October 4, 2010

Who’s hiring?

SmallBiz Stew, Who's hiring?. Photo by: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eszter/3513522028/
You’re ready to open shop but you just realize there’s only one thing stopping you and it’s the fact that you don’t have a staff to operate your business. Everyone has heard the saying, “good help is hard to find”, and so getting the right people to work for you can be a task. Of course everyone you hire, at first, seems to be the best person for the job and then two months later you realize that person wasn’t worth the ink they used on their application. You don’t want the wrong people responsible for your life’s work that is why it is important to have an application process set up so that you can hire the best candidates for your business.

What open positions do you have?

Before you can start hiring you have to know what the different positions are in your company. What will you be hiring for? To figure this out, the simplest way is to make a list of all the open areas in your business you need to fill.

Kelly’s Daycare

Two daycare workers (as state mandated for centers with over fifteen kids and two toddlers.)
A licensed social worker (as mandated for centers with special need kids)

Workers needed- 4 (Kelly doesn’t plan to lift a finger in her business)

Use the guide below when figuring out who you need to hire.

  1. Responsibilities (List their job details)
  2. Title(What is their job title?)
  3. Desired background/experience(What attributes, skills must they have to be able to operate this position?)
How will job seekers know about the position?

Now that you know how much staff you must hire, next you need to consider how you will reach them. There are easy and free ways to get the word out that you are hiring and the most convenient and easiest way is WOM (word of mouth). During these hard economic times just about everyone knows someone that is actively looking for a job. Ask around, you’d be surprised of the feedback you’ll get.

Other options are:
  • Craig’s List
  • EBay ads
  • Help wanted signs
  • Flyers
  • Newspaper ad
  • Staffing agency (can/will be pricey)
 How will they apply?
Once you figured out how to get the word out, now it’s time to consider how they will apply for your open positions. Do they have to come in person and fill out an application? Do you want them to call and then you can screen potential employees before asking them to come in? You need to decide exactly how potential employees can apply to join your team. Create a plan that details your business’ application process.

Tip: You can create a simple application using word or download a general template from the internet, as well as interview questions. Make sure your interview questions are directly related to the job at hand.

Now that you know what positions you need to fill, how to get the word out and how they will apply; it’s time to start creating your team.

Who’s going to work for you?

September 30, 2010

Location, Location, Location

SmallBiz Stew. Location, location, location photo by: http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/751107
Where you choose to set up shop can be the deciding factor in your business success. When choosing a location there is so much to consider and decide on. You need to decide on things like if you should rent or own the store front for your business. There is a lot to consider and in order to make the right decision there are certain key things you must do.

 So what are those key things to do in order to find the right location? I have broken them down into four different parts.
  • Research
  • Meet
  • Compare
  • Decide

A few years back I wanted to open up a beauty supply store. I wanted to do that not because it was always a dream of mine but because I found an underserved area where the beauty supply store would flourish. How did I know it would flourish there? Well the answer is simple; I did my homework and researched the area. I did a demographic study, target market research and I actually surveyed the residents of the area. The research I did not only proved I was right about the location but it helped convince my lender of this as well.

When small business owners are considering where they should open shop there are certain aspects to consider, but before you can go looking for a place you have to know what those attributes should be. Use the below exercise to compile a list of attributes that you require for your store.


Make a list of all the features that your location must possess. Keep in mind space, design and money.

Example: If you believe that foot traffic will be detrimental to the success of your business then walk-thru traffic should be on your list of attributes. You want to make sure your store is located where a lot of walk-thru traffic will have access to it.


Once you have decided on your location and space attributes, it’s time to meet with a real estate agent. A real estate agent has access and the capability to locate store fronts/offices that meet your requirements. Making an appointment with a real estate agent will take the hassle out of locating potential locations.

Tip: I am a big fan of networking because I believe WOM (word of mouth) is a powerful tool. So, if you don’t have one in mind, then you should ask around about potential real estate agents.

Once you have meet with a real estate agent and begin to visit potential locations; make sure to keep thorough notes and measurements and if possible take pictures.

When you visit each property make sure to note the following:
  • Cost of rent
  • Length of lease and subletting
  • Remodeling/improvements
  • Utilities
  • Maintenance/janitorial
  • Zoning laws and restrictions
  • Permits required
  • Storage
  • Furniture/equipment
  • Safety/security
  • Expansion/remodeling
  • Environmental/janitorial
  • Insurance
  • Access/parking
  • Appearance
  • Mail/shipping/receiving
  • Lightening/visuals
  • Wiring/data lines
  • Tenants/neighbors
  • Area demographics
  • Space
  • Traffic
  • Tenant responsibilities (i.e. utilities)

Try to record as much information as possible; this will help you decide on which location is best for your business.


Now that you have visited several different locations it’s time to compare them and decide which location is best for you.

When deciding on a location makes sure to consider what your responsibilities will be at each location. Are you expected to pay rent and utilities? Don’t assume or you will end up over paying for a location.
In order to correctly decide on the right location, you need to compare the locations. I’ve started a list for you to use to compare locations. Add a least five additional questions to the list, and you can even select them from the previous list of attributes you noted.
  1. Does this location meet your location requirements?
  2. Rent
  3. Utilities included?
  4. If not utilities estimate?
  5. Lease options
  6. Advantages
  7. Disadvantages
  8. Tenant responsibilities
  9. (Add five more questions)

After you compare location, it’s time to decide on where your business will be located. Finding the right location can be tedious work but it is also the fun part of starting a business.

Tip: Once you have selected a location it can be a very exciting feeling but don’t jump the gun and sign so quick. I always suggest visiting with your lawyer and letting him review your lease agreement prior to signing. Your lawyer can save you time and money on a bad lease agreement that can bind you and your business to a bad deal. Although we all are reluctant to part with the $100.00 standard fee for an hour of a lawyer time, but it is definitely worth it. Look at it this way, if you sign that lease without your lawyer attention you can end up tripling your lawyer fee when he is later called in to get you out of that bad deal. So you decide now which is better and if the $100.00 investment is worth it.

The location you decide should meet all your requirements, while falling within your budget. When you’re ready to decide on a location make sure it’s visible and easy for your target market to get to. After researching, meeting with a real estate agent, and comparing locations, it’s now time to decide where you will open shop!

Where will your business be located?

September 28, 2010

It's time to get organized

SmallBiz Stew; photo by http://www.public-domain-photos.com/free-cliparts/computer/folders/another_folder_icon_01-1843.htm
Today’s blog is about getting organized by creating an organization system. When you start a new business you are bombarded with information; some you keep while other papers you dump. Through-out your journey to start your business you will come upon paperwork that you must keep, like tax forms. It is important for small business owners to create a system that tracks, informs and stores the ins and outs of their business. There is so much on an owner’s plate that it is imperative for small business owners to have a system in place that will help business efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Now that you have started a business it’s now time to get organized and create a system to help you keep track of your business.  Your organizational system should be able to: store, list, track, and update.

Physical files
First things first, set up your physical files to help store and organize the abundance of information you have. You can purchase a small file cabinet or even try buying a used one. The point is to find a suitable storage where you can store your important papers.

Tip: Humans are creatures of habit, (at least I know I am), so it is best to get in the habit of utilizing your filling system and storing your information in the appropriate places soon as you get them.

I have divided the organization flow into four different parts: financial, supply, operation and legal. This will help you identify quickly where to file and find your information. Use the list below as a guide to help you decide what files you need and how to label them.

Financial ­– More and more companies are choosing to send bills electronically as a way to cut back on cost, and to be more eco-friendly (well at least I like think they are). However, there are companies who still send those ‘irritating’ little reminders of our debt through the mail. Your financial folder is where you will store your bill copies as well as bank statements and any other financial information. 

File folders:
  • Account Payable
  • Payroll
  • Banking
  • Recipes

Supply-The first business that I started was selling information and I met vendor during a convention that I attended. He was selling As Seen on TV products, but at the time it didn’t fit with my current business. Even though I didn’t have any use for his service, I still held on to his contact information. A year later when I started my next business adventure I remembered the contact I made and because I kept up with his information, I didn’t have to worry about the hassle of finding a vendor. You may not need the service of a specific supplier at the time but it may come a time in the future when you may need it. So it’s a good idea to have a system in place to keep track of suppliers and distributors, even the ones you are not actively working with

File folders:
  • Distributors
  • Equipment
  • Suppliers
Operation- If you plan to have employees then it will be necessary to have a system set up to keep up with your employee’s information such as tax forms. Your operational folders should maintain all the pertinent information needed to maintain your business from marketing to your support system. Your Operation files will be the most used files you have.

File folders:
  • Customer contact
  • Customer service
  • Entertainment/meals
  • Personnel files
  • Marketing
  • Network Contacts
  • Associations/Support

Legal- Since it’s required to keep your tax papers it is only makes sense that you have a system in place to keep track of this information. Your legal folders should contain all your legal paperwork or information for easy access.

File Folders:
Miscellaneous Information

Computer files

I’ve always been a stickler about having a paper and an electronic tracking system. Although, I keep important papers, I also scan them into my computer system and keep them stored on a disc or a flash drive for safe keeping. So of course I am going to encourage you to do the same. Not all the information you receive should be kept and a lot of times a scanned copy will work in lieu of the hardcopy.  You need to create a system on your computer that will allow you track and store important information.

One of my favorite parts of Microsoft Office is their program OneNote which allows you to keep track of your business in one place. You can create different tabs and store and track different aspects of your business. Most new computers come with an abundance of programs that are designed to keep you and your small business organized. Check out SBS blog Software that's perfect for your budget For more on affordable software you can use to manage your business. Another useful blog that gives some great insight on home business software is The Freelance Sourc.

Company statistic sheet

Even though I’m discussing this last this actually should be the first file added to your organization system, and that’s your company statistic sheet (CSS).

Your CSS should list all your business vital statistics. This will store all your important information and dates related to your business and should always be easily accessible. A copy should be filed under Operation and also stored electronically.

Your CSS should include the following:
  • Company name
  • Ownership (with the necessary ownership percentage listed as well)
  • Tax-id
  • State-id
  • Date of incorporation
  • Corporation number
  • Licenses
  • Permit#
  • Insurance provider/agent
  • Insurance number
  • Date of instatement
As you grow and change, you should keep track of your vital statistics, this will come in handy as times goes on.  Having all this information accessible in one place will save you valuable time.

Now you are ready to start implementing your organization system and getting your small business organized. 
What is in your business organization system?

August 26, 2010

Does your business name say much?

SmallBiz Stew- Picking the right business name

Business Rule 11- Create your business identity

Now that you have figured out what business you want to start it’s time to start creating your business structure. First things first, you need to settle on a business name that not only describes your business but it has to be catchy and memorable to consumers.

Burger King is an excellent business name because it describes what they offer; it’s creative, and memorable to consumers.

Most entrepreneurs use their personal name as the title of their business which makes sense being they are the brand they are trying to sell. However adding descriptive words to the title helps the reader know exactly what their brand offers.

My freelance writing service is called Daustin Innovative Writing; this title allows me to market myself as the brand while informing consumers what it is that I offer. You want your business name to connect consumers to your brand and the service or product you have to offer.

You should avoid names that might confuse or mislead the consumer on the product/service that you offer. If you offer vegetarian catering service that specializes in healthy food, it wouldn't make sense if your business was named Cave Man Catering service. This name implies that meat might be on the menu. A better selection would be, Veggie De-light Catering, this name not only explains the service you offer but it is catchy.

The trick to creating the right business name is creating a name that is creative but doesn't confuse the consumer. Consumers should be able to easily identify what service/product they will get when they read your business name.

All successful business names should expose consumers to your brand, inform consumers on the product/service you offer, and connects both together so consumers can easily identify their need with your brand and product/service.

SBS business name must have’s:
  1.     Easy to say
  2.     Easy to spell
  3.     Easy to identify with
  4.     Informs the right information
  5.     Creative
  6.     Memorable

The best way to decide on a business name is start brainstorming. Create a list of five possible business names that are creative and descriptive. Once you have a list of five, it’s time to make sure your name is not already in use by another business.

Let's do a trademark check!

A trademark protects your business name or service from another company using the same name.

When you complete the trademark application you are required to choose the categories that your business is considered. Another company can use the same name as long as it is not in the same category.

 I.e. I can start a McDonald's cleaners but I cannot start another McDonald's restaurant that's not part of the McDonald's franchise.

There are also certain common words that cannot be trademarked like camp.  It would be wonderful if you were the only camping business who could use the word Camp as your business name. Unfortunately you couldn’t use that word because camp is seen as more of a description then a distinctive name that sets your business apart from others. Your business name must be distinct. However you could surly create a clothing line and trademark the name Camp because in this instance it is not describing your business but it is a creative name you picked for your clothes line.

For more information about trademarks and how to file please see United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Before you try to trademark your business name, you should do a trademark search so that you don't waste valuable time and money on an application that will be voided. Trademarking your business name can cost up to $375.00 and if you submit an application and it is denied or voided, you don’t get your money back. So it is important to make sure that your name isn’t already taken. Of course there could already be an application in the works with your name, there’s no way to get around those incidents. But you can decrease your chances of your application being voided by checking to see if your name is already taken.

To do a trademark check click here.

 Once you figured out which names that you created are available it is time to narrow down your list to only one name.

Picking the right business name

Having a unique and catchy name can be a powerful marketing tool. When consumers see your business name they can easily connect it with the service/product that you offer.

Use the below exercise to help you identify if the business name you selected is the right business name that not only covers the six must have's for a successful business name but a name that you like. After all you are the one who will have to represent the name you pick.

Exercise 2:
Using the list of business names that you created earlier; list each in row at the top of your paper, under each answer the following eight questions.

1.    How does this name tell consumers what your product/service is?

2.    Does this name correctly represent your brand?

3.    Is the name unique and not similar to another business name or misleading?

4.    Are there other businesses with the same business name in different business categories?
For example:
Daustin Innovative Writing
Daustin Cleaner's
Daustin Daycare Center
Daustin Pharmacy

5.    Can you obtain the domain name for this business name?
  •     Is there another business name that own/uses this domain?
  •     What service/product do they offer?
  •     Will this be confusing for consumers?
You don't want consumers to land on spam like websites and mistake that site for yours and you end up losing potential consumers.

When choosing a business name you have to consider its complete online and offline presence. See my blog post The three most have for small business (http://smallbizstew.blogspot.com/2010/08/top-three-must-have-for-small-business.html) for more on why having a business website/online presence is important.

6.    How is this name memorable?
  •  Does your business evoke some sort of emotion or thought that will help them remember your business?
  • Is this a name that is easy to remember?

7.    Will consumers be able say and spell your business name easily?

8.    Do you like this name? Make sure this is a business name that fit the vision you have for your business.

9.    What do your family and friends think about the business name?

Now that you have answered all the questions, it is time to test your business name out on a few of your friends and/or colleagues. The best way to get a genuine reply from them is to ask if they ever heard of a business offering the product/service you plan to offer with the name you created. Ask their opinion on if they believe it successful meet SBS six business name must have’s. Record their answer as the final piece needed to decide on the right business name. 

You should now review the answers and use this information to decide which business name successfully meets SBS’s six business name must have’s and the name that best fit with your business idea and goals.

Today's blog discussion helped you decide on a business name that is currently available (according to your trademark search), satisfies the SBS's six must have's for a successful business name, and is congruent with your business idea and goals. Now that you have the right business name it is now time to protect your business name by obtaining a trademark and domain name.

 Photo by Conradh http://www.flickr.com/photos/ch/3358158014/

August 6, 2010

Top three must have for small business

Top three must have for small business
During a time where business are closing faster than they are opening, small businesses need to be sure to optimize all venues that will bring in potential consumers. There are certain things that small businesses should have in place in order to be successful. They must have a business website, accept different methods of payment and have a consumer feedback system in place. Today’s blog covers the top three things a small business must have in order to stay competitive and to drive in business.

Business website
I’ve said it once, and I will say it again. I am a firm believer that every business, no matter how small, should have a business website. It may not be a full fledged website that is equipped with e-commerce but it should at least announce to the world, who and what their business is about. Whenever consumers are curious about a business or need to know about a certain product, the first thing they do is look it up on the internet.

If a consumer is searching for a specific business and the business doesn’t have a website, chances are they will move on to another company that does have a website. It is imperative that businesses have an online presence that not only informs the public of their product or service but it should also be congruent to their offline appearance in order to strengthen your brand.

Accept credit cards
If a small business offers a product or service for a monetary exchange then they should accept credit cards. Many consumers do not use cash to make purchases and the fact that a store accepts credit cards encourages consumers to purchase a little extra since they don’t have to worry about having enough cash on them. Not everyone has or uses credit cards but more people are using debit cards to make purchases and businesses should be ready to adapt to any consumer purchase method.

Every business should have some sort of customer feedback system where they are actively seeking consumer opinions and implementing their feedback directly into their business workflow. Many businesses opt to include consumer feedback in their business operation and it prohibits them from capitalizing on the major benefits that consumer feedback provides.

Knowing exactly what products consumers are buying and what they think about the business products or services , not only helps the business save on inventory but it also gives helpful feedback on how businesses should market their brand. Utilizing some sort of feedback system will also help businesses stay consumer focused that promote a connection between their brand and the consumer.

In a competitive world where word of mouth is still the biggest marketing tool that any business could ask for, it is imperative that businesses keep up with industry trends and consumer needs. In order to do this, small businesses must have a business website creating an online presence so that consumers can easily find information about the business and its products or services. Small businesses can easily do this by creating a free website that details all the pertinent information about their brand.

Small businesses should also invest in expanding acceptable consumer purchase options in order to encourage consumer spending. Even the mom and pops corner stores are now accepting credit cards and expanding their consumer base.Finally, consumers should adapt a consumer feedback system that allows them stay on top of consumer demands and strengthen their brand through a consumer focused marketing plan. Small businesses can simply add a comment box in their store, while online small businesses can easily add a feedback section on their website or add a contact page where consumers can send feedback directly from their website.

Are you ready to meet consumer demands? 
Photo by: Lotus Head from Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

August 5, 2010

Importance of keywords

Importance of keywords. photo by: cambodia4kids.org- http://www.flickr.com/photos/cambodia4kidsorg/260004685/
So it’s time to get a website up letting the world know that you have a product or service to offer. In order to optimize the exposure your website will get, you have to make sure that your website has all the necessary keywords to bring in traffic. Keywords are important because they dictate your visibility in search engines when potential consumers are browsing for products or services that you offer and they are also important if you plan to monetize your website with programs such as Google’s AdSense or Infolinks. The more you use keywords in your website content, the more money you can potentially earn. Keywords are a pretty big deal and should be considered when deciding what content to put on your website.

The key to using keywords is to do it in a way that your company’s message is clearly stated but hidden within the text are keywords strategically placed to bring in traffic and increase profit. When done correctly, keywords should appear to be subtle so that it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the websites content and the company’s message is intact. The best way to achieve that is to first pick the keywords you want to use to drive traffic and relevant ads to your website. In order to pick the right keywords you have to do research on what keywords to use.

How to pick the right keywords
Use the below guide to pick the right keywords for your website.

Step 1:
Make a list of phrases that are three or four more keywords that you think consumers will use to search for your website or websites like yours.

Example: Kelly’s Daycare Center
Keyword phrases
  •     Affordable daycare center
  •     Area daycare centers
  •     24 hr. daycare centers
  •     Women owned daycare centers
  •     Flexible daycare centers
  •     Daycare centers accept vouchers
Step 2:
Next test your keyword phrases with free online keyword tools like Google Keyword tool or Submit Express.

Step 3: 
Select the top five key phrases that are highly search and will blend in best with the content of your website.

Now that you have your top key phrases you are ready to create relevant content that will not only deliver the company message but will generate a profit and drive in traffic. Remember the key to successful keyword driven content is making sure that you chose keywords that match closely with your product or service. It should be a seamless transition that doesn’t interrupt the flow of your message.

August 4, 2010

Small business idea- freelance writing

photo by: Star Dusts- http://www.flickr.com/photos/star-dust/775368469/
As a freelance writer you have complete control over your business and work flow. Freelance writers are independent contractors that help companies fulfill their freelance writing needs. In order to successfully start your own internet business, you must have a complete understanding of what it takes to be successful. Once you have figured that out, you are ready to use the below guide as a simple way to get your home base business started.

Tips to get started
The key to most service base business is networking. In order for your business to be successful you have to get out there and get yourself known. The top five tips to get started are:

*Get a website for yourself
There is no better way to sell your service then to broadcast your talents and skills on a website. To start off you don’t have to get all fancy but a simple three page website will suffice.  Your website should include a section that gives information about you, a page with samples of your writing and a contact page. As you gain experience your website will grow with you. The point in the beginning is to just get your name and work out there.

*Start a blog
This is the best freelance marketing tool there is. Starting a blog not only showcase your writing skills and industry knowledge but it is the best way to market your brand, you. Make sure to interact with readers and whenever you get a chance make sure to market your blog.

*Get involved
Now it’s time to start networking and getting yourself exposed to the online writing world. Join at least two blogs related to your niche and join writing communities that can teach, inform, and allow you to make connections with other freelance writers. This is the easiest way to land solid freelance writing jobs by getting your name in the conversations of those who have a need for your service.

*Be an expert
Become an expert in your niche and showcase your knowledge by joining forums that allow you to answer questions related to your specialty. Answering questions not only helps those who are in need of the answer but it helps establish you as an expert on the topic.

Be patient
Viewership doesn’t happen overnight, so having patience will help calm the nerves and doubt about your business venture. Be firm to your goals and realistic in your expectations and success will happen as long as you allow the allotted time for your brand to grow.

These are just starters but it should give you a solid start to begin your own freelance business. But with any new business adventure it is best to make sure that entrepreneurship is for you and that you have what it takes to start a new business.

August 3, 2010

Small business idea – Consulting

Small business idea- consulting. Photo by: lumaxarts- http://www.flickr.com/photos/lumaxart/2137737248/
Everyone has something that they are particularly good at and that specialty can be turned into an online consulting business. Consulting is offering a service that requires a continuing push in marketing.  In order to start an online consulting business you must understand that communication is the key. Your success is highly dependent upon how well you sell and market your service. As a consultant you are constantly communicating what you do and how it will benefit the consumer. So having good communication skills is a plus.

Depending on how you plan to offer your service; you must be kept up with technology and industry trends in order to stay competitive. When figuring out how you will deliver your service to consumers, consider the following questions.
  •     How are you going to deliver your service?
  •     Are their more efficient ways to deliver your product?
  •     How is your competitor delivering their service to consumers?
  •     How can you deliver your service in more innovative ways that your competitor has yet to venture into?
Staying on top of technology and how it affects your industry will help you not only enter the market but market your brand in a profitable way.

Tips getting your consulting business off the ground
First you must lay the foundation for your business and know what services you are offering, who your target market is, obtain any necessary certifications/licenses needed, and know exactly how you will relay your message. Once you have the foundation laid, you are ready to get started. The below is a guide to help you get started.

Get exposed
Start a business website which will be the forefront of your business. Your business message should be clear and the service you provide plainly stated so that the reader can easily identify who you are, what service you offer and how it will benefit them. To start off your website can be simple and to the point but it should include the following:
  •     A page about your company and what qualifies your company to offer the service that you provide.
  •     A service page explaining what it is that your company offers and what the prices are for your service.
  •     Information page that gives useful information, guides and/or tips related to your service. Providing related information prolongs consumer’s exposure to the service you offer and it shows them that you are serious about the service you provide and it solidifies your status as a trusted expert on the topic.
  •     Contact page with at least two different methods of contacting you. You can add an email address as well as a contact form so that consumers can reach you.
Create a marketing plan that will announce your business to consumers. Make sure that your marketing plan includes a strong internet marketing campaign. Possible marketing ideas are: social media marketing, email marketing, create an eBook for free downloading, and create a blog about your service. Remember the key to any business that is based on offering a service is constant promoting and staying on top of industry trends. Any successful marketing message should always reflect how your service will benefit the consumer.

Get your business brand out there by joining communities and associations related to your industry.  Learning from industry veterans can give you valuable information and communicating with your industry peers allow you to gain client leads and recommendations.

If you are considering starting your own consulting business, use today's discussion to get you started.

August 2, 2010

Business software that’s perfect for your budget

When you start a small business you are responsible for all aspects of the business from general office needs to sales. Finding business software that will help alleviate some of the work will allow you to focus on the important things. Before you create a budget to cover the business software you need, first you should check online for free business downloads that you can use. This weeks discussions will be surrounded around tools and ideas that small businesses can use to help manage their business.

Today’s blog,  list free software that will help you manage your small business.

Openoffice.org gives small business the necessary software to create documents, worksheets, databases, presentations and photo editing. For small businesses who don’t want to deal with the hassle of Microsoft Office licenses can consider this free office software alternative.

Small business owners have free use of the package and can download the product to as many computers without worrying about licenses.  Openoffice.org works with most commercial vendors and should be easy to exchange files, it will even open up Microsoft Word 2010 documents.

Openoffice.org word document has a familiar format of an earlier version of Microsoft Word. This is an excellent alternative to Microsoft Office suite and the best thing about it is it’s free!

Free Management Software

Systems Online (SCT)
Free Accounting Software automatically keeps track of purchases, bills and other bookkeeping needs while freeing up time to do other things. Providing over 72 different reports, small businesses can successful manage their business and keep track over their inventory. Free Accounting Software can be downloaded to numerous computers without download restrictions.


Free Accounting Software allows you to set up, track, edit and manage the following areas:

    * Company management
    * Customer Service
    * Sales
    * Inventory Control

Other tools

    * Create quotes/sales order
    * Invoices
    * Credit and debit Memos
    * Purchase orders
    * Checks and deposits

 To download your free copy of Free Accounting Software and to read more including system requirements click here.

 Purchasing the necessary business software in order to run your small business smoothly can be pricey. You can end up spending hundreds of dollars on software that may require additional funds to be trained to use it. Openoffice.org and SCT is offering similar quality software to small businesses but at an unbeatable price, free.

July 30, 2010

Business rules 1-10 recaps

Business rules recap. Photoby: ed.ward
Over the past month we have went over all the basics for a solid foundation. If you followed the simple business rules 1-10 then you should be able to confidently finish the following sentences

1.    I should start my own business because…
2.    The reason I am starting a new business is…
3.    The small business that I am going to start is…
4.    My target market is …
5.    My biggest competitor is…
6.    I will supply by business needs and demands by…
7.    My business entity is….

Starting your own business can be a tough decision but once you have figured that small business is the best direction for you, knowing where to start can be confusing.  SBS business rules are designed to take away a lot of the stress of getting started. These simple rules will help you create a solid foundation for any new business.

What you learned

Business rules 1-3 had you examine your strengths and weakness in order to see if you were compatible with entrepreneurship and to define your business goal.

Business rules 4-6 had you examine your skills and experience to help you decide on a business idea that is congruent with your business goals.

Business rules 7-9 focused on research, so that you can define your target market, competitor and locate possible vendors for your business.

Business rule 10 defined different entities so that you can make an informed decision on which entity is best for you.

SBS Business Rules #1-10

1.    Know Thy Self

2.    Be Informed

3.    Define Your Purpose

4.    Value Your Skills & Experience

5.    Business Idea vs. Business Goals

6.    Lay the Right Foundation

7.    Define Your Target Market

8.    Identify & Analyze Your Competitors

9.    Find a Vendor

10.    Decide on a business entity

What did you think about business rules 1-10? Did you find them helpful?

July 29, 2010

Forming a Non Profit

Forming a non profit. By Tracy O
Another popular type of corporation is nonprofit organization. As a nonprofit you are in the business of providing a service or program for the sole purpose of development rather than for self or community. S and C corporations are for-profit organizations that sole purpose is to profit and redistribute those profits amongst the stakeholders in the business. A nonprofit may accrue earnings but it is for the sole purpose of self preservation and financial backing for future business plans. The stake holders does not financially profit from the success of the nonprofit.

 These are formed for civic, educational, charitable, and religious purposes and enjoy tax-exempt status and limited personal liability. (SBA)

The major advantage of non profit is the ability to file for tax-exemption from income tax and for some charitable organizations, property taxes. It does not make them exempt from employment taxes. Other advantages are the limited liability and starting a nonprofit may qualify you for grants and other financial assistance.

Starting a corporation can be a tedious task and making sure that your business structure is set up correctly and meet the many legal requirements can be overwhelming. Seeking the assistance of an attorney will not only help you make an inform decision but will also make sure that you are in compliance with the state and federal government.

Keep In Mind
This is the end of the three part discussion on different business structures. When trying to figure out which entity is best for you and your business, keep the following in mind:
  •     Your Business goals
  •     Business structure-How do you want your business structured?
  •     Business legal vulnerabilities- Are you entering a high-risk business that may make your business vulnerable to lawsuits?
  •     Tax effects- What are the tax implications and which entity offers the best tax benefits.
  •     Profit/Loss projection and investment
  •     Start Up cost
  •     Ease of ending business
Deciding on the right entity can be at times tough and maybe speaking with a professional who has experience in business and tax law can you help you decide on the right business entity for you.

Make sure to visit your secretary of state website for state specific requirements for starting a business in your state.
www.sos.state. (enter your state abbr.).us

"Copyright © 2010, Dawn Austin, Recipe for Small Business, writer, SmallBiz Stew. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reprint this article on your website without alteration if you include this copyright statement and leave the hyperlinks live and in place."
What business entity best fit your business structure?

July 28, 2010

S & C Corporations: The facts

Forming a S & C corporations Photo by:echiner1
Starting a business requires a lot of decisions and some of those choices can legally bind you to them. Being completely informed on the decisions you have to make will help you make the right decision that best suits your personal and business needs. Today’s discussion will cover S & C corporations.

To start a corporation means to start a business that is considered legally a special entity separate from its owners. Corporations are seen as an entity that can be legally sued, responsible for tax obligations and other obligations as a sole proprietor would. The biggest difference between corporations and general partnerships (GP) is the business structure. GP's are usual in charge of the day to day business activities and make all the necessary business decisions but corporations are run by elected board of directors who oversee the major operations for the shareholders (owners). Another difference between corporations and partnerships is the vitality of the business depends heavily on the longevity of the partnership wherefore corporations continue to move on even after ownership change.

Trying to figure out if a corporation is the best entity for you and your business, use the below advantages and disadvantages to help you decide.

The advantages of corporations
  •     Limited Liability- Risk usually is limited to the shareholders investment in the business (there are exceptions see www.irs.gov for more).
  •     If the corporation is a stock-corporation then capital can be raised through selling of company stock
  •     Tax deductions for employee benefits
  •     Depending on the type of corporation may be able to do pass thorough taxes.
  •     Assistance with start-up cost

The disadvantages of corporations
  •     Long and costly set up
  •     Heavily regulated
  •     Depending on what type of corporation can be double taxed
  •     Possible higher taxes
  •     No longer complete control over business
  •     Shared profits

How to start a corporation?

    Business Name Check
You have to make sure that the business name that you have isn't already being used by another corporation and that your corporation name is in compliance with your state corporation rules. 

    Appointment of Directors
The Board of Directors is the decision makers who possess the creative control to guide the business during financial decisions including the disbursement of stock and the appointment of corporate officers. Check with your state rules to see if it is necessary to list the initial directors in your filing. Some corporations use their first meeting to decide on directors.

You will need to complete the necessary paperwork usually titled Articles of Incorporation with your secretary of state and pay the requested filing fee. The filing fee also varies by state and ranges from $55 to $400.  Check with your secretary of state website to get the state specific requirements and the necessary paperwork.
www.sos.state. (enter your state abbr.).us

    First Meeting
Have your first meeting with the board of directors where you can discuss the necessary things to begin your corporation. This may be the time that many corporations chose to pick the board of directors and corporate officers.

The issuing of stock to shareholders detailing their ownership shares in the corporation.

Starting a corporation can be very time consuming and strenuous on your pockets. Knowing which corporation you want to start can take some of the headache out of the battle.

There are different types of corporations that you can start. Two of the most popular are S corporation and C Corporation. S and C corporations originate from the corporation govern subchapters of the Internal Revenue Code. Both types are corporations but with different governing rules and tax implications. Each is seen as separate identities from its owner and both offer limited liability protection to its owner. Outside the tax implications both corporations are governed by the same rules, so now let’s look at what makes them different.


S corporations are corporations that elect to pass corporate income, losses, deductions and credit through to their shareholders for federal tax purposes. (IRS, April 2010)

The great thing about S corp. is the fact they are allowed the special tax privilege pass-through treatment.
Pass-through tax treatment allow for business owners to report their gains/losses on their personal income tax which eliminates the possibility of double taxation.

Qualifications for S corporation status:
  •     Be a domestic corporation
  •     Have only allowable shareholder (Including individuals, certain trust, and estates and may not include partnerships, corporations or non-resident alien shareholders)
  •     Have no more than 100 shareholders
  •     Have one class of stock
  •     Must be an eligible corporation i.e. certain financial institutions, insurance companies, and domestic international sales corporations.


A business structured and entity as recognized and authorized under law. (IRS 04/13/10)

All publicly owned businesses are C corporations because unlike S corp.'s., C corp.'s can have unlimited owners. As a C corporation you also benefit from the dividends received deduction (DRD) which make dividend payments tax deductable. Which protects C corporations from being triple taxed; Corporation taxed, corporate shareholder then individual shareholder taxed but DRD protects the C Corporation from triple taxation.
The major differences between S & C corps

  •     Most C corp.'s are publicly owned business and that’s the biggest difference between S and C corporations. S corporations are not allowed to have more than 100 owners but a C corporation can have unlimited number of owners. 
  •     Corporations, partnerships, LLC's can become a C corp. because C corp. is not limited to possible owners (shareholders). 
  •       Shareholders and C corporations are taxed subjecting C corporations to double taxation, but S corporation are given pass through tax treatment. 

"Copyright © 2010, Dawn Austin, Recipe for Small Business, writer, SmallBiz Stew. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reprint this article on your website without alteration if you include this copyright statement and leave the hyperlinks live and in place." 

    July 27, 2010

    Forming a LP or LLP

    Forming a limited partnership. Art by: Aidan Jones
    Limited means that most of the partners have limited liability (to the extent of their investment) as well as limited input regarding management decisions, which generally encourages investors for short-term projects or for investing in capital assets. This form of ownership is not often used for operating retail or service businesses. (SBA)

    Limited Partnership is exactly how it sounds. In a limited partnership (LP), instead of full equal responsibilities and profits the partnership is instead limited. Your partner would only be liable up to the percentage they have financially invested into the business. Before you can decide which partner entity is best for you, you must have a clear understanding what each entity means.

    Example: Marjorie invested 40% into Kelly's Daycare Center so she is liable for 40% of the business debt and other reverse action against the business. Marjorie has no management control and instead receives a return on her investment from her partner.

    One of the partners act as the general partner (GP) who is in charge of the day to day activities while the other partner involvement is more limited and works more like a silent partner (LP). 

    LPs have complex formation requirements, and require at least one general partner who is fully responsible for partnership obligations and normal business operations. The LP also requires at least one limited partner, often an investor, who is not involved in everyday operations and is shielded from liability for partnership obligations beyond the amount of their investment. LPs do not pay tax, but must file a return for informational purposes; partners report their share of profits and losses on their personal returns. (SBA)
    Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

    Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) protects you from being legally responsible for your partner’s negligence.

    Limited partnership (LP) allows your limited partner some of the corporation benefits and limits their liability to the extent of their investment into the business but limited liability partnership (LLP) gives protection to all partners. No longer is your partner liability limited to their business investment but you also are protected from being held personal liable for the debts and legal actions against your business. This also allows each partner an equal voice in the decision and creative decision making.  Since this is all being governed on the state level each state can have different standards and rules for limited liability partnership. Some states may require that only specific type of business can become a LLP and some states do allow the partners to be personal liable for certain type of judgments, so make sure to check with your state website for more information.

     LLPs are organized to protect individual partners from personal liability for the negligent acts of other partners or employees not under their direct control. LLPs are not recognized by every state and those that do sometimes limit LLPs to organizations that provide a professional service, such as medicine or law, for which each partner is licensed. Partners report their share of profits and losses on their personal tax returns. Check with your Secretary of State's office to see if your state recognizes LLPs and if so, which occupations qualify. (SBA)

    When deciding which option is for you, keep your business goals in mind. If your business goal is to have management control that doesn't mean that having a partner is out of the question. The question instead becomes, which entity of partnership will allow you to keep management control but also allow you to receive the benefits of having a partner such as assistance in raising capital?

    Deciding on a business entity
    In making a choice, you will want to take into account the following:
    •    Your Business goals
    •     Business structure (How do you want your business structured?)
    •     Business legal vulnerabilities(Are you entering a high-risk business that may make your business vulnerable to lawsuits?)
    •     Tax effects (What are the tax implications and which entity offers the best tax benefits?)
    •     Profit/Loss projection and investment
    •     Start Up cost
    •     Ease of ending business
     How to become a LP or LLP?

        Business Name Check
    You have to make sure that the business name that you have isn't already being used by another LLC company operating in the same state as you.

    You will need to complete the necessary paperwork and pay the requested filing fee. To get the necessary paperwork go to your states website for the secretary of state.
    www.sos.state.(enter your state abbr.).us

        Public Announcement
    Some states actually require you to make a public notice about your intentions to become a LLC. Check with your state to see if they require a public notice.

    Make sure to visit your secretary of state website for state specific requirements for starting a partnership, LP or LLP in your state.
    www.sos.state.(enter your state abbr.).us

    If you are contemplating getting a partner use today’s discussion to help you get closer to figuring out what partnership entity is best for you.

    "Copyright © 2010, Dawn Austin, Recipe for Small Business, writer, SmallBiz Stew. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reprint this article on your website without alteration if you include this copyright statement and leave the hyperlinks live and in place."

    July 26, 2010

    Forming a business partnership

    Forming a business partnership. Photo by cquarles.

    In a market of uncertainty it is a relief when you are not going at it alone and instead you have a partner. Although your business goal might be to have complete control over your business and receive 100% of its profit but forming a business partnership may be the best option for you and your business. Having a complete understanding of your personal and business needs take some of the hassle out of figuring out what entity best suits you. Some businesses take on a partner to help their business survive or to help in the management side of the business. Whatever the reason you may decide to start a partnership, you should at least know what that means in the eye of the law. Today’s discussion covers partnership.


    A partnership is the relationship of two or more people invested in starting a business.

    As partners you each equally share in the profits, the decisions, and the business debt. You are no longer solely responsible for the success and/or failure of your business.

    When you form a business partnership it is imperative to consider if this would be a good business decision. You have to make sure that you and your partner share the same business goals and have a common view of where you plan to take the business. It is important to have written agreements that cover the following:
    •     Each partner contribution
    •     Decision Making
    •     Profit Sharing
    •     Disputes
    •     Future additional partners
    •     Partner buyouts
    It is best to get this in writing and in place before the first day of opening. It is hard to imagine but in the event that the business has to be disassembled you already have agreed upon terms to guide the process.

    In the eye of the law just like sole proprietorship, partnership is seen as one with the business. The law does not see a distinction between the business and its owners. Just like sole proprietorship there are unlimited liabilities and both you and your partner personal assets can be at risk.

    To figure out if partnership is the best option for you use the below advantages and disadvantages for partnership as a guide.

    The advantages of partnership
    •     Assistance with raising capital
    •     Assistance in business set up (Now you’re not stretched so thin and don't have to worry about doing everything on your own.)
    •     Pass-through taxes (Pass-through tax treatment allow for business owners to report their gains/losses on their personal income tax which eliminates the possibility of double taxation.)
    •     Easy to establish
    •     Liabilities are split
    Disadvantages of partnership
    •     Have to share control (It is imperative to have a partnership agreement and have a unified business goal and expectations to help avoid conflicts.)
    •     Profits are shared
    •     Limited business life (If one partner unfortunately dies it could cause the business to suffer severely or close.)
    •     Liabilities are unlimited
    •     Medical Premiums for Employee benefits are not taxable.
    •     Disassemble of the business can become a hassle.
    •     Your personal assets can be liable for your business partner’s actions.
    •     Partners are jointly and individually liable for the business debts and actions.
     How to form a general partnership?

    If there will be a different business name used other than the business partner names then you have to:
    • Register your name with the necessary parties. Giving your business its own name will require you to register that name as a DBA (doing business as) or assumed as.
     How you register your name varies by state so you will have to check out you secretary of state website to see if you have to register you trade name either on the local level, state level or through a different agency.
    www.sos.state.(enter your state abbr.).us
    Example. State: Ohio

    •     Get an EIN/TIN (Employer Identification Number/ Tax identification number) from the IRS by visiting their site. www.IRS.gov.
    Partnership entity means a joint business venture that allows business owners to share in the profit and loss of their business. If a partnership is the entity for you and your partner make sure to start with a partnership agreement.

    Sometimes a partnership is the best option and way to successfully launch a business. Knowing which partnership entity is best fit for you and your business is the key here.

    "Copyright © 2010, Dawn Austin, Recipe for Small Business, writer, SmallBiz Stew. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reprint this article on your website without alteration if you include this copyright statement and leave the hyperlinks live and in place."

    July 23, 2010

    Are Your Assets at Risk?

    Business Rule #10
    Decide on an Entity

    Limited Liability Company
    A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a business structure allowed by state statute.  (IRS 2009)

    If you believe that sole proprietorship comes with too many risks then maybe consider being a limited liability company (LLC). Just like the name states, a limited liability company limits your personal liability unlike a sole proprietor whose liabilities are unlimited. 

     Many small businesses decide to become a limited liability company to protect their personal assets against the debt of their business. As a sole proprietor all your personal assets can be seized to cover your business debts but as a LLC your personal responsibility is now limited. Do a little research and look up cases of sole proprietors and what assets were taken to cover their business debts and do the same with limited liability companies. This will give you an idea of your risk under each entity.

    Heads Up: LLC is a new type of entity that varies state to state, so it may not be easy to locate cases regarding limited liability companies.

    Not all business can become a limited liability company. Among the list of companies that does not qualify to be a LLC are banks, trust and insurance companies but the complete list varies by state. Check with your state government to see if your business qualifies to be a LLC.

    When deciding if LLC is for you, use the below list of advantages and disadvantages as a resource to make your decision.


    *    Limited Liability 
    The biggest benefit of LLC is the liability protection that it gives you. You & your personal assets are now safe from your business debts and actions. If your LLC is sued, you are protected from being held personally responsible. 

    *   Pass-through tax treatment:
    Pass-through tax treatment allow for business owners to report their gains/losses on their personal income tax which eliminates the possibility of double taxation. 

    *   Your business can be classified as a separate entity from you.


    *    Not all businesses qualify to be a LLC
    Check with your state government to see if your business can operate as a LLC. Banks and insurance companies are example of businesses that can’t be a LLC.

    New Entity
    LLC is a fairly new entity and a lot of the legal and tax operating issues has yet to be resolved. Example: Many states does not recognize single member LLC's.

    *   Different Law Interpretation
    LLC laws are on the state level and its rules and judgment has yet to be agreed upon universal.

    *    There is filing cost
    Cost can run between $50-600+ visit your state website for the cost for your state.

    *    Tax Deduction Lost
    LLC's loss deductions can be limited because of your limited liability for LLC debts.

    Check out website: http://www.laughlinusa.com/LLC_casestudies.asp for great examples on LLC’s.

     How to become a LLC?

    *    Business name check
    You have to make sure that the business name that you have isn't already being used by another LLC company operating in the same state as you. Also, there are some names that you cannot use such as, corporation, incorporated, City, etc. Most secretary of state websites offer a business name search tool.

    FYI- Once your business becomes a LLC; you will be required to add LLC to end of your business name. That will now become your business legal name.
     Example: Kelly’s Daycare, LLC

    *    Paperwork
    You will need to complete the necessary paperwork and pay the requested filing fee. To get the necessary paperwork go to your states secretary state website.

    *    Public Announcement
    Some states actually require you to make a public notice about your intentions to become a LLC. Check with your state to see if they require a public notice.

    Knowing which entity to use can be a daunting task. Sitting down with a lawyer to discuss your personal and business needs will help you make the best decision. The $100.00 hr visit to talk with an attorney may be worth it if in return it prevents you from making an uninformed decision that can cost you valuable time and money. A lawyer can give you an in depth analysis on you and your business tax and legal implications.

    Thoroughly researching the entities sole proprietorship and LLC helps you compare your needs with the advantages and disadvantages of both entities. Look over yesterday and todays discussion on Sole proprietorship and limited liability companies (LLC) to make an informed decision on your business classification.

    Make sure to visit your secretary of state website for state specific requirements for starting a small business in your state.

    www.sos.(enter your state abbr.).gov

    What is your business classification?

    July 22, 2010

    Being the Big Bad Boss!

     How to Pick the Right Business Entity

    After getting all the foundation laid for your small business it's time to decide on your business entity. There is a lot to know about the different types of entities and figuring out which entity is best for your business is extremely important. There is so much information to be told about each entity that SBS will do a series the next seven days, in order to help you pin point which entity is best for you and your business. Today’s discussion will cover sole proprietorship one of the most common entities for small business.

    When deciding on which entity is best for you keep the following in mind:
    •    Your Business goals
    •    Business structure
    •    How do you want your business structured?
    •    Business legal vulnerabilities
    •    Are you entering a high-risk business that may make your business vulnerable to lawsuits?
    •    Tax effects
    •    What are the tax implications and which entity offers the best tax benefits?
    •    Profit/Loss projection and investment
    •    Start Up cost  
    •    Ease of ending business 
    Business Rule# 10- Decide on an Entity
     Sole Proprietorship

    A sole proprietor is someone who owns an unincorporated business by himself or herself. (IRS 2009)

    The top reason that most business chose the entity of sole proprietorship is so that they can receive full profit from the business. As a sole proprietor you are the sole owner of the business and you don't have to worry about dealing with a partner. Unlike a partnership, you are solely responsible for all decisions of the business. You do not have to worry about the petty arguments that plague some partnerships. This also means that you are also solely responsible for any debt or legal actions against your business.

     In the eye of the law when you decide to be a sole proprietor you are seen as one entity with your business. There are unlimited liabilities being a sole proprietor because the law does not distinguish between you and your business. If you were sued for your business unpaid debt, not only can your business assets be liquidated to pay your debtors but your own personal assets may be liquidated. It is important that you understand your legal liabilities as a sole proprietor.

     Although you are completely liable for your business debt but you also receive 100% of your business profit. As a sole proprietor you receive all the benefits from your business success and have creative control over all aspects of the business. Sole proprietorship requires minimum paperwork to complete and if necessary the business can easily be disassembled.  

    When thinking about what entity best fit you and your business make sure you keep your business goals in mind. Your business goals will help you figure out what entity is best for you and your business.

    Using the below list of disadvantages and advantages for sole proprietorship, create your own advantage/disadvantage list for you and your business.

    ·    Receives 100% of profit (minus Uncle Sam's portion)
    ·    Complete control over business
    ·    Minimum set up paperwork
    ·    Simpler taxes files
    ·    Easier to end business
    ·    Don't have to worry about a partner

    ·    Unlimited liabilities.
    ·    As the sole owner you are responsible for all the start-up cost.
    ·    Medical Premiums for Employee benefits are not taxable.

    How to become a sole proprietor 
    You are a sole proprietor by default because as soon as you went into business for yourself you became a sole proprietor in legal terms.

    If you plan to operate your business under a different name other than your own then you will have to register your business with state as a DBA (doing business as).

    For example:
    Sole Proprietor- Nicole Jones
    Business Name- Fancy and Quick Nails
    Nicole will be required to register her business name.

     Registering your business name varies by secretary of state so you will have to check out your local state website to see if you have to register your trade name either on the local level, state level or through a different agency.
    www.sos.(enter your state abbr.).gov

    Do you know what business entity is best for you?
    Are you a sole proprietor and why?

    July 21, 2010

    Small Business Vendor or Supplier

     Have You Done Your Small Business Homework?
    #3 of a 3 Part Series

    Business Rule# 9- Find a Vendor
    Before you can begin to think about suppliers you have to figure out what industry you are in. If your business idea is to start a Hair Store then your industry would be:

    448150 Clothing Accessories Stores- The industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in retailing single or combination lines of new clothing accessories, such as hats and caps, costume jewelry, gloves, handbags, ties, wigs, toupees, and belts. (Census 2007)

    To find out what your industry is you can log on to http://www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/ and enter your business on the left hand side of the page and it will give you your business NACIS code. (Write this down because you may need this later.) Click on your business NACIS code and it will give you a description of what type of business fall under that category as well as other information.

    Now that you know what industry you are in, it is now time to think about what your business needs are.

    Begin your search on the following:
    *·    What kind of equipment and materials and service will you need?
    *·    Who are the leading and or recommended vendors providing those items?
    *·    What are the costs involved?
      Once your business needs are identified it's time to find suppliers. If you are selling a service and not a product think about if there will be some sort of literature or product that you will be required to offer or give as part of your marketing plan. If that is the case then think about who will supply that item. Figuring out where to find suppliers can be a tedious task if you don't know where to look.

      Below are a few resources of where to begin your search

       *    Ask Around
      Like the old saying goes, 'you never know who knows who'. Talk to your friends, family and coworkers about your business plans and see if they have any suggestions on possible suppliers.

      *    Networking
      Try asking someone already in the business for a recommendation or possibly if you could purchase their over stock.

      *    Trade associations
      Search online for trade associations for your industry. This can be a valuable tool in not only locating suppliers but gaining knowledge about your competitors.

      *    Online auction sites
      Online auction sites such as eBay have an Industrial site where you can buy industrial supplies and products. EBay is more than just a bid and auction site for consumers but also caters to business industry as well.

      ·    Thomas Register/Thomas Regional/ThomasNet
      Thomas Register is a free resource for locating manufactures.

      *    MacRAE'S Blue Book
      MacRAE's is an industrial directory that allows you to search through one million different businesses.

      *    Online Directories
      Online directories have separate categories and sections for topics such as business. Yahoo! B2B directory can be a great resource to find a supplier.

       SBS Business Start-Up Rules 
       #7- Define Your Target Market
      #8- Identify & Analyze Your Competitors
      #9- Find a Vendor

      Utilizing business rules 7-9 will help you:
       ·    Define your target market and identify their purchase needs.
      ·    Identify and analyze your business biggest competition.
      ·    Discover your business industry classification
      ·    Locate potential suppliers

      Doing your research on your target market, competitors and suppliers will help you limit your risk of failure and increase your chances of solid start.

      Have you done your small business homework?
      Do you have a recommendation or tip on how to find suppliers? How tough was it for you to find a supplier for your business?

      "Copyright © 2010, Dawn Austin, Recipe for Small Business, writer, SmallBiz Stew. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reprint this article on your website without alteration if you include this copyright statement and leave the hyperlinks live and in place." 

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