Starting a Business

Starting your own business: Are you prepared?

Review this checklist to determine whether you're ready to start your own business, and to find helpful resources.

Published: May 18, 2015
Updated: February 28, 2018

1. Do I have a solid business plan?

A sound business plan should outline your company's direction in the next three to five years. To get started:

  • First, make sure you have a solid business idea by researching the market and talking to potential customers.

  • Answer the questions below. Follow this step-by-step guide to include the information needed in your business plan.

  • Then, go to the Business Plan Center to develop your business plan.

2. How much money do I need to get started?

Every business has different startup costs which are affected by various factors. Here's where to start:

3. How will I finance my business?

There are several ways to fund a startup, although many entrepreneurs first turn to their personal finances, family, or friends:

  • The first step is to determine what type of financing you will need — consider risks, purposes of the money, the state of your industry, and other factors.

  • Learn about your financing options — credit cards, lines of credit, and loans, for example — and find the right ones. Please note that for most conventional loans and lines of credit, Wells Fargo requires that the business have at least two years of operating history, although some unsecured loans may require four years. Wells Fargo business credit cards and some other specialized credits don't require that a business be established for a specified period of time. 

  • Find out what potential lenders look for, including cash flow, credit scores, and business plans.

  • Research the various financial assistance programs offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Please note that while the SBA does not have a business age requirement for its SBA loan programs, the banks that participate in the program may have their own requirements and/or restrictions. Wells Fargo can lend to some startups, those that have a strong business plan.

4. What will be the legal structure of my business?

The structure you choose impacts your personal liability, taxes, and ability to attract investors and other owners. Consult with your CPA and attorney to:

5. Do I have all the necessary permits and licenses?

Many legal requirements are involved with starting a business. Certain businesses need a license from the federal government; each state, county, and locality may also have its own requirements:

6. Have I fulfilled all other legal requirements?

In addition to licenses and permits, you must complete other legal requirements:

7. What is my marketing strategy?

Marketing and advertising are vital to attracting customers and increasing awareness of your new business:

8. Am I ready to hire employees?

Hiring employees requires several legal and administrative steps:

  • Determine what types of employees — part-time employees, full-time employees, or independent contractors — are right for your business.

  • Become familiar with the hiring process, including required paperwork and employee training.

  • Properly maintain employee records and files, including identifying necessary records, separating confidential information, and establishing and following recordkeeping procedures.

  • Understand the various payroll taxes you are responsible for withholding and reporting.