Here is a brief checklist of things to do, or at least consider, when you first decide to start your business. Most of these are based on mistakes I made and things I wish I’d known.
Come up with a business name.
Something you like that’s creative, catchy, original, and easy to remember/spell. It’s not easy! If you’re lucky, maybe even your business name will be an available internet domain. If so, register it! Even if you don’t plan on having a website yet, claim that URL before somebody else does.
I was in a hurry to get my business license and didn’t want to come up with a business name on the spot, so I just used my actual name. That’s really not ideal for many reasons, but it makes some things confusing. This is something I should have had all along, instead of it now being something I need to change/fix.
Write a Business Plan.
You definitely need to do this before you apply for any kind of financing, but even if you aren’t taking out a loan to start your business, have a written plan in place so you can stay on track. Yes, it’s hard and somewhat boring. But it doesn’t have to be a up to academic dissertation standards or or anything. Just your business description, overview, and provisional marketing plans will do for starters.
I didn’t do this because I wasn’t borrowing any money, so I didn’t take the trouble. There are mistakes I made that could have been avoided or at least better handled had I took the time to actually think through certain business plan elements. Like not having a business name.
Get a well-designed logo.
If you’re lucky enough to have a flair for graphic design, or know somebody who does, then get a logo. This will go on your business cards, website, etc. so ideally it should be simple enough to look good as social media thumbnails, but also express what your business is about and be recognizable as your brand.
If you don’t have enough funds to hire a graphic designer to design a logo for you, then most printing sites like VistaPrint have a selection of templates and ready-to-go designs you can use. These are great for when you’re just starting out. But keep in mind that these designs are out there for anyone to use, so there’s always a chance that your business card will look just like somebody else’s. A custom-designed logo will help you stand apart from your competition.
Set up a designated email account for your business.
This is important! Keep business communications separate from person emails. This will help you stay organized and prevent clogging up your personal messages with customer emails. Gmail is a wonderful free email service, and if you’re using other Google services like YouTube, Blogger, or Drive, then everything will be connected to your Google ID. This makes you easier to find online.
Open a business checking account.
You definitely need to keep your business and personal transactions separate. This can also be the account linked to business-related services like Paypal and your wholesale accounts.
When in doubt, ask for help.
There are a few things I am so clueless about that I don’t even feel comfortable trying to do them myself, so I get help. Like taxes. I can handle the sales tax returns no problem, but I get help with income and business tax forms.