by Morton D. Rosenbaum | August 01, 2005

The following checklist was compiled by Patty Magalnick, CMP, president of Perfect Meetings and Conventions Inc., 13336 Sunkiss Loop, Windermere, Fla., 34786;

Before you take the plunge into the choppy waters of entrepreneurism, consider the following questions.

  • Are you a self-starter?
  • Do you work well independently? 
  • Can you communicate clearly and smoothly with various types of personalities?
  • Are you financially equipped to invest in a business while still maintaining control over personal expenses?
  • Have you considered the effect owning a business will have on your family life?
  • Are you ready to handle all aspects of running a business, i.e., accounting, sales and marketing, and IT issues, as well as planning meetings?
  • Do you have the know-how to work with production, graphics and printing companies? 
  • Do you have the physical and emotional stamina to run a business?
  • Have you taken time to understand why you want to go into business in the first place?
  • First Steps

  • Develop a business plan including both short-term and long-term goals. 
  • Enlist an attorney.
  • Decide whether your business should file as an S-corporation (limited to 100 stockholders and requiring annual stockholder meetings, in exchange for lighter tax obligations) or an LLC (no stockholder cap but various requirements for Social Security and Medicare payments).
  • Work with your attorney to draft a client contract, employment contract, etc. 
  • Research liability insurance options.
  • File all necessary forms for federal, state and local agencies.
  • Hire an accountant.
  • Establish business credit and set up bank accounts.
  • Invest in an accounting software system.
  • Register an e-mail domain name.
  • Research online registration systems.
  • Identify the most cost-efficient and reliable overnight carrier service for your needs.
  • Procure and install all necessary office equipment (telephone, fax machine, computer, furniture).
  • Consider enrolling in classes at a local small business association or community college on topics such as business planning, accounting and marketing.
  • Setting the Agenda

  • Determine what type of meeting planning services you will provide. Consider whether you have added-value skills that you can offer your clients as well.
  • Set your costs, break-even point and profit margin.
  • Create a pricing structure for all your services.
  • Determine your internal staffing needs. 
  • Establish staff procedures such as pay scale and benefits.

  • Identify your market niche.
  • Compile a list of potential clients for solicitation. 
  • Cultivate and preserve a network of hotels, companies and vendors with whom you work well. 
  • Join your local chamber of commerce. 
  • Become a member of at least one professional organization. 
  • Invest in listings in directories such as the Yellow Pages. 
  • Develop a complete sales and marketing plan. 
  • Create a professional, high-quality company logo, brochure, business cards, letterhead and other collateral material. 
  • Consider learning web design or hiring an outside source to create a website for your business.