If you’re ready to turn your business idea into a real-life company, you might be overwhelmed by so many variables and tasks required to get your new enterprise off the ground. However, there’s no reason to lose track of these tasks. Instead, you can create a checklist of each step so that you don’t forget anything.
Or, you can use this 10-point checklist we’ve developed. Here are the 10 steps to launching a new business.
Before you invest too much time, energy, and money into your business, you should set yourself up for success. The best way to determine your potential is to measure the demand for your products and develop a unique value proposition (UVP).
A business plan allows you to curate this information into a single document. Standard business plans are often up to 10 pages long or more. While a comprehensive document is helpful, you should also create a one-page outline. The primary reason to make your plan a single page is to make it easier to digest for lenders and investors. Also, making it one page forces you to condense your ideas and streamline your thought process.
So, what’s in a business plan? Here are the core elements:
As a business owner, you need to get good at determining your cash flow and whether it’s positive or negative. Cash flow looks at how much money is coming in and how much is going out. Earnings come from sales, and costs can go toward many expenses. Some examples can include:
Budgeting also affects your prices. You need to figure out your profit margin before you launch so that it’s easier to tell if you’re making money or not. For example, if your profit margin on a single item is 10 percent, how many products must you sell for that figure to be accurate? If the number is 100 per week, you can immediately tell if you’re making money.
You want to dial all of this in before you launch your business so that you’re not catching up after the fact. Realistically, you may be able to take care of day-to-day accounting practices, but you should hire professionals to balance your books and determine your tax burden.
Developing your accounting system now is also helpful for showing lenders that you know what you’re doing. Chances are you don’t have sufficient capital already, so you might have to borrow from a bank or seek investors. Either way, lenders want to make sure you’re a good investment. Now is also the time to determine how much money you need.
What can also help you secure financing is to create a financial projection for the next five years. Look at similar competing businesses and rely on your market research to help you quantify your forecasts. From there, it’s much easier for lenders to determine if you’ll be successful or not.
No matter where your business is based, you’ll need to secure various licenses and permits to operate legally. Be sure to consider these costs when developing your business plan. Some standard licenses include:
Also, keep in mind that some permits need annual renewal while others are a one-time registration.
When coming up with your business plan, you need to figure out what kind of company you’ll be forming. There are four primary options, and each one has its pros and cons. Let’s break them down:
Depending on your business model, you may have to source supplies or ingredients from different vendors. For example, if you’re selling organic food dishes, you have to buy ingredients from a restaurant supply store or a local farm.
Since you haven’t launched your business yet, you have to convince these vendors to take a chance on your brand. Here is where a one-page business plan can also come in handy. If necessary, you might have to pay for your first orders upfront. After you build some trust, you can often move to 30 or 60-day repayment terms.
When finding vendors and suppliers, be sure to check references and verify the quality of the products. Also, ask lots of questions, such as:
A brand identity is another element that sets you apart from the competition. Basically, think of your business as a person – what do you want people to feel when interacting with your company? Some examples of brand identities include:
These days, all businesses must have an online presence. More consumers rely on online sites like social media and review pages to research a company before buying anything. So, you need to develop your online assets before you launch so that new customers have something upon which to draw their conclusions.
The essential online assets include:
Now that you have your brand identity and online assets created, it’s time to determine how you’ll promote your business. Marketing is an essential component because it allows you to build brand awareness and increase your market share. When coming up with a plan, be sure to include these elements:
Even if you’re a small business, you’ll likely need employees to handle various aspects of your operation. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for you to handle it all.
One way to save money upfront is to hire independent contractors. However, if you want stability and long-term success, you’ll need some salaried employees as well. Employees are more loyal to the company because they can reap better rewards, such as medical benefits and paid time off.
Before hiring anyone, though, be sure to create these elements:
Finally, you’ll need various equipment and machinery to run your business. Even if you only need an office printer and copier, you have to figure out where to get it.
One element to remember is that it’s often better to invest in high-quality equipment than to try and save a few bucks up front. Buying cheap or used machinery can save some money immediately, but you’ll spend more in the long run.
Before buying anything, write down a list of must-haves and “want-to-haves.” Start with the former list and add anything from the latter list as your business grows.
Overall, if you follow this checklist, you should be well on your way to building a strong and robust business. Even though there are plenty of obstacles along the way, you’re now prepared to face and overcome them.