Saturday, September 4, 2010

Going Into Business

I had a newspaper reporter email me recently to ask if he could write a column about my work. I thought that sounded pretty interesting, so I obliged. I work for the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center. We see a lot of clients who are thinking about starting a business and don't quite know what to do to get started, as well as a lot of well established businesses who are growing or diversifying or just want some general advice. I can't say much about my clients, because we keep things confidential here, but I can tell you what I do for them!

When I meet with a client who wants to start a new business, I generally discuss all of the basic things one needs to do when considering going into business. We start with legal structure, discussing all of the pros and cons of each. Then I explain how to get a Federal Employer Identification Number, we talk about whether or not the client needs to register a trade name and get a sales tax permit, and what to do when hiring employees. Some businesses require a license or a permit, so depending on the industry we might discuss that as well. I also talk about insurance and credit cards.

Most small businesses need financing to get started, so that is almost always our next step. We talk about the importance of a well written business plan and discuss the client’s financial goals and projections. Many times, this is the first experience a client has had with business planning, so we go through the topics that should be covered and talk about what lenders are looking for.

If a client is already in business, the possibilities are limitless! Since I work with clients on an individual basis, I can tailor my services to suit their needs. Our organization helps lots of successful clients obtain financing for growth and expansion, and we have also helped some clients get out of business. We do everything from advising individual clients on strategic business decisions to conducting market and financial research to marketing assistance with graphic design services.

That's it in a nutshell!