1.10.2022

Starting a Business Checklist: 10 Things You Need to Know

Written by Lauren Valensky

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Looking to turn your idea into a business but don’t know where to start? You’re in the right place.

Considering 20% of new businesses close their doors within just 12 months [1], it’s no wonder that starting one can be challenging. With so many different overheads to consider, an idea transforming into a real business often fails for many entrepreneurs. Especially with your first venture, it can be difficult to pinpoint the steps you should take to establish a strong foundation for your business and keep it from closing prematurely. 

That’s where we come in. Read our startup checklist, which includes 10 top tips to help get your new business up and (keep you) running. 

1. Research and re-search:

Before you open a business, you must do your research.

Even if your idea sounds plausible, it’s impossible to predict how it will perform in the real world without carefully researching each of its components. The three main areas you should focus on are:

Your target market:

It’s pretty simple: if you want your product or service to sell, you must establish who you’re selling it to. Understanding your target market enables you to tailor your product and optimize your branding to attract potential customers.

The best way to achieve this is to keep an eye on your competition. Look at other businesses in your sector from a consumer's viewpoint, study who their customer base is, and assess what they’re doing well and not so well. That way, you can put together an enhanced and in-depth strategy that should help your new business hit the bullseye.

Location:

Even if your business idea will exist solely as a website, you must research your location thoroughly. Putting your business in the right place is crucial to its success. Even if you have an excellent product/service, you risk early closure if it’s not accessible and to the right people.

If you envision a brick and mortar location, explore which establishments have previously traded from your potential site, and scope the area for all surrounding businesses, not just your obvious competitors.

In doing this, you can accurately assess whether your business would be a good fit for the site.

If you aim to materialize your idea online, you must still consider your location carefully.

While there’s an extensive range of social media sites you can use, choosing the right ones can make or break your business. For instance, if your product was aimed at the 65+ age group, and you launched on Snapchat, which only saw 3% of over 65’s registering in 2020, you'd greatly restrict the amount of web traffic coming to your page[2].  

 Costs:

Starting a business can be more expensive than you think, and many start-ups often fail due to a lack of financial preparation for both hidden and not so hidden costs.

Spend time carefully studying each component of your business (lease costs, price of product ingredients, etc.), ask for quotes to get an estimate of expenditure, and ensure you’ve made at least some provision for any surprises that might arise.

You should continue to re-search after you’ve launched your business. Since trends, markets and marketing strategies are constantly changing and emerging, it helps to monitor these, so you don’t get left in the dust.

2. Make your mark: 

Before starting a new business, it’s good to register your business/domain name and any trademarks.

This process claims anything that identifies your business's goods, services, and branding, such as your name and logo, and ensures that only your business can use them [3]

As well as being notoriously costly, trademark litigation can see you lose an entire customer base, as well as any leads from web traffic you’ve previously generated, essentially bringing you back to square one. 

3. It’s in the name:

The name of your venture is more significant than you might think. First impressions count. No matter how small your business is, your name is often the first thing potential customers encounter, so you must leave a lasting impact. 

A good business name should include one or more of these features:

  • A reference to your main product or service:  This clearly communicates to customers what you're offering, e.g. Netflix (internet flicks);
  • Digestible length: Customers find it easier to recall shorter, snappier names, e.g. Apple, Google;
  • A story: While consumers can’t physically see the story behind your business’ name, it is important to have one. Customers feel more connected to your brand when it feels authentic, and are more likely to support a business they feel is purposeful or rooted in interesting history, e.g. Adidas [4].

There are also some things you should try and avoid when choosing the name of your business:

  • Sounding similar to other brand names: Since your business won't go global overnight, if your name is too similar to existing businesses, e.g. Sysco and Cisco, you risk losing potential customers. When they search, they won't know to differentiate your name from bigger, similar-sounding companies, minimizing your web traffic;
  • Including geographic locations: You can run the risk of limiting your business expansion by rooting your name in a geographic area, e.g.  If you're keen to show that you're a local business, include this in your tagline/slogan instead.

4. Out of site, out of mind: 

Having a website for your business is essential in today’s digital age.

Not only does it provide customers with a place to learn more about your business, but it also gives your business an online presence and allows you to extend its reach globally.

Even if site construction isn't your strong point, there’s a myriad of website-building tools available online, such as Squarespace, Wix and Epos Now Online, which can help you whip up a website in no time.

5. What’s the point?: 

Considering that June alone saw 448,000 new business applications filed this year, as a start-up business you would need a small miracle to stand out… or a USP[5].

A unique selling point differentiates your business from its competitors in the global market. It shows customers you provide the highest value for money, encouraging them to give you their custom. 

Since most global market sectors are so saturated, if you aren’t able to establish the USP of your business, you should consider modifying your product/service to accommodate one. 

6. Sounds like a plan:

Trying to set up shop without a plan in place? That’s risky business… and not just for you. 

While having a solid business plan allows you to scale your start-up’s growth and spotlight specific steps for success, it also introduces your business to the investment process. Without a plan, potential investors/investment groups will view your idea as too risky. 

While other funding sources are available, such as Epos Now Capital, the varying skill-sets that investors often provide can be instrumental in growing your business.

You must provide them with everything they need to make an informed decision about where they’re putting their money. Your business model should include a long-term branding strategy, marketing plans, accurate, current figures and realistic prospective ones.

Since investors are investing in you as much as your idea, even if you have concerns about your numbers, embellishing your business plan can quickly take you from the Dragon’s Den into the lion’s den.

Being totally transparent in every aspect of your model lets investors know that you’re reliable and pragmatic, the two main attributes of a good investee.

7. Socially acceptable:

Creating social networking accounts for your new business is a great way to market your venture and gain traction without having to spend a fortune.

Whichever platforms you choose, make sure that the branding across your social media and your website are consistent. 

An inconsistent brand image can make your business look outdated and unprofessional, deterring potential customers.

Even if you struggle to navigate popular sites such as Linkedin and Instagram, online tools such as Hootsuite and Facebook Business Suite can help you automatically create, organize and even schedule your content.

8. Take account: 

Setting up a business bank account is a key way to keep your business and personal finances separate. This will help you track your business expenses and income more easily and be more professional when presenting your business/figures to others.

9. Better safe than sorry:

In recent years, the importance of business and consumer privacy has increased drastically. A 2019 global survey uncovered an important new group of people — 32% of respondents, who said they cared about privacy and were willing to act on this by switching companies or providers over data or data-sharing policies [6]

Choosing cloud-based software to help run your new business won’t just increase the level of privacy for your customers but will also provide a higher level of security for you.

Standard point of sale systems process and store data locally, saving both the customer’s information and sales record on a local server whenever they purchase. 

While great for accessibility purposes, storing information in this way leaves businesses open to losing it at any time. 

There doesn’t need to be a fire for your data to go up in smoke.

Anything as small as a short circuit can corrupt your business’ hardware and permanently erase all your information, something we’re sure you’d like to avoid.

Speaking of damage control, as a potential new business owner, you need to protect your business as a whole, not just the data it collects. No matter how small, your business needs insurance.

While an extensive selection of business insurance policies is available, it’s hard to go wrong with an LPI (legal protection insurance). LPIs can provide cover for unexpected litigation costs and issues concerning property or employment, which is perfect for new businesses [7].

10. Structural assessment:

There are a number of business structures that define how your business operates as a legal entity.  

The most common include:

  • Sole trader: where one individual owns and runs the business entirely;
  • Partnership: where two or more people own the business;
  • Limited company: where a company is considered legally distinct from its owners.

Since each structure has its own advantages and disadvantages, it is crucial to research and understand these before deciding which structure works best for your business. 

Automate your new business with a powerful POS system

Epos Now offers state-of-the-art POS Systems for businesses in retail and hospitality. We let you choose the tools and insights to help your business achieve its goals. Designed to work as a complete business management system, you can control all vital aspects of your company from one cloud-based system.

Receive detailed analysis on the areas that matter to your business:

  • Review profitability reports based on individual product performance, trending items, best and worst sellers, and employee sales
  • View sales analyses on profit margin, cash flow, and other expenses
  • Access multi-award-winning inventory management systems that sync online sales and in-person sales for the most up-to-date stock levels
  • Customer management systems that save customer contact details and shopping preferences for more targeted marketing.

If you’d like to learn more about our industry-leading software, request a free call back from one of our experts today.

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