Are you an aspiring entrepreneur? Will a detailed startup checklist for starting a business from scratch help you kick start your business faster? If yes, then read on.
You must probably be getting ready to quit your job and start your own business. You are excited and enthusiastic about being an entrepreneur. If the situation above best describes you; then I encourage you to take the leap of faith into the business world. But before you take that leap to start your own small business; I want you take a critical look at the small business startup checklist below.
In the course of blogging and interacting with people, I have discovered that many people are really passionate about owning but they don’t really know where to start. Some have good business ideas while most don’t even know what business to start.
Secondly, I must admit that when it comes to learning how to start a business; there’s really a lot to learn. In fact, learning in business is a lifelong process with no graduation date; as long as you want to remain in business. So in response to this challenge, I decided to create a quick but detailed startup checklist for starting a business. You can find it below.
27 Small Business Startup Checklist for Starting a Business
“Starting a business is like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. In mid air, the entrepreneur begins building a parachute and hopes it opens before hitting the ground.” – Rich Dad
Everyday, I come in contact with different people from different walks of life aspiring to be their own boss and they all seem excited and passionate about migrating from the employee’s world to the business world; from a world of security to a world of uncertainty.
“Starting a business is like building a ship and embarking on a voyage, armed with a plan, a map and a team. You have to sail with uncertainty against storms and unpredictable weather. If your ship sinks, it’s either you quit or you swim back to shore, build a new ship and sail again.” – Ajaero Tony Martins
Some aspiring entrepreneurs come to me for advice and one of the first questions I usually ask them is this; “why do you want to start your own business? I must say that the answer I usually get from these entrepreneurs go a long way to reveal how far that entrepreneur will go in the business world.
So your first checklist is to analyze the reason why you want to start your own business and find out if it will provide enough drive to see you through the perils of the business world.
Whenever I throw such questions to aspiring entrepreneurs; I usually get replies such as “I want to be my own boss” or “I hate my job.” While the reasons above may pose a good reason for wanting to start your own business, I don’t think it provides enough drive to keep you going when the going gets tough.
To be sincere with you, I find such answers ridiculous and whenever I hear such answers; I instantly fire back with my own reply thereby forcing the aspiring entrepreneur to have a rethink about his/her own point of view. Take a look at some of my replies to the aspiring entrepreneurs who seek advice from me on how to start a business.
- Why do you want to become an entrepreneur?
- Aspiring entrepreneur: I want freedom from daily routine.
- My reply: Who told you that starting a business frees you from daily routine?
- Aspiring entrepreneur: I want to do what I want, when I want.
- My reply: In business, you can’t do what you want; the customers decide what you do.
- Aspiring entrepreneur: I want to improve my standard of living.
- My reply: Are you prepared to live below your present standard of living?
- Aspiring Entrepreneur: I want to fully utilize my skills, knowledge and education.
- My reply: You can find such opportunity as an employee.
- Aspiring entrepreneur: I have a product/idea/service that people need.
- My reply: The world is filled with brilliant ideas. Do you have what it takes to raise capital and run a business?
- Aspiring entrepreneur: I want to have more time with my family.
- My reply: Then stick with your job because building a business will cost you more time.
- Aspiring entrepreneur: I am tired of taking orders from my boss.
- My reply: Are you prepared to take orders from a new boss; the customer.
- Aspiring entrepreneur: There are good tax breaks for business owners.
- My reply: You can only achieve that if you know what you are doing.
- Aspiring entrepreneurs: I work best alone.
- My reply: Then be prepared for limited growth or outright failure.
- Aspiring entrepreneur: I want to be my own boss.
- My reply: You can’t be your own boss in a business; the customer is the boss.
- Aspiring entrepreneurs: I want to be the decision maker.
- My reply: Are you prepared to live with the consequences of your decisions.
- Aspiring entrepreneur: I hate my job, it is stressful..
- My reply: You may end up hating your business because building a business is more stressful than having a job.
- Aspiring entrepreneurs: My boss drives me crazy.
- My reply: You’ve seen nothing yet. Pressure from your customers, suppliers, investors, employees and the government will drive you mad.
- Aspiring entrepreneur: I want to get rich quick.
- My reply: You have no business running a business. Go rob a bank.
I know some of my replies may sound harsh but it’s the truth. I have to be blunt to make you see the danger of starting a business with the motives listed above. I have to be harsh because statistics shows that 90% of all businesses started will fail in the first ten years.
I have to be harsh to make my protégés understand the intricacies involved with building a successful business from scratch. The business world is not a playground; it’s a war zone. The business world is a region where only the tough survive; a world where dog eat dog is the norm.
“In business, the competition will bite you if you keep running. If you stand still, they will swallow you.” – Victor Kiam
“Nobody talks about entrepreneurship as survival, but that’s exactly what it is and what nurtures creative thinking. Running that first shop taught me that business is not financial science; it’s about trading: buying and selling.” – Anita Roddick
I am stressing this point and challenging your reason for starting a small business because your “why” must be strong enough to ensure your survival in the business world. If your motive for starting a business is any of those mentioned above; then you have to change it because they are not enough to see you through the entrepreneurial process of building a business.
“A business has to be involving, it has to be fun and it has to exercise your creative instincts.” – Richard Branson
Richard Branson; one of the world’s richest drop out billionaires and J. Paul Getty jointly emphasized the need to be in business for the challenges involved. You have to be in business for the love of the game and challenges it offers; the hassles, the ups and downs, the winning moments and the crashes. If you start your own business with this mindset, there are no business challenges you can’t surmount and in retrospect, the money will follow.
“Without the element of uncertainty, the bringing off of even, the greatest business triumph would be dull, routine and eminently unsatisfying.” – J. Paul Getty
After checking and restructuring your motive for starting a business, we move on to the next checklist.
“Skills make you rich, not theories.” – Rich Dad
The next question I usually ask my protégés, which you need to ask yourself is: “what entrepreneurial skills do you possess? By asking yourself this question; you will be forced to analyze your personal skills, strengths and weaknesses, your core passion and see how they can be leveraged to start and build the business of your dreams. This process demands you prepare a list of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and concerns. You need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you like to work with your hands or brain, or both?
- Does working indoors or outdoors matter to you?
- Are you good at math, writing, puzzles, blueprints, installing or fixing things?
- What interests you? What are your hobbies?
- Are you brave, daring, ambitious and adventurous?
- Do you like to work alone or as part of a team?
- Do you like to plan things, or go to events?
- Do you like machines, computers?
- What entrepreneurial skills do you possess?
- Do you like to drive or operate equipments?
- Do you like to travel, collect/display things, give/attend shows, or take pictures?
- Are you good at communicating with people?
- Can you influence people and sell yourself to them?
- Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
Introverts are naturally creative people and they tend to choose businesses that allow them express their creativity. They are usually: Nurturers, Guardians, Artists, Scientists, Protector, Idealists, and Inventors. Extroverts on the other hand are usually: Performing artistes, Visionaries, Motivators, Politicians, Sales men.
Compile a list of business ideas that suits you
This list must be filled with care and kept safe because it will help you build a business team as your business progresses by enabling you hire people whose strengths compliment your weaknesses. After analyzing your strengths and skills; the next step is to compile a list of businesses that suits you. Tabulate the list of businesses and rate them from 1 to 5 based on your own chosen criteria. You can compile a suitable business by asking yourself the following question:
- Is the business feasible and low in cost to establish?
- Will the business help me achieve my personal objectives?
- Will the business make money?
- What’s the breakeven time frame for my chosen line of business?
- Does a niche market of paying customers exist?
- Will the business produce residual income?
“And here is the prime condition of success, the great secret. Concentrate your energy, thoughts and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged in. Having begun in one line, resolve to fight it out on that line; to lead in it. Adopt every improvement, have the best machinery and know the most about it.” – Andrew Carnegie
The five phases of the entrepreneurial process
- Investigation / Research Phase
- Planning Phase
- Start-up Phase
- Operating / Monitoring Phase
- Problem / Challenge resolution Phases
- Renewal / Expansion Phase
- Selling, Transferring, Retirement Phase
A New Quick Startup Checklist for Starting a Business
- Make the decision to become an entrepreneur
- Get in the right mindset
- Analyze yourself to ascertain the entrepreneur skills you are lacking
- Start learning what it takes to start a business
- Make friends with established entrepreneurs and learn from their experience
- Put your dreams on paper – I mean write them down
- Analyze your skills, hobbies, talents and passion
- Look around your environment to see if you can spot a problem or need waiting to be filled
- Write down a list of the business ideas and opportunities you came up with
- Choose the one with the most potential that suits your capability
- Do a market analysis to see is there’s a demand for your idea
- If yes, then you can proceed to do your technical analysis, manpower analysis, economic analysis, etc
- Do a SWOT analysis to ascertain the level of competition
- Analyze the financial implications of your business idea – Financial projections
- Analyze your risk sensitivity and risk to reward ratio
- Write a brief introduction about your business
- Choose a business name
- Create a mission statement
- Develop a vision statement
- Write a brief bio about yourself and your partners analyzing your strengths
- Prepare a team building strategy
- Prepare a good marketing strategy
- Prepare an operational strategy and an overall strategy
- Compute your financial projections and payback time with ROI
- Write a summary of your business plan
- Prepare a power point presentation of your business plan
- Use your savings
- Partner with friends that will also bring skill, money and knowledge to the table
- Raise money from family and friends
- Seek out Angels and small business investors
- Talk to a VC; then inquire from a banker what it takes to get a bank loan, you will surely learn a lot from this process
- Enter entrepreneurship competitions like Dragons den, The Apprentice, etc
- Join startup incubators like YCombinator
- Try out NGO’s and entrepreneurship supporting institutions
- If none of the above works, try crowd funding
- Decide if you are starting a business from home or an office location
- Find a good office in a good location without sacrificing much capital
- Or you can get a virtual office space
- Incorporate your business
- Find a business coach
- Attract talented people and professionals to join your team
- Delegate duties to your team wisely
- Kick start your business
- Seek strategic alliances
- Publicize your business opening
- Gather initial customer feedback and act on it
- Keep learning and keep growing
As a final note; I have come to observe that while everyone desire the entrepreneurial life style, only few know and think the process through – step by step. So if you really want to start your own business and succeed, then you must go through the small business startup checklist provided above and develop a definite business plan covering the seven phases of the entrepreneurial process; based on the outcome of your checklist. The phases your business plan must cover include the following:
By the time you have run through this checklist thoroughly, I can boldly say you are halfway in the journey to starting your own business. Before I draw the curtain, I have one last piece of advice for you. Get a business mentor that will serve as a sounding board or critic for your overall business plan and strategy.