starting a business

Checklist for starting a business
Use this comprehensive checklist to plan each step of your new business and transform your dream of entrepreneurship into reality. These steps may not necessarily be completed in the order listed; however, you can use them as a guideline for completing all of the necessary business startup tasks.
– Determine what kind of business you want to start.
– Learn about the industry for your business.
– Analyze the market for your business.
– Study your competition.
– Educate yourself on running a business.
– Join trade associations.
– Name your business.
– Perform a trademark search.
– Register a domain name.
– Design a website.
– Obtain a logo.
– Determine business structure (sole proprietor, partnership, or corporation).
– Evaluate your personal budget.
– Write a business plan.
– Write a marketing plan.
– Locate financing.
– Create a list of start-up supplies with budget.
– Set up a system for accounting and payroll.
– Apply for business license, fed tax ID, fictitious business name.
– Select a location and set up shop.
– Order signage.
– Obtain business tools (computer, printer, fax, postage, office supplies, and fixtures).
– Order business stationery (business cards, letterhead, brochures).
– Obtain inventory.
– Create an operations and employee manual.
– Hire employees.
– Set a launch date.
– Plan a grand opening event.
– Send announcements to everyone you know.
– Send press releases.
– Turn on the OPEN sign!
– Revisit your business plan and update often.
– Evaluate your marketing strategy often.
– Prepare a realistic business plan.

Think of this as your business road map. Define exactly where you want to get to with your business and then you can effectively map out your path towards achieving your goals!
By creating a detailed business plan you should cover all options and eventualities and have a clear future vision that will guide you through the rest of the start-up processes.
– Your business plan should encompass the financial considerations of starting your small or home based business:-
Do you have the capital required?
Do you need to raise additional funds?
Who are you going to approach for finance?
Who do you trust for advice?
And don’t forget to open a business bank account…
– Consider the legal implications of becoming a business owner and proprietor.
Are you better off as a sole trader, a limited company or are you considering a partnership?
Make sure you consider all the angles and protect yourself and your assets personally from the outset.
Anything you bring to the business has to be itemized, valued…even if you’re a sole trader.
And make sure you are professionally covered with the appropriate business indemnity insurances.
– Get your family and friends behind you from the get-go.
Make sure your family and friends are fully understanding and supportive of your ideas to venture into small business start-up.
Do they understand the level of commitment you will have to show for on-going and long term success?
Their belief in you and continued support of you will work wonders towards your on-going success, so don’t forget to look out for them too.
– Protect your family, protect your business.
If, God forbid, something were to happen to your health, how would your business survive, how would your family cope?
Consider insurances – from health, critical illness and income protection insurance to life insurance – and consider your pension and long term financial security.
– Face those ‘taxing’ questions from the start.
Your small or home based business has to consider its taxation situation.
Do you need to register your business for sales tax purposes; have you informed your tax office of your business’s inauguration?
Do you have a good tax professional lined up to guide and assist you?
The bottom line when it comes to taxation is that from the outset you need to make sure your papers and books are in order, this will save you time, money and heart ache in the long run.
– Prepare realistic and achievable goals and targets for your first year.
Do not expect to conquer the world with your first year’s business returns.
Starting a business is a life changing undertaking and one you must be patient with. The rewards are there, but make sure you set yourself achievable targets – when you reach them they will give you the confidence and satisfaction to set new goals and to continue building your business’ success.

Business Plan

Is It Necessary To Have a Business Plan?
Are you planning to start a new business? Or are you considering expanding your current business and require a bank loan or investment from outsiders?

If you are going to look for an investment of capital it is quite likely that you will be required to have a business plan. If you are starting a business, despite the work involved, a business plan can prepare you for the obstacles ahead and help ensure your success.

A business plan is something that many small businesses fail to create, however, many business owners are adamant that having a written business plan is one of the keys to their present success. Creating a business plan forces you to contemplate possible obstacles to your business and prepares you to find solutions that will help you to overcome them.

To find investors or get a bank loan, they will want to see that you have the experience or resources to run the business. They will want to see your projected income as well as your suggested repayment plan already laid out. Taking the time to do this is not only important for them, but it gives you a measuring tool to verify if your business is growing properly. You can gage your success on how close to the plan your business has actually performed. Perhaps you’ll do worse, or perhaps you’ll do better, either way it helps you determine how well your business is getting on.

If you have never seen a business plan before you may be concerned that is is too difficult a proposition for you to manage on your own.

While there are services available where you can hire someone to write a business plan for you, depending on your needs it may be wise to familiarize yourself with a business plan’s layout. This will not only help you to provide the necessary information, but may encourage you to try your own hand at it.

There’s a free tool at which will assist you in creating a business plan. Some of the topics you will be required to explain are your Market, Customer, Competition, Marketing Plan, Research & Development along with financial forecasts. You may consider hiring someone to help you with your financial sheets after completing the written part of the Business Plan.

Your Business Plan will become your guide and silent business partner – indicating where you need to improve and helping you stay one step ahead of your competition. Make it a priority to have this crucial road map for your business.

Successful Business.

Developing a Business Plan =  Successful Business.
Whether you are starting up a new business or you already have an established company, the importance of a business plan may be over looked. Yes, they can take some time to draw up but just think of your business plan as a map of a country. Without the details and information on this map, trying to navigate yourself around a country will usually end up leaving you lost. Probably travelling the same routes over and over again, taking you 2-3 times longer to find your way(if you do every find your way).

A detailed business plan could mean your success in business. Consider this. How can you take your company in the right direction, developing the methods you need to succeed if you do not know what you are trying to accomplish. It would be like building a house with no plans and trying to put the roof on first. Yes, you may be successful in building the roof but your house will be missing some essential pieces. You may not miss these pieces at first, but down the line(especially when the winter comes) you are going to be wishing you built those walls too!

A business plan plots a course for your business to follow. It allows you to determine and realize your growth but more importantly what steps are needed to be token to achieve this. It helps you figure out the materials you need in place so that you can first build a strong infrastructure for your business. Another great thing about a business plan is that like any map it can be changed over time to represent the lay of the land. Which allows you to make any changes that need to be made to your route and to help you navigate them better.

While you are developing your business plan you will see that it will start to show you what you will need to do to be successful. Including such things as materials needed, your timeline and projected numbers for your business. It also will show your projected income and losses, as well as how your business will do in the first months and year(s) of operations. This information is priceless.

Another important factor of a business plan is that it will show you how you need to grow. You may wonder why this is so important? Simple. It falls right under you developing a marketing plan and picking out areas/markets for you to advertise in to grow your business. Without knowing where your business is going, there will be no way for you to develop an accurate marketing plan. These two things go hand and hand with each other.

So remember whether your business has been around for days, weeks months, years or is just an idea in your head. Develop a business plan which will help you develop a successful business.

Where Do I Start?

Building Ecommerce Web Sites: Where Do I Start?
Building a web site isn’t something that is really cut and dry. There’s a huge variety of products and services that can either help you get your web site where you want it or simply confuse you. It’s also important that you make the right choices upfront so that you don’t end up having to restructure your whole web site because of some problem in your design layout. The level of time investment necessary for mastery in a lot of these software packages can range from little to a VERY significant amount. Because of this I feel it’s important to be lead in the “right” direction to make sure you don’t spend time in the wrong areas, or learning some software that might not be all that useful for you later on (*coughs* Frontpage *coughs*).Where you should start greatly depends on what you plan on attempting to do, and how deep you’re going to dive in. For a moderately professional, clean looking web site without a lot of automation or intensive animated graphics you can probably get by with some basic knowledge of html, ability with a good WYSIWYG editor, and an image editing program. On the other hand, if you’re someone that’s looking to build something that will really wow your audience then you might consider spending some major time and developing some animation skills with a program like Macromedia Flash. I personally always spring for what I believe will bring me the greatest amount of profit with a minimal amount of effort, and because of this I usually end up spending all of my time diving in deeper with ONLY my WYSIWYG HTML editor, and my image editor.

What is a “WYSIWYG” editor?

A WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML editor is what allows you to get by with minimal knowledge of HTML. Yes, that means you don’t have to know EVERYTHING about HTML to have a decent looking website. When you use a WYSIWYG editor it interprets what you’re doing (inserting an image for example) as being a certain series of HTML tags with attributes, and does it for you… Thus, what you see on your screen is what you get. Instead of seeing a bunch of HTML code in text format, you’ll mostly see what will actually show up in your browser once your web site is up WHILE you’re making it. I highly recommend using the latest version of dreamweaver — it is well-known as one of the best HTML editors by general consensus. Dreamweaver’s interface is very friendly, has a built in FTP client, and is specifically built to be flexible enough to suit both the coder and the everyday amateur webmaster.

Image editing? What do I need that for?

Okay, let’s be realistic here: If you’re going to make a professional *appearing* web site it’s important that you can make some basic, decent looking graphics. There’s a lot of graphics problems that can truly get the job done, but as far as power and flexibility goes I recommend Adobe Photoshop. Adobe Photoshop definitely takes some time getting used to, but in the end it’s VERY rewarding. I’ve ended up using my knowledge of Photoshop to make not only graphics for multiple web sites, but also touched up portraits, made business cards, flyers, and other online advertisements such as banners. In fact  I’ve used it for everything except animation… But it also comes with Adobe Image ready which is very good with animation. This software is amazing, and if you’re going to learn ANY image editing software I recommend you start with Photoshop because of it’s wide range of overall… usefulness!

Let’s get me some sales!

Kick off your new web site you’ve gotten up from your knowledge of web mastering and image editing with a few new sales… Sounds like a plan? Well a great way to do that quickly is with pay-per-click advertising. BUT WAIT! Doesn’t that cost money? Well… Yes. But with the tools brought to us by some of the biggest pay-per-click advertisers out there we should be able to make a good evaluation of how much profit we’re going to make without much investment upfront.

The big question behind pay-per-click advertising is whether or not it’s worth the cash when you can simply get traffic from regular search engine ranking (otherwise known as organic traffic). After all  there are plenty of companies out there that promise to help get you all the traffic you need through optimizing your web site for organic ranking. The answer to this question is quite simple: profit is profit. Through conversion tracking tools such as those offered by Yahoo! Search Marketing and Google Ad-words anyone can calculate exactly what their profit is after cost of PPC advertising is taken out. In my opinion, Google Ad-words has the most user-friendly interface among the PPC advertisers. Google Ad-word’s interface makes it very easy to see which keywords are pulling you in the most sales, and which ones aren’t even worth your advertising money.

Let us not forget, however, that in order to make those conversions we’re going to be needing a shopping cart! There’s a lot of diverse software packages out there you can use, but I’ve been using Mal’s E-Commerce Free shopping cart for a number of years with great success. The cart’s server is hosted on their machines so that means you not only get away with not having to pay for the software itself, but you get out of having to buy an SSL security ticket too! Nothing’s a better bargain than free, eh?

Getting those sales leads you’ve been building up to BUY!

Once you’ve scored a few sales it would probably be a good idea to start using some kind of lead management services. I highly recommend the use of auto-responders for this purpose. Auto-responders are, essentially, a newsletter sign-up that allows you to strategically determine what you want to send each lead after a certain allotted amount of time. For example, let’s say someone visits your web site and you offer them a free newsletter. If you were selling an eBook on some very complicated topic, you might consider sending them only information on the most basic concepts at first to get them interested. Slowly but surely, you can turn those visitors that might have left your web site and never have returned into some serious revenue!