Online Business Checklist – Have A Plan Not An Idea!!
You need a online business checklist to make your business start and stay on track! You want to start an online business and that is an exciting dream as you sit back and plan your future and the dream of financial independence and being able to the captain of your life and future. No more punching the clock for the man! That’s what everyone dreams of but they don’t realize that they will be the man! But being the man is a great place to be! I wouldn’t trade it!
One of the most strategic times in starting a business is the time you spend in the planning stages, and the smartest thing you will do is to spend some time, with a pen and legal pad and chart the course you will take.
Doing so will help you stay on track as you start, face unexpected challenges, and grow. Every plan in any endeavor changes as time and events take place, but having a plan at the beginning will help you be prepared for what lies ahead.
Here is a basic check list to guide you as your step out of your boat, and chart a new course as an entrepreneur!
Before The Launch
- Determine the Market?
Your business needs to be in a market where the product or service you create has a good potential of creating revenue. Be honest with yourself and ask if you’d buy it? Would your friends buy it? Are you knowledgeable of the idea and the market.One thing is to not be afraid of a market that seems saturated. If a market is big, that is a sign that there is a large pool of people who are willing to spend money in that market.Does your business solve a problem? If it does, you will have customers! If it doesn’t, you will have… well not much.Do a test if possible and see if you can get 3 paying customers before you launch.
- Who’s Your Avatar
This is the new catch phrase for the specific market you want to do business with.What’s their age?What’s their gender?Do they have children?Are they college graduates?Do they own two cares or one?Are they green oriented? Do they even care?The more specific you can be in determining your care market the better you will be at developing a relationship with them, and help solve their problem!
- Create an MVP
What is an MVP? A Minimum Viable Product.Create the minimum product you need to begin to test the market and continually perfect as you grow. You need to begin to not only make money, but you need to also find out if the
- Your business plan
A basic business plan with have financial projections that will hopefully stretch you to think through issues?And more importantly to come up with solutions, before you are faced with those issues. Check is It’s easy to convince yourself that you don’t need a business plan, but creating a business plan with financial projections forces you to think through details. Keep your plan a living breathing thing that you revisit and adapt regularly.
- Plan your money
There are many businesses you can start today with very little up front costs, but rest assured their will be expenses. Advertising. Taxes. Fees. Internet expenses, and on and on and on.This is one of the reasons I love the day we live in with having an internet based business. Many of these that can help you create a steady income stream have small startup costs.Plan your money cause you don’t want to get to the top of Mount Everest, and run out of air.
- Get your family on your team
It’s hard enough to start a business, it’s even harder when your family isn’t supportive. Make sure your spouse and other close family are supportive, and listen to their input. They may see challenges you don’t see, and will in the long run provide you with support that will make a huge difference.
- Have a Name you are proud of
You want a name that speaks of you, your product, and that connects with your audience!Hopefully it isn’t taken by someone else, but to make sure you will need to spend some time searching. Use Google to search for similar names, and hopefully the name you want isn’t taken, and worse too isn’t the name of a mass murderer from the Midwest.Do your research!You should also check with your State, usually the Secretary of State for your state in the United States handles business names, corporations, etc. It’d be frustrating to secure a name, a domain name, etc. and spend money in your start up to find out another company has had that name for many years. This brings us to our next check point.
- Register a domain name
To be in business today you must have a web address. Its the internet real estate that you will conduct your business from, and in this day it is so easy.There is also another reason. You look like someone lost in 1993 or a someone who doesn’t expect to be in business long if you are using an AOL or Gmail email address when you get to give it out.You also don’t want your website to be mynewbusiness.wordpress.com or my newbusiness.blogspot.com. Both of those look unprofessional, and make you look like a rookie.You can easily buy a domain name from Godaddy.com for less than $20 per year.You can also buy a specialty name such as .guru for a bit more. It is some of the best money you can spend, and one of the smartest things you will initially buy. And just as easy you can forward your email from email@example.com to whatever email you have currently.I’m always shocked at home many brick and mortar business don’t have their own site, own email, own branding, and they wonder why they struggle to get a solid footprint on the internet.
- Social Media Names too…
When you are starting out, keep everything with the same brand name. Take the time to register your Twitter, Facebook, Pinterist, Instagram, Periscope, Google+, etc with the same name.Do some SEO and Google search to find a name that scores high in searches. This subject requires more time than I’ve got here but I’ve got a link to a video Search Engine Optimization Best Practices Notes from Georgia Joseph’s workshop. This is an incredible resource you can learn much from.
I recently walked into a business that had a website with a name like ABCmynewbusiness.com; their email was firstname.lastname@example.org, and their twitter name was @ABCmynwbus. This information was all on their front door as you walked in, and by the way, the name on the front of the store was different from everything I just told you. That is very confusing so take the time up front to brand it all the same if you can.
Now is the time to create it right before you have to change it later.
- Determine your Business Structure
Will you be a sole proprietor? Incorporated? If so, who will the Officers be int he company? An LLC Corporation?Make sure you research the legal, and tax liabilities on all of these options and get legal advice. I’m not an affiliate with LegalZoom.com but they offer a great service at an affordable price if you do not have a family or business attorney.
- Apply for an EIN
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is helpful to keep your personal financial records separate from your business records. It will also help you in getting a business checking account as well as setting your business up to receive payment if you are a part of many of the great affiliate programs available on the web.Eventually when you have employees, or even at the beginning if you are an employee of the company, you will need a Federal and State EIN for witholding taxes.You can apply for an EIN through the IRS’ website. EIN numbers are free to apply for; you can for your own EIN now using this link: EIN apply online.
- Investigate and apply for business licenses
You may need one for you business, and there may even be a special licensing process you may have to go through depending upon the industry your business is in. The Small Business Association has many resources you can use to help in your planning.
- Set up a website
Since you’ve planned your domain name, you need to take the step and setup your site.The easiest and really the industry standard is a WordPress site. WordPress has come a long way since the first time I installed it, and with the plugins available today you can have a fully functional ecommerce site up in no time.Having your own site, and having one that looks good, even if it is simple, will give you credibility. Even if you haven’t launched your site yet, you can use your new site to build momentum towards your launch date.Don’t waste time! Get that site up!If you need help you can use this video that I made to walk you through the process of using Godaddy.com and Hostgator.com to set up a site.To purchase a Hostgator hosting plan go to: http://bit.ly/HostgatorHosting-buildablogUse the code 13MINDSETS to get 25% OFF! (This is an affiliate link where we will receive a commission to help continue serving people.)Get your website up and running as soon as possible. Today, it’s necessary for credibility. Even if your product is not yet built, you can start with company information.
- Start making money
Your business needs to be making money as soon as possible. To begin with there isn’t enough money and there will never be the right time to launch and to start making money. Launch your MVP now, and start making money.Be like Twitter. Recently they bought periscope.tv and slowly rolled it out, perfecting it along the way. You will never make a dollar, until you make your first sell.Get busy making money!
- Do you need office space? Retail space?
The beauty of an online business is your don’t have to necessarily have office space, and that’s one of the things I love the best. You can work from your couch, a coffee shop, or an airport. You may need a private place at home, especially if you have children, but if you want to make it work – you will!Retail space is a whole different issue. Check with your local zoning for restrictions, the fire department, etc. Usually your local Chamber of Commerce can help walk you through process.If you do need Office or Retail space make that decision wisely. The monthly cost can usually kill most entrepreneurs especially if they don’t have enough funding to get them through the startup phase.
- Brand Yourself!
If you have talent and can do it great – create a brand and a logo. If not take the time and money to hire a graphic artist so that all of your site, your business cards, your hand outs, etc. will have a professional look.If you need printing done such as business cards, stationery, or push cards to hand out at events, then check out GotPrint.com – I don’t receive any commission but I’ve used them for years, and they have some of the best prices on the web. If you find a company that competes, I ‘d so love for you to share it with me.
- Open a business bank account
Since you have an EIN, you can open up a business checking account. This will make life much easier when you have to figure out your taxes and expenses.It’s all too easy to use your personal bank account to pay for business expenses, but it becomes a gnarl to untangle later.
- Count that money – an Accounting System
Money coming in – you need to track it. Money goes out – you need to track it.Thank God for Excel spreadsheets but a good accounting system such as Quickbooks, or hiring someone to do it will make life much easier than using a cigar box and a spreadsheet.
- Make your Phone Work For You
Spend the $.99 or $1.99 or even $2.99 for that specific smartphone app that will help you do your business quicker and better.The greatest strength you have today is the ability to stay connected with your customers, and the smartphone you carry has such power to keep your connected and selling!Don’t be cheap and use every free app that has a watermark on every picture you put on Facebook. Make it look professional, and that may cost a few dollars up front, but it will pay off in the long run!
- Check your Home Insurance Coverage
Sometimes a home policy may cover a hobby business, and many times it won’t. That’s why you need to ask your Insurance Agent and get whatever coverage you need to cover a loss.I have a friend who used a trailer to store about $40,000.00 worth of staging equipment. To save some money he kept the trailer at his house. So a business asset was stored at his personal property location. Sadly the trailer was stolen with all the equipment, and his home owners policy didn’t cover a single penny of the loss. Had the trailer been at the place of business, everything would have been covered. That’s a $40,000.00 lesson learned the hard way. So consult your insurance agent and secure coverage
- File for copyrights, trademarks and patents
Check early and often to make sure your intellectual property can’t be stolen. In some cases you can put off for a while before filing, but you won’t know that unless you check with an attorney.
- Learn Copywriting
Copywriting is a skill that you can learn and it will pay you greater and greater dividends over time.How to write letters, web posts, sales copy, etc. that will get peoples attention and turn their attention into a sale, and that sales becomes money for your company.Some copywriters alone can make six figures per project because they’ve proven they have the skill to move people to make a decision. Learn the skills and the craft, and constantly keep learning what works, and when you try something be sure to do what is called an A/B Split Test.Run two adds, and see which one performs the best. I recently ran a FB ad for about four days with some results but nothing I liked. I changed two words on the graphic and the graphic itself (I remembered my avatar!!!) and had 4 times more in the results! Rest assured I won’t waste my time and money with the first ad again – and it was a good add… it just wasn’t good enough!
- Keep learning!
Read books! Go To Conferences! Be a part of a Mastermind Group! Get a mentor!Keep working and learning so that you are growing personally just as much as your business is growing. Do let your business outgrow you.
- DO IT! Do it everyday!Get busy! Get off your butt! Make it happen!Don’t tell me you don’t have time to create a business and financial independence! If you have time to watch Monday Night Football, you have time to create a business, but it takes the decision to ACT!If you don’t feel like it sometimes, just do it anyway. You’ll be glad you did!
This is just a start to help you as you chase your dream. My hopes and prayers for you are that you go for it! Don’t be afraid to fail, because even in our failures we can learn something to help us in our next victory!