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MyOwnBusiness Institute

Starting a Business Checklist

A comprehensive list to help entrepreneurs start off on the right foot! 



 Download: Starting a Business Checklist 2020

Starting a Business Checklist



  • Have you considered starting part-time and keeping  your current job?
  • Have you objectively compared your intended business with other possible opportunities?
  • Have you prepared a "for" and "against" list to clarify your thinking?
  • Have you worked for someone else in your intended industry/business?
  • Is your intended business something you will enjoy doing?
  • Have you test marketed your product or service?
  • Have you reviewed the advantages and disadvantages of starting with a partner?
  • Are you focused on a specialized product or service?
  • Have you considered operating as a family business?
  • Have you talked to the most successful people in your intended business?



  • Have you completed all the sections of your business plan?
  • Did you personally prepare your business plan?
  • Did you use the My Own Business Institute (MOBI) template for your business plan?
  • Does your business plan include one-year goals? 
  • Have you submitted your plan for review to appropriate experts?
  • Are you prepared to change your plan frequently as conditions change?
  • Does your business plan include a one-year cash flow projection?



  • Have you completed the home-based business readiness template?
  • Have you selected a business that does not conflict with your current job?
  • Do you understand accounting and cash flow?
  • Are you able to delegate some of your business responsibilities to employees,  partners, or family?
  • Have you set a limit on how much money you can risk?
  • Do you have a disciplined and balanced lifestyle?
  • Do you have the space at home your business will require?
  • Have you checked local laws and licensing requirements for home-based businesses?



  • Do you understand the differences between loan (debt) vs. investment (equity) sources of capital and the financial and legal obligations of each?
  • Do you have financing in place to support your cash flow needs?
  • Are you prepared to invest the equity of your own labor?
  • Are you willing to start small to minimize the capital required?
  • Are you saving money to start your business?
    • Have you investigated the small business government loan guarantee programs?
    • Have you considered using suppliers as sources of financing?
    • Have you considered bartering as a source of financing?
    • Have you asked your accountant and attorney for lending references?
    • Are you prepared to live frugally to keep your living costs at a minimum?
  • Does your one-year projection show sufficient cash flow at the end of each month? 



  • Have you considered the pros and cons of a partner?
  • Have you made a list of your new business’s liabilities?
  • Did you consider how timing factors into liability?
  • Have you selected a business organization that is right for you?
  • Did you complete each of the “Steps You Should Take to Organize Your Business”?
  • Have you selected professionals, especially a lawyer and an accountant, to help you?
  • Did you complete all the paperwork to organize your business?



  • Are you keeping notes, including the names of participants and dates, for all your meetings?
  • Is your location approved for the type of business you intend to operate? 
  • Is it legal to use your home for a home-based or freelance business?
  • Do you have all the certifications and licenses required by the government for your type of business? 
  • Do you have the special training, education, or equipment required by the government for your intended business? 
  • Do you have a “Seller’s Permit,” if needed?
  • Do you have an Employer Identification Number (EIN)?
  • Do you have your business license?
  • Do you know how to collect sales tax or value-added tax (VAT) on your transactions? 
  • Have you researched your business name to make sure it is available?
  • Is the name you selected appropriate for the business, easy to remember, easy to spell, and does it create a visual image?
  • Have you registered your name with the appropriate government agencies?
  • Have you registered your business name as a trademark?
  • Have you secured copyright and patents for your goods and services as needed?
  • Do you have a logo?
  • Have you created stationery, business cards, and business forms?



  • Have you selected an insurance agent who understands business insurance?
  • Did you review your risks with your attorney, your accountant, and your insurance agent?
  • Have you picked the insurance policies that you need and the limits (amounts) of coverage?
  • Which of the following policies does your business need?
    • Business property insurance
    • Business liability insurance
    • Worker’s compensation insurance
    • Excess liability coverage
    • Employment practices liability insurance
    • Life insurance
  • Did you include insurance premiums in your cash flow projections?



  • Do you understand the difference between internal and external communication?
  • Have you selected the types of communication tools that will be important in your business?
  • Have you printed business cards, flyers, and other materials for customers?
  • What email provider will you use?
  • What type of telephone communication with you use? Landlines? Cell phones? Internet calling?
  • Is video or web conferencing important for your business?
  • What kind of online collaboration and productivity tools will you use?
  • Do you have a plan for learning about computers and collaboration tools?
  • Will you use social media to promote your business to customers?
  • Will you need a website? Will you build it yourself or hire a web designer?
  • Did you include subscriptions for communication tools in your financial planning?



  • Will your business provide full- or part-time employment for you?
  • Is the business a good fit for your skills and preferences?
  • Have you investigated the industry thoroughly?
  • Have your lawyer and accountant advised you on all aspects of the transaction, including approval of purchase agreement and leases?
  • Have you evaluated the quality and size of the inventory? 
  • Are the payables verified and current?
  • Are the receivables current and collectible?
  • Is there an order backlog?
  • Will the seller help finance the purchase of the business?
  • How strong are customer relationships?
  • Is the primary marketplace stable or changing?
  • Does the business have all necessary government approvals and licenses?
  • Is the seller motivated? Do you know why?


If you are considering a franchise, here are additional checklist items:

  • Have you talked to other franchisees about the business?
  • Have you reviewed the profit and loss records of some selected franchisees?
  • Do you have the financial statement of the franchisor?
  • Are there outstanding lawsuits against the franchisor?
  • Is it a business you will enjoy operating?
  • Does the proposed location meet your site criteria for the business?
  • Is the franchisor well established?
  • Does the franchisor have a significant number of successful franchisees?
  • How many franchises have been sold and opened?



  • Have you determined the kind of space you need for your new business?
  • Are you taking your time in reviewing all your options?
  • Where will you get information on available space?
  • Have you decided whether to buy or rent?
  • Do you understand the terms in a commercial business lease?
  • Are all your agreements in writing?
  • Have you evaluated potential sites with the “Site Criteria Table”?
  • Has your lawyer reviewed the lease or purchase agreement?


  • Do you understand accounting and cash flow and how to keep score in business?
  • Do you know the difference between a balance sheet, a profit and loss statement, and a cash flow statement?
  • Do you have an accountant?
  • Is your accounting software in place?
  • Are you prepared to reconcile your bank account every month?
  • Have you projected your cash flow for three months and for one year?
  • Will you be updating cash flow every month?
  • Are you planning to keep your own records when you start out?
  • Have you set up an account with a service provider to handle payroll and benefits?
  • Will you personally be signing all the business checks?
  • Have you set up a separate business account at your bank?
  • Do you know your tax liability?
  • Have you established a good relationship with your banker?
  • Is your business credit policy in place?
  • Will you be matching up invoices with purchase orders?
  • Do you have safeguards against employee dishonesty in place?


E-COMMERCE (Session 12)

  • Is E-commerce right for your business?
  • Which E-commerce segment is appropriate for your business?
  • Do you have a trusted way to process financial transactions online?
  • Is your domain name registered and the website online? 
  • Are you building your website or are you using a professional website developer?
  • Is your home page designed to represent your business and brand? Is it easy to navigate?
  • Do you have a plan for marketing online using email, social media, or other tools?
  • Do you have all necessary E-commerce tools in place?
  • Is your website fully tested and ready to sell online?



  • Do you have a plan for promoting sales and marketing of your product or service?
  • Have you reviewed the most common mistakes made when opening a business?
  • Do you understand the basics of buying materials and carrying inventory in your business?
  • Are all licenses, permits, and the certificate of occupancy secured?
  • Is your merchandise displayed attractively?
  • Is the advertising and promotional material scheduled?
  • Have you started developing an email, text, and/or mail database?
  • Do you know how and where your successful competitors advertise and market their products or services?
  • Have you joined the trade association of your industry?
  • Are you focused on selling a great product or service at a fair price?



  • Do you understand the difference between employees and independent contractors?
  • Have you retained a payroll service provider or a professional employer organization?
  • Do you have job descriptions and an employee handbook written up?
  • Do you have a plan for attracting and interviewing applicants?
  • Are you familiar with the laws associated with employees and the workplace? 
  • Do you have a plan for training your employees?
  • Do you have a plan for retaining your best employees?
  • Do you have a plan for discharging poor employees?
  • Do you have a good way to communicate with your employees?



  • Do you have a detailed plan for expanding your business?
  • Are you starting with a pilot operation first?
  • Have you created an advisory board to help you avoid mistakes?
  • Are you prepared to prove your business concept before expanding?
  • Do you have a plan for the delegation of authority and responsibility to managers?
  • Have you created separate profit centers for each expansion unit?
  • Do you understand the key elements for creating successful profit centers?
  • Do you understand the common problems of businesses that expand, like uncontrolled cash flow and new competition?
  • What are the rules for handling serious business problems?  Will you follow those rules?
  • Are you enjoying the adventure of growing your own business, creating new jobs, and leaving a legacy of success?


MOBI Spark

 Download: Starting a Business Checklist 2020

Starting a Business Checklist Download