The Essentials For Starting A Business

I am trying to come up with a list of essentials that I need in order to officially start my business. I need to keep in mind that I will be doing "as-desired" consulting in addition to producing my own ideas; thus I will (hopefully) be bringing in some money even if my own ideas do not become fruitful. In fact, I am doing some consulting work right now. Below is my list thus far. A couple of caveats: (1) The categories here are relatively generic that can be applied to most any business. I did not include specific software development essentials (that is for a future blog post) (2) It reflects, for the time being, a one person business that will either be a sole-proprietor or LLC:

  • A good business idea: :-) 
  • Accounting Software: QuickBooks Simple Start 2008 (FREE) -  I will at least need to create invoices for my consulting jobs and hopefully have other uses for when my own ideas come to fruition
  • Tax Software: Turbo Tax Home and Business - Right now, I don't have an accountant, and I plan to do my own taxes (as I have always done). I figured as a sole proprietor or an LLC, the taxes won't be overly more complicated than they are for me without the business.
  • Task Management Software: Master List Professional - Just to keep your business life in order
  • Company and Tax Information Resources: Surprisingly Simple: Independent Contractor, Sole Proprietor, and LLC Taxes Explained in 100 Pages or Less (and for me specifically as well, Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality)
  • Health Insurance:I will probably go with a high deductible insurance plan (with HSA) for me an my family. Maybe from Blue Cross Blue Shield.
  • Legal Help and Advice: LegalZoom.com - This can help me create my LLC, get my trademark, etc. The question is, do I really need an attorney?
  • Computer Backup Software: Right now, I backup my laptop up to an external hard drive. I think I will also start creating a regular DVD backup that I place outside my home (maybe in a P.O. box or something). Does anyone recommend online backup services? The thing that concerns me there is privacy.
  • Domain name: Nowadays, this is a given and a must for any successful business, even for brick and mortar type businesses.
  • Web site: I am going to have a web site. I may develop it myself, but I also may hire someone to do it for me. If you have any recommendations of a good site developer and/or you are one yourself, let me know in the comments or at constantflux(at)joelmarcey.com
  • Web host: I have tried HostGator. It is OK. But after trying it, I think I want a Windows-based host, since I am quite familiar with the Windows platform. Or at least a host that offers both Linux and Windows hosting. Any recommendations?
  • Business Credit Card: Can anyone tell me what the best one is?
  • Business Bank Account

What else needs to be added to, deleted from, or changed in this list? For example, are business, disability, life insurances essentials? What about belonging to a self-employed organization like an the NASE (National Association for the Self-Employed)?

 Also, in the list, are there better products to use for each category than I came up with?