Launch Checklist· January 6, 2021
· Karen Røigaard
You’ve got your idea and your MVP! Congrats! But are you ready to launch?
When starting a business, it is not enough to have a great idea. There is a long list of practical, strategic, governmental, and financial stuff you need to do before you get to the fun part.
These things will vary depending on which country you are from, but a few things are universal. In this article, we will walk you through a few necessary steps.
✅ 1. Find a catchy name
Finding a name for your startup is, for many entrepreneurs, a very time-consuming task, and with good reason! Your name is your first impression. It needs to be catchy, SEO friendly, and it should be a name that you love. And worst of all, it is tough to change if you pick the wrong one. Advice: When you finally find the perfect name, remember to check if a domain is available.
✅ 2. Design a dazzling logo.
You found the perfect name, so the next step is, of course, to design a dazzling logo. Your logo should wrap up your business identity in a small quadrant. Choose your colors, statement, font, and shape wisely, as it will be difficult to change. You can have a graphic designer make it for you, or give it a try yourself. We recommend two incredible tools for beginners if you want to make it yourself. Logomaster and Tailor Brands. Give them a try!
✅ 3. The million-dollar minutes. Get ready for your elevator pitch!
To validate your product, you will need to sell the idea to as many people as possible. People are busy, and time is precious. If you can sell your product in less than three minutes, you’ve come a long way. That’s why your elevator pitch is essential. Read more about what makes a great pitch here
✅ 4. Make a business plan that will make investors fall at your feet.
You’ve got a great product, a dazzling logo, a pitch worth dying for. It's a sure thing! Unless you forget to tell people about it. Marketing is essential - don’t underestimate the time and money you spend on it. Find out who your customers are, where they are spending their time, and how to reach them. Then you can figure out if you want to spend your marketing budget on PR, social media or print. If your business is online, you should look into SEO and Google advertising.
✅ 6. Create a budget.
A budget is not only important for your bank and potential investors. It is also crucial for you, as your budget is your guideline. A solid budget will make your business last longer, and it will indicate your key success metrics. While most budgets are based on qualified guesses, you should try to make them as realistic as possible.
6.1 Summon your inner fortune teller to predict your sales
An essential part of your budget is your sales forecast. Not even the most experienced entrepreneurs can look into the future, which means that a sales forecast will be nothing but a qualified guess of your business’s future revenue. However, it is crucial since you and possible investors will use it to navigate continuously. Read more about creating a kick-ass forecast here.
6.2 Make the cash flow
In the first stage of your startup, you will have more expenses than revenue, but at some point, you will need to break even. Forecasting your cash flow will help you understand your income and costs, and it is crucial to keep your business in business. There are many great tools to create a cash flow. You can easily find templates online or use our budget tool within the planning app.
6.3 Liquidity: If you can’t pay, you close down.
Probably the most crucial financial statement is your liquidity report. Many startups fail not because they run out of money but because they run out of money at the wrong time. While your cash flow tells you how much money is going in and out, your liquidity budget tells you when they are going in and out and if you have the cash to pay your creditors when due. This budget is especially important if your business’s payment terms allow your customers a more extended due date for payments than your creditors give your business.
✅ 7. Accounting - make it easy!
While accounting is essential, your time is better spent elsewhere, so make it easy. Decide if you want to do it yourself or hire an accountant. Accountants can be expensive but take a lot of tasks off your desk. If you choose to do it yourself, you’ve got two options; old fashioned excel or accounting software. Unless you are an excel superstar, we highly recommend the latter. There are many software on the market that makes accounting easy and, let’s be honest, almost fun. We recommend Quickbooks.
✅ 8. You need a bank account if you want people to pay
And of course you do! Talk to various banks before choosing the one. Some banks are great with startups and offer a lot of assistance, and others don’t. There is a significant difference between what they offer and how much they cost, so make sure to do your research.
✅ 9. Hurry up and buy your domain!
Your website needs a name, and preferably the name of your business. Hurry up and get yours before someone else does. When you buy a domain, you can choose different extensions, and they have different advantages. Which one is right for your business? .com, .io, .org? Choose the one you want, or buy them all if you’ve got the budget for protecting your business name. It won’t be hard to find a site selling your domain, but we recommend Google Domains and One.com.
✅ 10. You got your domain, now get a host
Your domain needs a web hotel if you want to build a website. Consider how much space you need, how much traffic you expect, and how much support you depend on. It’s a big market, and there are many options. Here we recommend Google or AWS. As a customer of our business plan software, you can also register and host your website for one year for free at One.com.
✅ 11. Time to showcase your product. Make a website!
It’s the 21st century, and everyone needs a website nowadays! Actually, a website is crucial for the survival of your business regardless of your product and industry. For some entrepreneurs building a website comes naturally, and for others it’s compared to climbing Mount Everest. If it's a mountain climbing task for you, you might consider hiring another business to do it. However, depending on the needs of your website, it can be relatively easy to learn. These days there are many softwares such as Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify that make it a walk in the park to create a beautiful and functional website.
✅ 12. Web-based security and SSL
When you have a website, it's essential to consider what kind of security you want to install on your website to avoid hacking or server breakdowns. These days problems on your website can set your business back for weeks. If you’re going to accept payments on your site, for example, an SSL certificate is an excellent idea. It will gain your customers’ trust.
✅ 13. Get a payment solution
Whether you are a physical or a web-based business, you will need a payment solution. Again there are many options. Prices depend on your expected number of payments, your basket size, and an establishment fee. Now your budget comes in handy! Take a look at our recommend payment tools here.
✅ 14. Check your legal
You are all set to start selling your product, but remember to check your legal. Depending on your line of business, there might be quite a few laws with which you should get familiar. Contact a branch organization to learn about the rules that might apply to your industry.
✅ 15. Create lifesaving Terms of Condition
And speaking of legal, few things are universal. You have to write your terms of conditions. Your “terms of conditions” is the contract you sign with your customers, clarifying your business’ liability and the rules for the use of your website. Note that Terms of Conditions are not legally required, but it will save you a lot of trouble.
✅ 16. GDPR - Protection of data
If you are a European business, you should read carefully now. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is an EU regulation implemented in 2018 to protect EU citizens’ personal data. The regulative demands quite a lot from businesses, and you should read the rules carefully to figure out which initiatives to take in your business. Now, this might be heavy reading, but the fines for not complying makes it worth your time.
✅ 17. Insure your business
When it comes to insurance, the rules depend on the country in which your business is registered. Some countries legally require you to ensure your company or your staff, including yourself. Insurance is not only to avoid liability but can also be in case of legal problems or if someone hacks your website and takes it hostage (yes, these things do happen), or simply if you spill coffee on your new Macbook pro like I did last week! Call an insurance company to learn about your options.
✅ 18. Shareholder’s agreement and Equity
If you are in business alone, you can skip this one, but if you’ve partnered up with the co-founder of your dreams, this point is important. When you register, you will need to share the ownership of the company. That calls for an important talk. Do you want to share it equally? What happens if one of you wants out? If one wants out, will the one left need to buy his shares? And if so, at which price? What positions in the business will you each possess? These are all crucial questions that we highly recommend having sorted out before launching your business, as partnership-disagreement is a common reason why start-ups fail.
A Shareholder’s agreement can be solved within your founder team by a simple contract. Still, we highly recommend getting help from a lawyer who can help you understand every possible outcome.
✅ 19. Time to get real! Register your business.
Your business will need to be registered before you can run it legally. How you register your business will depend on your government. Make sure to research everything you need to know to avoid legal problems and expensive mistakes.
✅ 20. Create yourself an inspiring work environment
Time to get to work! To do your best work, you need the best possible environment. You might work best in an office space surrounded by other entrepreneurs, or you might work best at home. Whatever you choose, make sure to dedicate an office space for your business.