Steps to Starting a Small Business, and then some

This checklist "Steps to Starting a Small Business" is in no special order. It will help you find structure amidst the chaos of launching a new company. Especially if you are doing it alone like I have several times.

*If you see there is something we can add to this list: Please leave a comment below or Send me an email.

life of what ifs.jpg

*Click any hyperlink to learn more about the subject*

  1. Write a full Business Plan- Including any financial details- like where the start-up money will go and where the sales will come from. *It's been said that a business road map can double your chances of success, and it definitely increases your chances of an investment. If you don't know where you are going or how you are going to get there- you'll likely just be flopping around.

  2. Come up with a business name- maybe this blog from can help (simple/creative). 

  3. Check for the availability of that name in your state (usually the Secretary of State will be the place to go)- If you are in California or Texas.

  4. Most businesses use a website these days- so check your Domain name availability. You can check and purchase your domain from a place like GoDaddy, and look up the current owner of the domain you really want on*Part of checking your domain name availability on the web means also checking the SEO around your desired search terms. I just go to Google, Bing, Yahoo and see what I would be up against to get to the top of page one. SEO services can be expensive, and extremely time consuming- so you don't want to battle that if you aren't ready for it. Contact us if you would like some SEO help.

  5. You might need to check and file your DBA name "Doing business as", if you plan on operating the business under a different name than your corporation. This is usually done at your local county clerk's office- New Business Registration

  6. Check for any Trademark or Patent- these are more for your National/International Name Availabilities. This is not actually necessary to start a business, but if you want your name, intellectual property, slogan, etc. to be protected from use and copy- it's a must.

  7. Decide on Legal Structure: LLC, S-Corp, Sole Proprietorship, etc.

  8. EIN Number/Federal Tax Id

  9. Check and Obtain "special" License and Permits (Federal, State, Local) that are essential to your specific business, like: alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, food, etc.

  10. Logo and Color Profile

  11. Decide on a Branding Structure

  12. Have professional pictures and video taken to express the brands message for social media, website, and advertising. This is very important, do not just chose your friend or whoever is cheapest. This is the representation of your company! I know someone you should consider for Content Creation!

  13. Partnership Agreement (between owners)

  14. Budget (Never spend without calculating consequences) 

  15. Small Business Loan- Here is a handy guide from LendEDU.

  16. Bank Account (You need the business license and EIN first)

  17. Accounting Software (Quickbooks)

  18. Credit Card Processing Merchant (Quickbooks Payments, PayPal, Square, etc.)

  19. Business Phone Number- Maybe Virtual?

  20. CRM Software "Customer Relationship Management" 

  21. Business Email Service (G-mail for Business or Microsoft Office)

  22. Find website hosting/managing service (SquarespaceWordpressWix, Weebly, etc.)

  23. Create an account with a company like MailChimp, who can store your emails which you will collect from your website, and help you send email campaigns to the list.

  24. Design Website

  25. Create Social Media Pages (Facebook Business & Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc.)

  26. Yelp Business Account & Bing Business Account & Google Business Account

  27. Business Insurance

  28. Legal Contract to do business with other people/clients/partners

  29. Business Cards/Letterhead for Invoicing

  30. Sales Phone List/Tracking System

  31. Shipping systems in place (If a product or documents need to be mailed.)

  32. Advertise your business *wink, wink* (this is how people find you)

I'm sure you can handle all of this on your own, but make sure you are not wasting your time. The best thing I ever did for my business was learn to hire the right professionals. They not only get the work done faster, they also get it done right- which ultimately saves and makes you money.

Find out what your time is worth.

Congratulations on your journey- you got this!

Michael Lane

Creative Lane Agency, LLC, 1210 North Las Palmas Avenue, Hollywood, CA, 90038

It is our mission to increase your marketing ROI, grow your following, and provide your customers and fans with a clear, trusted brand. No need to to hire staff, learn it all yourself, or try to keep up with the ever-changing social media world.