New business checklist

Use this sample checklist as starting-point for creating your own. Click on each category to learn more.

Make a checklist

Key Points


1. Create a name for the business. 2. Register your business name. This is known as filing a "DBA" or "doing business as" statement, sometimes called a "fictitious name filing.” (The appropriate way to register depends on the state where you live. Check the Web sites of your secretary of state, county clerk’s office, or municipal government. Or, ask at your local Chamber of Commerce or public library.) 3. Obtain necessary licenses/permits from federal, state, and local governments. 4. File for taxes to be paid at a federal, state, and local level. 5. Talk to legal or accounting experts. Decide whether to trademark your business name and whether to incorporate your company for tax purposes.


1. Consider hiring a bookkeeper or accountant to set up your company books. 2. Visit the bank. Set up business bank accounts separate from personal accounts. Set up a merchant service account to accept credit and debit card payments from customers. 3. Visit local small business development agencies and contact the Small Business Administration to explore loans and financing from SBA-approved lenders. 4. Discuss business insurance needs with several agencies and get price quotes to compare.


1. Develop a business plan, including vision, goals, action steps, timeline, and budget. 2. Visit a local business development center for advice. 3. Consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce. 4. Hire independent contractors or employees if extra help is needed.


1. Create a brand identity for the business, including logo, business cards, and letterhead. 2. Get listed in local phone book and consider placing an ad. 3. Create a Web site.


1. Research equipment to buy. 2. Set up telephone service. 3. Set up your computer with needed software.

Legal information. For a copy of this checklist, click on Library. Click the Next button for advice about hiring others to help you.
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