The Startup Checklist: Building a Strong Foundation for Business
So, you’ve created a startup. Now what? This checklist is designed to help people who have just begun their business and aren’t sure where to proceed from here. There’s a lot of work to be done, but understanding the core aspects of your business strategy can help you make these decisions moving forward. Each item on this list is important for building a client base, producing a quality product and managing your finances.
Know Your Mission Statement
Does your company have a mission statement? If not, it should. The mission statement is a short statement that describes your business’s intentions and goals. Mission statements help set the tone for employees and for customers who want to know why your business exists and what your business can do for its clients.
Have A Business Plan That Fits Your Mission Statement
Your business plan is the key to your business’s success. Without a plan, the actions of your business may become random, ineffective and unproductive. A business plan is an all-encompassing document that describes the nature of your business, the mission of your business, long-term goals, financial information and other important details. An effective business plan is your road map to success. This is where many startups fail.
How do you write a business plan? Work with a business planner consultant or partner with a Small Business Development Center in your area for help and advice.
Develop Your Brand
A remarkable brand identity can help your small business stand out from the competition. Brand identity is what makes your company seem different, special and better than the other businesses in your field. Developing a brand is a multi-step process that continues for the life of your business.
- Know your customers.
- Target your advertising.
- Develop a logo.
- Choose the colors and style that project the character of your business (yes, this is actually important).
- Reinforce your brand with all elements of design, from your website to buildings where your business is located.
Market Your Business
Marketing your business is important for growing your customer base. Marketing is done in many ways. Advertisements, blog posts, informational newsletters, emails and signs are all ways that many businesses market their services and attract new customers. Many modern forms of marketing focus on drawing customers to the business by providing quality content and information that customers need. This indirect form of marketing can help develop customer loyalty and trust, while also establishing a good reputation for the business.
Track Your Finances
Running a business is going to be more expensive than you think, and tracking your company’s profits is going to be more difficult than you know. Find out how much money your business is really making, how much you can plan to make in the future, how to track growth and how much you can afford to pay your employees. Be realistic, but don’t be so conservative that you never take any necessary risks.
Don’t Forget Your Taxes
Once your business is up and running, you’ll need to pay taxes and charge sales tax. Many businesses use tax/accounting software to help them stay within legal bounds. For startups, this is often essential. You’re spending your time managing and growing your company—time you spend elsewhere is time that could be used making a sale. Zip2Tax supplies sales and use tax rates by ZIP code to help your business charge the right amount of sales tax for each transaction. Moving forward with the right software can help your company start off business in the right way.
Greg Geilman is a Los Angeles native of over 40 years and owner of South Bay Residential.