Thumbs up for taking the plunge and starting your own business. As you've likely already discovered, time is a precious commodity for small business owners. So that's why we're going to get right to the meat of this post. Here's a quick checklist covering the basics of what you need to set up for your new adventure...
A Bank Account
Without a bank account, you're going to have trouble doing lots of things like paying vendors, accepting payment and running your books. Go get a simple business checking account to start. And if you can go visit a branch, do it. Getting to know a banker personally will be helpful in the long run.
Naturally we're biased, but if accurate financials are the lifeblood of your business, then accounting software is the heart, veins and arteries. (It's unclear if that analogy makes perfect sense, but you get what we mean.) Bottom line, accounting software powers your business. It's how you measure growth. It's how you make critical decisions. It's how you know your tax obligations. Invest in good yet easy accounting software from day one.
It may sound archaic, but a mailing address is still pretty standard for a new business. When you register with federal, state and local governments, they're going to require an address. A bank will want one too. You'll need one for your invoices. If your new business' mailing address is the same as your home address, that's totally fine, though some business find professional value in having a P.O. Box.
Pro Tip: If you live in an apartment and want to use that as your business' mailing address but don't want it to be obvious you're working out of said apartment, simple change the "Apt." designation to "Suite." Feels more professional, no?
Regardless of your physical set up (i.e., storefront, home office, coffee shop hopper, cowork space, etc.), you need adequate communications in place to do business. Email is probably the most critical not only for customer/vendor communications, but you'll also need an email address to sign up for most small business software products and services. And while your personal cell phone might be enough at the start, consider a business line. This will help with writing off your business phone usage.
Bonus Tip: Don't want to carry two phones? Get set up with a cloud based phone system like Ringcentral.
We've talked about entity formation before and the different types that are available to you. The condensed version is this: form an entity for your business as soon as possible. Why? First: protection. If your business encounters any sort of legal trouble, having an entity established will protect you, the individual, from personal liability. Second: entity formation better defines the business' tax obligations.
This is an oft overlooked to-do item, but business insurance should actually be set up in a company's infancy. Shop for it as you would any other type of insurance, but also keep in mind that agent of record matters a lot here. If you engage and authorize an agent to request quotes from insurers, you're tie to them. Other parties including other agents or even you won't be able to get quotes from companies that have already given a quote to your business via your agent of record.
Domain and Website
Just about every business should have a website. Sure, there are some cases where one might not be warranted, but if you're in the business of marketing to new customers or clients, not having a website is like not having a phone number or a mailing address. There a plenty of services out there that can make getting a website up and running easy as pie. Our recommendations: Squarespace, Strikingly, Wix.
So there you go. A short and most certainly incomplete new business checklist. If you've been through the process before, what other tasks did you make sure were squared away early in your business' life? Tell us on Twitter.