Advertising & Marketing

How to Start Your Own Business: A Small Business Checklist

Are you thinking about starting your own business? While bringing your vision to life is exciting and exhilarating, it can also be overwhelming. So, we’re breaking down everything you need to know in this checklist for starting a business. This new business checklist covers everything from logo design to legalities—reference it often as you start your entrepreneurial journey so you can stay on track for success. 

How to Start a Small Business

  1. Decide On a Business Name
  2. Choose a Logo
  3. Get Online
  4. Draft a Business Plan
  5. Secure Funding
  6. Open a Business Bank Account
  7. Implement a Bookkeeping System
  8. Follow Local Regulations
  9. Get Business Insurance
  10. Find a Location
  11. Start Networking
  12. Hire Your First Employee
  13. Get the Word Out
  14. Make an Impact with Merch

Phase 1: Build Your Brand

The first part of our business startup checklist is all about branding and identity—here are some initial items to tackle when you’re first starting out. 

Decide On a Business Name

While you might know what your business will do, you might not know what to call your venture. But your business name is one of the most important elements of starting a small business! So, take some time to get inspired by rhyming words, competitor names, foreign languages, and more.  

Choose a Logo

Similarly to your business name, your logo is a key element in starting your own business. Your logo is a visual representation of your brand and what you do—so, take time to think about the colors, fonts, and motifs you’d like to include. Unless you’re an artist or designer, this task is best left to a professional—after all, you’ll want to make sure your logo puts your best foot forward. After all, this icon will be displayed on everything from business cards to promotional products to employee uniforms.  

Get Online

These days, if you’re not online, you might as well not exist. A website is one of the most important things you’ll create as a business owner, especially if you’re starting a home-based business. Think of your website as your storefront: it should draw in customers and reflect your brand. But it should also be a useful resource for prospective customers—your website is a one-stop shop for finding operating hours, contact information, pricing, your brand story, and so much more. In addition to your website, make sure to claim your Google Business Profile and create corresponding social media handles. Consistency is key! 

Draft a Business Plan

Now that you’ve completed some of the more creative tasks on this new business checklist, it’s time to get down to business—and drafting a business plan is a great place to start. This is a document that outlines your business idea, business structure,  your budget, an analysis of your competitors, and your financial and marketing goals. (And more!) You can make changes to this document as time goes by, but having a plan at this phase of starting a business can help set you up for success and even secure funding. 

Phase 2: Take Care of Business

Okay—now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of starting your own business. While these steps aren’t necessarily the most fun, they are, well, necessary. Put in the legwork now to get your business set up the right way…your business will thank you! 

Secure Funding

Maybe you’ve been saving up to have enough capital to launch your business totally alone. But maybe after drafting your business plan, you’ve realized that the budget you need to get started exceeds what’s in your savings account. Fortunately, you have a few options when it comes to getting the capital you need. You can take a small business loan, or raise the capital from investors who believe in what you’re doing. Putting together a pitch—that incorporates your business plan—is a great way to show potential investors that you’re well prepared.  

Open a Business Bank Account

Speaking of funds…make sure you have somewhere safe to stash your capital. It’s easy to set up a small business checking account, as well as open a credit line for your business. This separation of business and personal finances is important for any business, but especially if you’re a solo entrepreneur. 

Implement a Bookkeeping System

While balancing the books isn’t necessarily the most fun part of being a business owner, it’s an essential one. You’ll want to keep track of business costs and revenue—and a bookkeeping system is a critical part of that. If you don’t have the time, skill, or desire to do it yourself, outsourcing bookkeeping to an accounting professional could be money very well-spent—especially when tax time rolls around.  

Follow Local Regulations

There are different requirements and regulations based on location and industry, so you may need some additional paperwork before opening your doors. Think: business registration, federal and state tax IDs, and licenses and permits. We recommend checking with your local chamber of commerce for guidance—the U.S. Small Business Association website also has a wealth of information when it comes to licensing.  

Get Business Insurance

Your business is your baby—you want to protect it. There are different types of insurance out there, but you’ll likely want a variety of liability insurances, as well as property insurance, if applicable, to make sure you’re covered. And make sure your coverage has kicked in before you’re officially open for business.  

Phase 3: Make It Happen

It’s time to make your small business dream a reality—here are the final business checklist items you need to tackle before you open.  

Find a Location

Depending on the type of business you’re opening, you may need a brick-and-mortar space. In this case, do some research on different prospective locations, compare prices and lease terms, and think about how you need the space to function for your business.  

Start Networking

Small business is all about community. Get to know other business owners in your new neighborhood, join a local professional organization, or attend regional networking events. You’ll make valuable connections and foster a feeling of community. 

Hire Your First Employee

Already know you’ll need an extra set of hands? Look into hiring an employee before you open so you can bring them up to speed on your business and your goals.  

Get the Word Out

Start building buzz for your business before you open. You can leave flyers or business cards at local shops and bulletin boards; send postcards to your new neighbors; tease your opening on social media; and even build excitement with the promise of a grand opening event, giveaway, or raffle.  

Make an Impact with Branded Promos

Promotional products have serious staying power, even for new businesses! Invest in swag you can give to new customers, or create branded merchandise that customers can purchase. For your grand opening, choose something low-cost that you can give to anyone who walks through your door.  

Open Your Doors for Business

Congratulations—you’re ready to officially open your business! Turn on the lights, start taking appointments, and keep getting your brand out there.  

5 Best Promo Products for New Businesses

1. Custom Pens

Pens are an essential giveaway item for any industry—and they’re practical for your business, too! You’ll need to have pens handy for customers to sign invoices and receipts, so make sure they’re showing off your branding. 

2. Tote Bags

If your business is in the retail industry, keep a stack of branded tote bags on hand. Custom totes are an affordable promo item that you can use to bag up customer purchases—and ideally, they’ll continue to use them long after they walk out of your store. 

3. Branded Drinkware

Promotional drinkware is a giveaway that delivers time and time again. A more premium piece of drinkware, like this RPET bottle, makes for a great gift with purchase or buyable item in your merch shop. 

4. Custom Keychains

Who doesn’t love a keychain? Add your branding to something shiny—like this engraved carabiner keychain—to build brand visibility wherever your customers go. 

5. Promotional Magnets

A magnet is an effective way to keep your brand top of mind—whenever customers glance at their refrigerator, they’ll get a reminder of your business.  

Allison Russo

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