If you want to have a successful business, you need more than just an amazing business idea. Resources, time, skills, and planning are all important, but you should also get organized, know when to delegate, and which segments should be left to professionals. This 6-step checklist will guide you through the early stages of starting a small business and help you get it up and running. 1. Conduct Market Research One of the reasons why you should do market research is to determine your audience. Ask yourself: Who will be purchasing your products? Without customers, your business won’t be able to thrive. Besides this, your research should also provide answers to the following questions: \tAre there other businesses similar to yours in the city/area? \tAre these businesses successful? \tWho are their customers? \tWhat could stand on your way to success? If your plan is to launch an online business, the checklist items remain the same, but in that case, you are dealing with every other business rather than your area or city. 2. Create a Business Plan Writing a detailed plan should definitely be on your checklist. Why? Because according to studies, entrepreneurs who have a plan are twice as likely to successfully start and grow their businesses as those who don’t. The type of plan you create will depend on your goals. For example, if you need loans from banks or funding from investors, your business plan should include extensive and detailed financial projections in order to let banks and investors know how you will pay the money back. If, on the other hand, you intend to present your plan to a focus group in order to get feedback, your approach can be more relaxed, and you can even write a one-page plan. No matter which one you select, make sure your business plan contains the most common sections: an executive summary, product or service description, company description, management organization, market analysis, financial projections, and a marketing plan. 3. Think About Branding Regardless of the type of your business, you will need to come up with a branding concept. Branding is what will make your company recognizable and memorable. Once a customer has seen your logo, patterns, fonts, and colors, they should be able to tell immediately it’s your business’s branding. Don’t forget to implement your standard branding elements anywhere your business is represented in order to keep things consistent: packaging, business cards, signage, flyers, social media, advertisements, and your website. Think about whether you have the budget to leave this to professionals. For instance, your website will be the face of your company, so it’s very important to make it functional and visually appealing. If possible, consider finding a professional developer who will complete this important task. For instance, if you live in Melbourne, simply type ‘website development Melbourne’ and start getting in touch with agencies that come up in the results to compare their offers and find the one that would best suit your budget and needs. 4. Advertise Your Business Start advertising your business even before it is launched. It’s very important to take a look at the bigger picture and increase excitement leading up to the big day When it comes to advertising, there are lots of options and some of the most popular ones include social media, PPC ads, TV and radio commercials, ads in newspapers and local magazines, and networking events. Again, consider leaving this part to professionals if your budget allows it. If you’re not very experienced in marketing, maybe you should consider hiring a digital marketing agency. Some forms of advertising are free but most will come at a price so be sure to draft a marketing plan that will include your strategies, preferred channels, and marketing budget. 5. Decide on Your Business Structure Choosing a business structure and registering your business are highly recommended for legal and tax purposes. The most likely businesses entities to choose from include LLC, sole proprietorship, general partnership, and corporation. Each of these varies for tax and legal purposes, so you might want to consult an attorney or a financial professional before choosing the one that’s best for your company. Business registration differs from state to state and can also be difficult to understand if this is your first time starting a business. If you can’t afford an attorney, online legal services like LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer, and MyCorporation can help your with legal documents, registering, business formation, tax preparation, etc. Final Thoughts The steps in this checklist are all important but they don't guarantee that your business will be successful. Only you can do that, with dedication. careful planning, smart decisions, good employees, and hard work. Be prepared for challenges, listen to your gut – and go for it! Further Reading \t Save On Household Repairs With A Home Warranty – A Priceless Feeling \t 9 Ways to Ensure Seamless HubSpot Onboarding \t What Is A Stainless Steel Mesh And How Can Businesses Use It?