Here Are the First 6 Steps in Starting a Small Business

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Starting a business, although a lot of fun, is not as easy as saying, "I'm just going to hang out my shingle today and see what happens." That's certainly one part of it, but the reality is there are a lot of moving parts to starting a business.

Here's our small business startup checklist so you can make sure you've got all the right tools in place.

Business Plan

If you want your business to make money, you have to know how it's actually going to do that. That's where coming up with a business plan can come in handy.

If you're planning on funding your business yourself then you may not need an excruciatingly detailed plan. However, if you're planning on getting a business loan or seeking investors, you'll need to be as thorough as possible.

Regardless of which funding path you're taking, here are the questions every business plan should answer:

● How is the company structured?

● What is the service/product and how does it help people solve a problem?

● Where is the money going to come from and how is it going to be used?

● How are you actually going to make a profit?

● What is the sales and marketing strategy?

Another item on your small business startup checklist is legal council. More specifically, you'll want to find a lawyer to draft up contracts and help you figure out the business structure. For example, if you're planning on having partners, what are each of their roles? How and where are you going to incorporate the business?

Additionally, attorneys can help with trademarks, copyrights, employee contracts, and more. Just note that not all attorneys practice the same kind of law so you may need to talk to more than one.


The next step in the small business startup checklist is accounting. Accountants can also help you figure out business structures, tax planning and more.

It's good to have an accountant from the beginning for several reasons. First, because you don't want to mess with the IRS. Second, because having an open conversation with your accountant helps you deal with finances as you move through the different stages of your business.

Finally, accountants can help you register for state and local taxes when you start your business. They could also walk you through the process of deciding how to register your business if an attorney has not already done so.

A Plan for Funding

When creating a business plan, you'll come up against the question of funding, however it's important enough where it merits its own section in a small business startup checklist.

You need capital to start a business. Period. In fact, one of the main reasons why businesses fail is precisely because they run out of cash. However, the kind of capital you need is up to you and what you want to do with your business.

For example, maybe you just want to run a content marketing agency. You can probably fund that yourself slowly overtime because startup costs are generally low.

On the other hand, if you want to develop an app that helps people invest their money, you're probably going to need investors (unless you have a few million dollars lying around).

Required Licenses and Permits

Depending on the kind of business you're running and where it's located, you may need to look into what kinds of licenses and permits are required so you can operate.

Find Help

There's no manual for how to start a business from the ground up. That's why you should get in the habit of finding help as soon as you begin. This could look like hiring a business coach, checking out the resources found at the Small Business Administration, or starting to attend networking events with other business owners.