What You Need to Do Before Setting Up Your New Business 😉

Do the following tasks either before launch or during the early days of your startup.

1. Determine viability
Be brutally honest. Your startup needs to be something you can make a profit doing or delivering. Ask yourself: would you buy it? Run the numbers: will customers pay enough so that you can cover costs and make a profit?  
2. Create a business plan
It’s easy to convince yourself that you don’t need a business plan, but creating a business plan with financial projections forces you to think through details. Keep your plan a living breathing thing that you revisit and adapt regularly.

3. Figure out the money
Most start-ups take a lot more time to get off the ground than you expect. Know where your living expenses for the first year will come from (savings, a job, spouse’s income, etc.). If you need financing for the business start investigating as soon as possible. Create a Personal Monthly Survival Budget

4. Get family behind you
Spend time to make sure your spouse and other close family ‘buy into’ your startup.You’ll have enough challenges without resistance from family.

5. Choose a business name
You want a name that will stick in your target audience’s heads. And it shouldn’t already be taken by another company. Do Google searches and use a corporate name, take a look at Companies House website and search the name you’ve decided on. (see point 7)

6. Register a domain name

7. Explore registering your business as a Limited Company. which can protect your personal assets.

8. Investigate and apply for business licenses
You may need one, if not several, business licenses for your startup, depending on your industry and where you are located. Most licenses are at the state or local level. Here in the United States, the SBA has a helpful business license and permits tool.

9. Set up a website
Get your website up and running as soon as possible. Today, it’s necessary for credibility. Even if your product is not yet built, you can start with company information and explore platforms that offer templates to build your own website on e.g. Squarespace, WordPress etc.

10. Register social media profiles
Getting set up on the major social media channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, to start) will make marketing on them later easier. 

11. Start your revenue stream
Start generating revenue as soon as possible. At the early stages of a start-up there is never enough money – resist the temptation to wait until things are “perfect.” 

12. Rent retail or office space
If you’ve got a bricks-and-mortar business, you’ll need to sort this out early. If you plan to run a retail business, pay attention to foot fall, accessibility e.g. proximity to public transport, and other factors that will affect the number of people that will walk in your store. EXCEPTION: If you don’t have a bricks and mortar or retail business, then hold off renting an office as long as possible to avoid saddling your start-up with lease/rental payments.

13. Order business cards
As a start-up founder, you’ll be doing a lot of networking, so order plenty of business cards. They are inexpensive enough that you can reorder them later if things change. Even now business cards add credibility.

14. Open a business bank account
It’s all too easy to use your personal bank account to pay for business expenses, but it becomes a bind later. On-line examples include Tide, Anna, Revolut and Starling.

15. Set up your accounting system
Once you have your bank account set up, choose an accounting program. Start as you intend to go. Few things will doom your business faster than bookkeeping that’s a mess. Consider the likes of Xero, Quickbooks etc.

16. Assign responsibilities to co-founders
If you have one or more founders, it’s imperative that you decide who will do what up front. Put it in writing. Partnership and/or Directors agreements negate disagreements that can destroy a business.

What You Can Do A Bit Later

While you don’t want to put off these tasks too long, they don’t need to be checked off your list before you launch.

17. Upgrade your smartphone and choose apps
As an entrepreneur you are going to be on the go – a lot. I can’t emphasize enough how useful a good phone with good business apps can be, in running your startup. Get a credit card swipe device to accept payments, too.

18. Consult an insurance broker and secure cover 
Depending on the type of business you’re starting, you may need insurance of one kind or another, like public liability, indemnity, emplyers liability or health insurance, especially if you hire full-time staff.

19. Hire your first employee
Depending on the type of business you have, you may need staff from day one (e.g. bricks and mortar retail) or you may be able to outsource to freelancers, interns, and third-party vendors for a while (e.g. in service and tech businesses). Just remember, trying to do everything yourself takes you away from growing the business.

20. Line up suppliers and service providers
Finding a good source of inventory is crucial, especially in certain types of businesses (retail, manufacturing). Beyond inventory, line up good reliable suppliers and service providers and ensure you have back up contingency in case unforeseen circumstances interfere with their ability to support your business needs..

21. File for trademarks and patents
The best thing to do is consult an lawyer early about the need for patents, especially. Get the advice early. Then you may be able to defer filing for a while, depending on the nature of your business. Contact the British Library’s Business & IP Centre for IP advice.

22. Work your network
Reach out to former colleagues and colleagues, as well as friends and family. Don’t pressure them to buy your products or services. Instead, tap into them for introductions and help with other things on this start-up checklist.

23. Don’t waste time on “business partnerships” 
Be careful about wasting time on “business partnership” discussions. Your business won’t be attractive to potential partners unless and until you start making headway. Focus your precious time to make sales and get customers.

24. Refine your pitch
You need a good elevator pitch for many reasons: potential investors, customers, prospective new hires, bankers. If you can’t persuasively and clearly pitch your business, how can you expect key stakeholders to buy in?

25. Don’t rush to give away equity in your new business. You need time to build it, increase your customer base and revenue stream and realise what it’s true value is before you sell shares in it.

26. Refine your product, and marketing and sales approach
As you go along you will learn more about the marketplace. Use customer feedback (on-line and face-to-face) to refine your product and service offerings, and your go-to-market approach.

27. Secure your IT 
Whether you’re running a tech company or not, you likely have sensitive data on computers and devices that you want protected. Protect it from intrusions and disasters. Back it up! IT problems can derail a new business.

28. Consider recruiting a salesperson or sales team in place 
In many start-ups the business owner starts out as the chief sales person. But to grow you will need a dedicated sales function, so you can focus on activities other than day-to-day sales. As revenue allows explore options including sales agencies.

29. Get an advisor / mentor (visit <>)
It’s all too easy easy to work “in” your business rather than “on” it. 
A experienced advisor/mentor who has an extensive business experience portfolio can provide you with great advice and serve as a sounding board.

Your checklist might be longer than this, but organising what needs to be done before you launch your business “rocket” in advance of pressing the go button will make it easier to prioritize your tasks after your business takes off.

Pete Schonbeck