A year is a 365 day period which comes and goes on a fairly regular basis (leap years aside). Over the course of these twelve months, a great deal can happen. This is never truer than for a startup business, where twelve months can feel like twelve years if you don’t have all of your ducks in a row from the outset.

With more and more startups springing up as a result of the recovering economy, many have taken a leap of faith. Running a business, however, is about much more than faith. Perseverance, patience and a dedicated routine are the backbones of a successful startup. An astonishing 90% of startups fail, so being part of that 10% is no small task.

To avoid some of the pitfalls of these failed startups, here is a checklist which will see your first year as a startup turns into a success.


Create a Comprehensive Business Plan

Whether your business plan is a couple of scribbles on a scrap piece of paper or a detailed document, it is the backbone of your startup. Such a document should include initial capital spending, initial growth parameters, financial projections and where you expect to be at the end of the year.

This is a document that you should review regularly; both to determine where you’re falling short and where you’re doing much better than expected. In the first year especially, your business plan should be a dynamic and ever-changing document to adapt to whatever your startup may face.  

Brand Right

An expert in your field, you know you have a brilliant product or service which people are bound to find valuable. However, communicating this to your prospective customers might be harder than you expect. This is where branding comes into the equation.

This stage of a startup can include creating a business name, logo, website or even a number of promotional pens to hand out at networking events. Your competitors will have a head start on you when it comes to brand recognition and trust building, so starting out on a strong foot in this regard is integral.

People are aware of how much choice they have in the modern world. So, standing out and making that choice your startup is a test of your branding. Get it right and your startup has launched itself over the first hurdle.


Smart Hires

Being a one man band is all well and good, but for many startups there is more work to be done than any one person is capable of. So, hiring is integral to help get your business off of the ground. Many business owners will tell you how your employees are the reason for your success, as well as failure. That is why those that you welcome into your business need to share the same outlook to take your startup to the next level.

But, at the same time don’t fall into the trap of searching for the ‘perfect candidate’. Hire smart, capable, people and you may be surprised by how perfect they turn out to be in the long run.

The Right Space

Basing your business in the right property is obviously a key startup component. This will be the face that prospective customers first see in the offline world, so you want it to count. However, as a startup, there’s no need to break the bank on office or storefront space. Consult with qualified property managers to determine the right size, location and facilities for your business. This way you will meet both your needs and budget without learning a hard lesson first.

Perhaps the most important component of this checklist; know your newfound responsibilities. Not only are you responsible for the payment of your new employees, but also their safety if they work in your new office space. So, ensuring you find a working space that is fit for purpose is also extremely important.

Health and safety is a key component to any work environment. Be sure to fix any issues that may pre-exist such as exposed wires, sharp fixtures and other hazards. You should also be aware that the air quality in the space is vital to the health of your employees as well as their productivity, which is why a working ventilation system and even acoustic enclosures  are is needed for your startup.

Choosing to ignore these factors in your new office or storefront can have serious legal consequences if something were to go wrong. Making this high priority for your first-year checklist.

Set Aside Your Pride

There are a lot of personal stakes at play when you start your own business. However, ego and business are an inflammatory mix – so leave it at the door! Every day is a new learning opportunity in your startup, so always be open to learning new industry trends and changing your plans to adjust to new worldviews.

The first year in any startup is bound to have its ups and downs – it’s the nature of entrepreneurship! Being open and honest with yourself is the best way to find success as a startup. Overall, your priorities on any checklist should be to plan, brand, hire, create a safe working environment and leave yourself room to grow alongside your startup.