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Business Start-up Checklist

It can be really hard when you’re starting a business. You have to learn all kinds of new stuff. And, you don’t even know what you don’t know. It can be overwhelming.

You may feel reasonably confident in your ability to provide quality professional services, but what about the running-the-business side of things? Are you an expert in operations, management, and logistics? Few of us are.

So, you could wrack your brain and try to come up with a list of what you need to do. But you might miss something important.

Or you could just use the Business Start-up Checklist we’ve created to help you manage the process.

We may not have included everything you’ll need to do, given the unique nature of your business, but it’ll get you rolling by covering the essentials.

And if you’re already up and running and have been for a while, it might be useful to take a quick look to see if there’s anything you’ve missed that would improve your effectiveness and efficiency.

Hope this helps!

Click here to download a PDF file.

Business Start-up Checklist ©

Governmental Requirements

  • Acquire City or County Business Licenses and/or Permits
  • Obtain Employer Identification Numbers – federal and state, as required
  • Apply for Federal Tax ID Number (Sole Proprietors may use SS#)
  • Acquire Sales Tax License (if applicable)
  • Obtain Employment Tax Forms, etc. for employees (if applicable)
  • Prepare to be Able to File and Pay Federal and State Income Taxes


  • Choose and Register Business Name
  • Decide on Legal Form for Business
    • Sole Proprietorship
    • Partnership (Partnership Agreement)
    • Limited Liability Company
    • C-Corp or S-Corp
  • Select Attorney
  • Create/Register Copyrights, Patents, and Trademarks


  • Establish Banking Relationship. Set up Separate Business Account.
  • Create Financial Plan (projected start-up costs, estimated profit and loss, etc.)
  • Set up Bookkeeping System/Procedures
  • Select Accountant and/or Bookkeeper
  • Choose Payroll System (if applicable)
  • Determine Pricing and/or Package(s) of Fees
  • Choose Payment System(s) You Offer – check, cash, or credit cards


  • Establish Filing Systems
  • Create Needed Forms (see Office Forms)
  • Craft Policy and Procedures Manual (see Operating Policies)
  • Buy Needed Insurance (liability, professional, disability, etc.)
  • Obtain Office Supplies


  • Determine Office Space Needs and Location
  • Obtain Furniture and Fixtures
  • Set up Telephone and/or Fax
  • Install Computer and Software, Printer, and Other Peripherals

Business Operations

  • Define Mission, Vision, and Values
  • Develop Business Plan
  • Determine Business Goals
  • Create Marketing Plan
    • Determine Target Market
    • Craft and Practice Positioning Statement/Elevator Speech
    • Determine Marketing Mix of High and Low Touch Strategies
    • Study and Know Your Competition

Promotional Needs

  • Create Logo/Brand
  • Design and Print Business Cards
  • Obtain Letterhead and Envelopes
  • Come up with a Domain Name
  • Establish Email Address(es)
  • Determine and Create Needed Collateral Materials
  • Create Website

Management Plan

  • Determine Staff or Consultants Needed
  • Define Roles
    • Job Descriptions
    • 1099 Consultant Agreement
  • Establish Performance Management System for Employees (if applicable)

Operating Policies and Procedures

  • Create Office Procedures
  • Create Sales Procedures
  • Put System in Place for Client/Patient Notes – Compliance
  • Determine Policy for Late or Missed Appointments
  • Establish Payment Policies
    • Late Payment
    • Credit Policy
  • Decide How to Deal with Calls/Appointments that run over allotted time
  • Determine Who calls Whom/Long Distance Charges (for coaches)
  • Devise Structure for Complimentary Sessions
  • Devise Structure for First Appointment
  • Develop Completion Procedures (for coaches)

Office Forms

  • Create Welcome Packet and/or Client/Patient Agreement
  • Devise New Client/Patient Questionnaire or Intake Form
  • Develop New Client/Patient Checklist /Things to Review
  • Create Prep Form (for coaches)
  • Determine Use of Assessments
  • Obtain HIPAA Forms


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Meet Denise: Denise Hedges is a Business Development Coach and Speaker Coach for small business owners who want to be more comfortable, confident, and successful with their sales and marketing efforts. She specializes in helping them use speaking as a way to dramatically improve their results!