Start Ups

1.  www.sba.gov and www.score.org are the best sites to delve into….free samples and templates, including an online business plan template, how to articles, loan info, financial statements, resources, links and everything else you need to know!

Logo of the U.S. government's Small Business A...

2. Need a business plan? Use the SBA template online or search for free samples on www.bplans.org. Take a class and write it w/others so you’re not alone in the process. How long does it take to write a plan?  It all depends on how much time you devote to it.

3. Before you spend any money on books or consultants, call your local SBA, SCORE, SBDC or women’s business center (www.cweonline.org) for free or low-cost counseling.  They may have what you need.

4. There are no grants for start-ups (in general)….if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You don’t need to spend money on a workshop to tell you about the grants available.  Call the resources above to confirm if you hear about something in particular. Some cities and town have their own grant programs so its worth asking about (town economic development director).

5. Banks want collateral and down payment. Credit scores have to be at least 620 for alternative lenders and higher for most banks or credit unions. They prefer experience in the industry and they expect the business owner to be on-site, full-time.

6. Keep your business and personal expenses separate! It’s easy enough to get a business credit card or just use one that you have, exclusively for the business.  Open a business checking account. Find a bank w/low to no fees.  Ask about a DBA account (doing business as).

7.  Start interviewing CPA’s, lawyers and bookkeepers early and hire them when you start. It’s better to spend a few $$$ upfront to do things right than to try to fix things later (or deal w/a lawsuit or problem that could have been avoided). Do you need a bookkeeper?  That depends on how much time you have and whether or not you’ll keep good records.  Giving your CPA a box full of receipts at the end of the year gets expensive.

8. Don’t like financial reports or numbers? How are you going to know if you’re being fleeced if you don’t know what you’re looking at?  Take a course and figure it out.

9.  Create an advisory board and add it to your business plan. Use these people as your support! It’s lonely at the top and you can’t know everything! Surround yourself w/people who can answer questions, listen to your ideas and help you grow and expand your ideas.

10. Going into business w/a friend or relative?  Spend $$$ on a contract w/exit strategy, write-up job descriptions and expectations, do a visioning exercise separately and then compare.  Are you still on the same track?  Do you really need a formal partnership? Are you both at the same stage in life? Both willing to put your all into the business?  If not, re-think your strategy.

11. Here’s a simple explanation for pricing strategies from the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center:  Pricing-NH SBDC