A Checklist to Help Start Your Business

Dear M & M:

Any sort of a checklist out there to help me start my business?

– Jennifer

Dear Jennifer:

As every business is unique to itself, this list is not going to cover every situation. The Arizona Department of Commerce published a pretty good checklist online a few years back at http://www.azcommerce.com/start-up/small-business-checklist. They recommended doing a business plan.

I would have to agree many of the steps to open a business should be covered in the research you have conducted including how much it will cost to open and sustain a new business. So, the first step would be to prepare a written business plan complete with financials. In doing a business plan one would conduct extensive research on your industry, target market, and competition.

One wants to make sure that your business ideas will work on paper in the market you have chosen to operate in before you go live. During this business planning process check with city, county and state for any licensing or permit requirements. Most of these items should have been checked off when doing a business plan as one would need to know the costs to launch in your financial section of the business plan.

In case you missed some of the licensing or permit items this list includes building permits, sign permits, occupational licenses, employee identification number, transaction privilege tax number, legal entity filings, labor regulations like workman’s compensation insurance and unemployment insurance. If you are going to have employees, get in touch with someone competent in rules, regulations and filing requirements for employees early on in your planning sessions.

It wouldn’t hurt to get an employee handbook written while you are working on employee rules, regulations and requirements. One wants to be certain that you can obtain all the permits and licenses required before you get too deep into launching your new business idea or venture. Knowing what licenses are required will enable one to avoid trying to put a business in a place that can’t be zoned for what you are trying to do.

The costs of acquiring that liquor license or planning to open a day care facility without checking on licensing requirements early on could be a deal stopper. Having building, fire, and health inspections and advice are critical before you sign any new lease, purchase a building or decide to build something from the ground up. Taking over a building that is out of code could cost money to get electrical, plumbing, or fire suppression up to date.

Who pays for the parking lot, stop sign, sidewalks, sewage, water, internet or electrical hook-ups? Other professional services besides contacting city or county planning and zoning include contacting attorneys, insurance agents, bookkeepers, accountants, bankers, real estate professionals, construction, architects, engineers or building professionals.

Choosing a location, paying deposits, knowing prices for utilities, telephone, internet and other services like trash pickup are important.Choosing a record keeping method, systems to control inventory and developing a pricing strategy will be critical to sustain your business.

The SBA has a free online resource that includes a 10 point checklist for launching a new company at https://www.sba.gov/tools/sba-learning-center/search/training/starting-business. Look before you leap and get advice from business advisors or other business owners that have gone through opening a new business.

“Business ownership is all about working a few years like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” –Anonymous


To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center(SBDC) at Cochise College (520)-515-5478 or email schmittm@cochise.edu or contact the Sierra Vista Economic Development Foundation(EDF) at 520-458-6948 or email hollism@svedf.org


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