Business Start Up Checklist: 25 Awesome Tips
...Awesome, you're starting a business. You're the CEO, the big boss, the self-employed master of your own universe. Welcome.
But don't do it. Two out of three small businesses fail in Australia. Save yourself whilst you still can....
Good. It's that kind of resilience and determination you'll need in order to be the one out of three.
This checklist might help too. It's our ultimate guide to setting up a business, packed with useful links, expert tips and some pearls of wisdom we've learned along the way.
25 awesome start-up tips
- Know that you have a product or service people will pay for
Sounds obvious right? But let's dig a little deeper. How do you know people will buy it? Is your product better or cheaper than something else on the market? Have you tried selling a sample to get feedback? Have you established proof of concept?
- Draft a business plan
There's no getting around it, this just needs to be done. It forces you to think of things you might otherwise forget. Can you sell your product, pay costs and have enough left over to carve out a living? What speed bumps lie ahead? What is your competition doing? How will you advertise? Will you have a loyalty scheme...? The list is virtually endless.
Here are the key areas your plan needs to cover:
Mission, Vision, Objectives
Staff Plan - roles, recruitment, salaries
Operational Plan - logistics, locations, premises, WHS, onboarding
Financial Plan - Cashflow forecasts, KPIs, budgets
Marketing Plan - Website, social, sales, branding, retention
SWOT - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
- Create a financial road map
Your financial plan should form part of your overall business plan. It's a fact that poor cashflow is the main contributor to business failure.
Low cahsflow is typically a function of poor sales, over spending or insufficient capital. Having a financial plan, together with a budget and clear idea of spending vs revenue will help safeguard against failure.
Important questions should be considered such as how long can you survive until your first sales come in? How much capital do you need? How does your business perform if a key client refuses to pay or goes under?
- Know thy competition
How many competitors in your class or location? How do they compare on price, value or quality? What marketing do they do? What can you learn from them and how will you use that information to help you on your way?
- Research the compliance
Do you need to be qualified, certified or insured to do what you want to do? Many industries will have their own compliance requirements. Make sure you're eligible before rolling out your marketing campaigns.
- Research which type of business structure you need
Everyone's circumstances, exit strategies, business goals and requirements are different. It's important to seek expert advice from qualified professionals to help ensure your business is set up in a way that helps you maximise your goals.
For example, if your goal is to sell the business in 3 years, you don't want to enter into a partnership with someone who wouldn't want to sell or buy you out.
- Understand what threats your business faces and how you might need to change
Did you know that Netflix started by posting DVDs back in 1997? That business had to face the challenge of technology whilst blockbuster video (and many others like it) went out of business in 2013.
If your business is setting out to 'solve a problem' it's important to understand how long that problem might exist or whether a better solution may come along in the future.
- Choose a name and check if it's already in use and/or protected
Great minds think alike. Which means you're totally unique name is probably already in use elsewhere. Check to see if it's protected in your class or industry on IP Australia .
- Take all of the above and present it to your mentor
Having everything written down and planned out is one thing but how do you know if it's a good plan or not? Having a mentor or trusted friend experienced in business will help you. If you take all of the above to your mentor, they'll be able to ask your questions, clarify and help you remain objective.
- Set up your Tax File Number, ABN (& ACN depending on your business structure) & register for GST
Time to make it official. You're now on the ATO's radar.
- Create and start using a non-disclosure agreement
This will help protect you against anyone you discuss your business with, including stakeholders and employees, divulging information to a third party.
- Get insured
It might help to discuss your profession with an insurance specialist. There's PI (professional indemnity), public liability & workers compensation (now through iCare) to name just a few.
- Establish your place of work
Whether this is a home office, factory, kitchen or a mobile van, where you work will depend on what you do and who you employ. There should be another checklist just for dealing with premises because the list is vast. Insurance, health & safety, ergonomics, utilities and culture all need to be considered.
- Register your domain and get a website
Your domain name and website will probably be a vital part of your marketing plan. We used Sydney Business Websites for this site (which we love) and we recommend small business owners speak to them for cost effective websites.
A lot of business owners make the mistake of investing too heavily in their website and then lack sufficient funds to drive traffic to it. How much traffic you guide to your website can have a significant impact on sales.
There are lots of different types of websites, so make sure yours can achieve the goals you set out.
- Register your trademark
Imagine creating your dream business only to discover a year down the road that someone has copied you, using your name and profiting from your success. Or, worse still, they send you a cease a desist notice because you're using their name. We recommend discussing this matter with a commercial lawyer - Catherine from Lawbase is someone we regard very highly.
- Count your beans
We're all in business to make money. Making sales and making profit are two very different terms and the only way to know how much money you're making is by having an accurate bookkeeping & accounting system.
In terms of compliance, you'll need to (at the very least) submit your quarterly BAS and annual tax return - which an accountant can do.
There are various accounting tools on the market, like Xero and MYOB, so discuss which one is right for you with your accountant.
It's easy, when you're first starting out, and unfamiliar with bookkeeping or accounting, to miss small expenses but it's essential to business health you get on top of this right away. There are so many ways that small business owners can save money when empowered with knowledge from experts so we recommend speaking to Janine at The Bookkeeping Store to help keep your books orderly. Taking the DIY approach is perilous!
- Open your business bank account
Mixing your personal and business money is an audit waiting to happen. Keep it organised with a business bank account.
- Create your brand
Whether it' a simple logo, a slogan or a colour, you'll want to have at least some basic brand guidelines. Then apply it to your email signature. Nothing will fill you with more joy than firing off that first invoice complete with branded letterhead and slick looking email signature.
- Get business cards
Networking is a fantastic way to introduce yourself to potential clients, colleagues and suppliers - and business cards will help them follow up or remember you.
- Director & employee roles
Who does what? Who reports to who? When does something need to happen by?
- Get social
Choose 1 platform and do it well. Your social media strategy should fall within your marketing plan which is part of your business plan.
- Become contactable
How will your customers, suppliers, staff and stakeholders communicate? Establish your communications policy and calls-to-action?
- Perfect your sales pitch
Practice, refine, seek feedback and improve your pitch
- Create your payment gateway
This may not be needed if you're simply invoicing but having a PayPal or Stripe account can be great for that too - as it creates another way for customers to pay - by credit card.
- Get a professional headshot
Your profile picture will represent you online in places like LinkedIn, social media, Google reviews and many other places. Gmail even uses it on email.
That's a lot of work
We love the fact you're reading our blog..
But don't you have more important things to do? Let us handle the stuff you're not sure about while you run your business.