The first twelve months as a new entrepreneur – A timeline to success by Paul Haarman

Paul Haarman

1 – Write a business plan.

2 – Set up the company.

3 – Apply for relevant licenses and permits (e.g., tax registration, import/export license).

4 – Register with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI).

5 – Choose a bank to hold your company account; set up an online portal for funds transfer between you and your suppliers; ask your bank to issue you a credit card and send you PIN, CVV code, and other necessary information to ensure safe and secure transactions on e-commerce websites (if applicable).

6 – As per Paul Haarman, if you plan to hire employees, open a dedicated bank account for salary payments as mandated by local regulations; apply for insurance contributions (social security fund, medical insurance); apply for employer taxes (employer registration, social tax); register with the Labor Department; open a bank account.

7 – Register for value-added tax (VAT).

8 – Purchase equipment and start-up inventory.

9 – Open your online shop on one or more e-commerce websites favoring local presence if possible. Don’t expect to generate significant revenue within one week after launch. Be patient and remember: you will probably lose at least one-third of your listings in the first month.

10 – Prepare marketing materials such as leaflets, business cards, postcards.

11 – Set up separate e-mail accounts for inquiries and also order processing.

12 – Choose among shipping companies operating in your country; compare their prices, delivery time, and customer service; ask them for references if possible.

13 – Publish your web address on all marketing materials.

14 – Prepare an About page for your webshop, describing what you sell, how much to pay for shipping and local taxes, estimated delivery times, etc. Your About page should also contain links to these pages of other sites selling similar products or services (if any). Don’t include contact information yet – potential customers will find it themselves through the search engines.

15 – Update your business registration with online search providers to ensure that your company’s name is displayed whenever anyone searches for keywords associated with the products or services you offer. As per Paul Haarman Search engines may take up to three months to show your company page after this update.

16 – Review your webshop design and copy; make sure you include all the required information, such as how to place an order, pictures of the packaging, and physical address for delivery (a PO Box is not a valid street address). Don’t forget to add a returns and complaints policy and other legal disclaimers (e.g., VAT number).

17 – Decide on pricing for your products or services. This choice will depend on many factors, including payment processing fees, the average salary in your country, also the cost of labor where your physical office is located, etc.; don’t compromise local laws by setting ridiculously low prices!

18 – Register domains for relevant social networks using relevant keywords if possible.

19 – Update company description pages with links to your online shop (if applicable).

20 – Publish press releases announcing the launch of your business or new products on news websites, social networks, relevant industry forums, etc., moreover, to get instant traffic and potential customers. This will also help you establish authority in your field.

21 – Complaint about unfair links to your competitors; ask people who link to them for links back to you instead; use Google alerts to track any mentions of your company name or keywords related to it explains Paul Haarman.

22 – Extend listings on e-commerce sites by adding more photos and product descriptions if necessary.

23 – Refine pricing, product selection, and marketing strategy based on incoming customer inquiries and feedback from existing customers.

24 – Add a phone number, physical address, and customer service email address to your webshop 24 – Set up a business Facebook page and Twitter account. You can later create a Google+ company page.

25 – Tweak marketing messages in line with the information you gather from social networks.

26 – Get listed on local directories such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.; add a map to your website showing the location of your physical office; update these listings with opening hours and contact information; ask friends and family members for testimonials (don’t pay them!) 27 – Prepare marketing materials such as leaflets, business cards, postcards says Paul Haarman.

28 – Save money for potential taxes (business registration fee) or any other upcoming expenditure (e.g., advertising campaign, trade show participation, etc.)

29 – Contact business organizations, relevant associations, and potential customers to establish contacts in your field.

30 – Reach out to local media outlets where you have a chance of being featured or interviewed, also prepare a press release about how your company is contributing to the community.

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Paul Haarman