What are the elements of a successful business start up? Asking the tough questions is critical to giving your business the best opportunity to succeed. When you consider that the majority of reasons for business failures are both identifiable and preventable, getting the answers to the tough questions before you start a business has to become a priority. Just going through the process will help you gain confidence because you are either confirming that which you already know or you are identifying those areas you’ll need to work on. Either way, knowing is always better.

Whether for a bank or another institution or government body or just for your own planning purposes, your business checklist needs to include a number of important elements.

First, your business and its industry. This section should describe where you see your business fitting into the industry in which it will compete and describes why the business planned has an opportunity for success.

The second consideration is, what will set the business apart. In describing why it will be successful, your start up checklist should offer up the reasons that give you confidence in that opportunity. These could be reasons such as describing why there is a niche opportunity or why this product offered by your new business will be superior and therefore why the market will embrace it. Those types of things will tell the party reading the business plan why this company will be competitive.

The next item to deal with is identifying the one time or start up expenses. These are such things as the capital costs that would go into a restaurant refurbishing or a onetime purchase of inventory if you had products to sell. Also items like manufacturing equipment and the raw goods for the production of items you’ll be selling. These onetime expenses need to be accurate and they are for the most part called the start-up and capital costs.

Additional checklist items in a good business plan include a “Financing Plan” which would cover the equity and debt requirements and deals with budgets; a “Pro-forma” which means projected, first year profit and loss projection and a cash flow also for twelve months; a “Cash Flow Projection” which shows the money as its coming in and going out, on a month by month basis; a realistic “Marketing Plan” that shows achievable targets; “Management and Staffing requirements”; and an “Operational Plan” which will show overall goals and breaks down the timing strategies by period.

If you believe your business idea is worth investing your money in, it should also be worth investing the time to get these answers before start-up. Having the answers in written form not only helps clarify your plan and what still needs to be done on your checklist, it also serves as a reference guide to keep you on track.

If any of these leaves you with questions about your business idea or concept, you can see a comprehensive explanation of the 50-key areas to evaluate before starting your business and download everything you need at

My goal is to help you succeed, Bryan M. Fenske, Founder – The Online Business Coach


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