Here Are the First Steps You Need
To Take to Start a Business


Once you determine that being a small business owner is the life for you, there are certain first steps you have to take to start a business. Hopefully, you have answered all of the questions in the pre-launch section of this website to your satisfaction on how suitable and ready you are to start a business. It is a big jump; a time-consuming venture that can eat up your work hours and your "off hours" as well if you are not careful. One of the best descriptions we have ever heard about running a small business is that when you own a business you only have to work half days and you get to pick which 12 hours of the day it is.

Whether you will lease commercial office space and hire 10 people, launch an internet business, start a part-time after hours company or a small home-based business, you need to take certain first steps to get that business idea of yours off the launching pad.

The common denominator for an import-export business, a cleaning service, a consulting business, a web design business or a resume-writing business is that you need to plan out the whole thing including taxes, bookkeeping, materials and vendor costs, business loans and funding and so forth. These are the first steps.

In this section, we ask some key questions that you might like to write down and answer to your satisfaction. We have also included a "first steps start a business checklist" to help you leave "no stone unturned" in the establishment of your new company. Is the checklist complete? Is it the best possible list? No! No start a business checklist can be complete unless you take this one and customize it to a very fine degree to reflect your own business; your own needs.

Obviously, your vending machine, cookie making or tour guide business needs lots of specialized additional items added to this list. But it is a start, a first step, a reminder of things that need to be done. And all of these things do need to be done! For example, we interviewed an entrepreneur who established a photography business in a large eastern city doing weddings and corporate functions and started making money right from the start. She did not use a checklist; she handled everything from memory...that she could remember. She had been in business two years (and making good money!)when she received notice and a substantial tax bill from her newly adopted city for failing to pay its business-use tax. Business use tax? She never paid such a tax in the city where she lived before! The costs of this one oversight were great. It was a whopper of a bill and could have been avoided by taking the steps we suggest.

Here are a series of frequently asked questions to speed you on your way to business ownership. Good luck when you start a business!

  • Do you know the first steps you need to take to start a business?
  • Do you have a "first steps to start a business checklist" or a substantial to do list to work off of?
  • Do you have a formal or informal business team you can rely on?
  • Do you have a mentor relationship with someone or a small business advisor to help you?
  • What permits do you need to run a business in your location?
  • What zoning do you need to start a business in your home?
  • What legal structure will you use for your business?
  • Have you secured the copyrights, trademarks or patents you need in connection with your new business?
  • What business-related taxes do you need to pay?
  • What about the financial structure of the company?
  • What about naming and branding the company?
  • Have you consulted an insurance agent about the various insurance needs you have in connection with your business? (We recommend an independent insurance agent, steep in your business.)
  • Do you have a business plan?
  • Do you have a marketing plan?
  • Do you have a financial plan to get capital or grants to start a business?
  • Where will you establish an office?
  • What about communications equipment such as phones, internet, Blackberry?
  • Have you selected the office hardware you need such as computers, scanners and copiers?
  • What about software?
  • Have you reserved a URL for your company website?
  • Have you ordered office furniture?
  • What about inventory?
  • What about business security?

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