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All businesses start with an idea. But you’ll need more than an idea to make your business dream a reality. If you are thinking about setting up a small business, be re-assured that you are not alone. Many aspiring entrepreneurs are looking to start a new small business. Planning, skills, resources, time and a little luck are all important.
Consider these 10 checklists that can get your small business ideas to unfold:
It’s easy to convince yourself that you don’t need a business plan, but creating a business plan with financial projections forces you to think through details. Keep your plan a living breathing thing that you revisit and adapt regularly.
We advise students and new entrepreneurs to do market research before they start, we’d like to clarify that you should not let “doing market research” hold you up if you already know your market. The reality is, the vast majority of real startups are driven by people who know their market from experience and who are ready to bet the farm on it! Market research does not have to be a part of the business planning process.
You want a name that will stick in your target audience’s heads. And it shouldn’t already be taken by another company. Do Google searches and use a corporate name search tool to see if the name you have in mind is unique. Check at the state and Federal level. Get a matching domain to your business name. An AOL email address or a website with free hosting and a name like mysite.wordpress.com makes it seem like either (a) you are not running a real business or (b) you don’t plan to be around long.
Although your business credit score doesn’t affect your business, lenders still check your credit score when you take out a loan to fund the start-up. They use the information to determine the type of business loan they can offer and the interest rates and terms associated.
When offering a small business loan, lenders may also look at your overall financial statements, debt-to-credit ratio, and the amount of loan you will need. The cash flowing into your business is also one aspect that most lenders consider, as they may choose to check your daily balances and other transaction details of your business.
A strong brand is the key to customer loyalty and higher sales. If you think it’s just for big business, think again; a brand is critical for businesses of all shapes and sizes.
This is where all the hard work pays off. Now you know a bit more about your target audience, you’ve got the opportunity through your brand to grab their attention. And of course, to have fun doing it!
Your business’s size refers to the scale of its operations or the volume of production and sales. Some entrepreneurs also measure business sizes in terms of their net worth, assets, employees, and even the machinery or plants. Three significant factors affect your business’s size: personal factors, commercial factors, and technical factors. When it comes to personal factors, your business size depends on your capacity to raise capital.
Similarly, the commercial factors that influence your business size include your sales estimate and the possibility of expanding your services. Likewise, the technical factors that account for your business size may include the nature and variety of production, availability of inputs for production, ROIs, and transportation costs.
Most startups take a lot more time to get off the ground than you expect. Know where your living expenses for the first year will come from (savings, a job, spouse’s income, etc.). If you need financing for the business start investigating as soon as possible.
Setup your Accounting and Record-keeping system and learn about the taxes your new company is responsible for paying.
Company documents generally are required to be kept for 3 years, including: a list of all owners and addresses, copies of all formation documents, financial statements, annual reports, amendments or changes to the company. All Tax and Corporate Filings should be kept for at least 3 years.
Hiring the right employees is important. While you may only be able to hire one or two employees to start with, it’s still vital that you hire well and choose the right ones.
Nearly all companies use technology. Think about whether you need laptops, tablets, Smartphone’s – or all of these. Talk to local IT firms if you’re not sure.
Different businesses have different social media needs. You might need a Facebook page and a LinkedIn profile or you may only need a Twitter account. Do some research on competitors or ask your mentor to see what will work for your business. Look at companies that you aspire to be like for inspiration.