When I started my business back in 2011, I recall myself saying many times, why isn’t there a checklist for this stuff?? Really, something else I didn’t know or think about?? A business plan … what for, I know what I am doing, right? Sound familiar?
But in all reality, I am an ENTREPRENEUR and what works for someone else, doesn’t necessarily work for me. It NOW makes sense that there isn’t a checklist. My business is UNIQUE because I am unique … just as your business is unique to you. If we all did the same thing, we would all be the same; sounds like a lesson my parents taught me growing up. 😉
With my profession, education and experience, you would think that I wouldn’t face these same challenges however you would be mistaken. Obviously, the accounting and tax side of things are not challenging to me but things like where I get my business cards, who designs them, and what should my business be called. Or how about what tax and accounting software should I use? So many things to think about when running a business, yet alone, starting one from scratch, which is what most entrepreneurs do.
Entrepreneurs are creators. We are inventors. Often times, I think we are crazy … in a good way, of course. 😉
Many of our businesses are started on the fly…the company we worked for downsized, we had our own ideas, we didn’t like who we worked for or taking orders from others, we could do a better job, there was a niche that no one was fulfilling, we want better work life balance; there are so many reasons we start our business. All we usually know is what we are going to sell and that we will be really good at it.
And the first sale happens, the money starts to come in and we always pay ourselves first because we have obligations to our family, food and home … and then what … we often feel scrambled or disconnected to our business and not sure how to manage all the decisions or what to do next. We are so busy working to get the customers, clients or patients and to be paid for what we do best, that the rest of the business is forgotten about.
In all reality, as a new business owner, we often do things as they come up. And often times we make decisions after-the-fact or in a rush because we just didn’t realize it was necessary.
BUT I believe we all learn things when we are meant to learn them. And for most entrepreneurs, that sometimes comes at a greater cost.
So here is my checklist with website links, related blogs, etc…although it may not cover everything, I think it covers some of the basics and also some of the things to think about, even if you are not ready for it yet.
- Business Structure – You have likely figured out what product or service you will sell, but have you considered what type of company will sell it? Will you be a sole proprietor, partnership, limited company, etc? There are various types to consider which does require professional advice … a business lawyer or professional accountant can help. And yes, I understand you may not have the cash flow to pay them yet but most professionals do offer a free consultation to help you get started. In the meantime, More info can be found on my blog, Considering Incorporation?
- Business Plan – What is the plan to grow your business? Have you set goals for your business? Where is the money going to come from to run your business? Without goals, how will you know if you are succeeding at what you do? Plus if you need financing, this is generally required. The BDC has many great resources you can check out. And if you are under 39, check out financing through Futurpreneur Canada.
- Register your Business Name and Company. BC Registry Services will help with registering your business name. But if incorporating, you will definitely want to use a business lawyer; setup the company once and do it right from the get go.
- Obtain Permits – Make sure you have all the required permits that are needed to run your type of business. BC Bizpal can help find what permits apply to you and can guide you through the application process.
- Government Accounts – I highly recommend speaking with a Professional Accountant before registering for any of these accounts.
- Canada Revenue Agency (or by calling 1-800-959-5525)
- GST – MANDATORY when your business income is over $30,000 although there are some exemptions (i.e. chiropractor, dentist, doctor, etc.). There are multiple ways to file and report, as you can read on my blog, 3 Methods to Determining Your GST Liability.
- Payroll – required when you have employees or if you are an employee of your own corporation
- PST (Province of BC) – MANDATORY when your business income is over $10,000. Again there are exemptions you should be aware of.
- WCB – MANDATORY if you are incorporated. Also MANDATORY as a sole proprietor when you have employees (or subcontractors who are not registered). If a sole proprietor, consider personal option protection.
- Business License – Whether you are home based business or not, you need to be registered with your municipality. There are restrictions, rules and regulations with where businesses can be located including what types of businesses can operate from a home business. Remember these policies protect us all. More info can be found on my blog, The Importance of a Business License.
- Banking & Financing: bank account, credit card, line of credit, leases & more – Your business needs to be totally separate from your personal life. And that means separate accounts for you and the business. Or at a minimum, use one of your credit cards exclusively for the business. Financing different types of purchases require different types of financing. More info can be found on my latest blog, What Type of Debt Are You Using?
- Records: invoices, receipts, sales orders, purchase orders, etc. – You definitely want to keep your receipts separated and sorted so I suggest investing in a filing system. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. As my motto goes: SOS! Keep It Simple, Keep it Organized and Keep it Separate!
- Bookkeeper – You may not think you need a bookkeeper and maybe you can do it yourself however is this really where your time is best spent? Having your financial data at your fingertips any day or night is important and will help you make decisions day to day as you grow. At a minimum, consider using a program such as QuickBooks. The online version will even download your transactions so although you still need a bookkeeper or training to use the program if you are doing it yourself, at least part of the data entry will be done for you. And of course, you will also want to invoice your clients to keep your cash flow coming.
- Insurance – General business, professional liability, key man life insurance, health & dental benefits, etc…make sure you and your business are protected. You can’t afford not too!
- Branding: business name, business cards, website, social media, etc.– If this isn’t your profession, then pay someone who knows what they are doing; your time is best spent doing what you do best! This is your image after all!
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – This is really a database that will help keep track of prospects, clients, business associates, etc. Find one that is easy and productive. There are often ones that are specific to your industry and usually come with trial versions. Try before you spend.
- Networking and Marketing – Have you considered how you will get new clients? Or what about meeting suppliers? Where possible, I always recommend buying and supporting local businesses. Consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce or Board of Trade; they will help you get started with meeting your local business community, plus they usually have free to minimal costs for their events.
This list certainly isn’t exhaustive and really, most of these items take a small amount of time to implement. Some aren’t urgent while others are immediate and necessary and should be done on day 1. Your time is best spent doing what you are best at….selling your products or performing your service so although you can do most of this yourself, it will take you way longer.
As a business owner, you will notice that you will learn and grow every day; the planning is never done but with the basics in place, you are better off!
This is your business. Start it once, start it right!
**This blog is for information only and not to be used as tax advice or planning without first seeking professional advice. Information is subject to change without notice.