Before You Launch, Prepare

Here are three basic steps to consider before launching your business:

Save 12 to 18 months of salary to rely on when revenues lag.

Create a business plan that’s a road map for your company’s actions and for investors.

This business plan should contain a mission statement (company purpose and target customers), a vision statement (values used in accomplishing the mission as well as the company’s future direction), and an organizational plan describing the business, its products and services, and its goals. Next up is a section examining the competition (comparing prices and marketing techniques) and analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business.

Include a marketing plan and financial plan. Create a detailed marketing plan that specifies traditional advertising and social media for helping customers find you; an accomplished publicist can generate media buzz. Your financial-plan section spells out your business’s current and projected state based on its balance sheet, income statement and cash flows; document every startup expense and predict revenue/growth  potential.

Conclude with the all-important executive summary, which extracts key points from the preceding content. Prospective investors decide whether to back you based on this section, so make your main points clearly, concisely and  creatively.

Hire an accountant to expertly record all financial information.

An accountant can also assist with tax planning, business plan review, bookkeeping, payroll, etc., and give you peace of mind that your finances are in good hands.

—Akilah C. Thompson (pictured above), founder and CEO of ACT Inspires Inc.

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