November 28, 2006

Company Startup Checklist

Given that I am in the business of starting companies, I am often asked how I do it. To answer that question I thought that I'd provide a new venture checklist. These are the tasks involved in getting a new business going.

btw - there's a bunch of legal stuff (such as incorporation, shares, initial funding, etc..) I normally have on my list, but I'll talk about that info in a separate article. As follows :

Startup Checklist:

  1. Strategy: Do your homework up front and in document form. I'm partial to Guy Kawasaki's approach in The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint. His outline covers off: Problem, Solution, Business Model, Technology, Marketing & Sales, Competition, Team, Projections, etc... About the only thing I would add is to set a budget and stick to it. Set a launch date and move heaven and earth to make the date.
  2. Identity & Branding: Choose a corporate name and trademark. Secure a domain name for a website and blog. Make sure the name and domain are as close as possible for potential customers to find you. Select product names and trademarks.
  3. Sales & Marketing: Define your product/solution/service. Conduct a market assessment. Target initial customers and resellers/partners. Set pricing and sales commission plan. Create brochures, white papers, case studies...all sales collateral. Launch a website and blog. Start an email list and send out biweekly email blasts. Create and launch a communications plan where you connect with identified key industry analysts and reporters on a biweekly frequency. Start selling and do whatever you can to have your first customers in advance of the launch date.
  4. People: Decide the key competencies and experiences you need for each person in each role. Finalize compensation plans. Recruit your key people - at minimum one sales & marketing and one tech/operations. Train and coach them.
  5. Launch: If at all possible launch the company at an industry conference or trade show. Reporters, analysts and target clients will cluster in one location allowing for cost efficient exposure in a short time span. Put out a press release and call each recipient.
  6. Reporting: Produce monthly financial statements, approve every expenditure. Create a sales funnel and review every week.
  7. Review: Conduct a post mortem after launch. Establish what went well, what didn't and make changes to improve.

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