When you build a business, you’re building more than just a job. You’re building a life. For most entrepreneurs, their business is tightly integrated with every other aspect of who they are. In some ways, it’s an extension of themselves. As the owner of a startup company, you have a lot at stake. If you fail, it’s easy to think that you’ve failed as a person somehow. While that’s not necessarily true, it doesn’t make failing any easier. Here’s how to increase your odds of success with a simple checklist:
Make A Plan
Failure to make a business plan is often cited as a major reason why businesses fail. Yet, many business owners don’t make a plan – even when they know this helps. Don’t become a statistic. This should be the first thing on your list. Make a plan. Outline it with ideas you want to implement – what market you’ll serve, what you’ll sell, how you’ll market your product or service, what business format it will take, and how you will fund it.
Get Registered And Licensed
Nearly every state requires business licensing for any type of business activity. Some businesses are more burdened with regulation than others. Before you open your doors, or do much of anything else, you need licensing and registration.
For example, if you open any kind of business in the food prep industry, you’ll need a basic license to do business, and you’ll need to open your place up for regular inspections by your state’s health department.
If you want to open a cleaning business, not only will you need supplies from someone like Cleanitsupply.com, you’ll need to register with the state and become licensed as a professional cleaner. You may also be required to purchase liability insurance and become bonded.
If you employ anyone, you need to provide worker’s compensation insurance, pay for unemployment insurance, make sure you have all of the proper signage concerning minimum wage, sexual harassment, and discrimination displayed in a common area where all employees can view it.
You must have a way to finance your startup venture. Even if most of the money will come from your savings, you might eventually need bank financing for expansion. If you have no money, you’ll most certainly need an angel investor to back you.
Angel investors invest in startups that are promising, have a solid business plan, and that employ experienced management. In return for their money, they usually demand that you give them a share of the company (i.e. stock), profits, or both.
Establish a Location
Next on the list is your business location. If you’re fundamentally a brick-and-mortar operation, you need to have a great location so people can find you. For example, if you plan on opening a new nightclub, you’ll want prime real estate downtown where there’s heavy foot traffic.
You’ll still need to do some advertising, but being well-positioned in your city will make it a lot easier to succeed – even if your marketing is mediocre.
Networking is an important aspect for many businesses – especially startups. Alliances with well-known business consultants, PR firms, potential business partners, and future employees will lend credibility to your operation.
Even if you have a great location, you still need good marketing to succeed. There’s no substitute for a good PR firm and a dedicated direct mail campaign.
Michael Ferguson has started several successful businesses of his own. Now retired, he likes to help others do the same by sharing his insights online.