Seven Step Small Business Startup Checklist

To beat paralysis and get started on your authentic business you first need to master the inner game of business. What you’re thinking and feeling has direct impact on the actions you are or are not taking. Use this guide as a business startup list to be sure your head’s nailed on straight .

1. Exploit Your Authentic Edge

Your edge, or marketplace advantage, comes directly from your willingness to move into your authentic power. Authentic business building is the willingness to start and maintain a business strategically from your core makeup. The marketplace rewards authentic expression. Your small business idea came to you and that means that you are in the best position to make it happen. Trust your gut. Confidence attracts support and confidence increases in proportion to authentic engagement.

2. Slow and Small Is Better than Not at All

What the hell are you waiting for? Delay is costly – start, complete and sell one small project, product or service.

Speed and size of your initial success isn’t as important as progress. Part-time works, if it works for you. Create your own transition model and follow it.

Decide on your tolerance for risk and your need for a financial/emotional reserve. If you don’t fear shoestring business building – go for it. If you require more back up, secure that first. Decide what works for you and what you need to be your best.

3. Embrace Mistakes

Count on learning from your frequent mistakes. Let go of the illusion of building the perfect product, business or service. Accept the likelihood that you’ll screw up repeatedly and that’s what you are supposed to be doing in a brand new business.

Let the marketplace shine a light on necessary adjustments. It’s impossible to reach perfection in your own mind. Take your show on the road and evolve from customer feedback.

4. Stay Present – Visualize Success

The only place you can actually build your business is in the now. Always ask this question: “What am I looking to accomplish right now?” Work there – complete that.

If you must engage in future thinking, then decide to only do positive visioning. This means that you refuse to even contemplate any fearful future – or at least spend no more than a few seconds dwelling on fear before catching yourself and moving forward.

Fear of failure and fear of success can only exist if you feed them with fearful future thoughts. Become aware of your dominant thoughts and let go of anything limiting. What you think about comes about, so choose as if your business life depended on it.

5. Be a Merchant – Ask for the Money

If you intend to be a successful businessperson, you’ve got to get past any fear of asking for the order. You’ve got to start somewhere. Produce something small and ask someone to buy it.  Recent online advances make many business resources like merchant services much more affordable these days. Your fear about self-worth, like “who am I to be asking for this business,” fades, – once you’ve asked a few times.

6. Any Movement Works

Any strategic movement works because it creates a fresh perspective which is different from the one that keeps you stuck. The only wrong move is standing pat. “You can’t get there from here,” is only true if you’re not in motion. Fortune favors the bold – primarily because the bold are moving.

7. Be Inspired by Your What & Why

Too many budding entrepreneurs want to first “figure it all out”. That’s an illusion. You can’t “figure it all out,” before hand, in mind alone. Get out of your “how-to” directed mind and into you “what and why” inspired mind. What you want to build and your reasons for building it, will do far more to inspire you to action than a fruitless search for how-to. Once you commit and take action, your optimum “how-to” path appears, – as a result of your actions but not before them.

Which point do you need to focus on now?

Get all seven aligned and you’ll be primed for a successful small business launch.

Related Resources

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  1. Suzanne @ vAssistant Services says

    Any strategic movement works because it creates a fresh perspective different from the one that keeps you stuck. The only wrong move is standing pat. You can’t get there from here, is only true if you’re not in motion. Fortune favors the bold primarily because the bold are moving.

    Amen, amen, amen….and can I get an Amen?!!

    If I had to point to only one thing as the catalyst for the growth my business has experienced this year, it is strategic movement. ANY movement. For exactly the reason you state here.

    Thinking about it ain’t doing it. It’s just not and it never will be. Glad I’ve finally gotten that through my thick head!

    Suzanne @ vAssistant Servicess last blog post..RSS: The SPAM-Free Subscription Alternative

  2. Hi Tom: This is a great post and my favorite parts are the advice to start moving even if you’re just taking small steps (a lot of people act as if they’re about to start a Fortune 500 company, which basically paralysis them), and to learn to ask for the sale. We’re all salespeople, the faster we get over the fear of being rejected and started asking for the sale, the better.

    Marelisas last blog post..Outliers – 10,000 Hours for Success

  3. PeaceLoveJoyBliss says

    Hi Tom, you provide a great perspective, one that transcends the current state of the world. Your ideas are solid and useful, doubtlessly born of hard-won experience in the school of hard knocks. This post is a keeper, one that I expect to reference, again and again, over the coming weeks and months, for its instructional and inspirational value.


  4. Hey Tom, this is a great list, one that I can use myself!! Most certainly, it is about not getting the perfect business right at the start. I’ve made several mistakes in the past and evisage that I will continue to make some. However, it has not stopped me from continuing on my path to building an awesome business for myself.

    Evelyn Lims last blog post..My Vision Board Tops Amazon’s Bestseller List?

  5. Hi Tom. This all makes excellent sense, especially “The marketplace rewards authentic expression.”

    Davinas last blog post..Video — Preparation Inspires Self-Confidence

  6. I’m producing and will be asking the universe (well actually, a targeted niche) to buy in the upcoming year.

    Stacey / Create a Balances last blog post..Risk Taking Can Set You Free

  7. Hi Tom – That was something I learned in real estate. You have to close the sale. The only way you can do that is by asking for it. Unfortunately that’s where a lot of people fall short.

    Barbara Swafford – Blogging Without A Blogs last blog post..A.S.K. Darren Rowse – Problogger – What Is The Future Of Blogging

  8. Suzanne – AMEN! Action is gloriously effective!

    Christopher – Thanks so much. I appreciate you saying so.

    Mare – Yep – those are the two that stop the most folks and they both require a bit of courage.

    Davina – Our work is always to be more and more genuine and sincere. Authentic transparency is what helps folks trust us.

    Evelyn – I’m pleased to see that mistakes don’t slow you down. Others need to hear that.

    Stacey – Ask the Universe and your customers to buy!

    Barbara – In every aspect of our communication we need to ask for the order, online, in conversation and in intention. That’s all a big part of making it easy for folks to buy.

  9. We have to start somewhere. The best way is to start small and build each day.

    What a great list!

    I’ve been caught in the “trying to figure it all out” group. You’re right you can’t figure it all out. That’s why we have to keep taking small steps so we learn more about what makes us happy.

    Karl Staib – Work Happy Nows last blog post..Digging a Little Deeper to Develop Your Emotional Intelligence

  10. Tom,

    This post is packed FULL TO OVERFLOWING with excellent advice! My favorite = EMBRACE YOUR MISTAKES!

    So often, in the early days of my business – I aimed for PERFECTION.

    Setting perfection as my goal made certain I spent the first few years of my business going NO WHERE! I was stuck – trying to create the PERFECT USP – the PERFECT website – the PERFECT offering.

    Then I learned that “authentic” is way better than perfect!

    Oh – yeah – that’s point #1.

    Yet another AMEN from the congregation!

    Kathy – Virtual Impaxs last blog post..Steps to Starting a Small Business: #6 Setting Your Rates

  11. I need to keep number three in mind. I have made plenty of mistakes when starting this business and need to remember that its normal, common and I will get through them. Thanks for the reminder.

    Carlas last blog post..Barack Obama speaks about our addiction (to oil) on ‘60 Minutes’

  12. You’re so warm and motivating, Tom! …and full of great advice. I especially like your reminder that the how-to will fall into place. Thanks!

    Julies last blog post..First Guest Post

  13. Karl – I’m pleased that you are officially no longer in the “figure it all out first” camp. You’ve got it going man – your new site theme looks great.

    Kathy – Your praise means a lot coming from a business veteran like yourself. I wish I could tattoo this list on every budding entrepreneur’s forearm for easy reference. Congrats for no longer needing to be perfect.

    Carla – Yep mistakes are par for the course. They really don’t even slow us down unless we let them.

    Julie – Thank you. Yes, every step forward gets you closer to the ever-emerging how to. Act!

  14. Tom, Your advice is spot on. I really believe my business is so targeted for mu authentic self that I can’t help but love it incredibly. I was presenting yesterday thinking, “Is there anything better than this?” I feel so thankful that I get to do my job. How did I luck out so?

    I find that my biggest challenge right now is to slow down. I have so many things I want to do with my business, I need to allow it to develop a strong foundation instead of moving to expand our offerings too fast. I want to develop another inflatable and I want to publish curriculum. I need to let this inflatable mature a bit before I move forward on those other ideas. But it’s so much fun and I am so pumped I want to do it all NOW!

    Visualizing is my favorite thing to do. I have no problem visualizing my success with this. It keeps me motivated and energized to make my next move. I still feel like I need to pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming. It’s soooo good! :O)

  15. The authenticity is the very first most primary place that will serve as foundation for the rest of the building. I use the construction analogy intentionally because the fear of a freelance career made me choose the more solid appearing business of carpentry. I attacked it with all my energy, but with heart half-asleep really wanting something else. My company struggled for 20 years because the inauthenticity of the commitment corrupted projects from the inside out. Many clients were satisfied, but my dissatisfaction could only make the business a limping success at its very best.

    It is no accident that deciding to move forward with my more creative talent, in a slow step by step process, has led me to your site. Each step uncovers a little more of the view.

    Kip de Molls last blog post..Slippery Slopes

  16. Christine|the bonbon life says

    For me right now, #1 has become very important to keep sight of. It’s easy to want to model other successful people and there is nothing wrong with that in itself. The key is to keep the real you front and center even if that makes you nervous or uncomfortable at first to do so.

    You want to still remain in your own voice, not take on someone else’s. The unique quirks or twists you have on whatever your service or product is or who you are as a person may be the same things which certain customers and clients can only get from/hear from you.

    Christine|the bonbon lifes last blog post..Perfectionism Has No Place in Small Business

  17. Laurie – You didn’t luck out at all. You created a business grounded in your passions and you are being rewarded for it. That’s the way things are supposed to work out from following an authentic path.
    Just slow down and choose your priorities wisely; all really is well.

    Kip – it’s all about authentic adjustment man. Sometimes the best we can do on a single day is to make a single choice more authentically. I admire you for choosing again and making sure that it’s more authentic this time around.

    Christine – Yep! Authentic self-expression is one of the freedoms that I hold most dear. Keep following your own north star – it’s the best guidance you can choose.

  18. Hi Tom – this post is a huge wake up call for me. As you know, I was running a different business originally and my blog was just a hobby. And when you’ve treated something as a hobby for a while, it can feel awkward turning it into a business.

  19. I love reading your blogs Tom because they can be applied to all aspects of life (not just business) when you see the inner message. This reminds me of a saying I have with one of my close friends…”progress not perfection!”


    Miss MatchMakers last blog post..Getting what you want…

  20. Cath – Always happy to provide the wakeup call. I find it very fulfilling to sound the bell of responsibility.

    MatchMaker – I’m pleased that you can see the core inner message. Yep progress is so much more attainable than perfection.


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