Not every small business is positioned for success, make sure you keep this checklist in mind before you go “all in” on your new business venture. When you’re starting up a small business, there is no shortage of work to be done. It’s definitely a labor of love.
It can be easy to overlook some of the key things you need to do to be successful and make your life easier. Make sure these items are on your checklist to get off to a great start.
Before you even think about opening your doors and selling your products or services, you need to set up a legal structure for your business. That means deciding whether you want to set up shop as a Sole Trader, Limited Company, or Partnership in the UK or as a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, LLC (Limited Liability Company), Corporation, or S-Corp in the U.S. There are pros and cons to each type of business depending on your situation.
Permits, Licenses, and Insurance
When it comes to paying taxes, check with the appropriate government agencies for its requirements. You will likely need to register in order to collect and pay the appropriate sales taxes. There may be local jurisdiction taxes or VAT taxes to collect and pay as well.
You will need to protect your assets and yourself in case of natural disasters, omissions and errors, and liability. There may be requirements for particular types of levels of coverage as part of your lease or licenses. General Business Insurance or Business Owner’s Policies vary depending on the type of business, location, and operation. If you have company vehicles, you will need to have them covered as well.
Name and Location
Naming your business is not as easy as it sounds. Because you will need signage and printed material, a website, and collateral, you want to get it right the first time. Mistakes cost money. Make sure you do a trademark and copyright search to avoid problems down the road. You can search the US database here and the UK database here.
Finding a desirable location, negotiating a lease or purchase, and equipping your location will also take time.
Business Plan and Financing
If you haven’t written a business plan, you need to do so. Not only will it help to structure your business and help you keep on track for your strategy, but it is also essential if you want to get a small business loan from the government or a lender.
As part of your business plan, make sure you pay attention to marketing efforts. You’ve got to invite people to your retail establishment or hospitality business if you want them to come!
Whether it’s just you, or you are hiring people to help run your business, you may have to register than with the state, obtain Workers Comp Insurance, and/or Unemployment Insurance. Depending on your business category, you may also be subject to hiring requirements, such as EEO regulations or E-verify in the U.S.
Accounting and Record Keeping
You will want to make sure you know the rules on what information you must keep and for how long. Most company documents typically need to be kept on hand for three years.
This includes items like owners’ names and addresses, formation documents, financial statements, and tax filings.
Setting up accounting systems to manage your finances and track key business operations is critical. You need to have a way to keep track of inventory, process orders, pay bills, employees, and taxes. The more you can automate, the better.
Point of Sale (POS) System
A great POS system can help automate many of the time-sucking tasks, such as inventory management, order processing, payment and tax collecting, and reporting and analysis for your retail or hospitality business.
Look for a system that can accommodate all of your business needs:
24/7/365 service and support
Works online in the cloud and offline
Easy to use with training materials available
Can accept multiple forms of payment, including credit and debit cards (and others you may want, such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Paypal)
Can integrate with third-party systems such as CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, Loyalty programs, or email marketing
Can handle multiple locations with individual and roll-up reporting
Allows your online and retail store to “talk to each other”
You want a system that is hardware and platform agnostic (works with anything), will work with any payment gateways and doesn’t load you up with hidden fees. If at all possible, find a provider that doesn’t have long-term, impossible-to-get-out-of, contracts.
Don’t under-estimate the value service and support. If your system burps, it can cripple your business until it’s fixed. Demand 24/7/365 service from in-country reps.
Starting up a business is exciting. Make sure you do it right.
Don’t overlook an all-in-one POS solution to set your business up for success. Acting as a hub for your business activity, an integrated system will save you hours of pouring through receipts, trying to balance the books, and making sure the taxes are paid. Not to worry you but messing up the taxes alone can lead to six-figure fines and even jail time.
An all-in-one POS solution helps automate processes and can make the life of a small business owner so much easier. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your business grow.