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Checklist for Starting a Small Business

Parashar Joshi
Starting a new business in any field is always a challenging task. It requires detailed analysis and a thorough understanding of the business domain and associated factors.
In recent times, the number of new start-ups and emerging businesses has grown extensively. The worldwide economic slowdown, coupled with the increasing number of layoffs, has prompted people to think of various possibilities beyond jobs.
In such uncertain times, it makes sense to be involved with something, over which one has maximum control. Naturally, small businesses and new ventures are on the rise, as more and more people delve into entrepreneurship.
However, starting a new commercial enterprise is no child's play. There are many factors, that an aspiring businessman must take into consideration, during the initial phase. The following checklist provides certain guidelines, which would be helpful to those who want to start various small businesses of their own.

Points to Keep in Mind

Ask yourself why

This is the first question you should tackle before undertaking any step. Ask yourself, "what is the precise reason that you want to start your own venture?" Be honest with your answer, as it will invariably affect the eventual success or failure of your new decision.

Choose a name

Decide a good name for your business and register it with the concerned authorities. It should complement your attitude and clearly project your line of occupation. For example, you don't want a name that leads prospective customers into thinking of you as an ambulance services provider, if tourism is what you're actually in!

Understand your domain

Identify and understand your domain area thoroughly. It is always important to know well in advance, the type of work which you would, and would NOT be doing.

Identify your strengths

Focus on your strengths, and at the same time, figure out ways to tackle your weaknesses. Understand your niche areas, and design your work process accordingly to utilize it to the maximum.

Comprehensive market research

It is imperative that you do extensive and thorough market research, pertaining to your domain. Identify your competitors and learn from their successes and failures.

Set realistic goals

Setting goals is very important for your venture in terms of financial targets, sales targets, growth parameters, etc. Decide both short-term as well as long-term goals, but make sure that they're realistic.

Prepare a detailed business model

Once you are clear with setting your goals, you must decide the ways to achieve them. Prepare a proper business model/plan for this purpose. Thus, one must take into consideration a number of factors, such as the available resources, manpower skills, financial strength, etc.
During this process, it is also advisable to take inputs from someone who is well-experienced in the same field. Hire a business consultant, if necessary.

Get your legal licenses and permits in order

Once you start a business venture, you are automatically responsible for all its legalities and licenses. Make sure that you obtain all the necessary permits related to the above mentioned formalities, from the concerned authorities. Hire a legal adviser or an attorney, if needed.

Develop an effective and efficient marketing strategy

During the initial phase, almost every business venture has to invest a considerable amount of time and money, for marketing of their services. Work out different types of marketing strategies, and select one which is the most effective, efficient, and best-suited to your needs.

Have an RMMM plan in place

Preparing a Risk Mitigation, Monitoring, and Management (RMMM) plan is of utmost importance for your venture. It helps in identifying potential risks, dealing with existing ones, and can thereby protect your business from sudden disasters.

Use your finances wisely

Unless you happen to be a billionaire in the first place, it is absolutely crucial that you learn to manage your finances properly. Keep a detailed written record of your expenses, profits, bank transactions, loan statements, etc. Hire a financial consultant, if necessary.

Stay abreast of changing market trends

Market trends always keep evolving over time, and this change is inevitable. Make sure that you remain updated with respect to these changing trends in your line of business. This will enable you to adapt to new situations much quicker, and will also help you to stay ahead of your competitors.
Keeping this checklist in mind will surely be helpful, as you embark upon a new journey of a businessman. Work hard and keep faith in yourself!