Article by Gene Muchanski, Executive Director
Dive Industry Association, Inc.
An Action Plan for your business start-up is a two-part, step-by-step checklist and contact reference list. We create an Action Plan first before we take any physical start-up action. The reason is simple. Creating an action plan on paper gives you a step-by-step checklist, including whom to contact, how much it will cost, how long it will take, and what tasks need to be completed before each step. For example, you can’t have your business cards printed up before you get approval for your business name, solidify your address, assign a phone number, and have your domain name and email address accounts set up.
Action Plans are very personal to your particular type of business and vary significantly between states, counties, and cities. Nothing in your Action Plan should be new to you at this point. You should have already discussed each requirement in your Business Plan and made your choices accordingly. When choosing your business legal structure, you choose your Business Plan. Your Action Plan will list filing for your legal structure as a to-do item. Your local Small Business Development Center can help you fine-tune your action plan and assist you with its proper sequence.
Here is a general list of actions that may be taken to start your business. It is intended as a starting point for your business development and is no longer meant to be a substitute for professional advice or counsel. Your list may differ based on your type of business and the state, county, and city you will operate in. You may need the assistance of an Attorney, Accountant, and Financial Advisor. Check with your Legal, Financial, and Small Business Advisors.
- File for your chosen Business Structure.
- Obtain an Employer Identification Number from the IRS or your country’s government authority.
- Apply for your State Sales and Use Tax Permit or Sellers Permit.
- Set up Bank Accounts under the company name.
- Secure Home Office, Office, Retail Space, or Commercial Space.
- Meet with Insurance Agent to secure the required insurance.
- Order Office, Marketing and Communication Equipment and Software.
- Set up commercial accounts (phone, cell, fax, internet).
- Set up point of sale, accounting, tax, and payroll systems.
- Order Build-Out.
- Have business cards and stationery printed.
- Hire Key employees.
- Employee Training.
- Order Fixtures and Equipment.
- Order Inventory & Raw Materials.
- Make store or office “Customer Ready.”
- Perform a typical day practice run.
- Launch Marketing Campaign.
- Join the Local Chamber of Commerce.
- Grand Opening.
Using an Action Plan ensures you have all the critical components and systems you wrote into your business plan. It is to ensure that you comply with all the city, county, state, and national business laws and ordinances before opening your doors to the public. It will be beneficial if you sequentially complete your action items, so you don’t have to backtrack and redo any of them. The time it takes to start and complete the action plan is critical. Many of your action items will take time to complete and require some deposit, cost, or financial commitment. Since you will typically not be generating any revenue during the start-up period, making the time between item one and the grand opening as short as possible is essential. How well you planned your start-up costs would be tested during the start-up period.
After you complete your Action Plan in writing, double-check your numbers. Do you have sufficient resources to meet the start-up process? Will you be able to complete the project with no incoming revenue? Do you have a Plan B in case you need additional time or financial resources? Having your Legal, Financial, and Small Business Advisors read your Action Plan and get their opinion is a good idea. The final decision, Time to Launch, will be yours and yours alone.
A final word about the time to launch, or time to market as we call it: this decision should have been discussed thoroughly in your Business Plan. There are good times to establish and times that may not be so good. Factors like time of year, seasonality curves, holidays, weather patterns and economic conditions all have significant roles to play. They should be considered when deciding to start or not start a business. Hopefully, you have viewed them and chosen the optimum time to start your business.
Going through the business planning process has probably been a worthwhile learning experience for you and has shown you how demanding and complex starting a business can be. Even so, there is no easy way to succeed, and there are no guarantees in the industry. Even with the best feasibility study, business plan, and action plan, situations change, and things do not always go as planned. Therefore, you must continue the learning process and respond accordingly as the market moves or changes around you. Good luck with your new business.
For more information on creating an Action Plan as it relates to a Dive Industry Professional Business, contact Gene Muchanski, Executive Director Dive Industry Association.
Phone 321-914-3778. Email: email@example.com
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