101: What to do before you even open your doors
Marti Murdock, Business Solutions Consultant
When I'm helping
my clients set up their businesses, I run through this checklist with
them. Perhaps it will help you in setting up or reorganizing your
business as well:
1. What is your business identity?
Does it really represent who you are and what you do? How does it
look visually? Do your business cards, letterhead and envelopes all
2. What is your business structure? (i.e. have you
filed the appropriate paperwork with the local, state, and Federal
governmental agencies depending on the business entity you
· Sole proprietor
· Limited Liability
· S Corporation
3. Have you consulted with an Accountant and
Attorney experienced in your type of business? It is
absolutely essential, so if you haven't done it, form a relationship
4. Do you have your Business Checking Account set up?
It is not recommended that you use a personal account for business
purposes. This could cause tax and liability issues, as your
attorney and accountant can point out.
5. Advertising: How will you promote yourself?
There are so many affordable options today. Take advantage of the
free social networking/social media sites which let you post profiles for
free: linked in, twitter, facebook, MCC, plaxo, etc. There
are also many networking groups you can belong to for little or no
cost to spread the word about your business. Then there is email
marketing, blogging, newsletters (print or online), as well as the
traditional print ads, TV, and radio advertising. Online video
sites like UTube and others also work for some businesses. It is a
good idea to develop a marketing and advertising strategy and then create
a budget. However, don't let lack of income prevent you from
getting the word out there. Between networking and social media,
you can do something positive to promote your business and cost will not
be an issue.
Speech: Can you tell someone in a minute or so exactly what
your business is all about? Try a 15 and 30 second version
7. Pricing Structure: How much will you need to
charge in order to cover your expenses and make a profit?
8. Paying Uncle Sam: How much should you set
aside for taxes? When and how should you pay them? Another
good reason to have a CPA!
9. Credit Card Acceptance: Will you accept credit
cards? Who will process them for you? Who has the best price
10. What equipment will you really need? And what
kind? Should you buy or lease? Some options may include:
· Fax Machine
· Postal Scale
11. Filing System and Retention: What do you need to file,
both for ease of running your business and for taxes? How long do
you need to keep it?
12. Time Management: How do you maximize your time?
Remember, time really IS money for the entrepreneur!
13. Working Capital: Will you be able
to begin your business with your own funds, or will you need an SBA loan,
angel investors, venture capitalists, or other types of business
financing? Lack of capital and lack of proper use of capital is one
of the reasons businesses fail. Begin with the end in mind and have
a strong business plan which includes all of the components listed above
and which creates a strategy for your startup
capital and growth capital over the next 2-5 years. The
business plan will change as your business evolves and grows, but you
won't know if you are on course if you don't have one.
The New Year is always a good time to clean up some old
habits, get organized, and start fresh with some new goals and action
steps. If you get stuck in any of these areas, seek out the right
professionals to help you. It will save you time and money!
Marti Murdock is the owner of M2 (pronounced M
squared) Services, LLC, located in Dearborn Heights, MI.
Marti provides business management solutions to entrepreneurs by
organizing, prioritizing and simplifying their office operations, with an
emphasis on filing systems. Her background includes more than 25
years of experience in administrative management, sales and sales
management (8 of those years selling filing systems). She has
worked for large and small companies, as well as for
a non-profit. Marti is also a member of the National
Association of Professional Organizers and the National Association of
Women Business Owners. For more information, contact Marti at: