HELPFUL TIPS AND RESOURCES

Checklist for Starting
a New Business

Get important information and free resources to set your new business up for success. Plus, discover all the ways Spectrum Business solutions can work for you.

Speak with a business specialist in your area. Call 855.883.2458

YOUR STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE

Business Startup Checklist


1. Get to Know Your Consumer

Understanding your consumer base from the outset is a critical way to reduce risk and make sure your business is off to a strong start. When conducting market research, remember to keep the following questions in mind:

  • Is there a demand for your product or service?

  • What is the market size for your product or service?

  • In your market, what is the income range and employment rate?

  • Where can you locate your business? Is this where your customers live?

  • Are there similar products or services already available to consumers in their area?

  • How much are people willing to pay for your product or service?

There are two types of market research: Primary research and secondary research:

  • Primary research is when you conduct your own research on your target demographic.

  • Secondary research is when you get information from outside sources such as government statistics or industry surveys.

Generally, it’s recommended to start with secondary research to give you a big picture look at your target market. Sources for effective secondary research include industry trade associations, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American FactFinder, Export.gov, Hoover’s and ThomasNet

To dig deeper into your target market, you can conduct your own primary research. Effective primary research resources include SurveyMonkey, Zoho Surveys and QuestionPro. You can also conduct interviews by phone or in person, or get a focus group together to get useful insights and learnings. 

Learn more about how you can begin to fully understand your target customer and set your business up for success.


2. Choose a Business Structure

Choosing your business structure is an important step—it will impact your day-to-day operations, taxes and level of risk. The most common are:

  • Sole proprietorships - You are your own business.

  • Limited liability companies - Separate your personal assets from your business with this simple structure.

  • Corporations - Raise money, hire employees and more with this most robust business structure.

Learn more about the pros and cons of various business structure options here.



3. Write Your Business Plan

Like a roadmap for your new business, a business plan is a document that defines a company’s objectives and how to best reach its goals.

It’s an essential step if you want to secure funds from a bank, financial institution or loan provider. Even if you don’t plan on applying for financial backing, it gives you an effective blueprint for starting, maintaining and growing your business.

Most business plans cover a period of 2-5 years. No matter what structure you choose, here are a few essential sections you’ll need to include:

Executive Summary

A brief summary to outline your whole business plan, your executive summary should include a few sentences to sum up each section of your plan as well as an overview of your business proposal.

Business

Describe your industry as well as current and future opportunities, demonstrating your knowledge of your target audience and demographic. Outline your business idea and provide any relevant background information. Highlight your unique selling point and explain why customers will choose your product over your competitors.

Products and Services

Provide detailed information about the products or services you intend to offer. Include proof or any qualifications or training as well as detailed information about your product, including sourcing and supplier information.

Management and Operations

You will need to include information about the management structure and operation of your business, including background information, qualifications and relevant experience. Outline any additional need for workers or services from outside your business, as well as equipment, facilities, premises and estimated cost.

Customers

Define your intended base with as much information as possible, explaining why they will buy your products. Highlight ways to reach new customers and include any research you have conducted.

Sales and Marketing

In addition to market research results, present a realistic marketing plan for your business including costs incurred and services needed. This is where you’ll outline your sales plan and explain how you intend to secure repeat customers.

Competitors

Present your market research findings along with an explanation of how you intend to compete with businesses similar to your own.

Finances

Provide detailed forecasts for sales, cash flow and profit/loss projections, particularly if you want to secure funding from a bank or investor. Show how you intend to spend your money as well as money invested in your business.

Keep your writing clear and concise using evidence-based support, financial forecasts and market research. Be realistic and conservative in your projections as investors may be deterred by an overly optimistic plan.

 

Click here for a more comprehensive guide on writing a successful business plan.


4. Register Your Business

In most cases your new business will need to be registered. You’ll work with both federal and state agencies, providing them with your documentation (depending on your chosen business structure) as well as paying any registration fees.

Federal registration

Filing to obtain a federal tax ID is typically the only action that small business owners need to take with the federal government. However, in some instances it may be necessary to register with the federal government to secure trademark protection or tax-exempt status.

State registration

You’ll need to register in any state where your business is operating if it is an LLC (limited liability corporation), partnership or nonprofit corporation. Check with your state(s) for specific requirements and details. Many states allow you to register online, but some may require documentation to be signed in person or through the mail.

Get more information about registering your business by visiting SCORE.


5. Open a Business Bank Account

Though it may not feel necessary at first, setting up a business bank account is an essential step as soon as you’re ready to begin accepting or spending money.

In addition to increasing your credibility, business bank accounts:

  • Protect you against certain liabilities.

  • Enable customers to pay by credit card.

  • Provide strong situational preparedness with a line of credit in the event of an emergency.

  • Afford your business the ability to make large startup purchases while establishing a credit history.

Learn about basic accounting for your small business, including key financial terms and resources as well as free tools to help with your accounting needs.


6. Set Up Your Technology With Spectrum Business

In a world that’s constantly connected, customers have certain expectations for their preferred business interactions. How will your customers want to engage with your business throughout their purchase journey? Do they call to set up appointments or book online? When customers are on the premises, will they need to be entertained via Internet or TV service? How will you handle payroll and credit card transactions? 

 

Over 2 million small business owners throughout the country count on Spectrum Business to help them achieve their goals. Our U.S.-based team of specialists can customize the right mix of services based on the needs of your business.

Choose the right Internet plan

Start working your best right away with fast Spectrum Business Internet speeds from 300 Mbps to 1 Gbps□ with no data caps. All of our Internet plans include award-winning Desktop Security that will protect your business from cyberattacks. You can also add solutions including Static IP to power remote work, Wireless Internet Backup to keep you up and running in a power outage, and Advanced WiFi so you can work securely throughout your business.

Pick a communication solution

Build instant credibility and make it easy for customers, employees and vendors to contact you by adding a phone line. Get everything you need for calls, messaging, video conferencing and more with our affordable all-in-one communication solution, Spectrum Business Connect. Work across your favorite devices from a singe easy-to-use app and get a FREE Business Phone line. If you don’t need as many versatile features, you can also get our traditional Business Voice solution, which includes unlimited local and long distance calling.

Stay connected on the go

Work from anywhere by adding Spectrum Mobile for business and get nationwide 5G= and unlimited talk and text on both of our plans. In fact, if you bundle any of our Internet plans with one of our communication solutions, you’ll get a FREE Mobile Unlimited line for an entire year—that’s an over $350 value.+ Plus, adding a Mobile line for your business can also be tax deductible. Speak with your accountant for details.

Keep your customers entertained

Increase customer or client satisfaction and give them more reasons to spend time at your business with a Spectrum Business TV package. We offer packages designed specifically for bars and restaurants to ensure you get the live local and national games your patrons come to see, as well as a variety of channel lineups that are ideal for break rooms, waiting rooms and more.

Ready to learn more? Give us a call at 855.883.2458 from 8am-11pm ET, Monday-Friday, or complete this form and we’ll be in touch.


7. Develop a Business Identity

How will you distinguish your business and make it memorable in the minds of consumers? Building a business identity allows businesses to distinguish themselves from other organizations and make themselves memorable in the consumer’s mind.

There are tons of easy, budget-friendly ways to build your brand. Start by developing your visual identity and translating your business’s “how” and “why” into recognizable branding that will instantly make your business stand out.

Click here for an in-depth look at the main elements of building your visual identity and take it a step further with these additional options:

  • Create a memorable tagline or slogan.

  • Order and distribute business cards and branded stationary.

  • Establish an easily accessible online presence.


8. Market Your Small Business

Marketing helps raise brand awareness and develop a pipeline of qualified leads that can turn into sales. However, you don’t need to be a marketing guru to get the word out. Here are some simple budget-friendly ways to market your business:

  • Craft an elevator pitch to give the rundown of your business to potential customers and investors alike.

  • Consider blogging to attract prospects to your website and strengthen your website Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

  • Routinely email your customers and prospects to tell them about the latest and greatest at your business.

  • Utilize free tools such as a customer relationship manager, social media and data reporting/analytics. We recommend starting with resources from: 
     

    Salesforce 

    Google Analytics 

    Facebook Small Business Solutions

Get additional insights here on everything from developing customer loyalty, growing sales with micro-influencer marketing, encouraging customer reviews and more.


9. Stay Community-Focused

Investing in your community is an essential part of your role as a small business owner, leading to stronger connections and increased local support. This investment can be monetary—such as sponsoring a little league team or a 5K charity run/walk—but it doesn’t have to be. Consider donating your time, space or products by hosting local events and gifting to local groups. Three tips to building a community-focused business:

  • Start small and aim for organic growth.

  • Stay open to collaborating from anywhere.

  • Provide valuable experiences to your community members.


10. Follow Industry News

Trends and best practices are always changing, so it’s important to stay on top of the latest news in your industry as much as possible. Though they may vary by industry and location, take advantage of these free resources to get started:

Reach out to the Chamber of Commerce in your local community to learn more about local resources and news that are relevant for your business.

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Frequently Asked Questions
About Starting a Business

Before you start your business there are a few essential steps you want to take to ensure you are on a path for success. Start by conducting market research to make sure there’s a need for your business and get a sense of what you should charge. Then choose a business structure, write up a business plan, register your business and open a bank account. You’ll also need to determine the communication strategy for your business and how customers will reach you. Consider the visual identity and brand for your business and the best ways to market it to reach your customers.

As a proud supporter of small businesses like yours, Spectrum Business offers reliable, affordable solutions to help you succeed. That’s why we offer no contracts, no hidden fees and no hassles—just a better way to do business. Have questions about the right services for your business? Give us a call at 855.883.2458, Monday-Friday, 8am-11pm ET, or request a call back.

Since every small business is different, it is important to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, here are a few main requirements that you should be aware of.

  • Choosing a business structure: Your business structure will impact your day-to-day operations, taxes and level of risk. The two most common are sole proprietorships and limited liability companies (LLCs). Learn more and join our “Let’s Get Started” program in partnership with SCORE™, a division of the small business administration. They’ll help you determine which structure is right for your business, give you one-on-one mentorship and much more.

  • Registering with your state or local government: In most cases your business will need to be registered. You’ll need to provide them with documentation (depending on your chosen business structure) as well as pay any registration fees. Click here to get started in your state.

  • Retaining a tax ID from the IRS: If your business is located in the U.S. or U.S. territories, you may apply for an Employer Identification Number. Follow the three simple steps here to apply online.

  • Obtaining required permits and licenses: A business permit and license are required to operate your business and are issued by federal, state, county and municipal agencies. Click here to learn about how you can get a business license.

  • Purchasing insurance and more: Start by evaluating your risk and choosing which types of insurance you may need. You can compare quotes, work with a broker and purchase the right policy for your business.

Yes! Regardless of whether or not you need a loan, a business plan is your blueprint to success. You can use this document to formalize your vision and goals, as well as ensure that you are considering market conditions and financials. This process is also a critical time to confirm the viability of operating your business. It should include an executive summary that contains your mission statement, details about your company and service or product, details about the business leadership, and location information. The two most common types of business plans are Traditional and Lean. Learn more below.

Traditional Business Plans:

  • More common
  • Use a standard structure that allows you to go into detail within each section
  • Often require more work upfront and can be dozens of pages long
     

Lean Business Plans:

  • Less common
  • Still generally use a standard structure
  • Less detailed and quicker to make
  • Focus only on summarizing the most important parts of the key elements of your plan
     

If you are in the process of getting funding, you’ll want to explain the requirements and how investments will be used as well as provide short- and long-term earnings forecasts. If you’re unsure how to start writing your business plan, you can leverage various free resources to help including your local Small Business Administration office or sba.gov.

There are a number of ways to grow your business from the ground up. Start by building strong customer relationships and then asking those customers to leave feedback using online reviews through sites such as Google or Yelp. Word of mouth is one of the most affordable and most trusted ways to produce organic growth for your business. Positive customer feedback and reviews will encourage other prospective customers to feel confident in the quality of your product or service before they even interact with you.

You can also consider a number of ways to entice regular customers to make repeat purchases. This could be by creating a loyalty program, incentivizing them to share your business on social media or giving them a discount if they provide a referral.

If you have a marketing budget, you can consider placing an ad in local publications or on social media platforms such as Meta or TikTok, or find out how to get affordable local advertising solutions with our partners at Spectrum Reach.

While residential service may be adequate before your business is up and running, our experts strongly recommend switching to business-grade Internet and communication solutions when you’re ready to start taking customers. There are a number of important reasons why you should go with Spectrum Business services instead of Residential for your small business.

  • More Reliability: Get a dedicated, fiber-rich Internet connection with speeds up to 1 Gbps. This service includes an add-on option for Wireless Internet Backup,◊◊ which will keep your business network running even during a power outage.
  • More Security: Along with our award-winning Security Suite, which is included with every Internet plan, you can also add Static IP to keep your sensitive business data private and enable seamless remote access. To safeguard your business against digital threats and manage your network from anywhere, our Advanced WiFi solution is also available at a great low price.
  • More Connectivity: Work on the go without missing a beat when you bundle Spectrum Business Internet, Connect and Mobile solutions. Seamlessly work between your smartphone, tablet, desk phone or computer with our easy-to-use app.
  • More Support: Count on 24/7/365 dedicated support and get advanced access to our local team of on-site technicians.

 

Read more about the differences between residential and business plans. Have more questions about the advantages of using dedicated business Internet? 855.883.2458 to speak with a specialist today.

Business Startup Checklist

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◊◊Wireless Internet Backup offer is available for $20/month and requires a subscription to Spectrum Business Internet and Static IP or Business WiFi services. Supports up to 4 devices and includes download speed up to 10 Mbps, with 8 hour battery backup. LTE modem is required & included in price. Devices connected to the LTE modem cannot receive Gig speed. Static IP and Business WiFi not supported when Wireless Internet Backup service is engaged. ∆Based on the most recent annual ‘Best Protection’ AV-TEST awards, industry-leading advanced attack detection capabilities confirmed by MITRE ATT&CK® evaluations, and 2020 Customers’ Choice for Vulnerability Assessment in Gartner Peer Insights.

Marketing is an essential part of a new business venture, but it can often be difficult to know where to start. Luckily there is an incredibly rich variety of both free and paid tools and services available to help you get started. You can start with a free user-friendly website builder such as Wix or Squarespace. Plus, when you sign up for Spectrum Business Internet you’ll get $50/mo= worth of free online business features—including a domain name that you can use to set up your website. If you want to send out promotional materials, you can leverage easy-to-use programs that offer free templates for social media posts, newsletters and email campaigns such as MailChimp and Canva

Continue reading about local marketing opportunities for your business or read this list to find out if you have the right marketing mix in place.

Toolkit FAQ Disclaimer

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˭Value based on retail price for comparable services.

When launching a new business, having the right technology in place can set you up for lasting success. Tech solutions from Spectrum Business such as Wireless Internet Backup, Static IP and Advanced WiFi offer unbeatable reliability and better security, helping you stay organized and connected from day one. Here are five additional technologies that can start your business off on the right foot:

1.  A customer relationship management (CRM) system allows you to collect, organize and analyze client information.

2.  Project management software will make your workflow more organized and efficient.

3.  Online data storage programs such as Dropbox and Google Drive improve access and provide an extra layer of protection in case your server is compromised.

4.  Financial management tools such as Quickbooks or Wave let you continuously monitor cashflow, track expenses and manage employee payroll.

5.  Cybersecurity software is essential to keep your small business from falling victim to a cyber attack. Spectrum Business Internet service includes FREE award-winning Desktop Security, including real-time protection against threats with automatic updates, 25 FREE licenses for your devices, Internet browsing protection and spyware detection and removal.

Toolkit FAQ Disclaimer 2

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∆Based on the most recent annual ‘Best Protection’ AV-TEST awards, industry-leading advanced attack detection capabilities confirmed by MITRE ATT&CK® evaluations, and 2020 Customers’ Choice for Vulnerability Assessment in Gartner Peer Insights.

Want to keep reading? Spectrum Business offers key  insights to keep you up to date on top tech. Here are 5 small business technology trends to take advantage of this year.

Spectrum Business offers lightning-fast speeds that grow with your business. Boost productivity and count on unlimited bandwidth to support all your devices on a fast, fiber-rich network with FREE features.

Choose from three levels of business Internet:

  • 300 Mbps Internet: The right speed for video conferencing, streaming and point-of-sale systems for fewer than 5 employees.

  • 600 Mbps Internet Ultra: Ideal for fewer than 20 employees to run e-commerce and cloud-based applications.

  • Gig Internet: Get the fastest speeds available to support web hosting, data backups and large file transfers for 20+ employees.
     

Our small business specialists can walk you through the right options for your business. Call 855.883.2458 to get started today.

Business Startup Checklist

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□Spectrum Business Internet Gig requires Spectrum Gig capable modem. Speed based on download speed on wired connection. Wireless speed may vary. Available speeds may vary by address.

Adding Mobile service for your small business can help you save money and stay connected to your customers, employees and vendors anytime, anywhere. In fact, you qualify for a FREE Spectrum Mobile Unlimited line for 1 year (over $350 value++) when you bundle an Internet and communication solution. Enjoy unlimited data, talk and text for an entire year at NO cost to you.

A smartphone gives you access to resources that allow you to do marketing for your business at little to no cost. You can use the camera on your smartphone to take pictures of your business services or products. Then, download apps such as Canva or Adobe Express to edit the photos you’ve taken, add promotional text and upload them directly to your business’s social media accounts.

Call one of our helpful business specialists at 855.883.2458 to claim your FREE Mobile Unlimited line+ and learn more about the services that may be right for your business.

Toolkit FAQ Disclaimer 3

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'+Free mobile offer is for 1 unlimited mobile line per account for 1 yr. and is reflected with up to 12 mos. credit on bill statement. Requires a bundled purchase of Business Internet with Business Connect or Standard Business Voice. Standard mobile rates apply after 1 yr. Auto pay required. Offer cannot be combined with mobile service promotions. Standard mobile rates apply if qualifying services are canceled. Devices excluded from offer. Free Unlimited line must be ordered at same time as bundled purchase of Business Internet with Business Connect or Standard Business Voice, and cannot be applied to existing lines on customer account. Additional mobile lines: Standard rates apply. Per line activation fee, Spectrum Business Internet and Auto Pay required. Other restrictions apply. ++Savings claim based on retail price for Spectrum Mobile in the first 12 months.

Whether you’re starting a brand new business or looking to switch from a different telecommunications provider, you qualify as a new Spectrum Business customer if you have not subscribed to any of our services within the last 30 days and have no outstanding obligation to Charter. Call 855.883.2458 to speak with a specialist and sign up for new services.

Business Startup Checklist

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□Spectrum Business Internet Gig requires Spectrum Gig capable modem. Speed based on download speed on wired connection. Wireless speed may vary. Actual speeds may vary. ∆Based on the most recent annual ‘Best Protection’ AV-TEST awards, industry-leading advanced attack detection capabilities confirmed by MITRE ATT&CK® evaluations, and 2020 Customers’ Choice for Vulnerability Assessment in Gartner Peer Insights. +Free mobile offer is reflected with up to 12 mos. credit on bill statement, limited to one per account. Standard mobile rates apply after 1 yr or if qualifying services are canceled.  Per line activation fee applies. Autopay required.  Offer cannot be combined with other mobile service promotions. Free Unlimited line must be ordered at same time as Business Internet and Business Voice purchase, and cannot be applied to existing lines on customer account. Devices excluded from offer.  Reduced speeds after 30 GB of usage per line. Mobile service not available in all areas. Other restrictions apply. =To access 5G, 5G compatible phone and 5G service required. Not all 5G capable phones compatible with all 5G service. Speeds may vary. Services subject to all applicable service terms & conditions, which are subject to change. Services & promo. offers not avail. in all areas. Standard pricing applies after promo. period. Installation & other equipment charges, taxes & fees may apply. Restrictions apply. Call for details.