Guest Blog: So You Want To Start A Business? Here’s Your Startup Checklist

12 things you can do right now to take your business idea from dream to reality.

Too many good business ideas have gone to waste because potential entrepreneurs weren’t sure where to start. So, we asked the Women’s Enterprise Development Center (WEDC) in White Plains to put together this checklist of 12 steps you can take right now to get your business up and running.

1. Conduct market research to determine the viability of your product or service with regards to demand, pricing, and competition.
2. Prepare a business plan to outline your goals, operations, marketing strategies, and financial projections. WEDC offers a 60-hour Business Training Course to guide you through this process. Click here to register and get further information.
3. Determine the legal structure of your business, sole proprietor, S-Corp, LLC, etc., and take the steps necessary to incorporate or form a partnership. Information describing the merits of each business form can be found here: SBA – Choosing your business legal structure
4. Pick a name and register your business with the Westchester County Clerk. Register your business here.
5. Obtain a federal tax ID number (EIN), which will identify your business for all tax matters. IRS EIN Info and Application. Check with the New York State tax department to see if you need to register for sales tax payments.
6. Set up a business bank account and obtain a line of credit if feasible. If you have a weak credit history you might want to meet with a credit counselor to work on improving your credit score. WEDC also offers Personal Finance workshops to help you determine how this will affect your business and can help you determine if one-on-one credit counseling is necessary.
7. Obtain business insurance to cover general liability as well as anything specific to your industry.
8. Set up your business accounting/bookkeeping system. There are many easy-to-use bookkeeping software programs like QuickBooks or Quicken if a bookkeeper is not in your budget. 
9. Rent office, retail, or manufacturing space for your operations. There are a number of shared office spaces for early stage companies in Westchester, which you can find descriptions of online and may be more economical than standard office rentals.
10. Purchase a domain name with a website registration service and create a website. While many people are savvy enough to create their own website, many are not, so hire a professional to guarantee your website is well designed and easy to maintain. It’s crucial to pay attention to steps taken to ensure the website is secure, particularly if you are planning on e-commerce.
11. Create marketing material to support your marketing plan. A logo, business cards, and letterhead all help you build a business identity.
12. Set up your company on major social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter to cross-promote your products.

Once you have checked off these set-up items, you are ready to build your business!

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Sylvia Herzog is the Program Director at Women’s Enterprise Development Center.

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