How to start up a start-up?

Thinking of starting your own business? To help you cover some of the basics, you may find this to-do list of tasks you'll want to review before starting up your start-up.

1. Write a business plan Successful business people plan their work and then work their plan. Do this by writing a ba

sic business plan that spells out your business opportunity, accounts for the competition, examines operational details, among other things. The Canadian government offers some helpful sample business plans, templates and links to get you started.

2. Formalize your partnership If you're bringing partners into your venture, you'll probably want a formal partnership agreement in place sooner than later. Handshakes and smiles are great, but a contract will protect everyone's interests. Every province has unique rules for registering businesses and setting up joint ventures, so do some research online to find guidelines and documents appropriate in your market.

3. Create and register a brand name A numbered business or a generic name like ABC Consulting may work, but a clever, distinctive and meaningful name will benefit you more. The key here is to differentiate your company, not blend in. Do your homework! Make sure your brand's name will not be easily confused with those of competitors.

4. Design a logo and "look"

Logo and "look" to represent your business will be needed. You could create your own, if you have strong creative skills. If not, consider using the services from a freelance graphic designer Worth the expense, since you'll probably be using your logo for years to come,

5. Publish a website These days, most businesses, especially start-ups, need a web presence to tell their story, promote their products and services and provide contact information to visitors. If you don't have the skills or tools to build your own site, try out Wix's website builder.

6. Set up social media We all love social medias, so you'll want to expand your online presence beyond your website by setting up your own branded landing pages on social networks. Platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest are popular choices for businesses and may be appropriate for yours. Make sure you actually use these networks to launch and promote your business, as well.

7. Get productivity tools Office 365 a small business' best friend for a reason. For around $15 per user per month, the Office 365 Business Premium plan gets you up to five full installs of the latest Office apps on your Windows, Apple® or Android™ devices. Those Office apps include OneNote, which is awesome for capturing ideas, taking notes and creating to-do lists. Plus, you get business-class email, unlimited HD video conferencing via Skype for Business, and 1 TB of data storage in the cloud with OneDrive, providing you with a simple and reliable solution for all-important back-ups.

8. Build a network of allies Start-ups typically require the services of bookkeepers, accountants, lawyers, couriers, marketers and other service-providers, so consider building a network of these kinds of pros to call on. Joining local business associations and LinkedIn groups can help you make valuable contacts. And you may even want to invite some professionals you admire to act as an advisory board for your business.

9. Organize your office Some of the world's most famous companies (including Microsoft) started out in garages and basements, so it's OK to operate your business from home. But you will need a quiet space, Internet access, a dedicated phone line and a filing cabinet or two. If you need a new PC, consider an awesome 2-in-1 detachable tablet like the Surface Pro 4 so you can work from anywhere, easily.

10. Market yourself We've all seen cool businesses open their doors only to close just a few months later. Usually, these businesses mistakenly believe that "if you build it, they will come." The truth is you'll need to launch and promote your business with an ongoing investment in marketing and sales.

Starting a business takes a lot of work and it's easy to feel overwhelmed. I you're practical and keep your expectations reasonable, you can join the ranks of Canada's 1,000,000+ small businesses who manage to keep their lights on and our economy going.

For more start-up-friendly ideas and resources from Microsoft. You'll find videos, articles and free downloads of software—all designed to help you boost your productivity without breaking the bank.

Source: Microsoft

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