Business Start-up Checklist

So, you’ve finally decided to go it alone and start up your own business. This will most likely be one of the biggest decisions you will ever make. Don’t jump before you look, there are some important things to consider before you leap off that business ledge.

How about some helpful hints to help you focus on a road map for your new business? Try these recommendations on your start-up!

What Kind of Business Do You Want to Start?

1. Part-time or a full-time business?
2. What is the industry? Is this a new product or service?
3. Buying a running an established business model (franchise)?
4. Should I start it alone or find a partner?

Research Your Business Idea

1. Do you have the financial resources necessary?
2. Is there a market for your business? How scalable is the idea?
3. Research your competitors. Check if there is chance for you to make an impact on consumers and capture some market share.
4. What is your unique value proposition (UVP) and selling points (USPs)?
5. What Is your cost structure? Check price points and revenue streams. Can you increase value?

Create that Business Plan

1. What are your main business goals? Make a list.
2. Decide on the location of your business and the associated costs.
3. How are you going to finance your business? Think about your cash flow, profit/loss and projected sales.
4. Define and describe your marketing strategy. What is your target market? Who is your perfect customer?
5. Get help! Lots of help is available to create a business plan – from online resources to consultants.

Define and describe Who, What, When, Where, and How your business and the products and/or services you plan to provide. Business plans clearly outline the goals of the business, explain the operating procedures, detail the competition, include a marketing plan, and explain the company’s current and desired funding. If your company plans to seek funding either in the form of a traditional loan or from venture capitalists, a thorough business plan will be required for the application process.

Train Hard

1. Prepare yourself. The more business skills you have, the better!
2. Read business news and books.
3. Attend a variety of business meetings and courses – there are lots of free ones out there!
4. Join business support networks and keep up to date with training workshops available.
5. Contact your local chamber of commerce and business development offices. Ask for helpful start-up resources.

The Name Says It All

1. Choose a name for your business. It’s fun, but definitely tough. The name should be unique, clear & memorable. Test out names with your family and friends!
2. Check to make sure that no one else uses the name. Then double-check.
3. Make sure the domain name is free. You do not want a web address that doesn’t match.

Registering Your Business

1. Decide what capacity your business will operate in (Corporation, Partnership, Sole Proprietorship).
2. Register your business with the appropriate registering body.
3. Seek professional advice when setting up partnerships or limited companies
4. Run a check for trademark names and availability.
5. Check out online help here: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/bn-ne/bro-ide/menu-eng.html

Choose the Right Staff

1. How many employees do you need (if any)?
2. Don’t start hiring staff until you need them. Employees are expensive and require a budget.
3. Hire the best associates. Do not compromise on the skills and capability of your workers for lower wages.
4. Use and check references when hiring.
5. Clearly define the roles within your company before you hire.

Marketing

1. Develop an affordable marketing strategy and budget.
2. Get your business cards ready, complete with all your business details (addresses, phone numbers and website).
3. Network in your industry and community to gain exposure.
4. Set up your business website.
5. Create a presence across social networks and start building your consumer fan base.

 Legal and Professional

1. Seek advice. There are a lot of resources out there – use them! Get legal and professional advice for anything you are unsure of. This will save you a lot of hard work and money in the long run.
2. Insure your business.
3. Find out what taxes you will have to pay and start planning ahead.
4. Research all rules and regulations that you must legally follow.
5. Seek advice about tax breaks, funding and grants for start-ups and entrepreneurs.

Suppliers and Distributors

1. Choose your suppliers and distributors carefully.
2. Reach as many suppliers as you can to reduce your costs.
3. Always keep a backup list of suppliers (it’s always good to be over-prepared)
4. Talk to distributors and be sure to clarify all terms and conditions.

Keep Good Records

1. Keep good records of everything that comes in and goes out of your business
2. Consider setting up a separate business banking account.
3. Make sure you understand the book-keeping process.
4. Discuss keeping accurate records with your accountant
5. Submit everything on time and in good order to save money at year end

Investigate Other Requirements

Businesses face a number of government and insurance requirements, particularly if the business has employees. You should investigate your business’s obligations for the following:

  1. Unemployment insurance
  2. Workers’ compensation
  3. Federal, provincial and sales tax
  4. Vacation pay
  5. Health benefits
  6. Self-employment tax
  7. Payroll tax requirements
  8. Sales and use tax

Entrepreneurial Resources at your Disposal

  1. Planning your business
  2. Organizing your finances
  3. Registering your business
  4. Hiring and managing your staff
  5. Workplace health and safety
  6. Additional resources
  7. All of which can be easily found at: http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/page/2749/

Final checks:

  • Select an accountant and attorney
  • Open a business bank account
  • Apply for business loans or a line of credit (if applicable)
  • Set up your business accounting
  • Obtain the necessary business licenses and/or permits
  • Acquire business insurance
  • Location, Location, Location: Find the best location for your business!