Develop a Business Plan
A business plan is an essential roadmap for business success. This living, breathing document generally projects 3-5 years ahead and outlines the route your company intends to take to reach, maintain and grow revenues. A well thought out plan also helps you to step-back and think objectively about the key elements of your business venture and informs your decision-making.
For a start-up business, it is crucial to have a business plan, as financing sources won’t take you seriously without one. A written plan demonstrates that you have carefully defined your market, studied your competition, and understand your financial obligations for at least your first three years in business.
While there are many online sources for writing a business plan, the US Small Business Administration provides guidance. More info.
Locally, the Connecticut Small Business Development Center provides at Business Plan Template.
Choose a Business Legal Structure
Several factors should be considered when choosing the best form of business ownership when starting your retail business. The type of business structure you choose can have an impact on multiple aspects of your business, including taxes, liability, and your exit strategy along with your personal assets.
Basically, there are eight ways to set up a business: sole proprietorship, general partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, limited liability company, and corporation - "S" corporation, "C" corporation, and non-profit corporation.
It is highly recommended that you consult a qualified business counselor, attorney or accountant as to the best form for your business.
Quick Start Overview
• Assess your strengths and weaknesses
• Establish business and personal goals
• Assess your financial resources
• Identify the financial risks
• Determine the start-up costs
• Decide on your business location
• Do market research
• Identify your customers
• Identify your competitors
• Develop a marketing plan
• Select a lawyer
• Choose a form of organization
• Create your business/register/incorporate
• Select an accountant
• Prepare a business plan
• Select a banker
• Set up a business checking account
• Apply for business loans (if applicable)
• Establish a line of credit
• Select an insurance agent
• Obtain business insurance
Business Check List
Please answer "YES" or "NO" in response to the following:
- Written a description of the products and/or services that you will be providing, and you have defined the market area you are going to serve.
- Written a business plan, defining both your short range and long range goals and objectives.
- Written financial plan, including projected profit and loss statements and cash flow statements, for a period of at least two years for each of three cases your expected case, the best case and the worst case.
- Outlined the money requirements for your start up costs and for your three cash flow projections, and secured financial backing to cover the worst case projection for at least two years.
- Studied your market, checked zoning regulations and state and local licensing requirements, and found a good location for your business.
- Developed a marketing plan and budget.
- Decided on the type of business you will operate - sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation.
- Acquired and sought advice from an attorney, an accountant, a banker, and an insurance agent, for your business.
If you answered "NO" to any of the above...then you are not ready to start your business.