Small Business Startup Checklist: Don't Overlook These Items

Some people think starting a business will be this great thing to do and then as they move forward with the process quickly learn it's not always rainbows and unicorns.

Sure, it has it perks - you become your own boss, choose your own hours and the clients you'd like to work with along with how much to charge them. Then, there's one of my personal favorites - you choose the dress code!

When starting a business, it's easy to get so caught up in the idea that you forget some important business startup musts, such as the following.

The 'Not So Glamorous' Side

Checklist item No. 1: Keep good records.

When the IRS says something, you listen. They are saying, "keep good records." As quoted from their website, "keeping good records will help you monitor the progress of your business, prepare your financial statements, identify sources of income," and more. The records need to clearly indicate your income and expenses.

Experiment with which forms of record keeping work best for you. Some people prefer to print everything and keep a folder with each expense. As the alternative, there's keeping records digitally and there are tools out there that allow you to easily scan receipts onto your computer. I've learned that no matter which method you choose, it helps to have one giant Excel sheet that keeps track of everything.

Checklist item No. 2: Register your business correctly.

Bookmark this site: U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA); it's a guide in the United States for registering a business and obtaining important reliable information on business laws employment, labor law, finance law, environmental regulations, and more. The SBA site also offers information on each state's specific registration requirements.

A business acquaintance of mine (and a brilliant mind who I've gone to for thought-provoking advice in the past), Ali Taylor, CEO and founder of BelMarketing Design Studio is one entrepreneur I know who more recently started a business.

Having had left a salaried job, he knew that by leaving he would be taking a risk but felt starting his own business was his calling. When he started BelMarketing, it was "just the right time," he's told me in the past.

Before you open up an office and start marketing your United States business, Taylor advises setting up your business as a correct entity - it's one of the most important things you can do for your business.

"The structure of your business matters. Even if you're a one-person operation, you should really set yourself up as an LLC as opposed to a sole proprietorship," he said. "It protects your personal assets should things go awry in your business, but gives you the flexibility and tax benefits of partnerships - which really come in handy come tax season."

Choosing Tools

Checklist item No. 3: Get a good phone

It's likely you already own a smartphone but if you're planning on using it for business, you may want to reconsider. As opposed to a smartphone, a business phone system offers unique features specifically for operating a business such as VoIP. In addition, business phone systems tend to drop calls less than cellphones. For an idea on which type of business phone system to use, check out Business News Daily's Best Phone Systems for 2016 article.

Checklist item No. 4: Invest in a quality computer.

Don't cheap out on the second tool you will likely be using often - a computer (or laptop). Even if you have to shell out more money up front for one that has faster processing speed, higher RAM, and other worthy features, it could save you time and money down the line. (I've gone through my fair share of cheap computers before investing in a high quality one that ended up lasting me six years!)

Checklist items No. 5, 6, and 7: Don't forget about these tech tools.

Protect your computer with a solid virus protection software such as Panda Small Business Anti-Virus Protection. Next, a Word Processing tool such as Microsoft Office is helpful. Finally, stay organized and keep track of your tasks with a project management tool. When you're first starting out, a simple solution like Basecamp is all you need - there's a free a version that's easy to use.

Closing Thoughts

If you think starting and running a business is going to be a walk through the park and the above checklist items seem overwhelming, you may want to rethink your decision. 96% of businesses fail within 10 years, according to Inc. Best of luck to you on your journey!

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