A Checklist for Your Start-Up
1. Determine viability
Be brutally honest. Your startup needs to be something you can make a profit doing or delivering. Ask yourself: would you buy it? Run the numbers: will customers pay enough so that you can cover costs and make a profit?
2. Create a business plan
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.
3. Figure out the money
Most start-ups 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 to finance your business start investigating as soon as possible.
4. Choose a business name
You want a name that will stick in your target audience’s heads. And it shouldn’t already be taken by another company.
5. Register a domain name
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
6. Incorporate / figure out legal structure
Incorporating your startup can protect your personal assets. Talk over structure (corporation, LLC, sole proprietorship) with your attorney and accountant
7. Apply for an EIN
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) helps you separate yourself from your business. You’ll need it if you plan to incorporate your business or open a business bank account. Plus, with it you can avoid giving out your social security number (an opening to identity theft)
8. Investigate and apply for business licenses
You may need one, if not several, business licenses for your startup, depending on your industry and where you are located.
9. Set up a website
Get your website up and running as soon as possible. Today, it’s necessary for credibility. Even if your product is not yet built, you can start with company information.
10. Open a business bank account
It’s all too easy to use your personal bank account to pay for business expenses, but it becomes a gnarl to untangle later.
11. Set up your accounting system
Once you have your bank account set up, choose an accounting program. Start as you intend to go. Few things will doom your business faster than books that are a mess.
12. Assign responsibilities to co-founders
If you have one or more founders, it’s imperative that you decide who will do what up front. Put it in writing. Co-founder disagreements can destroy your business.