Master Checklist for Starting A Venture
Entrepreneurship is more of a winding path than a stairwell. Nonetheless, the overall process tends to hold true between entrepreneurial ventures. Please use the checklist below to help guide you through the maze that is entrepreneurship. (Note: Some of the elements in the list are outside the scope of this book; however, there are numerous resources generally available to cover these topics.)
Idea, Concept, Product, or Service
⁃ Develop a new concept
⁃ Acquire and utilize an existing concept
⁃ Improve an existing concept
Market Research (Qualitative and Quantitative Metrics)
⁃ Known as “Market Analysis” and “Feasibility Study”
⁃ Market Size (Quantitative Data – Secondary Research)
⁃ Market Segments (Quantitative & Qualitative Data – Secondary & Primary Research)
⁃ Target Market(s) (Qualitative Data – Primary Research)
⁃ Market Demand (Qualitative Data – Primary Research)
⁃ Pricing Model (Quantitative Data – Primary & Secondary Research)
⁃ Projected Costs of Production and Logistics (Primary Research)
⁃ Personal Funds, Personal Credit
⁃ Business Loans – Establish credit relationship or line of credit.
⁃ Friends, Family, and Fools as Investors or Lenders.
Product or Service Development (Or Acquisition)
⁃ Personal or Team Member development
⁃ Employee; Work for Hire development
⁃ Alpha & Beta Tests
Strategic Analysis & Business Model
⁃ SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
⁃ Determine Sustainable Competitive Advantage (E.g., Intellectual Property)
⁃ How will with business operations effectuate a swapping of value between your business and clients/customer?
Preliminary Business Plan
⁃ Explain market need or want
⁃ Give business concept (Raison d’être)
⁃ Include Basic Financials – based on Market Research
⁃ Incorporate Business Model (Manner and method you will deliver value)
Protect Intellectual Property
⁃ Design or Utility patent for any technology or product.
⁃ Protect any trade secrets for product or services.
⁃ Register with State and Federal Trademark your name, logo, or representative symbol.
⁃ Copyright any original expression (Music, Video, Written work)
Form a Team
⁃ Establish preliminary roles for founding team members.
⁃ Look for complimentary, not duplicative skills.
⁃ Look for personal fit of members, as much as talent.
⁃ Make certain there is a common goal (ex. 3-7 year exit plan).
Form Business Entity
⁃ Pick and Register Your Business Name, (Perhaps Trademark Name at USPTO)
⁃ EINs, Registered Agent and Articles of Organization
⁃ Initial Board or Management Meeting; Ratifications; Equity Provisions; Appointments.
Entity Structure & Ownership Agreements
⁃ Operating Agreement (LLC); Bylaws (Corporation)
⁃ Determine Owners’ Role (Title, Responsibility, Compensation)
⁃ Determine Equity (Dilution issues, Type(s) of Equity Instrument)
⁃ Determine Control and Decision-making Authority of each member
Preliminary Administrative Setup
⁃ Open Business Bank Account(s) (Establish Credit)
⁃ Bookkeeping System (Tax, Payroll, Operations)
⁃ Business Insurance (Umbrella Policy)
⁃ Research Professional Help (Accountant, Attorney)
⁃ Transfer Assets to Business Ownership
⁃ Capitalize Business with Seed Capital and Form Business Accounts
⁃ Issue Ownership Interest (Equity Shares)
Startup Funds or Bridge Capital
⁃ Business Loans
⁃ Angel Investors
⁃ Business Debt (Typically Convertible Notes)
Secondary Administrative Setup
⁃ Business Licenses (Local Regulations)
⁃ Local Registration (“Fictitious Name Filing”)
⁃ Business Location
⁃ Commercial Lease vs. Purchase Property
⁃ Alternative Arrangements (Home-Office, Coffee Shops, Group Workspace, etc.)
⁃ Utilities, Internet, Phones, Fax, Copy/Print, Mail (P.O. Box); Servers or Cloud Storage, Intranet.
⁃ Office Build Out; Office Design; Furniture, Office Supplies, Technology (Computers); Storage
⁃ Insurance Business Plan; Umbrella Business Policy
⁃ Employees (Full & Part-time) vs. Independent Contractors
⁃ Posting positions, Employee Referral, Interviews, Checking References
⁃ E-Verify Employee Status (Immigration Law)
⁃ Employee Compensation and Benefits; Contracts; Handbooks
Tertiary Administrative Setup
⁃ Tax Accounting (Withholding; Reporting System; Auto-Deposit State and Federal)
⁃ Worker’s Compensation Coverage
⁃ Employee Benefit Management (401K, IRA, Health Plans, Life Insurance, etc.)
⁃ Personal Sales vs. Distributor
⁃ Internal Sales Force vs. Outside Sales Team
⁃ Physical location, internet, catalog, outsource fulfillment.
\Marketing & Advertising Plan
⁃ Logo, Trademarks.
⁃ Traditional Plan (Print, Television, Radio, Mail, Signage)
⁃ Website (Hosting, Template Design, Content Development (blog), Maintenance; Backup.)
⁃ Pay-Per-Click, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Plan
⁃ Personal Relationship Marketing (Business Cards, Join Professional Organizations, Networking)
⁃ Purposes: Investors, Lenders, Planning (internal).
⁃ Business Concept, Model, & Description
⁃ Business Team & Roles
⁃ Market Breakdown and Competitive Advantage (IP)
⁃ Capital Demands and Proposed Use of Capital
⁃ Include 3-year financials (Payback, IRR, Exit Valuation)
⁃ Develop the Investor Pitch (Unified theme & goals)
⁃ Outsourcing, Local Sourcing, In-house Production
⁃ Equipment, Raw Material, Suppliers,
⁃ Ordering & Customer Service
⁃ Order fulfillment; Manage Customer Service
⁃ Manage Shipping – Supplies and Customers
⁃ Management Plan
⁃ Personnel & Reporting
⁃ Human Resources (Employee Benefit Management)
⁃ Educate yourself of Business Entity Governance Requirements
⁃ Have competent legal counsel and guidance.
⁃ Governance issues pertaining to business setup
⁃ Article of Formation, Ratification, Appointments, Equity Issuance, Bylaws, Shareholder Agreements.
⁃ Routine Governance
⁃ Board Meetings; Annual Filings
⁃ Reporting Requirements
⁃ Record Retention and Certification
⁃ Major Decisions
⁃ Director Decisions
⁃ Shareholder/Owner Voting Rights
Growth Funds (Angel Investment & Venture Capital)
⁃ Network and use any connections to meet and become known to angels and venture capital firms.
⁃ Even if you are early stage, become known early.
⁃ Always have updated financials handy.
⁃ Practiced your elevator pitch (concept, model, growth expectations, and possible exit scenario)
⁃ Educate yourself on Series A, B, C
⁃ Typical terms and expectations given your industry, operations, and business model.
⁃ Securities Regulation and Compliance
⁃ Avoid State and Federal Securities Registration; Understand the exemptions & comply.
⁃ NOTE: Identify a competent legal firm
⁃ Working Financial Documents:
⁃ Balance Sheet, Income Statement, Cash Flow Statement.
⁃ Have ratios memorized.
⁃ Accounting and financial disclosure becomes more important.
⁃ Improve Operational Efficiency
⁃ Acquire Higher % of Existing Market Share
⁃ Expand into New Markets
⁃ Expand Product or Service Line
⁃ Options and obligations for shutting down operations.
⁃ Options available: Ch. 7, Ch. 11, Ch. 13
⁃ Strategic Purchaser
⁃ Evaluating potential transactions
⁃ Advertising business for sale
⁃ Private Equity
⁃ The Process & Options
⁃ Adequate financial positioning
⁃ The Process & Options
⁃ Hire an Investment Bank
⁃ Obtain Legal Assistance
Note: This list of steps in the process is by-no-means exhaustive. Hopefully is will provide a baseline of the entrepreneurial (Startup Venture) process.