get it.

      Let me know if I can help in any way – Mike  

  9. Thank you for sharing this great list. Having a plan when we are thinking to start a business will help us on the long terms. financially is key for me, because when we start a business most likely we going to invest more money before we actually start making some profit.

    This check list will help a lot people thinking to start a business.

    1. Thanks for checking in.  By far the most important asset in any new business is YOU the business owner.  Your desire, knowledge and commitment to hard work are all more important than money.  If your idea and plan are good enough the money will come to you.  

      If I can help in any way please let me know – Mike

  10. This post of your is sincerely detailed, informative and educative. Most importantly the  part that talked about financing of a fresh  business cause I know too well that Financing the business is quite essential, for it to grow and result to a huge success. Thanks for post, I hope you provide a post-checklist of a running business.

    have a nice day

  11. Awesome article Mike! I have started several small businesses in the last few years but have always struggled in a few areas. As I was going through your checklist, I found my mind thinking of all kinds of great ideas and ways to improve on the business I already have. What I like about this article is that it is very concise and down to the point. It is no nonsense and sure to be a huge help for anyone looking to start a small business. I am going to bookmark this as I know I will refer to it often. Thank you! 

    1. Thanks for the response Dan.  As you know businesses an vary greatly but the basic foundations are similar.  It’s hard to get somewhere when you don’t have a map to follow.  

  12. I must say that this article is great Mike. We all should print this checklist because without it, business will fail or it will never be made. A person commented below hoe important is to make realistic goals, I agree with that. So many people start the business and think that they will earn big money on their first day which is not possible.

    1. Hey Daniel – Think big, start small – should be the mind set of small business start-ups.  Planning, coaching, and hard work are all key ingredients.  First “need to have” I think is the “want to” passion that drives us even when we are too tired or have had a setback.

      Good luck moving forward – Thanks mike

  13. Checklists are great when starting up a new business, or when working one each day. I continue to use them after starting my business to keep me on track. Great list and a good topical suggestion for either an online or offline business. I will look forward to the next 99 ideas.

  14. Building a business is never an easy task. The best advice is always to start from scratch so if the business doesn’t succeed the lose would not be much. A lot of things has to be put in place when starting a business from scratch and the best way to achieve this is to plan for it. 

    You have pretty much laid out everything I can think of that is needed to be done when starting a business from scratch. Anyone that follows this to the bone has a good chance in achieving a great deal of success in their business.

    1. Hi Jay – I like the way you phrased it – follow it to the bone – This is, of course, just the beginning.  The real work comes in the years ahead but without the proper foundation failure is too probable.  Thanks for your response

  15. Thanks for this informative piece. There are many people who wants to start a business but because they lack the right mentorship they stumble and fail. Yes there are many things involved in starting a business which seriously needs solid planing. But one thing that keeps people away from starting something new is fear. Fear kills faster than anything. Having received the best of training one should boldly start small but dream big. 

    Your article is a master piece. Thanks 

    1. Fear is always lurking, a hurdle that has to be jumped. Like with so many things – the start is what stops most people.  If you don’t want to live your life on the sidelines you must take a chance now and again.

  16. The innovation I see in this article deserves applauds but I think it’s too big for the start up of a small business. I think every small businesse owner aims at venturing into bigger business or growing their immediate small business.The most important thing is to set your goals while you start and run your small business.

    Settung a big business plan is very good but you have to first set your detailed small business plan, then keep moving while you grow in your business. Your article is very good but  it’s a bit long for a small business and might discourage a beginner who wants to start a small business. My opinion though. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I think you are not alone in your opinion.  I have found, however, that what limits us most of all is – us !  Small steps can lead to a long journey and BIG goals are reached by taking those steps one at a time.  When all is said and done, the starting can be the hardest part.  

      Thanks for your reply – Mike

  17. I like this small business start up checklist! It’s something that I definitely need to go through. I started a small online business, and I’m kind of just winging it right now. I think your checklist will help put me in the right direction. 

    The one thing I definitely want to focus on is creating a business plan. Even though I’ve already started, I feel like a plan can help guide me to a more organized future with my business. 

    And those tax and lawyer things…yea, I need to get on that too. 

    OK, you have my wheels turning now, and I appreciate it!

    1. Hi Christina – I’m glad I could help. I know the hardest part of finishing something is actually the “starting” – get yourself in motion and you’ll stay in motion …was that Einstein ?  Good Luck – Mike 

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