CEO Clubs
of America

Starting a Business


In starting your new business, you are undertaking a journey that should be a rewarding and hugely satisfying experience. You will be devoting an extraordinary amount of time and energy plus risking your financial resources. You must be careful to minimize your risks of making mistakes.

Before an airliner takes off, you can be sure that the pilot will have walked around the plane and checked off every system to be certain that it's functioning properly. The purpose of this Start-Up List is to provide you with important check-off lists to insure that your necessary business disciplines are in place and functioning.

While the following check-off lists will increase your ongoing chances of success, I suggest that before starting you also create a strong mental image of a four legged stool. This stool will become your guiding reminder during your initial start-up. When all four legs are the same length and secure, the stool works fine. A short or missing leg can be a disaster. There are basically four legs that you will need to anchor securely in place during the critical start-up phase of the business:

Be sure you have selected the right business. (The most common mistake is not selecting the right business initially.)

Have your personally written business plan in place and reviewed by experts in your field.

Be sure you know how to keep score: basic knowledge in accounting and cash flow control.

Work for someone else in your intended business before starting your own company.

Top Ten Do's Before Starting Your Business

  1. Have I focused on a specific product or service? As a rule, specialists outperform non-specialists. Think about successful retailers, real estate firms, food chains, and where you bought the last take-out pizza or chicken. Would further specialization improve your prospects?
  2. Is my business plan complete and in written format? The primary value will be to create a written outline that evaluates all aspects of the economic viability of your business. Does it include pre-opening, first year and long-range planning? Your business plan will also play a key role in securing financing and will help you uncover weaknesses in the planning process.
  3. Have I acknowledged my competition and limitations?
    It will be hard to compete with "category-killer" discount chains with powerful buying power and efficiencies of scale. Does your marketing plan serve a special niche?
  4. Do I understand the basics of accounting? It is important to make sure you can maintain your books, file your taxes and create the balance sheets and profit and loss statements you will need to manage your business.
  5. Do I have a one-year cash flow projection prepared to ensure I can maintain ongoing liquidity? Knowing your financial position at all times is essential for maintaining your business during its start up phase.
  6. Do I have the necessary e-commerce tools in place? E-commerce is the fastest growing segment of the economy and allows even the smallest business to reach a global audience with minimal costs.
  7. Have I learned the basics of my business by first working for someone in the business? This is probably the best way to discover if you have made a choice that will be not only be successful, but also satisfying.
  8. Have I successfully test marketed my product or service?
    There can be a huge gap between the concept of a great product or service and the reality of what paying customers are seeking.
  9. Am I focused on selling a great product at a fair price rather than a fair product at a great price? Great products suggest pricing power and fair products suggest a commodity-type product more susceptible to competition.
  10. Do I have all the communications, computer and other business tools in place? Do I have the skills to use them? Unless potential customers are aware of your business, they will not have the information to contact you or to purchase your products.  Is my marketing plan and budget in place? Every business has a specific strategy that usually works best and has already been proven by your most successful competitors.
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