Starting a business can seem like a intimidating task---from securing startup capital, to hiring the right people, to simply maintaining your stress level. Thankfully there are plenty of state and federal resources available new entrepreneurs get up and running. The following resources from the Small Business Administration (SBA), Chambers of Commerce and other resources will help you network with potential business partners, apply for grants, write a business plan and more. This section also links to Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) in your state.
Networking with Potential Business Partners
As you begin to formulate your business plan, you may decide you need someone to help shoulder the burden. That's where "the business partner" comes into play. Finding a compatible business partner takes time and effort. One of your best strategies to locate a potential partner is through strategic networking events. Consider reaching out to members of any industry-specific and/or professional organizations to which you belong. Also, if you have a trusted mentor, set up a meeting to see if they have any leads. Finally, your local chamber of commerce is a valuable resource.
Applying for Grants
There are numerous small-business grants out there for every business type and for those with an entrepreneurial spirit, from U.S. government grants to private funding. No matter if you plan to build a multi-billion dollar record label or run a neighborhood coffee shop, you'll likely find organizations willing to help you reach your goal. And if you are a woman or minority, there may be even more opportunities available to you. Through a combination of aggressive research and employing an organized and streamlined application process, your business will be off and running in no time.
Help with Writing a Business Plan
A business plan is your roadmap to long-term success. You might have a killer idea for a startup, but lack the background for writing out the specifics of a formal business plan. If you need assistance, there are several options out there that can help. You can always conduct your own research with the SBA or consider speaking to colleagues in the industry who can coach you along the way. Mentoring is a powerful tool and should be utilized when appropriate. There are also numerous online tutorials and webinars out there if you are short on time.
Where to Find Information on Forming a Business Entity
Your best source of information and resources can come from your local SBDC. Chapters in states such as California offer extensive opportunities to educate yourself on filing instructions, fees, and any additional requirements or relevant statutory provisions you are required to follow. If you have tax-related questions, you'll want to start with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), including how to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) and selecting a business structure.
Seeking Out a Business Attorney
While you may conduct all of this research on your own, hiring a qualified business lawyer, when appropriate, can ease the burden upon you and ensure that you are doing it right. There are several business situations where you need to seek the advice of counsel, especially if there is a large amount of capital involved. A skilled business attorney will provide crucial assistance in almost every aspect of your business, from zoning compliance and copyright and trademark advice, to business incorporation and liability.