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Starting a new business comes with no guarantees. While risks are unavoidable, you can vastly improve your chances of succeeding with proper planning. Use this checklist from the Small Business Association to help you get started. Poor planning is actually the No. 1 reason for small-business failures, so make sure you are prepared.
Do you have a business plan for the enterprise you are planning to start?
Do you know and understand the components of a business plan?
Do you know what form of legal ownership (sole proprietor, partnership or corporation) is best for your business?
Do you know if your business will require a special license or permit and how to obtain it?
Do you know where to find demographic data and information about your customers?
Do you know how to compute the financial break-even point for your business?
Do you know how to compute the startup costs for your business?
Do you know about the various funding programs that are available?
Do you know how to prepare and interpret a balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement?
Are you sure your planned business fills a specific market need?
Do you know your target market and how to attract clients?
Do you understand the tax requirements and tax advantages associated with your business?
Do you know how to prepare a marketing strategy for your business?
Do you know how to learn about your business competitors?
Do you understand marketing trends in your industry?
Do you feel comfortable using technology and social media to improve business operations?
Do you have a payroll process planned for your business?
Do you have a customer service strategy in place?
Do you know how to obtain an Employer Identification Number for your business?
Do you know if your business should have some form of intellectual property protection?
Do you know where to obtain information about regulations and compliance requirements that impact your business?
If you don’t feel ready, don’t be discouraged. The Small Business Administration says anyone can learn the skills needed to be an entrepreneur. Review your answers to identify weak areas and proactively seek the information and resources you need to build up your skills. Consult with experts in your field or use websites such as IRS.gov, Score.org and NSBA.biz. Start putting your perseverance to work for you.