Business Startup Checklist


Business Startup Checklist

Before you decide to quit your full time high paying job to take a plunge and start your own business, ask yourself if you have the traits and caliber to get down on ground and do the job? Do you have it in you to be an aspiring entrepreneur? Starting a business is definitely not a child’s play and at the same it is not a Herculean task either. If you have a plan, adequate funding and the knowledge to set it up with appropriate marketing and business development skills – then you are on the right path! The key to setting a new business from scratch is to be organized and most importantly to “prepare a checklist”. The actionable items on your checklist will help you start your business efficiently and effectively. A checklist will keep you aware of the work completed, work that requires immediate attention and work that’s pending. So lets get started.

The Entrepreneur Checklist: Ready to start a business?

When asked, most entrepreneurs are clueless and do not have a concrete answer to the question “why do you want to start your own business”? The answer given by most entrepreneurs instantly gives away the longevity of the new business you wish to start. The clarity or the lack of clarity behind the reason to start a business will make or break your business. Your vague idea of starting a business or a clear vision will make your business a failure or massive success. So the first question you need to put down on your checklist is:

  • Why do you want to be an entrepreneur?
    • “I hate my boss, I want to be my own boss, I hate my job” so on and so forth are some of the clichéd answers to the question asked. Does this reason keep you going when the difficulty in your business starts to brew! This is where you need to pause and rethink- Do you have it in you to become an aspiring entrepreneur?
  • Do you possess the required business skills?
    • When you ask yourself this question you will need to run an analysis about yourself.
    • You will have to analyze your strengths, weakness and personal skills.
    • You will have to prepare a SWOT about yourself – identify your strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats.

The Idea Checklist: What will be a good idea?

Once you have decided to become an Entrepreneur and launch a business, follow this checklist to brainstorm and narrow down on a business idea.

  • Make a list of your hobbies, skills, and talents.
    • List out your skills, talents, educational background, expertise and experience. Find businesses wherein your existing skills or experiences could be used to provide a competitive edge.
  • Make a list of the business ideas you thought of or felt passionate about.
    • Figure out what you will make you excited to get up everyday and look forward to the day. Because very great entrepreneur in history made their success; doing what they love and loving what they do.
  • Brainstorm, narrow down and decide.
    • Brainstorm ideas with friends, family, potential co-workers, etc., and narrow down a business and business model. Make your final decision based on what best suits you and makes you feel confident and comfortable.

The Market Analysis Checklist: Will the idea work?

Once you have decided on a business idea, follow this checklist to fine-tune the idea and get an understanding of the market. It is important to do this checklist diligently to avoid costly mistakes in the future.

  • Analyze the customers.
    • Market analysis is an extremely crucial step in setting up a new small business. Talk about the product or services you wish to offer with potential customers. This step will help you check if there is a demand for your business in the area. If you have done the analysis and feel there is demand for your business, then you should work further on the technical analysis, manpower requirement analysis and financial requirement, etc.
  • Analyze the competition. 
    • Do a SWOT to check the level of competition you will have in the area where you will establish your business.
  • Analyze the opportunities.
    • Check and analyze the monetary requirements to set up your business and work on a financial projection. Check the possible risk factors your business can face as well as the level of benefits your business can receive once you set up shop at the decided place.

Business Plan Checklist: The final step before launch!

The business plan checklist is your chance to put down everything you have learnt so far about the market and your business plan into words. This step is often forgotten by Entrepreneurs; but, if done properly it can help you quickly find customers, obtain bank loan or private equity investment to build a successful business.

  • Choose a business name for your venture.
    • Ensure the business name is inline with the company or LLP naming guidelines and get the business name trademarked.
  • Prepare a short and succinct introduction about your business.
    • Keep it short. Preferably less than five lines.
  • Prepare a mission and vision statement.  
    • This step is important and the mission and vision statement should be written down.
  • Write an introduction about the promoters. 
    • Provide information like educational background, work experience, expertise, etc.,
  • Provide information about the business model.
    • The problem your business is trying to solve.
    • How your business will solve the problem.
    • Existing solutions.
    • How big is the market for your business.
    • How will your business make money?
    • Operational strategy and marketing strategy.
  • Compile financial estimates.
    • This is mandatory and very important step in establishing a new business. Prepare cash-flow statements with the amount of money the business will generate, the estimated expenditure, etc., It is important to plan for funding wherever there is a shortfall in funds.
  • Add a professional touch by creating a power point presentation for your business.
    • Make a long presentation with about 15 slides and a short presentation with about 5 slides. This will help you immensely while raising funds for your startup.

Finance Checklist: Is there money to start and sustain the business?

Once the business plan is ready, focus on funding your business and having the cash necessary to start and sustain your business for atleast a year. A well drafted business plan will be vital in this step for the success of your startup. Think about the following points and have answers:

  • Will you be using your savings?
  • Use the resources and fund from a friend by partnering with him/her?
  • Will you generate funds from family and friends?
    • Will you be paying them back in cash or kind?
    • If cash what percentage of interest will you add to the money borrowed while returning?
  • Will you seek assistance from venture capitalists, private equity firms, angel investors or others?
  • Will you seek bank loan?
    • Do you known the process to apply for a bank loan?
  • Will you seek assistance form NGO’s or institutions that assist new business startups with seed funding?

Legal Checklist: Will you legally safe?

Once the money is available, talk to an ComplianceIndia experts about setting up the business and the required business registrations. Know the answers for the following questions to ensure your are legally established and safe.

  • What business entity to choose? Know the advantages and disadvantages.
    • Private Limited Company
    • Limited Liability Partnership
    • Proprietorship
    • One Person Company or others.
  • Will you require any tax registration?
    • Is your business required by law to have a service tax registration?
    • Is your business required by law to have a VAT registration?
    • Is your business required by law to have a TAN registration?
  • Will you have to file periodic returns to government?
    • What are the due dates for filing of returns?
  • Will the business require trademark or copyright or patent registration?
  • Are there any special licenses required from regulatory authorities?
    • Any business that involved food would require FSSAI Food Business License.
  • Are there any licenses or registrations required from state or central government?

Launch Checklist: Taking the first steps.

So once the money is available and you have a basic understanding of the legal requirements. Take the plunge and don’t stop.

  • Decide on the location you wish to set up your business at.
    • Will you convert your home into office?
      • Will your family and work atmosphere get disturbed given the nature of your business?
      • Will clients or customers be happy visiting you at your home office?
    • Do you need a dedicated office space?
      • Does your business need an office space at all?
      • Will a virtual office space suffice?
      • What will be the area or location?
      • Will your finance plan support your office rentals?
  • Recruit smart and talented individuals and professionals. 
    • Balance your team with entrants and experts.
    • Conduct an orientation program. Sell your team on your vision and mission for the business.
    • Delegate tasks based on experience.
  • Advertise your business
    • Use classifieds, online services and paid services to advertise about your business.
    • Use social media. Spread the word about your business amongst friends and family.
    • Invest in a good website.
  • Receive feedbacks from customers and employees.
    • Make changes to the business model and plan, as you learn.
  • Dedicate time to constantly upgrade yourself with the latest market trends.
    • Equip yourself with the current skills,
    • Stay up to date on the market, competition and customer requirements.
    • Dedicate time to constantly keep learning about the nuances of your own business.

You might have a brilliant idea or the required funding to set up the business but that will not help in you becoming your own boss. For an entrepreneur to succeed it is important for him/her to follow the process step by step. The key to starting up a new business is to prepare a checklist and follow it stage by stage.
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