Think you are ready to dive in and get started? Below we have prepared a basic startup checklist for the would-be entrepreneur. If you have all of the following steps in order, you are well on your way. If not, start by working through these steps and you’ll be in a good position to start your venture. 

  • Incorporation. File your business with the state, either as a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, LLC, C-Corp, or S-Corp. This provides you legal protection for your personal assets, as well as legitimacy as a legal business entity. Check out our [Startup Tools & Resources] for information and resources for the different types of incorporation. At this stage, outlining ownership stakes and pulling together a founding team is critical.

  • Prepare your Elevator Pitch. Your short, 2-3 sentence description of your idea. You want a rehearsed synopsis of your startup to pitch whenever the opportunity arises.

  • Executive Summary. Your abbreviated business plan. An executive summary is a more robust sales pitch for your business, distilling each key area of your business down into a paragraph or two to convey your business quickly.

  • Pitch Deck. The modern version of a business plan. Typically a PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, or some other presentation software is used to prepare a group of slides that tell the story of your business.

  • Online Bios. Publishing biographies for yourself and your management team online is important, as investors will reference your resume as much as they reference your business idea (remember: Many investors bet on the jockey, not the horse). By publishing these online via a dedicated site or LinkedIn, you do not take up valuable space within your executive summary.

  • Website. A website will serve as a great landing page for your idea, as well as adding to the legitimacy and exposure for your business idea. Websites can be used to generate buzz and collect potential customers’ contact information. Certain assets, such as bios, collateral, pitch decks and elevator pitches can be hosted on the website.

  • Business Collateral. Getting together logos, business cards, color schemes, and other images for your business is incredibly helpful in facilitating potential customers in envisioning your product or service. Check out the [Startup Tools & Resources] for resources to build your collateral.

  • Financial Documents. The basic financial documents expected of your business plan, including Revenue Projections, Operational Expenses, and Cash Flow Projections. While these are often difficult to estimate, they show potential investors that you have thought through the process, as well as giving your management team some benchmarks and goals to strive for.

  • Business Plan. Full-length manifesto for your business. These have become less prevalent in the startup world, but having a thorough document that includes many of the above components certainly never hurt anyone, and can be a great asset if pursuing debt financing.


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