Business Startup Checklist

Where to Begin?
Before you even get to a checklist, you want to be sure your business idea is ready. Is this business a good match for your personality and your values? Might your idea might be too small to be worthwhile, or too big for you to handle? If you have any concerns about your business concept, you want to address that now. A mentor would be helpful for you. If you don’t have a mentor, you could hire a business coach. I work with my clients to hone their business vision to match their goals and desires. I make sure each entrepreneur gets the support he or she needs to grow their business as big as they wish.

Choosing a Business Name
The SBA article Choose Your Business Name has a lot of helpful information, but there are several things I need to address. First, they list some important factors to consider when choosing a name, and they mention finding a name that is available online. This is critical, and something you most likely want to consider before you register your business name or file a DBA (Doing Business As). Often, as you check the availability of the name you have in mind, you’ll find it isn’t available but a similar name is, or you’ll get an idea of another name that is even better. If you go to and search, they’ll give you lots of other similar suggestions. If your first choice is not available as a .com, you could try another variation. If you are considering adding dashes between words, I’ve done it, and it is much more difficult to tell people the name and have them get it right that way, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you will be using the name anywhere besides an online link. A great option is to get one of the many other extensions like .biz or .info or the new .guru instead. I would avoid using .org unless you are an organization like a non-profit. There are also many specific new extensions now, like .plumber, .photographer or .repair, so if yours is a popular occupation, look for those. You can even get .training or .solutions.

And if you are not certain which name variation you like best, buy a couple of them–they’re only $10-12 each, per year (plus optional privacy). Then you can let go of any you are not using by not renewing them the next year. I would also recommend adding in the privacy on the domain name–it will greatly reduce the amount of spam you’ll get once the web name registration becomes public.

Social Media
Once you have your business name, you’ll want to sign-up with it on all the major social media sites. Be aware that your actual business name may not be available, or may be too long, at some of the sites. Think of a few variations and shortened versions to use. In the article on the SBA site, it says that you need to wait until 25 likes to get your business’ name on a Facebook Fan Page, but that is no longer true. You’ll need a very short blurb about the business for all of these sites. Take your time writing it, and ask for other people’s opinions on how well it captures your business message. But don’t stress too much–you can always change it and update it later.

Startup Checklist
Once you have your business idea solidified, and you have your name chosen (or a working version), you are ready for a checklist. The U. S. Small Business Association (SBA) has the most useful checklist 10 Steps to Starting a Business. It covers all the basics, and with each of these steps linking to further information. They also have a lot of other resources and articles to help you get started.

More Resources
To see my recommendations on basic business essentials like web site hosting, email list companies, business software, printing, and more, see my Resources for New Businesses page.