It's extremely difficult to come up with a great business idea and then gather the gumption to actually start the business. But now you have to deal with all the tiny details that make up a real, legitimate business. Legal red tape, marketing, planning, money management--your new and overwhelming to-do list spans pages. That's why we've decided to help you by putting it all on one simple checklist. Below, we go into detail on the different areas of the checklist, as well as guide you to other resources to help you out. After you've checked out all this information, download our free Homebased Startup Checklist to get started. You'll be up and running in no time.
Planning Your Business
- Business Plan. One of the most important stacks of paper you'll ever come across in your business is your business plan. Even if you're just a one-person operation who wants to make a living rather than millions of dollars, you still need to create a business plan. You'll have your market, competition, plan for making dough, financials--all in one tidy spot to show investors, suppliers, employees, your proud grandma and, most important, yourself. It'll keep your eyes on that prize, whatever it may be.
- Marketing Plan. You thought you'd planned it all out with your business plan? Not quite. Marketing is such an important part of your business, it gets a plan all its own. Your marketing plan focuses on your customers--how you'll find them and how you'll make them your own. It thoroughly and completely outlines your product, target market, competition, objectives and budget, as well as how you'll track the effectiveness of your campaigns.
- Financial Plan. This isn't a plan per se, like the ones above, but more an assessment of your financial wherewithal. First, make an inventory of your present assets--savings accounts, real estate equity, retirement accounts, etc. This helps you determine: a) if you want to sell anything or use the accounts for funding; or b) what you can use as collateral for a loan. Next, determine your startup costs--all the money you need to get your business off the ground and floating for at least six months while you gather customers and start bringing in cash. This includes paying yourself a salary, because, unfortunately, you can't live on air during the startup phase.