A Must-Have Business Startup Checklist: The Top Tasks to Ensure Startup Success

Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.

The prolific American innovator Thomas Edison is credited with that famous adage. Considering he had a net worth of $12 million when he died in 1931, you can be confident he knew a thing or two about creating successful businesses. 

If you're inspired to start a business, be prepared to perspire while laying a strong foundation on which to build your business. That sturdy foundation begins here with your business startup checklist. To ensure your success, complete the following steps:

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Research

Is your good idea a good business opportunity? The only way to find out is to research the market.

You may want to own a business but aren’t sure what type of business. You may have a great idea that you feel passionate about and want to turn it into a business.

In either case, you must conduct research to understand the supply and demand of the market for that product or service. You want to find out if there's a demand for your product or service.

If there's a demand, you want to find out who, if anyone, is meeting that demand. If there are other businesses supplying the market, these are your competitors. If you have competitors in the market, what makes your business special?  Can your business do it better, faster or cheaper? If the answer is yes, read on.

Plan

Do you really need a business plan for your little startup? Yes! Does it need to be a zillion pages with every conceivable detail and contingency? No! Your business plan can be one page or one hundred pages, as long as it includes the following four pieces. 

product/service description and the value it delivers to customers.

marketing plan describing who your customers are and how you'll engage them.

financial plan describing how you'll fund your business, cost of selling your product/service, what your break-even point is, etc.

An operations plan to describe the who, what, when and how of daily operations for the first year.

It's wise to review and update your business plan annually. A business plan is merely a roadmap. As your business evolves, there will be detours and dead-ends. Adjust accordingly and keep moving the right direction. 

Build

After you’ve validated your business idea (research) and developed your roadmap to success (business plan), it’s time to make it official.  The next step on your business startup checklist entails the legal and accounting items to establish your business.

Choosing Name

Choosing the name of your business should come after researching and planning. Check your state’s website to check to see if the name is available. If the name is available, make sure the domain name is available for your business website.  

Choose Business Structure

Sole prop or LLC or S-corp? Consult an accountant and an attorney to understand what works best for your business from a tax and liability standpoint.

Get Numbers & Approvals

Register your business on your state's website. Get the tax ID number. Apply for any required licenses and permits. Open a business banking account. 

Are You Ready to Complete Your Business Startup Checklist?

Good ideas can become good business if you invest the time and energy into planning. 

Use this business startup checklist. Consult with small business experts - like bankers, lawyers, and accountants to ensure you have great chances at success!