Checklist: How to Start Your Own Small Business Venture

Starting your own business can be an incredibly fulfilling way to make a living. Still, in order to be successful, starting a business takes careful planning. Below, we’ve created a list of steps you can take as you prepare to strike out on your own.

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  • Write a Comprehensive Business Plan: A business plan should have carefully distilled market research, including potential customers and pre-existing competitors. It should also include financial details as to how you will fund and grow your business. It is wise to have at least 1 year of reserves in the bank, as many businesses will not approach break even in the first year.
  • Set Up Shop: This includes setting up your physical (or virtual) location. Obviously, it pays to avoid the costs of office space early on, at least for the first six months. You’ll also want to select a business structure. Many businesspeople recommend Delaware as a State of Incorporation. You don’t actually have to operate in Delaware (a “registered agent” will effectively be your symbolic connection to Delaware. LLCs can often be better for traditional businesses, while technology and other, high-growth businesses that expect to take at least some outside capital often select c-corporations.
  • Get the House in Order: Register for any state or federal tax IDs, apply for any necessary licenses or insurance (e.g. a liquor license or errors & omissions insurance for a law firm), and open up a business bank account to get paid!
  • Go-to-Market: Once you are live, dedicate all of your energy to go-to-market. This means a combination of sales, marketing, product development, and engineering. Focus on rapid iteration when it comes to your product, whether you’re building technology or offering legal services. An effective marketing strategy can get you those first few customers quickly – exactly the kind of momentum you need as you embark on this new adventure!