Starting a new business? Here is the checklist I use. It assumes you’ve already written a business plan and are ready to start operations.

  • Create a company by filing the appropriate documents with your state’s Secretary of State (Steven Hill).
  • Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (EIN Assistant).
  • Open a business checking account after you have your certificate of formation, EIN, and operating agreement (Commerce National).
  • Keep your receipts and track all purchases from day 1. You’ll be glad come tax time (GnuCash).
  • Buy a domain name from a registrar (DNSimple).
  • Set up your company email (FastMail).
  • Get web hosting space (DigitalOcean).
  • Set up Gauges on your site so you can see what pages people are viewing and from where.
  • Run ads for your business on Google AdWords and Project Wonderful.
  • Find a cheap office (CraigsList).
  • Don’t need an office? Consider a PO box or mail forwarding service (Earth Class Mail).
  • Get a phone number for your company (Grasshopper).
  • Order business cards and carry some at all times (4by6).
  • Use a centralized password manager (Passpack) with a strong passphrase (Diceware).
  • Get a business owner’s policy and investigate professional liability insurance (State Farm).
  • Buy some servers if your type of business requires them (Silicon Mechanics).
  • For laptops and desktops, look at System76.
  • Travel frequently? You need a good laptop bag (Defy Bags).
  • For no-contract cell phone service, I recommend Ting.
  • If you sell services, get your services agreement written BEFORE you start marketing. Nolo might have a contract you can use. If you hire a lawyer, be sure he or she specializes in business law.
  • Use a centralized contact manager and be dilligent about following up with prospects (Highrise).
  • Create paper brochures for your products or services. You can send one when you don’t know someone’s email address (FedEx Office).