Starting a business – checklist

If you’re starting a new business there’s lots to think about. Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of what you need to do and when. This starting a business checklist includes the most important tasks to get you started.

All businesses start with an idea. But you’ll need more than an idea to make your business dream a reality. Planning, skills, resources, time – and a little luck – are all important.

This list will guide you through the early stages of your business. Use it as a roadmap for building and running your new business.

Get your new business up and running with this 17-step checklist.

1. Define your unique selling point

You need a unique selling point (USP). It’s important that you define what makes your business different to the competition. Try to sum it up in two sentences – and memorize it. You’ll use it every time you pitch to investors and potential customers

 2. Find a business mentor

Whether it’s a business advisor or a financial guru, find someone who will give you honest feedback about your business. A good contact point is Startup Guernsey.

3. Create a business plan

When you create a business plan, you’ll need to summarise your business as it is now, and map your vision for how it will be in the future, and don’t forget to check out your competition.

4. Register web domains and trademarks

You’ll need a website, so check for suitable domain names and register them. Think about trademarks too – talk to your lawyer about this.

5. Set up your business structure

Choose a legal structure that works best for you. An accountant can help you here.  See our article on how to structure a business and set up a free initial consultation with us to discuss in more detail.

6. Ensure that your business will eventually be profitable

Can you make a profit from your business? Use accounting software to run profit and loss forecasts. Ask us for help with this.

Consider if you have adequate funding to start and if you can afford to fail.

7. Set up a business bank account

Don’t use your personal account, even if you’re just starting out. It’s always wise to keep your business finances separate. A credit card and PayPal account could be useful too.

It can take a few weeks to open a business bank account, so don’t delay starting the process (once you have incorporated or decided to trade as a sole trader).  In the interim try and use a “spare” bank account that can be business related only.

8. Arrange business insurance

Even the smallest companies need insurance (business use of car, office policies, public liability, professional indemnity etc. Talk to a broker to find the best package for you.

9. Register for taxes

Organise tax IDs and register with the tax office and social security. It’s best to get this paperwork done right at the start.  There are different requirements depending on legal structure, which we can advise on in more detail.

10. List the items that can be tax deductible expenses

Office rent, equipment costs, internet costs – all of these may be offset against tax so make sure you talk to us and keep track from the outset.

11. Create your website

Use the website domain name you’ve already registered if possible. Services like Squarespace, WordPress, Moonfruit and Onepager will get you online quickly. You can always refresh and improve your site at a later date.

12. Create social network accounts

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.

13. Ask people to promote you online

Contact members of your social networks. Tell them about your new business and ask them to share the link to your website with the people in their networks.

 14. Find the right employees

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.  Ensure you have adequate insurance and employment contracts in place.

15. Think about how you’ll use technology

Nearly all companies use technology. Think about whether you need laptops, tablets, smartphones – or all of these. Talk to local IT firms if you’re not sure.

Software is getting more powerful and intuitive. If possible, choose online applications for your work. These include Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365. That way you can access your valuable data online from anywhere at any time.  An accounts system like XERO will help you keep on top of your books and save you time.

Look ahead and add technology when you need it, it is so much easier to implement system changes before there is a problem to fix!

16. Legal stuff

Do you have terms and conditions for your business?

Make sure you are GDPR compliant.

17. Keep your data safe

Companies that lose data also lose business. Use cloud-based software for peace of mind and ensure you have adequate back-up and security in place.

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Keep challenging yourself…Successful entrepreneurs keep going when other people would give up. That inner drive is what defines a successful business owner. Your attitude will help determine whether your business succeeds or fails. So keep going and the hard work will pay off.

The steps in this starting a business checklist are all important. But they don’t guarantee success. Only you can do that, with hard work, intelligent decisions and great employees. Stay nimble, be prepared for challenges – and go for it!

For all the financial & accounting aspects we discuss in more detail if you take advantage of free initial consultation.  We also give you a more detailed checklist, which differs depending on how you decide to structure your business.  We also set all start-ups up on Xero for free.

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