As a growing community of nearly 200,000 entrepreneurs, small businesses, startups and support organizations,
Startup Canada has assisted thousands of “wantrapreneurs” and startups to get their ideas off the ground. Which meant we have answered hundreds of emails from new entrepreneurs asking for advice, information on services and recommended supports to help them grow.
This guideline is a startup checklist to reduce time spent worrying how to startup, and to increase time spent building a better business.
Business Plan/Business Model: Planning For Now And The Future – if you ever plan to approach investors, the bank, or trying to find a business partner, you need a well-rounded strategy behind your business. No strategy can make you feel rudderless and helpless. It sounds boring, but it will help you in the long run.
Scotiabank has some good tools to help you startup. Their business plan writer is a great way to get started, and provides some helpful tips and examples for each section. Your business plan is supposed to be a living document, so don’t be afraid if it changes. That said, It is a great foundation for a success start. If you want something quick, check out Startup Lean Canvas Model, a visual representation of your business model.
Know Your Books – you need to send invoices and collect cash. Don’t risk losing track of outstanding accounts, or getting overwhelmed come tax seas
This sounds super boring, but trust us – get your accounting sorted right away. Intuit has easy-to-use software to help track expenses, invoices, etc. On top of that, they offer a list of local accountants – a good investment, not everything should be DIY.
How Am I Going To Pay For This Idea? – one of the biggest issues when starting up! How am I going to finance this amazing idea. You can try traditional to non-traditional methods. Money talks, and you better be able to to get some. Make sure you work on that business plan before approaching these partners.
National Crowdfunding Association; Fundica; Evolocity; Scotiabank
Register Your Business – the gateway and starting point to entrepreneurship! It’s time to make it legal. If you’re looking for more supports or trying to figure out how to bill clients, it’s crucial to register for a GST/HST number.
Government of Canada Business Registration can be done entirely online and also links to information you need to know before your register. Not every business needs to register right away, but it’s a good first step.
Coaching & Mentorship: I NEED HELP! – sometimes you just need someone to talk to, and if you’re starting a business, chances are Google won’t have all of the answers.
Startup Canada Membership Program
Digital Brand – the first thing any potential client or partner will do is visit your website and then maybe Facebook. That’s why it’s important to ensure your domain name and website are working in your favour.
Rebel.com has affordable domains and DIY tools at your disposal to help you build a professional site without having to spend the big bucks.
Professional-Looking Images and Designs – how does your competition afford such professionally-designed images for their website and social media? What you post is an extension of your brand, so take some time and effort in what you share.
Fortunately, there are many DIY tools that are FREE, which can help improve the shareability of your posts and give you beautiful images for your online profiles and websites. Not to mention you can custom make ads, too! Canva is a good place to start.
Marketing & Selling Products & Services – probably the #1, #2 and #3 issue when you talk to any entrepreneur when they’re just starting out. Don’t get to a point when you’re wondering if and when someone is going to buy your product or service.
Here’s the thing: there’s no silver bullet. Period. You just hope at this point that you finished that section in business plan, so you can have a foundation to start from. That said, you need to learn how to hustle and be persistent. You should focus some of your time and energy to learning from experts and influencers. The Startup Canada Podcast is a good start, Rogers Small Business Forum has an entire section dedicated to marketing.
Liability and Risk – there are liabilities to running even a home-based business, for example customer slip-and-fall accidents on your property. It’s also tax deductible.
TruShield offers affordable small business coverage. It’s an easy online process to apply and get approved. Not sure where you fall? They also have some good content for you read through.
Data, Fraud & Protection – the way you collect and store customer data has come under scrutiny over the last few years, and each jurisdiction is different. Try to read up and make sure you can be a trusted partner for your customers.
The Master Your Card Small Business Toolkit has helpful tips and suggestions on how to protect your business against fraud and how to secure your data.
For all your other Entrepreneurial inquires look to Startup Canada as your one stop shop!