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The Aspiring Business Owner’s Checklist

Excited about your business idea? Before you jump headfirst into the unpredictable world of Business, make sure you’re prepared.



REFINE BUSINESS IDEA

You have the basic premise of what you want your business to be. Flesh your idea out by adding more details and evaluating whether your idea is viable. Think about what needs or wants your business would satisfy for members of the buying public. Think about how you want your brand to be perceived in the public eye and factor this into the creation of your business name, logo, and designs that are to be associated with your products and services. Define what your overall goals are for your business, not just in terms of how far you want to take it expansion-wise but what you want it to do for other people, a section of the population, or society at large.


DO MARKET RESEARCH

As covered before in a previous blog post, a lack of market research is one of the leading factors of business failure for startups. It cannot be overemphasised how important doing market research is before you begin your entrepreneurial venture. This research may include looking at the existing businesses in the space - your potential competitors - to gauge how your business fits into the pre-existing landscape: does it stand out from other businesses by providing something new or improving on existing technology? Market research also involves analysing public data or collecting data from the public through surveys or focus groups yourself. During your research, be sure to find out what risks are likely to be encountered in your proposed line of business. After you’ve done this research, you might have to go back and modify your business idea further.



LEARN THE REQUIREMENTS

Being a business owner means you have legal and financial obligations to the state, financial institutions, and the general public. It’s crucial that you find out what is required of you in your state before you start your business. This often includes business registration, taxes, and annual returns fillings. Depending on the nature of your business you may also need certain permissions, certifications, or licensing to operate so make sure you register with all the relevant authorities. It is advisable to consult with a legal professional specialising in Business on these matters as trying to figure out this part yourself can be challenging.


ASSESS YOUR SITUATION

Assess the current state of your finances as well as the funds you’ll need to take care of the necessary expenses for the running of your business. An accounting professional or business consultant may also be consulted during this part of the planning process where you need to map out what your available resources are and what you’ll need to obtain. These considerations are also important if you are already employed and are considering leaving your job, and thus your main source of income, to dedicate all of your time and effort to your business. It is recommended that you have healthy savings before even considering leaving your primary source of income as it allows you more options and starting a business in debt, i.e. with borrowed money such as loans from financial institutions, can spell financial trouble if you are unable to pay it back.


STRATEGISE

Financially, legally, and personally, you need to strategise. Legally, you need to consider which business structure is best to register your business under. Understand your options for business structure and all of their legal obligations before making your decision. In terms of finances, start learning about your options for obtaining capital or, if you’re starting small and have enough savings to fund yourself, consider your options for obtaining capital when it is time to expand your business. Find out which business model would be right for you and if that model is scalable if your goal is not to be or remain a small business. Other financial considerations may include marketing: marketing strategy and budgeting. On the personal side of things, consider if you will be able to maintain a balanced work and personal life as starting a business may take more out of you than you anticipated which will inevitably lead to burnout. Having an exit strategy is also highly advisable and may include provisions made for others to inherit your business or the options for selling your business or even closing it down.


CALL IN REINFORCEMENTS

Take all the help and guidance you can get. Where your education is lacking in a certain area of your business, consult a professional. If you are unable for lack of time or skill to complete certain tasks, don’t be afraid to delegate tasks and seek out other professionals or institutions that can aid you. Also consider finding a mentor with experience who can guide you through difficult or unexpected challenges and help fill in your knowledge gaps.


SET UP THE BASICS

After planning, researching, consulting, and modifying your plan, you should feel confident enough to take the preliminary steps of setting up your business. This most often includes getting registered with all the necessary authorities, setting up a business account with a financial institution, getting a professional business plan done, obtaining capital, and trademarking. It may also involve obtaining a business stamp, having your logo designed, sourcing vendors, searching for the right physical or online location, and setting up social media pages for your business.





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