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10 Things to Consider When Starting a Business - A Quick Checklist

1. Checklist. I have prepared a checklist of what I will need to start, manage, and run my new business.

2. Business Plan. I have prepared a comprehensive and meaningful business plan that will help guide my team and me on the multifaceted aspects of the business. This business plan will be regularly used and updated to ensure currency and will not merely reside in a closet or desk drawer gathering dust?

3. Form of Business Entity. I know what type of business entity I will be creating. This decision can appear deceptively simple. However, whether the entity is formed as a limited liability company, partnership, corporation, sole proprietorship, or another company form can have a strong impact on owner liability, taxes, and profitability.

4. Team. I have assembled a qualified team with the right temperaments who each will add value to my company. My team is highly competent and is effective at doing what I need them to do.

I have thought of my team in broad terms. My team includes not only my partners and employees, but also my advisors and certain other key stakeholders.

I have also included the following advisors as part of my non-employee consultant team members: 1) an attorney who is knowledgeable in business matters, 2) an accountant (preferably a tax accountant who is a CPA…this person may be able to generate “GAAP”-based financial statements and also address the various tax issues relevant to my business, including the filing of my company’s tax returns... I understand that a qualified tax CPA may be a bit more costly, but if my business makes substantial money, he or she may be helpful in the long run. I understand that this should be someone I feel I can trust, is competent, and with whom I can have a good working relationship. 3) a business consultant (I understand this person is not always a necessity for every business, but if I can afford it, want to minimize my business errors as I grow my business, would like to have a knowledgeable person with me on my business journey, and expect to generate substantial income in my business at the outset or as it grows, I may want to consider having a business consultant as part of my team.).

I know it is also important that I clearly identify roles and responsibility for my team members, including who will be representing the company in what capacities.

5. Financials. I know whether I should have a qualified financial management person on my team who can prepare monthly financial statements for my company. If this is a small startup company, this person does not have to have special credentials. It can be you if you can do the work, but financials are important to a business and they are easily susceptible to being mismanaged and ineffective in providing important financial context to the business. I understand there is software that can help here, from Excel-based spreadsheets to Quickbooks, but it is important that someone takes the time to understand how to use the software and properly and timely enters the necessary information.

6. Taxes. I have a clear understanding of how I will handle tax matters for my company, including employer/payroll taxes, estimated taxes, and my company’s income taxes (planning and tax returns). I have a system for handling these matters, including the related administrative matters such as who will be performing the payroll-related reporting tasks. I know there are companies I can outsource this function to if I choose to do it. I also have a tax CPA or other tax professional on my team.

7. Computers and Software. I know whether I need computers for me and my team members. I know what kind of computer is right for my business. I have identified the right software for my business. I have considered whether I need accounting software, Microsoft Office (PowerPoint, Excel, Word, Access, etc.), specialized software, or software to interface with my website, such as for online sales (e-commerce)?

8. Website. I have considered whether I should have a website. I have considered the kind of website I need, how it will be used (e.g., for sales, marketing, exchange of information, customer support), whether I need a website designer to do a professional website for me, whether the site will be interactive, the setup and maintenance costs for the site, and whether a technology person will be needed to maintain the website once it is up and running?

9. Board of Directors and Advisory Board. I have considered whether I have a knowledgeable board of directors capable of advising me on my business. I understand having a knowledgeable board of directors on various issues pertaining to my business can be extremely helpful, saving considerable time and money.

I understand that if my board of directors does not have these attributes, I may want to consider installing an advisory board. I understand an advisory board is like a board of directors, but advisory board members are not technically part of the company and do not have management authority over the company.

Their role is to provide advice and other feedback to the owner(s) in support of the business. Like a board of directors, the advisory board typically meets monthly or quarterly. As this team’s primary responsibility is to support the entrepreneur, I understand it is important that these members be carefully selected based on their knowledge, competency, and trustworthiness.

10. Partners. I have considered whether I should have partners or other owners (whether they are labelled co-owners, shareholders, etc.) in my business. I know running a business by one’s self is not an easy task. I understand there is so much to be done all the time, such as running the business operations; marketing the business; and addressing administrative matters, technology issues, financial analysis matters, legal issues, tax issues, product or service delivery matters, and secretarial matters (answering the phones, drafting letters, sending out correspondence, sending emails, etc.).

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