Starting a small business is such an exciting time! You’ve made the decision to not only share your product or service but put a price on it in exchange for someone to use it. The next steps to launch your business will help not only build a foundation for your business, but develop your grit, perseverance, and ability to overcome obstacles. The initial to-do list of starting a small business allows you to start with a solid foundation. In order to set up your business for success, there are some key areas to set up behind the scene that your customer will never see but are imperative for a business to run efficiently, have the ability to grow, and withstand a certain level of hardship. Some tasks will take longer than others and may require jumping through hoops, financial investment, and creating relationships with your city and state administrative clerks. It can seem overwhelming and daunting but is absolutely worth completing at the beginning of your journey as a small business owner. The five areas below are broad categories that most of your initial to-do list tasks will fall under. Use them as a starting point to build your list. Then start researching what you need to know more of, cross off what you’ve accomplished and you are well on your way of launching your business!
Register Your Business
When you register your business and choose a name, you are setting it up as a legal entity. How you set up your business influences the taxes you pay, your personal liability, and potential funding opportunities. For example, as a sole proprietor, you take personal responsibility and liability for your business. If you set up your business as an LLC, the business liability does not affect your personal assets. Each state has its own rules and regulations depending on the type of business entity you choose. The SBA has a great page outlining the basics of each.
You will also need to register your business name. Registering your business name is different depending on your state, county, and city ordinances and laws. Searching for “Fictitious Business Name” (also known as “Doing Business As” or “DBA”) and your county or state will help guide you to the correct information.
Set up a business bank account.
When you set up a business bank account, you set up an important boundary between what is yours personally and what is your business. A dedicated account for business income and expenses allows proper tracking of your business growth (or decline). It allows a place for you to save for larger business expenses as well as a business emergency fund. You are able to more easily categorize expenses for potential write-offs on your taxes. There are many online bank options available that offer fee-free or low fee options. Continue to learn and increase your financial literacy to help you save for growth or unforeseen challenges.
Create a Website
A website is the first impression your business will make for potential customers. It’s true that it is very simple to build your own website. It’s not always true that the website will be effective in communicating why someone should buy from you. Or that your website will be set up to track visitors so you can know where to spend your time and energy on marketing. Or if a platform update changes something on your website and you don’t have the expertise or time to update it. Your website is an area that’s worth investing in helping to ensure your business and brand look professional. Changing, updating, and adjusting content on your website are skills you can learn while your business grows. Hiring someone to build your website while you complete other areas of your to-do list is smart delegating and will move the launch of your business forward.
Develop You Systems
Start planning out the systems in your business. Think about the customer’s journey and all the ways they interact with your business. How do you deliver your product or service to them? How do you track their satisfaction? How do you know if they’ve referred anyone? Developing methods like spreadsheets or systems of operations allows for consistency from customer to customer and gains their trust and loyalty. Thinking about the entire customer or client experience from the start can help foresee challenges they may have, and allow for fewer bumps as your business grows. On the back end, how do you keep track of your income and expenses? How often will you need to reorder supplies? How do your bills get paid? Are you on track with your business and professional goals? Systems allow you to gather important information you can easily reference and use for decisions around your business.
Celebrate You Wins
As small business owners, it can be easy to move from one task to the next without acknowledging the progress forward. Share your success (big or small) with supportive friends, family, or other small business owners. Take some time to do something not work-related that brings you joy. Go for a hike with a friend, watch a movie, treat yourself to a fancy coffee, or a nice long bath. Whatever you do, honor yourself and the hard work you’ve done.
You are now closer than ever to launching your business! If you offer a service-based business, researching and choosing your scheduling software and payment processing may be next. If you are a product-based business, do you have an inventory tracking system and payment processing platform ready to go? Have you thought about how to start spreading the word and marketing your business? These are great next steps to launch your business and sell. Keep moving forward with crossing off those tasks and you will be running your business smoothly and efficiently in no time!
Erin Detka is the owner of DTK Studios, a website, and marketing agency. DTK Studios works with small and micro “do-it-yourself” business owners to create customer-focused websites designed quickly and within a small business budget. What was supposed to be an easy task, setting up a business, can turn into a huge list of tasks that some small business owners don’t have the knowledge or skills to do in the amount of time they thought it would take. By investing in a website designer instead of trudging up the learning curve, they can jump-start their business and start selling sooner. Learn more at dtkstudios.com