Business Start Up Checklist: How to Have the Best First Year Ever
You’ve decided to start-up a a small business. You have products or services that you know people need and know roughly how you want your business to look.
But it can be very difficult to launch a new business right and you want to ensure that your first year is the best so that you can be best positioned for future growth. We have created a business start-up checklist for creating a solid foundation from which you can build up your business into a successful enterprise.
Before You Launch
Create a business plan
So many people don’t create a business plan before launching. But without it you are basically launching blind, with no formulated direction. Without it, you cannot be sure that you have thought through all the details. You are almost certain to have a terrible first year and are potentially setting yourself up for failure right from the start.
Although that’s a very formidable warning, don’t let the business plan scare you. It doesn’t have to be pages of complex business and legal analysis. It doesn’t even have to be fixed. In fact, as your business progresses you will want to come back and revise your business plan so that it reflects the enterprise you have created.
What is a business plan?
It boils down to a statement of your business goals and how you will go about reaching them. It needs to be very personalised to what you want and should reflect what you are realistically capable of. Finances, skill set, the industry and the market you will operate in should be taken into consideration.
Your business plan should be measurable as well. It isn’t just collection of aspirational statements, but achievable aims that you and your employees will work towards.
Get the money straight
As you create your business plan and begin to make the first necessary purchases, you need to know how much money you have, and how you are going to manage it.
Start-ups can take a long time to start up. You will need to find another source of financing before you begin generating an income through your new business. This can be from savings, income from another job, a spouse’s income or from financing. If you do choose to take out a loan, consult a business advisor to get the best contract for you.
Get a new business bank account to separate your business money from your personal money.
It can become messy down the road if you are trying to separate your business and personal finances at tax time. Plus, it will be easier to see the financial health of your business and whether it is generating enough income.
You should also invest in accounting software designed for small business. They are incredibly helpful tools that require very little effort or skill to use. They then create all your financial statements and help you understand where your money is going to and coming from, and how you can manage it better.
Choose a business name that’s on-point
Chances are that you thought of your business name as soon as you decided that you wanted to start your own business.
It’s an important part of the process because your name communicates who you are to your customers, suppliers and competitors. Your branding is part of your marketing, and needs to be consistent with the overall message you are conveying.
Once you have chosen, then you can get started with all the fun things like registering for an Australian Business Name, or Australian Company Name.
Protect yourself with trademarks
Once you have a business name you can start applying for trademarks and patents under that name.
These are incredibly important for some industries, and the process should be started as soon as possible because it can take some time. The IP Australia website has a lot of information that you should look over, but it is still best to talk to a lawyer too. This is not something you should try yourself. If you have protected your products and brands from the start, you can continue on your first year without having to worry about bigger and more established competitors from replicating your competitive advantage.
Find your base
Deciding on where to base yourself can have a massive impact in your first year as you try to build up loyal customers.
For those who depend on foot traffic, placing yourself in a business centre or popular public area is very important. For businesses that don’t get people spontaneously walking in, but still do have customers/clients visiting the office, you can be slightly further away from the centre to keep costs down. Some businesses will operate out of the business owner’s home. This can be a great way to keep costs down and bring more benefit to your customers as well as your bottom line.
During the first year
Develop a marketing plan
Building on from your business plan, create a marketing plan that targets your ideal customers.
You need to be able to communicate who you are, what you want to achieve, and how you can solve problems. The best way to refine your marketing and sales pitch in the first year of business is by listening to your customer feedback. You should also get creative with your initiatives. There are quite a lot of cheap or even free marketing options that will boost your business reputation.
Connect with customers and suppliers
Following on from that point, you need to build relationships with both your customers and suppliers. Customer loyalty is incredibly important, and you can start to feel the benefits even within your first year. Offer incentives, refine your customer service and develop a product or service that meets their needs.
A strong supplier network is also crucial. Your first year and the years after will be much more successful if you have suppliers you can rely on and can be counted on to deliver high quality and reliable products and services. This might mean having to give a little back by offering them incentives too.
Accept all the free advice there is
When you are just starting a small business, the checklist can feel incredibly overwhelming at times. There is so much that you need to know and stay on top.
Luckily for you, there are a vast range of websites that offer information created to help people in exactly your position. By reading a handful of articles written by business experts each week you can develop a sound knowledge base for how to grow your business, find the solution to any issue and manage your growing workforce.
Website that will be useful include:
In addition, ensuring that your start-up business is taking full advantage of the right tools to run intelligently & efficiently is an important step to launching any new venture.