Seven Tips for Business Startups

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A small business often begins with a brilliant idea and then begins to grow. The benefits of owning your own business include a greater sense of independence and the opportunity to achieve financial success. It can also provide flexibility and the chance to do something rewarding — to be your own boss. Owning a business can be a huge endeavor, bringing with it an amazing sense of accomplishment. Throughout the United States, women business owners have been a growing force. According to a recent report from American Express OPEN, Michigan ranked ninth nationally, with an estimated 242,900 women-owned businesses in 2011. If you are thinking about starting a business, the following tips will provide direction and resources.
  1. Research
  2. Educate yourself about your customers, your competition and your market. Learn about other companies in your field and research which business ideas have worked and which have not. This will help you clearly define your offering and set goals.
  3. Network
  4. Learn about people who currently work in your industry. Begin networking by meeting industry leaders and attending events. Something worked for them to be so successful and networking is a way for you to discover what that is and add it to your business strategy.
  5. Create a plan
  6. A business plan is not a guarantee that your business will take off, but it can show that you’re ready for success. Developing a business plan will detail your business and its goals, and it may also show you the areas that still need consideration.
  7. Be patient
  8. You could start a business in a week or a few months — but when you want it to last years, it requires additional planning. You want to be sure you are headed in the right direction and start your business the right way.
  9. Be careful
  10. Be wary of dead-end, get rich quick schemes. Watch out for services that charge you to search for funding.
  11. Look into certification
  12. Some organizations offer certification for women-owned businesses, which may increase your ability to compete for corporate or government contracts. Certifying your business can also provide additional training, resources and networking opportunities. The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council offers nationally recognized certification. Businesses that are more than 51 percent women-owned may apply for consideration. You can learn more at www.wbenc.org/certification.
  13. Find funding
  14. If you’re thinking about starting a small business or expanding your small business, you’re probably wondering what an SBA loan is and if it’s right for your business. Here are two important facts about SBA loans that will help you understand them better.
SBA loans are a way the government is trying to increase credit to small businesses. The SBA program has made lending easier and more encompassing. Now, SBA loans can range up to $5,000,000. As you think about what type of lending is best for you, consider that SBA loans can be used for real estate (eligible for owner-occupied properties only), as well as machinery and equipment that’s new or used. Expansion may cover furniture and fixtures and leasehold improvements. SBA loans also provide short or long-term working capital and in some cases, refinancing is covered. SBAs aren’t for everyone, but in today’s economy, it’s worth looking into with your local lender. Where can I learn more? Starting a business can seem like a one-woman show, but it doesn’t always have to feel that way. Outside support can be very helpful. Networking through organizations is one way to gain support, and some communities even have organizations and development centers designed to assist you. These groups may offer training, seminars and opportunities while giving you the tools you need to get your business up and running. For example, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) provides information and resources about starting a business in Michigan. Following are a few resources you may want to try:
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Tags: Financial Facts, Independent Bank, small business, startups