Business Foundations 101: Your Checklist

by | Feb 9, 2021


Here’s our definitive checklist of just about everything we need to remember when we start a new business or need to double-check even if we’ve been in business for years!

It has been a while in the compiling and we’re grateful to all of the MINT members who contributed to it.

MINT Pillar number one: MINDset

Your MINDset and how you feel about yourself and your business is the most important thing to always consider. Without you, there is no business. This section is so important, we made it into a blog post of its own! Read here.

Tracey Hutchinson Find yourself a group of like-minded people that will stand by your side throughout. Identify the people who can help you immediately, those that understand and know what the real challenges are.

MINT Pillar number two: Business Foundations

  1. Invest in the minimum kit that you need
  2. HMRC: Register as self-employed
  3. Companies House: Register your business
  4. Open business bank account
  5. Set up invoicing software and or appoint an accountant …
    Tip from our member Michael Donkin Appoint the accountant before setting up invoicing software, as the accountant may have a favoured package.

And from Sharron Skeen who is a Chartered Management accountant:

If you’re a sole trader then register with HMRC as being self-employed, no need for Companies House. If you want to operate as a Limited Company you need to set that up with Companies House first, then register the company for corporation tax with HMRC and also register as a Director for self-assessment with HMRC. Better still speak to an accountant first who can advise you on the best structure for your business and register you with HMRC and/or Companies House. Decide if you need to be VAT registered with your accountant.

6. Member Pip Colley added, “Arrange facilities for taking payments (can take longer than normal for a new business for a merchant services account).”
7. Get the correct insurance for your business
8. Join any membership bodies that you need to join
9. Map out your systems, who is doing what for the business? If there is only you in the business, this is an easy one as you will be doing everything!
10. Processes: Define your terms and conditions for your business, whether you sell services and/or products. Make sure you have all the contracts and policies in place (returns policies, payment terms, health and safety policy etc.) Add the T and Cs to your website.
11. Plan your time effectively. Work out exactly how many hours in the day you have to work and how you will give priority to one of the Pillars at any one time, for example, time to process invoices, time for marketing, time for social media, time to make sales, time for you!
12. Write a basic business plan which will identify what you are selling, how much you are selling it for, who your customers are, who the team is and so on.
13. Identify your Ideal Customers – this is vital to be successful in your marketing and sales.
14. Detail your Proposition – what are you selling?
15. Download any handy apps that will make life easier

Rachel Hunter added something else to the conversation,

Define your uniqueness, what makes you, you. You are what is different from your competitors.

MINT Pillar number three: Money

16. Write your budget. Track every single cost you are likely to run up and all of the expected sales you are going to make. Don’t hide anything away – make sure it’s all down in black and white! Register for Let’s Talk About Money funded training course
17. Have a pricing structure that details how you will make a profit from your sales.
18. Understand what you will pay yourself.

MINT Pillar number four: Marketing

19. Choose the name of your business and visit Companies House to see if anyone else has taken the name.
20. Buy your website domain name immediately you know the name is free (after checking with Companies House!). Even if you aren’t planning a website immediately you can still own the domain so no-one else can.
21. Claim all the social media handles you expect to have accounts on. Make them the same as the website domain name if you can.
22. Set up your email and email signature (link back to your website and social channels)
Register with the ICO, the Information Commissioners Office if you are going to store any customer data at all.
Understand the GDPR rules
23. Branding – get a professional brand expert and designer involved if you can. It will save you money and time in the long run. Consider trademarking your logo and brand elements from the very beginning to protect them.

As Samantha Hunter says,

Your business name, URL, logo and branding and social media pages all go hand in hand really so you can have consistency across all platforms

24. Develop a marketing plan outlining your marketing goals and actions to achieve them
25. Plan the content you are going to deliver to achieve the marketing goals. This could include blog posts, social media post, newsletters to existing and prospective clients, videos, freebies, tutorials, traditional marketing etc.
26. Decide on the newsletter software you are going to use, for example, Mailchimp is a popular option for those starting out
27. Get some branded photography done and a great professional headshot

Danielle Stanley asks

How will you reach your customers and build a relationship with them?

If the list is overwhelming, break it down. And identify those areas you know you need training in. No-one learns everything about running a business until they start doing it!

MINT Pillar number five: Sales

As you work through the list, you will have already identified your ideal customers, your proposition, your pricing, your budget and your marketing plan, all of which feed into the actual DOing – getting the sales!
28. Understand your personal and your business values
29. Write your Sales Story so you always know what to say in any circumstance
30. Decide on your sales strategy – picking up the phone, networking, creating your digital funnel to grow your database
Tracking your sales leads and where they come from and work out how many convert into actual sales

MINT Pillar number six: Growth

31. Use scheduling tools to up your digital content capacity
32. Identify your Key Performance Indicators and start to track them
33. Analyse all the data that you can for your business, analytics from your website, sales and money in, insights from your social media channels
34. Find experts to outsource to and let go of some of the things you’ve always done in your business
35. Seek out partners and collaborators, people who bring something unique to your business
36. Understand the investment that is available to you and your business

HR Consultant Suzanne Ashurst adds

If you are thinking about having employees, consider what the recruitment process will be like, what your contracts of employment need to outline and get all the relevant policies, procedures and insurance into place. 

And lastly, over to Rebecca Williams Dinsdale who advises us all to, “Stay well. Ask yourself….how does my work contribute? And enjoy it.”

Actions to take next


Buy the MINT Year Planner. With over 30 planning worksheets and monthly reflections and goals sheets, this exclusive pack is a training course in its own right! Plus, you’ll receive bi-monthly videos and reminders to keep you accountable and check how you’re getting on.
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