Everybody wants the sex and sizzle of the promise of being your own boss and running a business. Yet there are a number of not-so-sexy but absolutely crucial things you need to have if you’re serious about running your business. Times have changed so you want to keep your planning short, sweet, and flexible but you still need more than just a seat of your pants whim.
If you don’t want to land your butt in jail, decimate your family’s financial security, or screw this up so royally that you have to sell everything you own and take a worse job than you left, make sure you have these 42 things handled.
- Business plan
- A legal entity structure for your business
- A name for your business
- Register your business name with your locality/state
- Obtain any local business licenses/permits required
- Clear business model
- A break-even analysis
- Profitability analysis
- Clearly defined market that wants and will pay for your services
- Pricing strategy
- Profitability metrics
- Marketing strategy
- Marketing plan
- Business operations manual
- Business continuity plan (what happens if you get ill for an extended time or die)
- Obtain state tax filing account if your product/services will be taxable.
- A physical location for your business (even if it is a home office)
- Financing strategy to fund the business and your life at startup/through downturns
- A domain name for your business
- Clear branding (who you are, what you stand for)
- A basic logo or consistent way you reference and display your business name.
- Website on a platform that you own
- Set up record keeping for your business finances
- Purchase accounting software for your invoicing and bookkeeping system
- Familiarize yourself with common business deductions, income, and tax requirements (or hire an accountant)
- Business card
- Separate business checking, savings, and credit card accounts
- Insurance for your business (home owner’s insurance typically does not cover business activities, verify your situation)
- Health and disability insurance for you/your employees
- Understand employer responsibilities and differences between independent contractors and employees
- Create independent contractor agreements
- Client agreement and contract templates
- Liability insurance
- Clearly defined service that you offer
- Email address with your business’ domain name
- Credit card processor account
- Basic office supplies (no longer is someone stocking your cabinet with paper and clips)
- Backup system for your digital files
- A phone (ideally a separate phone number for business only)
- An e-fax or online system to send/receive secure documents (signatures, agreements, etc.)
- Clear boundaries of what will be work time and what will not be (entrepreneurial martyrdom is not a sustainable model of success).
Even if you’ve been in business successfully for years, if you’re missing one or more of these items, it is never too late to strengthen your systems and foundation.
Paula Gregorowicz is a small business consultant who helps business owners create more profits and playtime so they have more money in their pocket and more time to do things they love.
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