Business Checklist

Starting a Business: The Great Big Checklist of Everything

By Docstoc Articles, Monday, April 29, 2013 | 7585 Views

 

This checklist (available downloadable here) breaks down everything you must and should do when starting a business.

Mandatory tasks are required under the law in order to operate a valid and compliant business.

Recommended tasks, although not strictly required under the law, are tasks that should be undertaken in order to grow and protect a new business.

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Ideation & Protecting Ideas

Mandatory

o Pick a company name and check any potential trademark infringements on Trademarkia or KnowEm

o Determine whether your business name needs to be trademarked, and if does Trademark it at the USPTO

o Protect your written works and code through the Copyright Office

o If you are inventing or creating a product, understand patents and register for one at the USPTO

Recommended

o Test your idea with the idea checklist

o Protect your ideas when sharing them with others by using a Non Disclosure Agreement NDA

o Search your state’s corporation and LLC name registration database to ensure your business name has not been taken

o Check Google, Yellow Pages, and local directories to ensure your business name is not taken

o Learn how to select a good business name

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Forming Your Entity

Mandatory

o Pick a structure (Sole Proprietorship, Corporation, S-Corp, LLC, Partnership, LP, LLP, Non-Profit) and ensure that you comply with business formation requirements

o Creating a corporation? File Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws with the Secretary of State’s Office

o Forming an LLC? File the Articles of Organization and an Operating Agreement with the Secretary of State’s Office

o Get the necessary licenses and permits to operate legally

o Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

o If you are incorporating, appoint a Board of Directors

o For a corporation and LCC, you must register a service agent

Recommended

o Going into a Partnership? Create a Partnership Agreement

o Check your state government’s website for other state-specific registration, taxation and employment rules

o Get your DBA (Doing Business As) which allows a business to operate under a fictitious name (this is required for sole proprietorships that want to operate under any name other than the name of the business owner)

Open your company bank account

Identity and Branding

Recommended

o Design a logo (99designs)

o Search for and register a unique online domain name (GoDaddy, 1and1, Register)

o Create your website (WordPress, Intuit, Weebly, Wix, SiteKreator)

o Ensure your business name is available on a wide variety of social networking websites in order to develop consistent branding (KnowEm)

o Create and manage your social media presence

o Get business cards and other physical collateral (Vistaprint)

o List your business online with MerchantCircle, Manta, Yelp and DandB.com

Financing and Business Planning

Recommended

o Prepare for and create a Business Plan (if you need one)

o Find sources of capital— friends & family, business bank loans, angel investment, venture capital, or even crowdfunding (Crowdfunder, Fundable)

o If seeking investors, create a business pitch deck

For those issuing stock to finance the company (corporations), use a Shareholder’s Agreement

Operations

Mandatory

o Find a retail space, set up a home-based office or find an office space on LoopNet, OfficeFinder, or ShowCase

o Choose a broker to help find an adequate business space on TheBrokerList

o For corporation, keep record of Meeting Minutes

Recommended

o Set up an online phone system (Ring Central, Google Voice, Onebox) or set up a traditional land line (Verizon, AT&T)

o Set up your computer and network

o Pick an internal email system (Gmail, Outlook)

o Choose an email system to connect with customers (Constant Contact, MailChimp, Sendgrid)

Set up a collaboration method for business documents, spreadsheets and presentations (GoogleApps)

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Financial Planning & Accounting

Mandatory

o Choose a tax year

o Determine which type of federal business taxes you will be responsible for

o Determine state tax obligations

o Create and maintain the top 3 financial statements: income statement, balance sheet and cash flows on at least a quarterly basis

Recommended

o Set up an accounting system (Quickbooks)

o Find the right accountant

o Set a budget for the coming year

o Create a sales forecasts and financial projections regularly

o Get a business credit card and

o Register with Dun & Bradstreet to build business credit and obtain a D-U-N-S Number to accurately gauge and share your creditworthiness

o If a corporation, decide whether to elect S Corporation tax status

Business Mentors

Recommended

o Speak to entrepreneurs and leaders in your industry, consider asking them to be your mentor

o Ask mentors to join your Board of Advisors (for the overall benefit of the company)

Building a Team

Mandatory

o Determine the company founders and leadership (partnership, owners, CEO, etc.)

o Clarify who gets equity, and how much

o Conduct job interviews—look out for red flags

Recommended

o Find team members through personal connections, recruiters or job boards (Ziprecruiter, Craigslist, Monster, Indeed, SimplyHired)

o Run a background check on new hires

o For one-off or task based activities, use AmazonTurk or Odesk

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Human Resources

Mandatory

o Make sure workers are properly classified (employee, independent contractor, part-time employee, intern, etc.)

o Have employees fill out Form I-9 and Form W-4

o Familiarize yourself with the Department of Labor laws and regulations regarding employment

o Put up the necessary labor law posters to meet federal and state requirements

o Familiarize yourself with federal discrimination laws and heed them

o Terminate employees properly to avoid discrimination claims

Recommended

o Create job descriptions

o Understand the definition of an “At Will” employee

o Have workers sign the proper Employment Agreement

o Protect the inventions employees create for you with an Employee Non-Compete and Confidentiality Agreement

o Give all new employees an Employee Handbook

o Lay out the employee benefits you will provide (paid leave and holidays, health insurance, bonuses)

o Choose a payroll service (ADP, Trinet, Paychex)

o Set up a system for employee discipline

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Sales

Recommended

o Determine a pricing system for your product(s)

o Execute the 5 Step Sales Process

o Learn the art of persuasion

o Hire and train salespeople

o Use a sales management service (one that fits your business size, from smaller to larger companies)

o Pick a Customer Relationships Management System (CRM)

o Make a Customer Service Plan to standardize procedures for complaints and refunds

o Track which products perform better, and which have the best margins

o Decide on possible discounts, specials and coupons to attract new customers

o List your products on online marketplaces

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Marketing & PR

Recommended

o Plan your marketing strategy

o Decide on a target market and conduct a market analysis

o Determine your Key Performance Indicators

o Get free online traffic

o Improve SEO

o Get paid online ads, such as Google AdWords and Facebook Advertising

o Master social media marketing

o Look into relevant trade shows and conventions to market your product

o Print flyers, brochures or catalogs

o Leverage current customers with email marketing

o Decide if you want to hire a PR Agency

o Go mobile and consider app development

o Reach out to relevant newspapers and press

Insurance

Mandatory

o Decide which types of business insurance you need.

  • Common: workers’ compensation, unemployment and disability insurance
  • Others: property, liability or business overhead insurance

Recommended

o Check any potential insurance providers here

Legal

Recommended

o Find an attorney you trust

o Use waivers and contracts to prevent litigation

o Prepare for when your company is sued

CHECKLIST FOR YOUR SPECIFIC BUSINESS

Service-Based Businesses

Mandatory

o Determine the price of your services

Recommended

o Don’t forget to clarify the deliverable, deadline and cost in your service agreement

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Retail/Brick and Mortar Businesses

Mandatory

o Check zoning laws

o Secure a lease

o Decide on days and hours of operation

o Determine staffing needs (for prime hours, slower times, closing an inventory)

o Secure the correct permits and licenses for your city and state

o Set up lighting and utilities

o Acquire furniture, register, racks, tables and wall displays, a register, etc.

o Get a state-specific Seller’s Permit or Resale Permit to properly collect sales tax

Recommended

o Choose a location with good foot traffic, size and appearance

o Speak with a commercial realtor to get an idea of what to look for and what to expect

o Establish agreements with your manufacturer, distributor or wholesale supplier

o Set up inventory tracking (understand a Stock Keeping Unit)

o Set up your Yelp page

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Online Business

Mandatory

o Purchase computers

o Find images for your website

o Set up your e-commerce or online store (Shopify, FlyingCart, Goodsie)

o Choose a shipping or delivery system (FedEx, UPS, USPS)

o Set up a system for payment processing (PayPal, Google Checkout)

Recommended

o Track and improve traffic through Google Analytics

o Determine storage options, such as cloud computing (Box, DropBox)

o Set up a system for IT bugs and tickets (Jira)

o If outsourced development is needed, use Guru or Elance

 

GET IN TOUCH
541.766.6339
Contact Us via Email

LOCATION
City of Corvallis
Economic Development Office
501 SW Madison Avenue
Corvallis, OR 97333

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