It doesn’t take much to start a business. Fill out the paperwork and pay a few dollars and you too can register a business name with an LLC, Inc, Partership or other descriptor at the end. There is much more to being in business than registering your name and launching it.
Much of our focus will be on the Pre-Business stage of operating an enterprise. It is here that most of us run into trouble and here where we need to fix some of the problems to begin with.
Just a few of the questions that need to be asked are:
- Is my business idea feasible?
- What products and/or services with I sell?
- Who will buy what I am interested in selling?
- What are my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to starting my business?
- What will it cost me?
- Where can I get a business loan or better yet a grant?
- How much time will I need to devote to it?
- Should I quit my day job if I have one?
- Since I don’t have a job, should I start a business?
There are organizations in the United States that were established to help you answer these questions and more. The most prominent of the orgaizations are the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network, the Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) and SCORE. Each will provide you with free counseling and inexpensive classes.
The SBDC is funded in part by the Small Business Administration, an agency of the federal government. They provide technical assistance, counseling, loan packaging and training. I worked for SBDC and PTAC in 2010 and 2011. During that time I trained and counseled over 500 entrepreneurs interested in starting, growing or obtaining government contracts. To find the center nearest you visitwww.asbdc-us.org.
PTAC is also funded in part by a federal government agency and helps existing businesses prepare for federal, state and local government contracts. You can find the PTAC office nearest you by visiting their website at www.aptac-us.org.
SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. They have been doing this for nearly fifty years. Supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and with a network of 12,000+ volunteers, they are able to deliver their services at no charge or at very low cost.
In addition to these, there are other national, state and local agencies, organizations and non-profits that provide technical assistance to entrepreneurs throughout the United States. One is called an incubator. Incubators provide office space for existing businesses in addtion to technical assistance, training, counseling and other services. Their slots are generally reserved for established businesses that generate revenue.
While working for the SBDC and PTAC, I realized that the needs of most small businesses were not being met by these organizations. We were unable to provide the level of training needed to support them. The term Pre-Business was developed to identify business concepts that had not been fully developed and business owners that didn’t understand entrepreneurship.
As a result I established an e-learning platform using Learning Management Course technology to create a virtual business incubator where entrepreneurs can be trained and mentored to grow their business. What sets us apart is the fact that we provide training that is self-paced, instructor-facilitated, affordable, convenient and effective. Our site is www.TheBusinessDevelopmentInstitute.com.