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Small Business Startup Checklist

Small Business Startup Checklist

So you have identified the need to start a small business startup? You will need a small business startup checklist which you can use as a guideline on your journey to establishing your small business startup.

See Also: Resources that will help you start, market and grow a sustainable business.

In this post, I will be sharing a small business startup checklist with you. This checklist can be used as a roadmap for entrepreneurs who need a guide on steps they need to take to establish a small business startup.

Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don't Have An Idea
Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don’t Have An Idea

You can also have the video version of this content. Simply click on the ‘play’ button below.

Step-By-Step Small Business Startup Checklist

Create or Choose A Business Idea

The first step towards starting your small business startup is by identifying a valuable business idea. The best form of entrepreneurship is when entrepreneurs identify problems in the communities they want to serve and create solutions that address those problems.

Here are some steps to consider when choosing a business idea:

  • Identify the business idea
  • Validate the business idea to make sure that it solves a problem
  • Check the viability of the business idea to make sure that it is profitable
  • Evaluate the market size of the sector that you want to enter into.

If everything checks out, then you can move to the stage of identifying your market fit. Do you need help with identifying your small business startup idea? Get inspired by reading our 20 Small Business Startup Ideas For Entrepreneurs here.

Identify Your Market Fit

According to research by CB insights, most startups fail simply because their products are not needed in the market. To avoid your products and solutions being a part of these statistics, you need to identify your market fit before starting your small business startup. Here are some ways to ensure that your product is fit for the market:

Create A Strong Offer

For your product to be successful in the market, you need to offer strong value. Chances are that you will not be creating a brand new product, so, if you want to compete with people that already have a sizable portion of the market share, you need to create an offer that is stronger than theirs. 

For example, the concept of taxis is not an entirely new concept, but Uber reinvented the wheel and offered stronger value to both ride hailers and taxi owners- the result was huge growth for Uber.

Zero In On Your Target Audience

Another important aspect of determining if your product is fit for the market is by zeroing in and identifying your target audience. There’s no time to do guesswork at this stage; you need to research properly and understand which segment of the market is more likely to adopt your product.

Make Your Unique Selling Proposition Valuable

Now that you have identified your target audience, you must find out the values that they desire but are not getting elsewhere. Armed with that information, you should be able to create a unique selling proposition that speaks directly to the needs of your target customers.

Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days
Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days

Write A Business Plan

Business plans used to be lengthy 30-page documents (and maybe there is still a use for those types of documents) but, not many people can go through a 30-page document. There are easier techniques to achieve the same objectives.

At a high level, the business can be assessed through a tool called the Business Model Canvas (BMC). Your BMC looks at the model of your business, its key assumptions, and key stakeholders, and how you aim to deliver value to the customer.

You could also have a business plan that only looks at the business through numbers only. While not a complete plan, it allows you to dive in and create a working plan that can hold you accountable through the numbers that drive your business.

The traditional business plan format takes everything about your business into account. It looks at your sales assumptions and figures, all your expenses, direct selling expenses and other overheads, your human resource plan, hiring timelines and budgets, your marketing plan and budget, your operational plan and overall business strategy, your management team, and funding plan.

To learn how to write a business plan, read our business plan guide here.

Choose A Legal Structure

Choosing the right legal structure for your business is very important. Many business owners have made the mistake of registering their business under the wrong legal structure and when you do that, it sometimes means that there are some types and volumes of businesses that you cannot do. Therefore, the importance of choosing the right legal structure for your business cannot be overemphasized. There are factors you have to consider before you choose a business structure.

Here are the popular business legal structures that you can choose from in Nigeria:

Business Name

A Business Name which most refers to as an enterprise or venture is for a sole proprietor or two people who are trying to form a partnership. It is simple to register and you can register yourself online on the CAC platform. Or reach out to our sister company, ReDahlia Workspaces at contact@redahlia.com or 08188122223 for all your business registration and trademark needs.

Limited Liability Company

A Limited Liability Company can either be a Private Limited Liability Company or a Public Limited Liability Company. Public limited in the sense that the membership is unlimited. The core feature of a Limited Liability Company is the share capital divisions and directors who make decisions.

Incorporated Trustees/Company Limited by Guarantee

These two falls under what we call Non-Governmental Organization. They are more expensive to register. Because they are social enterprises, they have access to funds especially from international bodies who are interested in corporate social responsibility in Nigeria. They are exempt from company income tax. There is no profit sharing; whatever revenue is generated is put back into the organisation. Registering a company limited by guarantee requires the authority of the Attorney General of the federation.


Trademark is simply protecting your name, brand, logo, etc. against theft from competitors, friends, colleagues, etc. When you trademark your brand, you can sue anyone who uses it without your permission.

There are about 45 different classes of Trademark, so find the one that suits your kind of business and trademark it under that class.

Choose Your Business Name

Now that you are sure about the legal structure that you will be adopting for your business, the next stage is to choose your business name.

To choose the best business name, you need to review why you want to start the business, what it is to be known for, the visions, mission, and selling proposition for it. Also, consider the industry you are in and ensure you are personally happy with the final choice. This is important because your business has to live with the name for a long time. It should be a unique unforgettable name.

Here are some tips when choosing a business name: 

  • Choose a name that can stand the test of time
  • Be descriptive but not too general or vague
  • Keep it simple.
  • Don’t copy your competitors
  • Avoid using your own name
  • Make sure you have a related domain

We put it all together here, How To Choose The Perfect Business Name. With the guide, you will learn how to choose the right business name.

Open A Company Account

With your business registered, you should be able to open a company account and start transactions immediately. Depending on the legal structure you choose for your business, you might need to obtain a tax identification number after registering your business before opening an account.

Just make sure that you understand the requirements to open a company account in your country and state before proceeding to open the account.

Obtain Licenses And Permits

Depending on your country and state of residence, you might need some specific licenses and permits to conduct your business. If you are confused, kindly contact the relevant local authorities to find out if you will need a license or permit to run your kind of business.

Put Accounting And Record-Keeping Systems In Place

As you start your new small business startup, it is important that you make provisions for professional book-keeping and accounting. The laws of many countries require that you keep your financial records for auditing every year, so skipping this process can have grave consequences for your business.

Therefore, you should hire an accountant or consider using affordable book-keeping software that will help you take care of the important tasks.

Put A Team In Place

Every small business startup needs a team to take off and survive. You need a core group of people who buy into your vision to transform your small business startup from an idea to the reality you want.

So, you need to start with a team that you can trust to get the job done. In the beginning, it is important that you only hire the people that you really need to build your small business startup.

Develop Your Brand Identity 

Another important checkpoint of starting your small business startup is developing your brand identity. Your business needs logos, complimentary cards, letterhead papers, and other brand identity items that you will use for marketing, networking, and correspondence. 

Make sure that your brand identity items are easily recognisable and stand out from the competition. But also make sure that you keep things very simple and understandable. Contact ReDahlia at contact@redahlia.com or 08188122223 to develop your brand identity.

Market Your Business

As a business owner starting a new small business startup, marketing is a key component. Not only is marketing a must-have for promoting your products or services, but it is key to optimizing your business’s overall success.

Whether you’re selling products, services, or information, getting the word out there and finding a voice in the marketplace has become increasingly critical. However, without the right marketing strategies to fuel your growth, churning a profit and staying afloat in the marketplace will be dead on arrival.

Identifying the right strategies to market your business is the challenge. The big questions are; how do you effectively get your message to the right audience? How do you boost visibility and increase sales while keeping your sales funnel full?

With so many distractions in the world and a lot of attention-grabbing gimmicks in the marketplace, you need some marketing strategies as an entrepreneur in whatever industry you operate.

Read about how to market your business in our small business marketing guide here.

Small Business Startup Checklist: The Last Mile

Establishing a small business startup could be a bit daunting especially if you are a new entrepreneur. But if you follow this small business startup checklist, you will be in a better position to create and start your small business startup.

Thinking of starting your own entrepreneurship journey? Here are 35 booming business ideas and step-by-step guides to start them. It’s a strategic and financial breakdown of the most lucrative businesses in Nigeria. Get it now and start building the business of your dream.

Let’s create visibility for your brand today and put your business on the world map. Contact us today to make your brand the preferred choice among our audience of entrepreneurs and business leaders.

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