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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 Funding and the J-Curve
- 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.