Starting a Business Checklist: 10 Things to Look at Before You Leap

If you're thinking about going into business for yourself, you've probably already heard the daunting statistics:

20% of new businesses fail in their first year. More than half will fail after 5 years. Etc.

But honestly, successful entrepreneurs don't listen to any of those. Your new business can start strong and will continue to thrive with the right preparation.

There won't ever be a convenient, one-size-fits-all, Starting a Business Checklist™. But if we had to write one, it might look something like this...

#1 on Every 'Starting a Business' Checklist: Pick Something You Love

You'll get burnt out quickly if you don't start by picking a niche/product/service you're passionate about.

Your love for what you do needs to be more powerful than any stress you come across. This passion needs to be your daily motivation—not making fast cash or impressing your friends.

Next on the list...

Know Your Customer Better Than Yourself

Your ideal customer profile should feel like a real person to you. Every business decision you make should revolve around making this type of person happy.

Wait, what's an ideal customer profile?

This profile is a detailed layout of who you want to be the most interested in your service.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How old is your ideal customer, on average? (pick an age range)
  • How much money do they make?
  • Why kind of work do they do?
  • How educated are they?
  • How do they spend their free time?
  • What do they worry about the most?

All of this information will help you make decisions in every part of your business, from marketing campaigns to the patterns on your carpet.

Stop Making Business Cards! Invest Your Energy Where it Matters

We know, starting a business is exciting.

This is your dream! You want to make it feel real by designing your own business cards and bookmarking furniture to buy for your dream office.

But until you've been in business for over a year and can actually afford new chairs, none of these details matter. Spend your energy planning all the practical things you need to start a business.

Always Start Small and Learn as You Go

There are hundreds of things you can only learn by doing.

You'll think you've got every angle covered just to find a whole new world of obstacles once you get started. That's okay! That's the nature of running a business.

Most successful entrepreneurs start small. Practice running a few businesses you know you can run well before quitting your day job to patent a new product. Don't think of each day at your business as a pass or fail, but as a chance to learn. If you learn something, you've succeeded.

Stop Panicking About Money

Focus on offering such a good service/product that people beg to pay you for it. Excellent word of mouth and business referrals are your best friend.

When you find the perfect job that combines what you love to do with something people need, getting people to pay you for it won't feel like pulling teeth (unless of course you love getting paid to pull teeth). Don't distract yourself by constantly worrying about finances. Focus on what you can control right now.

Oh, speaking of focus...

Get Rid of Time Wasters and Excuses

Turn off Netflix, CNN, HBO, and put your phone down.

The truth is, you've got plenty of hours in a day to spend on building your business from scratch if you use each hour wisely. Pick one relaxing activity to help you unwind at the end of the day and set a time limit for yourself.

Even with a regular 9-to-5 job and a family, when you're passionate you'll find the extra time to build your business. In fact, studies show you get more done when you have more on your plate, or in other words when you use Parkinson's Law to your advantage.

Don't Pick Mentors Based on Convenience

Be bold and seek out business partners who will challenge you.

A new enterprise is the most fragile in its first three years. You'll have a lot of questions, and encounter new and frightening situations. It's crucial you surround yourself with experienced mentors who care about helping you succeed.

Don't go into business with family members just because they're family members. And don't partner with your best friend just because they live next door. Chances are they just want to spend more time with you.

That leads nicely into our next point.

Allow Yourself to Become Obsessed

One of the most important things to consider when running a small business:

Can you say no to social events, vacation time, and a normal amount of sleep even if all your friends and family look at you like you're crazy?

If you're obsessed with your business... you're in the right business! Don't let anyone dissuade you from pursuing your dream. You won't have to burn the candle at both ends forever, but you can expect to put in the most work for at least the first two years.

Write (and Rewrite) Your Business Plan

Before a big boxing match, someone asked Mike Tyson if he'd heard his opponent's fancy plan of attack. They asked if this made him nervous.

What Tyson said in response has been quoted thousands of times since:

"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."

If you're reading this post about what to do before you open your own business, you most likely already have a business plan. Be prepared to completely rewrite that plan when real life punches you in the face.

Protect Your Attitude

It becomes harder to make decisions when you're depressed or stressed out.

So relax!

Do whatever you have to each day to keep your spirits high. As long as you feel confident in yourself, you'll be able to quickly find solutions to whatever problem comes along.

Let Us Handle the Little Stuff

So, let's summarize this quick starting a business checklist:

Only go into a business your passionate about. Keep your ideal customer in mind, and only spend your energy on what's truly important.

Be prepared to change your original plan as you go. Surround yourself with excellent mentors, and protect your attitude at all costs.

Anything else?

While you're tackling the major decisions that get your new company off the ground, let someone else handle the cleaning. Contact us today and see how we can help your new business run smoothly.

Good luck!

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