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Starting a Business: Checklist of Key Things to Do

Updated on May 3, 2012

If you are interested in starting a business and not sure where to begin, here are some key things to do.

Decide what your idea is

You probably have a lot of ideas, and you could go in many possible directions with your new business. But which is your most valuable idea, the one you are most passionate about? One reason many new entrepreneurs never get their idea off the ground is because they are spending too much time on other ideas, diverting attention, energy and resources away from that one main project.

Instead, take a moment to decide which idea you really want to pursue, and flesh out the details. It will pay significant dividends. As a new business owner, you will need to devote time, energy and money to your business--and all of these things are in short supply. You don't want to starve a good concept through neglect. Concentrate on your best idea.

Learn

Knowledge of your market and your industry is essential, no matter what business you are in. Develop a curiosity and love for learning about the world you have chosen. The more passionate about your field you are, the easier this will be. You will be excited and enthusiastic to research and learn more. You want to learn about your competitors and what they are up to, what consumers want and if their tastes are changing, new vendors that are available, new promotional techniques, etc.

Learning is an aspect of business that is often ignored or forgotten. But it is a never-ending task that will greatly benefit you as you start your business, and for years to come. Knowledge is the great equalizer. You may not have as much money or as many connections as your competitors (yet), but you can at least become just as knowledgeable or more knowledgeable than them.

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Determine your financial goals

You don't have a business unless you are making money, so figure out where you want to be financially in a month, six months, one year or longer. Think about sales targets, the kind of income you want to have, the amount of money you want to have in the bank.

All of your goals should be specific, well-defined and measurable, so that at any time you can determine if you have achieved them or not, and if you are on the right track. After getting your idea straight and learning about your chosen field, you should be able to set some realistic but challenging goals.

Determine non-financial goals

Is there are a specific number of customers you want to have by a certain date? A certain number of units of product you want to be able to produce? What is the overall goal or purpose of your business? How are you delivering value to others? How are you helping others? What impact do you want to have on your community or among clients?

These kinds of non-monetary considerations will keep you going through many inevitable challenges. The most successful businesses, and the most successful business people, have some purpose greater than the monetary. This is why aligning your business with something you are passionate about is so important.

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Develop a plan

This is where you put the pieces together. You need a plan for getting your supplies and equipment, for producing your product/ service, for promoting your company, and for making sales and closing deals. Creating a plan is relatively easy once you have your goals clearly defined. All plans essentially come down to connecting where you are with where you want to be.

Get to work

Time to execute your plan. Your plan will change slightly as you learn new things and encounter new challenges. You will learn what works and what doesn't. You will realize your unique strengths and weaknesses, your competitive advantages and what areas you need help with.

Running a business requires both discipline and flexibility. Be consistent with your plans, but be willing to be creative and change things when necessary. You can succeed if you remember what you love about your field and commit yourself to achieving your goals.

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