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Start-Up Assistance

How do I start an online business?

When starting an online business, we suggest you treat it exactly the same as a brick and mortar business. Start with reserach and planning. Is there a market for your products? Do you have a experience working with the audiences you want to attract? What value are you bringing your potential customers? How are your competitors doing and what are they doing to attract online customers? What start up expenses will you have? Do you have the techinical skills needed to manage an online market place or can you learn them?

Can the SBDC help me start a nonprofit?

No, we are prevented from doing so because the SBDC is an economic development arm of the state of Idaho. Therefore, we rely on tax-supported appropriations and are mandated to work only with for-profit companies. We welcome you to any SBDC workshops that may assist you in your venture. You are always welcome to utilize our no-cost resources on our website. For non-profit assistance, please visit the Idaho Non-Profit Center and the Internal Revenue Service website.

Can the SBDC help me start a marijuana-based business?

Our cooperative agreement with the Small Business Administration (SBA) states our award is governed by and constituted under federal law. Since marijuana is illegal under federal law, we are prevented from assisting marijuana growers or distributors.

What do I need to do to start my own business?

One of the most important things to do before starting your own business is to determine whether or not your business idea is feasible. You must research your idea to ensure that your business has a favorable chance for success, will meet your expectations, and will provide an adequate reward for the risk involved. It is wise to validate your beliefs about your business concept through research and careful planning because you will not have time to do it once you start your business.

What is the best type of business to start? Is it better to buy an existing business or start a new one?

Typically, new businesses are based on the owner’s interest or passion, since business ownership requires a big investment of time and resources. Having previous skills or knowledge relevant to a particular trade or industry is also a plus when considering what kind of business to start. Regardless of the type of business, you must determine whether adequate demand exists for the product/service you will offer. As to whether to buy or start a business, consider your goals and potential return on investment. An existing business should have established procedures and processes, operations, reputation, and a customer base. These are assets – and the reason existing business frequently sell at a premium. If the business is lacking in these areas (and priced accordingly), beware. Also, an existing business may have “baggage” that can cause problems for the future owner. A new business can start with a clean slate. While it may take less money to start a new business than it does to purchase a going concern, it takes time and can be very difficult to build the business. The new business also has no track record on which to base decisions. Significant working capital is often required to grow a new business. The bottom line is that every business purchase situation is different and should be carefully evaluated on its own merits.

I want to start a business… what's the first step?

To get started, please be sure to register through our online intake link. Once this form is completed, your information will be sent to an advisor to further discuss your small business inquiry. Not all businesses start at the same place, so your SBDC advisor can help you prioritize the right steps.

What paperwork do I need to file to start my business?

It depends on the business structure you choose. We recommned meeting with an SBDC consultant or an accountant to help you think through the choices and get to the right paperwork.

Where can I find out about licenses and taxes?

Requirements for licensing and taxes vary by business type and legal structure. An SBDC counselor can help you figure out your particular requirements. Generally, you can find information about licensing and taxes on the website.

How do I start a business in Idaho?

SBDC consultants can help you figure out the answer to that question. How to start a business depends on the size, complexity, location, and type of business you plan to start. We have created a tip sheet to help.

What business licenses do I need to start?

Different licenses may be needed for different business types or professions. For example, a construction business or a cosmetologist needs licensing in Idaho, but a retail store does not. Some municipalities requre business licenses and some do not. We are here to help you sort through the licenses and permits you may need. Note that licenses differ from the type of legal entity you choose for you business (e.g. LLC, sole proprietor, C Corp).

What basic skills do I need to run a business?

The basic skills include a working knowledge of record keeping, financial management, personnel management, market analysis, breakeven analysis, product or service knowledge, federal, state and local taxes, legal structures, and communication skills. In addition to these technical skills, it is most important to have a willingness to learn, adapt, and make changes in a timely way.

What business should I choose?

Usually, the best business for you is the one in which you are most skilled and interested. As you review your options, you may wish to consult local experts and businesspersons about the growth potential of various businesses in your area. Matching your background with the local market will increase your chance of success.

What initial costs should I consider?

Initial costs are one-time expenses that are needed to set your business in motion. There’s no way you can start and build a successful small business if you don’t have the funds to back it up. Start by making a list of ALL your initial costs, no matter how small or insignificant. Incorporation, Legal fees, Accounting, Licenses and permits, Rent and security deposit, Signage, Transportation, Insurance, Building/remodeling, Supplies, Initial inventory, Furniture and equipment, and Installations. It’s not enough to consider how much a large piece of machinery costs. You also need to think about the costs involved with transporting it or setting it up. Everything needs to be accounted for! Then consider your ongoing costs (expenses you anticipate paying again and again).

How long will it take to start a small business?

As long as it takes you to complete your feasibility study, prepare your business plan, gather your money, buy what you need to buy, and arrange your business operation affairs. This could take a few weeks or many months. If you have difficulty with any of these items, the time to learn and solve problems must be added.

How can I get my business certified as minority or women owned?

On a Federal level, Congress considers a minority-owned business, generally, anyone other than white. The business must be owned and at least 51% controlled by one or more minorities. It is a self-certifying process and no paperwork needs to be filled out. You may certify as a Woman Owned Business specifically for federal contracting. Otherwise, a woman-owned business is self-certifying as well.

What insurance should I have

An important aspect of your business is a well-planned insurance program. Types of insurance you should consider are: Property Insurance, Liability Insurance, Product Liability Insurance, Automobile Insurance, Worker’s Compensation, Disability Insurance, Business Interruption Insurance, Health Insurance, and Life Insurance. Your SBDC consultant may have local referral lists you msy use.

Should I buy a franchised business to start?

Approximately 40 percent of present-day retailing in the US is done through the franchise method, which makes owning a franchise an appealing option. There are definite advantages to starting out with a franchised business, but it is important to be knowledgeable about the different kinds of franchising options available to you. Some offer fair value for what you pay and others are rip-offs. Get legal or business counseling advice before purchasing a franchise. You may also visit SBDC partner FranNet.

Should I buy an existing business to start?

The advantage of buying an existing business is that it is already established in the market. It has customers and is carrying on business. You avoid the hassle and expense of starting from scratch. The trick is making it fit your desires and capabilities. Is it the kind of business you want? Can you afford it? Can you operate it? Make sure you work with an SBDC consultant and a tax professional to understand the value in what you are buying and ensure there is information and systems in place to help you take over.

What type of business structure do you recommend for a new business?

Each form: sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or corporation, has its advantages and disadvantages. The one you should pick depends on your circumstances, including: the number of owners or partners, your financial condition, the line of business you’re entering, the number of employees, the risk involved, and your tax situation.

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