You're all geared up and ready to take the entrepreneurial plunge and start your own business. This is no doubt an exciting time -- and there's probably a lot going through your mind right now.
But wait. There are several things that need to be addressed before diving in headfirst.
1. A Business Plan
Even if you think you've got everything on lock, you're bound to encounter curveballs and obstacles at some point.
Taking the time to create a thorough business plan will help you stay on track throughout the initial stages of launching your startup and will force you to consider aspects that may not have previously crossed your mind.
Of course you're not obligated to rigidly stick to every detail of your business plan, and there's always room for adjustments. It's just there to serve as a means of navigation while you're getting your bearings.
Having sufficient funding is arguably the most important aspect of starting a business. Without adequate investment, it's going to be a major headache getting it off the ground, and sustainability can be next to impossible.
Do you have all of your ducks in a row with financing? How much will you need during the first year? Do you have any wiggle room in the event of a setback?
One of the things that turns many would-be entrepreneurs off from the prospect of starting a business is the seemingly infinite number of legalities involved with the process.
Whether it's ensuring that operations abide by federal and state laws, not infringing upon intellectual property or setting up workers' comp insurance, there are a plethora of legal issues to address before you ever make your first dollar.
If you're not sure which specific legal issues will impact your business, you can learn the fundamentals from the SBA.
4. A Business License
Depending upon your location and the nature of your business, you may be required to obtain a business license or other permits.
The exact requirements can vary considerably, so you'll want to consult this resource for more information.
Dealing with taxes probably isn't your cup of tea, but fulfilling your tax obligations is nonetheless essential if you want to stay in business and prevent any ugly IRS penalties.
As a result, this is something you'll want to fully familiarize yourself with and stay on top of. Fortunately, you can learn the fundamentals via the IRS's website.
6. Finding an Accountant
Unless you're a tax whiz and understand all of the ins and outs, you're want to hire an accountant to keep you on track. Not only will they ensure that you're compliant, they can help you find some key tax breaks to maximize your profitability.
Do you need any specific type of equipment such as POS systems, cash registers, shelving, etc.? More importantly, do you have the funds available to purchase these items?
If you're operating an online business, this might not be that big of an issue. But if you're running a brick and mortar, you'll need to cover all of the bases.
Computers, tablets, software and apps are integral to many of today's small businesses. That's why you'll want to figure out which are essential to your operations.
Are you planning on being a "solopreneur" and running a one-person show? Or do you need a handful of employees to keep things running?
If it's the latter, you'll want to determine how you're going to find employees, what qualities/skills they should possess, how much you're willing to pay them, how you'll handle payroll, etc.
10. A Website
Even the most old school, mom and pop businesses usually have websites these days. Even if you're entirely offline and brick and mortar, you'll probably want to have at least some online presence.
That's why you'll want to figure out the logistics like whether you'll design it yourself or hire a professional, and how much you're willing to funnel into your site.
11. Domain Hosting
Don't forget about hosting.
What type of package do you want? How much are you willing to spend annually?
Developing a brand identity isn't really negotiable anymore if you expect your business to thrive and stand out from the masses.
Understanding the principles of effective branding and the necessary steps of the process is essential. You can learn the basics via this guide from Quick Sprout.
13. A Marketing Strategy
There are a myriad of marketing paths you can take, which can make it a bit overwhelming for new business owners.
Which channels work best for your industry? How can you best reach your demographic? What's your marketing budget?
14. Social Media
Social media is integral to marketing, branding and developing rapport with your audience. Accordingly, you'll probably want to be active on at least a network or two.
That's why it's smart to do some research on how you'll connect. Should you use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr or a combination?
If consumers are unable to find you through search, you're for sure missing out on prospects and conversions. In this day and age, you'll want to understand at least the basics of SEO and do it in-house or hire a professional to manage it for you.
With the right ambition and motivation, there's no doubt that you can crush it as an entrepreneur.
But you still need to get the details squared away and have a viable game plan before setting things into motion.
Are there any other key areas to address before starting a business?