If you’ve ever started your own business, you know that there are—or at least seem to be—an endless amount of steps to take to get your business up and running. If we listed them all, this blog post would quickly turn into a book! In this post, I am taking for granted that you already know what services or products you want to offer and how to finance your venture, and are ready to get the ball rolling. The following is my small business launch checklist.
All small business owners need to go through the “paperwork” process of starting their business. I put this word in parenthesis both because business forms can be filed online these days and because to me the term refers to the bare bones, busy-work part of starting your business. The basic items that comprise paperwork are:
- Deciding on and registering your business name
- Deciding on and registering your business type/structure (LLC, S-Corp, etc.)
- Applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Filling out employee forms (if you will have employees)
Many business owners find that filing these items is surprisingly quick and affordable, so don’t procrastinate this one!
Whether yours is an e-commerce, consulting, technical services, administrative, or retail business, you will need to set yourself up with software that helps you execute your work affordably, professionally, and efficiently. Most people already have a basic Microsoft suite, which includes software like Word and Excel. Depending on your needs, you may want to upgrade to a more complete, cloud-based business version of Office. If you are a bookkeeper or will be doing your own books, you’ll need accounting software like QuickBooks or Sage. Most business owners also benefit from a task managing software (I use Asana), a personal and/or shared scheduling system like Outlook or Google Calendar, and a cloud-based storage system like Drop Box. For my 10 must-have business software, click here.
3. Social Media Strategy
If you don’t yet know that your business’ social media presence is essential for success, it’s time to get in the know! But before you dive headlong into the rushing river of social media posting and dialoguing, it’s important to have a strategy in place. Some basic questions to ask are:
- Who is my audience?
- What kind of content will cast the best light on my business, but not make my pages all about me (dialogue and engagement are important!)
- What platforms do I need to post on, based on my business type, offerings, and audience?
- How will my social content strengthen and showcase my unique brand?
- How many times a day will I post?
If you have trouble answering any or all of these questions, I’d be happy to help.
Like participation in social media, blogs are a modern-day must for businesses who want to get off the ground and be successful. Your blog is a place to flesh out your business’ brand and personality, show your human side, and exhibit your professional knowledge. Blogs are approachable, human, and offer more information than other forms of marketing. It’s important to take advantage of blogging as a marketing and social medium.
Obviously, in this day and age, your business MUST have a website. It must also be easy to find, aesthetic and inviting, clear and concise, and up-to-date. If your website it outdated, your clients will assume you are too. If yours needs a facelift, give me a call.
6. Decide What to Outsource!
In order to put your best face forward and avoid burnout, you may need or want to outsource some of your startup tasks to a virtual assistant or other professional. If your business’ finances will be particularly complex, hire a CPA to properly set up your books and teach you how to record transactions, track inventory, and anything else your operations require. Depending on the type of services you offer, you may need to seek legal counsel, and virtual assistants offer a wide range of helpful services as well. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! You’ll thank yourself later, when your business’ strong foundation allows it to flourish.
There are many more steps to take in the course of getting your business off the ground, but these are the major ones you can’t skip. What other essential steps have you taken? What do you wish someone had told you to do before you started your business?