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Startup Checklist

When you're starting out in business, you may find that there are too many things that you need to do. What should you do first? What are the most important things you need to get done? This post aims to highlight some of the things that you need to get done when you're just starting out.

Not all of these will apply to every business but the majority will apply to most businesses.

1. Quitting the Day Job

When you're getting started, you may feel as though you need to put all of your effort in to the new business. However, this may not be the best option for you or your new business. While you're getting on your feet you may find that money is tight and that you'll need another source of income until the money has started flowing a little more freely. Also by giving the new business a little more time, you'll be able to find out whether or not it's viable with only limited risk.

2. Talk to Others

You may fear other business owners or friends will look at you with scepticism when you announce you're starting a business. However, you may find that you need guidance, advice or critiques of what you plan to do. This can only be achieved through other people. Business owners may be able to advise on the local consumer markets or the best place for an office. However, your friends will be able to advise on products and ideas for your business.

3. Consider a Co-founder

You may not want to have a co-founder and that's fine, but have you considered it? You may not like the idea of sharing the profit or your idea but if you do consider a co-founder, then you will have access to another skill-set that's different from your own. Also, people will view the business as more stable than what it potentially is; this could mean that you're more likely to have access to funding as the risk is more spread out than if you were alone.

4. Define who you're going to sell to

When you first launch, you may have grand ideas of being in all the major supermarkets in the area. However, for a start-up this isn't always feasible. Instead you should focus on who your exact customers are so that you can specifically target these. Look at the gender, age range, hobbies, relationship status, etc. of your target audience and start building an idea and a campaign to make them aware of you and your product.

5. Assess the competition

You may be trying to access a very crowded market, so you may need to look at what your competitors are doing and how they're doing it. Then think to yourself How can I do it better?" Also, if possible, try and get customer feedback from these competitors, see what they're doing wrong and try not to make the same mistakes yourself.

6. Draw up a brief business plan

It may seem obvious but can get overlooked when you have other priorities. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just a simple idea of where the business is going over the course of the year and how you will measure the success or failure of that year. This may be constantly evolving over the course of the business life as it becomes more defined.

7. Look for small business grants or loans

You may find that running a business is more expensive than you first thought. If this is the case you may need at look at grants that are available in your local area. This can be done by contacting your local authority. If there are no grants available to you then you could look at taking out a business loan, your bank should be able to help with this and may be willing to offer a competitive rate to new starters.

8. Business name and Logo

This may seem like common sense to have a business name and logo, however, did you check with Companies House to see if there was already a business with that name registered? You could end up in hot water if your business name is too similar to another business that is already in existence.

But once the name is sorted, you should look at having a logo designed. It's best if you leave this to a professional designer who can bring your brand to life. However, this comes at a price and there are packages of software out there that will allow you to design it yourself for a much smaller fee and maybe even for free.

9. Get an accountant or accountancy software

This is a must for any business (unless you want to spend all your life in a spreadsheet). You'll start to find that invoices, purchase orders, estimates and transactions start to pile up around you. Having a bookkeeper, accountant or accounting software will help you keep track of everything and make sure there are no late payments. Also, they can be used to do your taxes, cutting out the headaches.

Our sister company, QuickFile, offers cloud based accounting software, which is free for small accounts.

If you would prefer to have an accountant looking after things, check out to find one to suit your needs.

10. Be Flexible

So your original idea looks like it wasn't the best. There are two ways you can go from here, keep trying with it while being in total denial; or you can change and adapt the business in order to suit what the area/market/times need. You may find that a year down the line the business is focussing on a completely different area to what it was when you first started, this doesn't mean the business is a failure, it just means that it had to adapt to fit the market requirements.

These are just a handful of the things you should consider when you are starting a business. There are other things that you'll need to look at, but so long as you start with these 10 in mind you're off to a good start!

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