The common phrase, “time is money,” is popular for a reason. And as an entrepreneur, this phrase should guide you during the early days of your startup. After all, when you maximize your time by planning, you’ll be more efficient on a day to day basis.
While a start-up checklist is imperative to your success, keep in mind that your business will change as it grows. For that reason, you should plan for the early, mid, and late stages of development. From creating a business plan to seeking funding to hiring the best talent, start-ups have a lot to think about.
When you plan by stages, you reduce the risk of overlooking an important detail. Furthermore, it’s easier to track your progress to ensure that you’re on the right track. Let’s take a closer look at some of the many tasks you should tackle, broken down into three stages of development.
1. Create a Business Plan
This is priority number one. Until you do this, you’ll have many unanswered questions that could come back to haunt you.
Some of the most important details in your business plan should include things like competitor analysis, a mission statement, sales, marketing strategies, and even day to day things like how to keep a business space clean and sanitary in the time of COVID-19 lockdowns.
It can be time-consuming to create a business plan, but you’ll never regret this decision, as it will build the foundational roadmap for you to constantly look back on if you’re ever feeling a little lost in the shuffle.
2. Seek Funding
There are many ways to obtain funding or financing for your start-up, even if you’ve been previously denied for a loan and pursued all other options. These business-specific funding methods include, but are not limited to:
- A business loan from a bank or credit union
- Personal loan
- Home equity loan or home equity line of credit
- Friends and family
- Credit cards
- Venture capital
- Angel investors
With the guidance of your business plan, you’ll have a clear idea of how much funding to seek.
3. Hire Employees or Contractors
Generally speaking, the best and most successful companies have a dedicated, high-performing workforce.
You may not make hiring decisions on day one, but it’s something to strongly consider as you move through the early stages and toward the middle-stages of your development. For example, if you’re looking to hire a team of handymen for a construction business, utilize job recruitment apps since most of your potential employees will likely be using them to find work like you’re offering.
However, if you’re not quite ready to hire employees, opt for contractors instead. This can save you money on overhead costs, such as salary, benefits, and office space.
1. Tweak Your Sales and Marketing Strategy
At this point, you know what does and doesn’t work in regards to finding clients. For that reason, it’s time to review and tweak your sales and marketing strategy.
According to The Whole Brain Group, there are a few easy ways to stay on top of your sales and marketing strategy, including:
- Documenting your buyer’s journey.
- Regularly review and organize your marketing collateral.
- Track your progress and evolve as you grow.
Even if your development has gone better as planned, it’s a good habit to constantly tweak your approach to sales and marketing. This will ensure that you’re always out in front of your competitors, which positions you to gain market share.
2. Reassign Employee Responsibilities as You See Fit
Adjusting an employee’s daily responsibilities might not always be the easiest step to take, but it may be something you need to do as your business grows. For example, you may have hired a sales professional to help you land your first batch of clients — but now that this person has done a killer job, you realize that you can move them into a managerial role. Of course, this leaves a hole in your sales staff, so you need to assign another employee or hire someone else.
3. Seek Out a Mentor
Some start-up founders do this in the early stages, while others wait until they’re a bit more established and have a better idea of what they want to accomplish. Once you feel comfortable doing so, scour your network for a mentor. A mentor can help you avoid mistakes, act as a sounding board, and provide feedback that’ll advance your business.
1. Expand Your Workforce
You’ll know when it’s time to expand your workforce. The feeling of being overwhelmed—combined with feedback from your team—is likely to point you in this direction.
Don’t get ahead of yourself by hiring too fast, but at the same time, you don’t want to wait too long, either. To avoid growing pains as you expand your workforce, create a healthy and positive work environment. This will keep your employees happy and will attract future clients and employees.
Ultimately, a successful company consists of happy and successful workers. Only then can you achieve your wildest dreams in the company.
2. Reassess Your Short and Long-Term Goals
As your business grows, you’ll come to find that your goals have changed. Rather than changing goals on the fly and hoping for the best, revisit them and make actionable changes. When you have goals to chase, it’s easier for you and your team to remain efficient and motivated.
For example, short-term goals can be as simple as:
- Hire your first employee within six months
- Land five new clients within three months
- Build your social media following to 2,500+ within two months
Maybe you reach these goals, but maybe you don’t. Either way, you can always reassess.
3. Review Your Development to Date
This is all about seeing how things played out during the early and mid-stages of your start-up. Answer questions such as:
- What are your company’s high points to date?
- What are your company’s low points to date?
- Have you hit some or all of your goals?
As you review your development and make note of the good and bad, you’ll find it easier to adjust your strategy moving forward.
Final Thoughts on Creating a Start-Up Checklist
These are far from the only steps to take as you launch and grow your start-up, but they’re among the most important. With a focus on these, you’re in a position to protect your business, make sound decisions, and reach all your goal