Starting a business is an exciting time.
The long list of practicalities, regulations, and to-do’s before launch day – perhaps not so much.
Here is a checklist to help you stay focused so you can keep everything in perspective and on track.
1. It might seem like a no-brainer (especially if you’ve come this far), but: are you really passionate about your business idea? Does it represent who you are as a person? Do you picture yourself still being excited about the idea a year, five years, from now? These are important self-introspective questions to ask yourself, before you pour all your time, resources and finances into your plans.
2. Have you nailed down what headache problem you’ll be solving? That is, have you done airtight market research that demonstrates there is a real need for your product or service? You don’t have to be thinking on a global scale, but there should at least be a regional need that will provide you an adequate and consistent return on investment.
3. Have you researched who your customer will be and whether that market (either online, offline or both) is large enough to service your business sustainably? To carry it further, have you tested your idea by surveying your potential market? Another way to test out how your product/service will fare: try a pop-up shop.
4. Putting together a traditional business plan can be a daunting task. But did you know that there are a few other tools that summarize all the key information that 1) you’ll need to strategically plan your launch steps and business growth and 2) many lending institutions accept? For example, the Business Model Canvas is a tool that can help you describe, design, challenge, and pivot your business model. Our certified business advisors use GrowthWheel® (see sample worksheets below) to help you discover opportunities and find ways to efficiently address startup and scale-up challenges. The GrowthWheel® Business Profile allows you to quickly gather all your business’s key information in one short document and can be used for investor pitches or spur-of-the-moment pitch opportunities.
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5. Have you signed on the dotted line for business financing? Don’t be too ‘spendy’ until you have unless you’re considering other options like the 3B’s: Bootstrap, Barter, Borrow (see our webinar “The Art of Bootstrapping” for some tips).
6. As the old saying goes, “There is no ‘I’ in team.” The path to a successful launch is as much the support team you have around you as it is your passion and determination. Drawing on the knowledge and expertise of other business owners who have been down the same path as well as enlisting the support of business advisors and mentors, means your business will be set-up for success from day one.
7. Consult with your accountant to learn the pros and cons of each legal business structure option (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, co-operative.). You’ll want to make sure you choose a structure that suits your company’s activities, protects you and any partners, and offers the best tax relief options for the type of business.
8. Once you’ve decided on your legal structure, don’t forget to register your business provincially and/or federally. You should also confirm whether you need a trademark and if the name/logo has already been taken.
9. A business is a living thing: knowledge and capital is the sustenance that help it grow. Never stop reading, networking, and learning new skills to ensure your business flourishes.
To learn more about how to move your business idea from #IntentionToAction, visit our Youth Start-up page.