HOW OR WHERE DO I START?

It may sound simple, but a good place to start is by sitting down, collecting your thoughts, and making a serious, detailed plan, i.e. by writing a business plan. Define what you want to do and outline the steps to get there: products/services to be offered, location, costs involved, timetable etc. Writing helps thinking.

WHAT IS AN EIN (EMPLOYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBER)

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a nine-digit number that the IRS issues. The IRS uses the number to identify taxpayers who are required to file various business tax returns. EINs are used by all employers, sole proprietors, corporations, partnerships, nonprofit associations. You can obtain an EIN and learn about other requirements IRS requirements for small businesses at www.irs.gov.

WHAT IS A SELLER'S PERMIT

A Seller's Permit is issued by the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Revenue and is required for every individual, LLC, partnership, corporation, or other organization making retail sales of tangible personal property or taxable services in Wisconsin unless such sales are exempt from sales or use tax.  For all taxable sales, you must collect the taxes from your customer and remit them to the Department of Revenue under your Seller's Permit number.  You can obtain a permit by contacting the Department of Revenue at www.revenue.wi.gov.

WHAT IS THE BEST BUSINESS TO START?

What are good at? The key to this is your interests, your job training and job experience, skill set, industry familiarity, market opportunities you perceive, personal and available investment resources - how these things give you a chance of succeeding.

WILL SCORE HELP ME WRITE AND COMPLETE MY BUSINESS PLAN?

A SCORE counselor will take you through the steps outlining the processes to prepare a plan. However, the work of writing a plan is yours alone. It is important that you put your thoughts on paper in detail as to how you plan to organize and operate your business. Only you know what you have in mind as to what the business will be, how it will operate and why it will be successful. 

When you have completed your draft, SCORE can review it with you to "fine tune" it if necessary. Normally, it takes several drafts and reviews to prepare a good plan. 

SCORE SE WISCONSIN offers low-cost Small Business Workshops several times a year that will teach you the basics of getting started.

MUST I WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN?

Not every business venture requires a written plan. However, it is a good idea to put your thoughts and resources in order before you start to invest money in your project. Writing helps thinking. 

If you are seeking to finance for your business, it is essential. Lending institutions or prospective investors will want to see your plan to assess your financing proposal and to assess you as a business manager. A plan also provides milestones to gauge your success as you proceed.

WHAT IS A BUSINESS PLAN?

A business plan is a written summary of what you want to accomplish by being in business and a strategy to organize your resources to meet your goals. Your plan describes in writing what your company will provide its customers (product or service), the market, competitors, resources needed along with where, when and how these will be spent, your marketing and sales activity, cash flow forecasts, and a time line. Basically, it is planning so no money or time are wasted.

WHAT DO YOU NEED IN ORDER TO SUCCEED IN OPERATING A SMALL BUSINESS?

There are five basic needs for success:

  • Sound management practices
  • Industry experience
  • Technical support
  • Planning ability
  • Financial resources

Few people start a business with these bases covered. Honestly, assess your own experience and capabilities and then look for partners, key employees or service providers who can provide abilities that you don't have or in which you are not strong.

DO I HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO OWN AND MANAGE A SMALL BUSINESS?

You will be your most important asset so an objective appraisal of your particular strengths and weaknesses is an essential element in starting a business. To determine if you have what it takes to succeed, ask yourself the following questions and be brutally honest with your answers: 

  • Am I a self-starter? 
  • How well do I get along with a variety of personalities? 
  • How good am I at making decisions? 
  • Do I have the physical and emotional stamina to run a business? 
  • How well do I plan and organize? 
  • Are my attitudes and drive strong enough to maintain motivation? 
  • How will the business affect my family?

ARE THERE GRANTS AVAILABLE TO START A SMALL BUSINESS?

There are no grant programs to finance the start of a business. Generally, there are no grants to finance a for-profit business.

HOW CAN I GET MONEY TO START A BUSINESS WITH BAD CREDIT?

It is very difficult to borrow from a bank with a poor credit record. 

Your first step is to fix your credit standing. How to do this? [1] Pay all current bills on time. [2] Pay off your debts, one at a time. Start with those debts to companies that charge the highest interest rates or have the highest penalties. [3] Check your credit report to be sure it is accurate. Get a free copy of your credit report at www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Review it carefully for errors and request corrections from the credit bureaus. 

The only other sources of funding is from family and/or friends.

WHERE DO I GET AN SBA GUARANTEED LOAN?

Commercial and Business Banks. Most banks participate in SBA loan programs and usually have all the necessary forms to originate a loan. Your contact to obtain an SBA-guaranteed loan is a bank, not the SBA.

WHAT IS AN SBA GUARANTEED LOAN?

An SBA guaranteed loan is a small business loan from a lender that the SBA has partially guaranteed. When you or your business do not have sufficient assets to meet the lender's loan requirements, the SBA provides a guarantee to the lender on your behalf. This guarantee can be between 50% - 85% of the loan amount.

WHAT IS THE SBA?

The SBA (Small Business Administration) is a US Government agency that is charged with helping finance small businesses by guaranteeing bank loans and offering programs to help small businesses overcome obstacles and become successful. Its function is to "aid, counsel, assist and protect, in so far as is possible, the interests of small business concerns".

WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SCORE AND THE SBA?

SCORE is a non-profit resource partner of the Small Business Administration. SCORE is dedicated to helping small businesses start, gow and succeed.  Its members are volunteers,  who were business executives and/or owners, who now give their time to help entrepreneurs and business owners be successful. SCORE offers free, confidential one-on-one counseling in-person, by e-mail or by phone to help businesses do appropriate planning, solve problems, grow, and succeed.