Tech Startup Checklist

This startup checklist will help you get prepared for the new venture and will also help you budget for the various things you will encounter in the process of building your technology based business.

1. Secure the seed capital

You will need to spend money on different business activities to get your business going. The first step is to figure out where that money will come from. If you are able to develop a partnership with someone who is willing to pay for the upfront costs then it is definitely ideal but if that is not the case then you don’t have to worry about securing all the funds at once. If you are determined then it is best to bootstrap your business which means that you can start with a small capital using personal finances and maintain funding with alternate sources of income. It is not uncommon for new doors to open when you are determined and motivated to succeed.

2. Choose a name for your business

A short catchy and relevant phrase is usually easy to remember. The name of the business will help create brand awareness and thus it is important to choose a name that is easy to remember. In the tech world, search engines play a very important role in how the potential customers find your business. A well chosen name that is relevant to the industry you are operating within, will help getting found in online searches and will drive consistent organic traffic to your business.

3. Register a website domain

This step goes hand in hand with the previous step of choosing a name for your business. It is ideal to get a domain name that matches your business name but is often very hard due to the competition and availability for commonly used words and phrases. Perform extensive domain name searches in the process of finalizing the business name and stick with the one that fulfills all the marketing prerequisites associated with the name of a business.

4. Incorporate your business

It is important to understand the different types of legal structures before incorporating your business. Different types of entities pose different types of taxation laws and other legal requirements for operating a business. Meet with a certified public accountant or an attorney who specializes in company law to thoroughly understand the meaning of terms like S-Corp, C-Corp and LLC. You can also learn more about these entities by performing research online and save yourself legal and professional fees incurred by meeting with attorneys and accountants. Incorporating a business itself is extremely easy once you decide it’s legal structure and you can even do so online using various services for as low as $150 in service fees.

5. Apply for an EIN (Employer Identification Number)

Your business will need an EIN (Employer Identification Number) assigned by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) for the purpose of filing your annual business tax returns. You can apply for this on the IRS website online and get the number almost instantly.

6. Set Up a bank account

A bank account for the business is crucial to operating any business. You will need your incorporation documents, proof of EIN and personal identification to open a new bank account for the business. It is always best to choose a bank that has extensive online capabilities because your technology business is going to depend on several types of technical integrations with the vendors that offer critical services. Choosing a local or smaller bank or credit union might become a limiting factor for the growth of your business.

7. Set Up your business email accounts

A technology business is usually dependent on several online services that send out critical updates from time to time. All of this happens through email communication. It is important to organize digital communication and designate the purpose of various email accounts used by the business. It is also important to have email accounts that use the primary domain name for the business to build credibility with potential partners such as investors, advisors, vendors etc. There are many reliable email services that help set up business emails quickly and easily. It is best to utilize a reliable third party email service provider rather than manage emails in house.

8. Signup with an accounting system

All businesses need an accounting system that can keep track of the income and expenses. When it comes to a technology business, the accounting system needs to be more flexible in terms of its programming interfaces. Most online businesses deal with a large user base and as the number of transactions increase, manual bookkeeping can become impossible to keep up with. Working with accounting systems that provide programming interfaces to accept real time transaction into can be very efficient and rewarding in the long term. There are many such choices available and you can signup with any one of them.

9. Designate a bookkeeper

You will need to keep track of the business finances on an ongoing basis. This is required for budgeting, taxes and other important activities that are crucial for operating a business. For a startup, hiring a full time bookkeeper may not be the best idea. The ideal scenario would either be hiring a part time bookkeeper or designating one of the cofounders to handle this responsibility.

10. Partner with a full service technology company

Technology is the backbone of a tech startup and you want all the services available to you as and when you need them. Design, Development, Version Control, QA, Hosting, Security, Clustering etc. are just a few that are required to support a growing tech business. You may choose to build your own team but given all the work it takes to build a new business it’s better to partner with a reliable technology service provider.

11. Partner with a full service digital marketing agency

There are two major areas of focus for any tech startup. One is product development and the other is marketing. Neither one of them can exist without the other. You can build a great product but without good marketing you won’t be able to get users. Similarly you can be a great marketer with a buggy product that your users will abandon fast. A good marketing agency knows how to combine various efforts to drive both paid and organic traffic to your product. The marketing strategy must develop sales channels in a way that works towards both short term and long goals of your business.

12. Develop an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product with just enough features to board early customers who can provide feedback for continued product development. This is a very important step that helps shape up the product roadmap and enables future development in the direction that satisfies the customers. Gathering user insights early on is a smart and cost effective strategy that helps with better analysis and better product development. This also helps improve engagement through iterative feature releases based on the user behavior.

13. Develop essential marketing content for your product

Signup is the first step in any tech startup’s sales funnel. Marketing content is solely responsible for the successful execution of this step. Clear and concise messaging that delivers enough value will encourage the visitors to sign up with the program. Marketing content also plays a very important role in driving traffic to your app or your website. Great content gets shared on social media and other channels and this can bring a lot of potential users to your product’s website.

14. Get a detailed marketing plan with budgets, targets & timelines

Marketing can get tricky and expensive if you move forward without a plan that clearly outlines the budget vs targets. Your marketing partner must present a detailed marketing plan as the first deliverable and the plan must contain monthly or quarterly targets along with the costs. The targets are often defined in terms of visitors, signups and conversions against a timeline required to meet these target numbers. This is a good scale to measure the performance of your marketing partner and hold them accountable.

15. Launch your MVP

When the MVP is ready you need to launch it in a way that it catches people’s attention and starts bringing in users to help you evaluate all the hard work you have been putting in. There are several strategies to help you create an ideal launch plan for your product. The applicable strategy would depend on who your target audience is and how you want your product to be perceived by the market. You can research this topic online and you will find many articles with ideas to help you launch your product in the best possible manner.

16. Create a content calendar

Content is the king and you will need to keep producing helpful content to market your products and services effectively. This exercise never stops so creating a content calendar is a good way to maintain a disciplined approach toward this extremely important activity. A content calendar will help you come up with the frequency at which you can produce different types of content. It will also help you identify the cost and the resources you need to keep up with this marketing activity.

17. Set Up analytics tracking codes

When you launch your MVP, remember to add analytics codes to track how your product is doing online. Analytics code will track the number of people visiting your product and several key data points on how they are using your product. There are various third party tools available to help you with gathering user analytics. Most of these tools are free and some have an associated cost depending on how deep you want to dive into this kind of data.This is a very important step and the analytics data will help you in a number of ways including your future discussions with potential partners and investors.

18. Develop an engagement strategy

Based on the user analytics and further analysis of the data collected by your product, you will be able to see whether your users are spending enough time with your product and using it in the way you had expected. You will be able to see which features are being used more versus the features that are being used less or not being used at all. This insight can be used to develop an engagement strategy for your product. Focusing on the features that users like more can help decide the direction for future development and suggest functionality to improve the user engagement.

19. Develop a conversion strategy

Conversion means converting a prospect to a customer. In other words if your product users are paying your business to use your product then you have been successful at converting them. Engagement is a major prerequisite to conversion and a good conversion strategy can only be implemented if your engagement strategy is working in the right direction. Analyzing the user actions and interests can point to the conversion triggers that are most likely to motivate your users to spend money on your products and services. With the right analysis of data you will be able to develop a conversion strategy that will start generating revenue for your business.

20. Create a product roadmap

As soon as you launch your MVP you will need to start working on multiple fronts simultaneously. This would include marketing, analysis of user data, coming up with new features to implement the engagement and conversion strategies etc. Prioritizing one development activity over another will have a direct impact on your business. Therefore creating a living product roadmap document will help you make a list of all the features you wish to develop and then organize them in the order that meets the demands for your business. This document will continue to evolve and change on an ongoing basis depending on how you product is performing in the market.