Category Archives: Getting Started

Ask SCORE | Should I run my small business from home?

Operating a business from home offers small business owners some significant advantages — and some disadvantages, too. Some entrepreneurs find running a home-based business works exceptionally well for them, while others do much better at a coworking space of in an office away their home. Consider the following pros and cons.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: How can I use the business model canvas?

methodology-b5e4177c0e51a4b1c552fbec08455ccd8643b8ac6fcced615e7b2452e4d5563bThe Business Model Canvas is an entrepreneurial tool that helps you visualize, design, and reinvent your business model. It was developed by Swiss business theorist and author Alexander Osterwalder.

For a startup, using the tool can help you develop a clear view of your value proposition, operations, customers, and finances. As an existing business owner, you can use it to identify how the different components of your business relate to each other.

It can help you decide where you need to focus your time and effort.  Continue reading

Ask SCORE: How do I get a business license?

Kitsap County does not require business licenses but the cities of Port Orchard, Poulsbo, Bainbridge Island and Bremerton each have business license requirements.

NOTE: Businesses NOT physically located in the city, but still doing work there, are required to obtain a license for the city. Business should check to make sure their use is compliant with land use and zoning.

All business must apply for a Master Business License from the Washington State Department of Licensing, which registers the business with the state departments of Revenue, Licensing, Labor and Industries, Employment Security, Secretary of State, and the Washington State Department of Commerce.

A new corporation locating in the State of Washington must file for Articles of Incorporation with the Secretary of State‘s office, which will issue a UBI (Unified Business Identifier) number.

5 overlooked options for financing your small business.

Need financing to start or grow your business? If you’re starting a business that requires significant financial investment up front, finding a source of funding can be a challenge. Many start-ups and new small businesses often find they may not qualify for a traditional small business bank loan. Without a proven track record of 3-5 years under your belt and/or established business credit, many banks simply won’t take the risk. But before you risk your life savings or re-mortgage your home, you should know about some possible alternatives.  Continue reading

What is a franchise and should you buy one?

You’ve heard the word “franchise,” but what exactly is one? A franchise refers to a system of doing business in which a parent company (the franchisor) sells the rights to a system of doing business to individuals (franchisees).

Each franchisee pays a franchise fee in order to buy into the system, then pays ongoing royalties for the right to continue using the franchise’s name and trademark. Most franchisors provide franchisees with initial training, as well as ongoing support that typically includes marketing materials, suppliers of inventory and more.

McDonald’s is probably the most famous franchise in America, but franchising isn’t limited to the fast-food industry. You can find franchises in just about every industry, from retail stores and restaurants to business and personal services, such as accounting, hair care and fitness.

Whatever type of business you’re thinking of starting, there’s probably a franchisor that can help you do it. But is buying a franchise right for you?  Continue reading

The road to small business success starts with the right first steps.

Building a successful small business requires a lot of time, thought, and planning. If you’ve never traveled the road to entrepreneurship before, you might find it overwhelming. With so many details to pay attention to, where should you begin?

Marc Goldberg, a SCORE mentor with business management and marketing expertise, has outlined some first steps that are appropriate for nearly every type of business:

  • Contact your local SCORE chapter to get guidance from a business mentor and learn what you can expect when starting a business. (kitsapscore.org)
  • Determine your value proposition. What customer needs will you fulfill and do you have a large enough base of prospects with those needs?
  • Find a good attorney who specializes in small business issues. Legal formation, human resources issues, etc.  Continue reading

What’s holding millennials back?

It seems as if every day, I hear about another Millennial entrepreneur launching an innovative new business. Indeed, more than half (51 percent) of Millennials (ages 18-34) either own or would like to own a business someday, according to a recent survey by the Small Business Majority. But apparently, those numbers could be even higher — if only financial concerns weren’t holding would-be Millennial entrepreneurs back.

Here are some of the disturbing numbers the survey found:

Nearly half (48 percent) of Millennials paying off student debt who currently own or have plans to own a business say their student loan payments have hurt their ability to start a business. And 38 percent of the Millennials interested in starting a business but who have no current plans to do so say their student loan payments affect their ability to start a business.

Student debt is also making it more difficult for Millennials to invest in their businesses or to hire employees. Among those who are still paying off student loans, 43 percent of those who own or have current plans to own a business, and 38 percent who would like to own a business but have no current business plans, say their student debt affects their ability to invest in the business or hire new employees.

Even more than student debt, concerns about retirement are hindering Millennials from starting businesses. A whopping 75 percent of Millennials who either own, plan to own or would like to start a business one day say the lack of an employer-sponsored retirement plan is a barrier to entrepreneurship. More than one-third (36 percent) say it is a “serious” concern. Not surprisingly, those who are still paying off student debt are more likely than other respondents to be worried about not having an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

We’ve all heard a lot in recent years about the problems that student debt is causing for young people, their families and their futures. But if student debt continues to hinder Millennials from following their entrepreneurial dreams, our country’s role as a leader in innovation and entrepreneurship will suffer, too.

The good news is that Millennial entrepreneurs still have the DIY spirit startups are known for: Almost three-quarters (76 percent) started their businesses themselves. Just 12 percent inherited the business, while 8 percent received it as a gift or through marriage.

Tapping into that attitude, here are some suggestions for ways that young entrepreneurs can overcome the hindrance of student debt.

  • If possible, see if you can live with your parents while starting your business. This makes it more feasible to pay off your student debt or, if it’s currently deferred, to invest in your business.
  • Do you have parents or other relatives who are willing to invest in your business? Consider asking if they are willing to help repay your student debt instead. This enables you to put earnings back into the business, without having two types of debt hanging over your head.
  • Set up your own retirement plan. No, you won’t get an employer match, but there are retirement plans designed for the smallest businesses, even those with just one employee (you).
  • Buddy up. Consider starting your business with a partner or partners to share the burden of startup costs.

by Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship.