Launching a startup? You need these essentials

7 Essential Things Startups Must Do Before Launching

  • You're ready to turn your passion into a career. You've registered your name, you have a plan and you're ready to hit the ground running. But before you launch your startup, make sure you've done these six essential things.

    1. Obtain All Necessary Licenses and Permits

    Depending on where your company is located and the industry, there may be state and/or federal licensing and permit requirements for your business.

    Some businesses may be required to obtain signage permits or occupational permits. Most states also have business license requirements.

    If you are unsure of which permits and licenses you need, www.business.usa.gov can help. Just type in your business type and your zip code to find out which licenses and permits (if any) are required.

    2. Find the Right Location

    Whether you're running a brick or mortar store or you're working out of an office, it's important to consider the location of your business.

    Location is essential when running a retail, restaurant or hospitality business. But even if you never see a customer face-to-face, you still need office space in a location that's convenient and fitting for your style.

    When choosing a location:

    • Do your due diligence to find a location that will drive foot traffic (if applicable).
    • Research the average rent in the neighborhoods you're considering.

    Don't be afraid to negotiate for a better price once you find a location you're interested in. Have a lawyer read through the commercial lease before signing it.

    3. Ensure Your Organizational Paperwork is in Order

    Make sure your organizational paperwork is in order before launching. When you formed your business, you created an agreement, established bylaws and likely drafted articles of incorporation.

    Make sure these documents are in order and still relevant.

    Organizational paperwork varies depending on the entity type.

    Partnership

    • Articles of Organization
    • Partnership Agreement
    • Buyout Agreement

    LLC

    • Operating Agreement
    • Buyout Agreement
    • Pre-Incorporation Agreement
    • Articles of Incorporation

    S Corporation

    • Articles of Incorporation
    • Buyout Agreement
    • Corporate Bylaws

    C Corporation

    • Corporate Bylaws
    • Buyout Agreement
    • IRS Form 2553

    Revisit these documents before launching to ensure that your team is still on the same page about important things, such as bylaws and buyout agreements. If necessary, you can call a meeting with the board of directors to amend bylaws.

    4. Plan for Employees Now

    Your team may be small at the moment, but you will need to hire employees eventually. Plan ahead and be prepared for hiring by:

    • Establishing HR and company policies
    • Drafting an employee handbook
    • Developing performance standards
    • Establishing an anti-harassment policy

    Consult with an employment law attorney to ensure that you've covered all your bases and your policies are in line with the law.

    5. Finalize Your Marketing Strategy

    Your marketing strategy will make or break your business. Go over your strategy and finalize your plans once again to make sure your plan is still relevant and effective.

    If your plan includes social media and digital marketing (it should), make sure these plans are also in order. If you have yet to do so (and plan to), find a reputable, successful company to outsource these tasks to.

    • Establish a website if you haven't done so already.
    • Make sure your branding is cohesive across all platforms and mediums.
    • Set up your social media accounts.

    Remember that your marketing strategy isn't set in stone and will likely change as you figure out what works and what doesn't. But having a starting point and blueprint will point you in the direction of success.

    6. Set Up Your Books and Tax Reporting

    Hire an accountant to take care of your books for you, or purchase accounting software to get your books set up and ready to go. Decide whether you want to use the accrual or cash system of accounting.

    If applicable, choose a fiscal year if your business cycle does not follow the calendar year.

    If you're hiring an accountant, he or she will take care of your taxes. But it's still important to familiarize yourself with the tax scheme for your business as well as common deductions and depreciation.

    While you're at it, read these three important and relevant publications from the IRS:

    • Taxpayers Starting a Business (publication 583)
    • Tax Guide for Small Business (publication 334)
    • Tax Calendar for Small Businesses

    Depending on your business, tax and accounting tasks can be complex. Consider hiring an accountant to ease your burdens and ensure that you're complying with all tax laws.

    7. Consult with Experts

    It takes a team of dedicated people to launch and successfully run and grow a business. Call on the experts in your professional network for advice and help when getting your business off the ground. Tapping into their resources and knowledge can mean the difference between success and failure.