Although there's debate over whether now is the right time to launch a venture, considering the state of the economy, entrepreneurs who decide to take the risk shouldn't be deterred by the process of starting a business. A web of resources, including chambers of commerce and nonprofit counseling centers, is available to give start-up operators the tools they need to be successful. Here's a guide for those who are considering taking the plunge, with advice and information from local business support organizations on what to consider and where to look for help.
MAP IT OUT
Writing a strong business plan is fundamental in positioning a business for future success, said Larry Vierra, director of the Nevada Small Business Development Center. The process of researching and creating a plan often reveals the viability of a business concept, and forces an entrepreneur to consider all aspects of his or her operation, from market niche to pricing structures to long-term goals.
But before starting on the heavy lifting of writing the plan, it's important to do enough research to make sure the venture is viable, Vierra said.
"Before you put in all this work, you need to look at your model," he said. "Is there a market for my product or service?"
In addition to researching to identify competitors and pricing, Vierra said entrepreneurs need to determine if the risk and reward of a new business is worth the effort required. If an idea passes these initial tests, a business plan can help turn informal research into a concrete action strategy.
Typically broken down into sections covering company structure, financial projections, market research and overall vision, numerous templates and software programs exist to help in the business planning process. Nonprofits like the NSBDC and SCORE, a business counseling center, also offer free mentoring services and classes covering all aspects of planning and starting a business.
"Planning is the bridge between ideas and execution. It's a long bridge," said Raj Tumber, a counselor at SCORE.
Tumber advises entrepreneurs to continuously revise their business plans throughout the writing process, and to have it reviewed by trusted mentors or counselors. Even after opening up shop, it's important to keep checking the business plan to make sure that goals and projections are on target, Tumber said. If they're not, corrective action should be taken.
COVERING THE BASICS
A strong business plan will establish a coherent vision for an organization going forward, but moving toward opening a revenue-producing business requires financing, licenses and an office.
Finding the right funding source depends on the size and type of business an entrepreneur hopes to launch.
Banks typically offer larger loans on the scale of tens of thousands of dollars, but for new businesses, other options like micro loans or Small Business Administration loans often provide the needed capital to launch, without the specter of a large loan looming over the company.
Still, the best place to start is usually at a bank, which can provide the information and resources to find the right-sized loan for your business, said Erica Benson, of Nevada State Bank.
Start by interviewing several bankers and getting referrals to find the right fit, Benson said, because good bankers will serve as an advocate and an adviser to the business.
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