The term “startup” seems to carry a certain connotation, one of young entrepreneurs in the tech sector who are looking for the next disruptive game-changer. Certainly, in the venture capital world, that is often an accurate description. However, there are plenty of other startups that are simply new businesses in the early stages of getting off the ground. There may be no investors involved and a workforce of just one person – you – but it is a startup nonetheless. If you’ve been considering an entrée into the world of business, you can use this helpful checklist to make it official.
Consider Your Interests
If you already have a business idea in mind, that’s great. However, it is important to think about the long-term viability of your plan. Is the company you want to form something that will maintain your interest for decades to come? Or is the main goal to eventually sell the business and move on to a different venture? You stand a better chance of success if you enter a field that you are passionate about. Otherwise, you risk losing interest or getting overwhelmed before you reach your first business anniversary.
Write a Business Plan
Nothing will help you wrap your mind around the intricacies of owning a company better than crafting a business plan. It may seem as though this is an outdated hurdle that is not really necessary, but in truth it is vital. The process of writing a business plan will force you to examine exactly what your procedures will be, both in the startup phase and in the long run. You will need to list your mission, goals and operational plan in a concrete way. The plan will be your guide when making future decisions, and it can help you get started in a more organized and focused manner.
Get Some Help
Depending on where you live, you may have several free or low-cost resources at your disposal for learning more about the ins and outs of running a business. Check to see if there is a small business development center in the area, or perhaps the local chamber of commerce offers classes for startup businesses. You can get someone to read and critique your business plan, suggest funding options if you need them, or explain the legal requirements for hiring employees.
Choose a Location
Many new businesses don’t have a physical location. Instead, the owners work from home or choose an online-only format for the company. But if you are in the market for some office space, a workshop, or a spot in a business incubator building, this is the time to start looking. You might want to take your business plan with you, as the building’s owner might want to judge the potential longevity of the lease.
Think About Financing
Will your startup require funding from outside sources? If so, you will have to do some research on potential options. You could get a bank loan, apply for a grant, or seek outside investors. Depending on what your business will entail, you may be able to finance its initial operation yourself. But if you have your sights set on a bricks-and-mortar location, you’ll likely need a loan.
There are many paperwork hoops you have to jump through in order to start a company. You’ll need to file a “doing business as” registration with your local government, usually your state’s Secretary of State Department. You must also decide what type of business structure you want to use: sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation, or non-profit. Some of these structures require additional legal filings, such as an S corporation. Finally, you’ll likely be required to get a business license or permit of some sort. For example, if you want to follow in the footsteps of HamptonCreek and create a food-based company, you’ll need a commercial kitchen license from your state or local agency.
Register for Taxes
The income from your business, depending on the structure, will be eligible for taxation. You’ll need to register with state and federal agencies to obtain a tax identification number, and if you plan to hire employees, there are additional requirements for that process.
By following these steps, you should be well along the path toward a success business startup. All that’s left now is to start making your products or selling your service.