Below is a list of business start-up tasks that will help in setting the foundation for your startup.

Not every small business will have to complete each step. For instance, you may decide not to register your trademark with state or federal officials or you may not be required to publish a notice of intent to do business.

Since laws vary by state and by type of business, be sure to check with local authorities to determine if there are any additional legal steps you need to take.

  • Choose a business based on:
    • Demand for service or product
    • Your skills and interests  
    • Investment needed to get started
    • Amount of money needed to sustain the operations of the business while you work your marketing strategy to attract more customers/clients.
  • Research the business idea
  1. What will you sell?
  2. Is it legal?
  3. Who will buy it and how often
  4. Are you willing to do what it takes to sell the product?
  5. What will it cost to produce, advertise, sell & deliver?
  6. With what laws will you have to comply?
  7. Can you make a profit?
  8. How long will it take to make a profit?
  • Write a working business plan and marketing plan
  • Choose a business name
  • Verify right to use the name
  • See if the business name is available as a domain name
  • Register the business name and get a business license
  • Register the domain name even if you aren’t ready to use it yet
  • Choose a location for the business or make space for a home office
  • Check zoning laws
  • Reserve your corporate name if you will be incorporating
  • Register or reserve state or federal trademark
  • Get any required business licenses or permits
  • Register copyrights
  • Apply for patent if you will be marketing an invention
  • Order any required notices (advertisements you have to place) of your intent to do business in the community
  • Have business phone or extra residential phone lines installed
    • Consider using a mobile phone for your business
    • Consider using a Voice Over Internet Service
  • Check into business insurance needs
  • Find out about health insurance if you will not have coverage under a spouse
  • Get adequate business insurance or a business rider to a homeowner’s policy Send out publicity releases
  • Apply for sales tax number if needed
  • Get tax information such as record keeping requirements, information on withholding taxes if you will have employees, information on hiring independent contractors, facts about estimating taxes, forms of organization, etc.
  • Call Department of Labor to determine labor laws if you have employees.
  • Apply for employee identification number if you will have employees
  • Find out about workers’ compensation if you will have employees
  • Open a bank account for the business
  • Have business cards and stationery printed
  • Purchase equipment or supplies
  • Order inventory
  • Order signage
  • Order fixtures
  • Get an email address
  • Find a web hosting company
  • Get your web site set up
  • Have sales literature prepared
  • Implement your marketing strategy
  • Consider Internet marketing, such as Facebook Ads or Google AdWords
  • Place advertising in newspapers or other media if yours is the type of business that will benefit from paid advertising
  • Schedule your debut or grand opening!