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Janice Washington

New Year, New Business: How to Start it Right

Janice Washington
State Director, Arizona Small Business Development Center Network

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 1:00 PM

Janice Washington is State Director of the Arizona Small Business Development Center Network (AZSBDC). Her background highlights more than 30 years of business experience working with both small businesses and large corporations. A successful entrepreneur in her own right, Washington was principal of her own accounting and financial consulting firm for more than 21 years.

Prior to starting her company, Washington held various analytical, administrative, and management positions at Honeywell Information Systems and Intel Corporation. She also served as an adjunct professor at Western International University. Washington serves on the Board of Directors of the Arizona Small Business Association and is a member of the Arizona State Board of Tax Appeals, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Arizona Society of Certified Public Accountants.

If you are considering starting your own business this year, SBA can be valuable resource to help you find a mentor, improve your business skills and get training to help boost your ideas. SBA has great resources for entrepreneurs at every stage of the business cycle.

Chat Transcript

From:
Lashanda Wall
Location:
Jacksonville, FL
 

Good afternoon,

 

Welcome to the SBA Web Chat. It is so great to see so many people interested in starting small businesses. Although achieving success as a small business owner is very challenging, it is one of the most rewarding things you'll ever do and you have many partner here to help you!

 
From:
Lashanda Wall
Location:
Jacksonville, FL
 
Question:
How can I qualify for a small business grant to open up my owm business? My email is lashanda31@GMAIL.COM
Reply:
Grants for small businesses are very rare indeed. The best source of information for this can be found online at www.grants.gov. Most grants have strings attached, which make them difficult to administer and add complication for small businesses. For example, Arizona has a Job Training grant (more info can be found at www.azcommerce.com) that is a reimbursement program, which requires the business to expend funds of their own before being reimbursed. This is also for specific purposes, with training new employees the primary purpose. The strings attached are the employees must be full time, the wage has to be at a certain level, and the eligible costs are limited.
 
From:
Angela
Location:
Painesville, Ohio
 
Question:
My friend and I are interested in starting a cleaning business. Our main target customers would be car dealerships, homes, and foreclosed homes. Can you tell me of any Grant money available? I am also interested in how to go about getting a small business loan. Thank you for your time.
Reply:
See above for information on the grant. Getting a small business loan can be difficult for a startup. A loan guaranteed by an SBA loan is one of the few ways of accomplishing this, and information on the SBA loan requirements, along with a list of Banks who do SBA guaranteed startup loans, can be found at www.sba.gov There are three basic requirements for getting a loan. 1) you must have a good business plan. The SBDC can help with that, and has a good template and workbook you can download from our website: http://www.maricopa-sbdc.com/Business%20Plan%20Workbook.doc http://www.maricopa-sbdc.com/Business%20Plan%20outline.doc 2) A good credit record. A bankruptcy or bad credit will probably eliminate you from consideration for any bank loan. We recommend that you pull a current credit report (www.freecreditreport.com) and make notations of problems and how you fixed or overcame past problems. 3) Equity. You must have cash or assets to invest in any small business to get a bank loan. The percent varies, depending on the industry, size and other factors, but a range of 20 to 50% is typical for bank making startup loans.
 
From:
robert luckett
Location:
oakland, ca.
 
Question:
hi. my name is Robert Luckett and i need to know how to get my banking started for my business ?
Reply:
Who do you bank with right now? For how long? This is often a good place to start. Visit your current bank and ask to speak to a Manager. Tell them of your plans for starting a small business, and get their information on services they provide. The account charges are just one aspect. Inquire about how they help small business with loans, cash management services and other things they might do, such as payroll accounting, credit card processing, investing, etc. Then check out some other sources to compare. Talk to other businesspeople who do what you do to see who they use and what their experience is.
 
From:
Patricia
Location:
Landenberg, PA
 
Question:
Looking to start a 'photo booth' business. In process of writing a business plan. Question: Is there any problem with working at it for a few months before we get a business license?
Reply:
That could be a problem. In theory you should have your business license before you get started. If you live in a City, this is a simple process, best accomplished by visiting City Hall and filling out the paperwork. Often, they will have you register for sales taxes and other services at the same time. If you live outside a City limits, in a County service area, the requirements are minimal. Maricopa County does register certain types of businesses, such as restaurants, health care and water and other food businesses. You can check on the website for the County http://www.maricopa.gov/Planning. PA would have similar resources so please check with them to be sure you would not be in violation of local and state laws.
 
From:
Tim Webb
Location:
Red Bluff, California
 
Question:
I need to know how to develop a business plan. I'm fairly confident I have marketable ideas but I'm clueless as to how to go about presenting them to potential investors; also, where do you find potential investors? Are investors needed, or can the means be gotten through government loans/grants? Thank you,-Tim
Reply:
Hi Tim, Your best bet for developing a business plan would be to find an SBDC for your area or check out the resources on sba.gov. At your local SBDC, someone will be able to work with you throughout the process.
 
From:
OLLIE TILLMAN
Location:
MIAMI, FLORIDA
 
Question:
What office should I contact to incorporate/network your startup business as a joint venture with your local city or county minicipal government? How do I initiate hiring a disabled or disadvanted miniority employee as part of my work force and to accomodate any necessary alterations in the construction of the office/storage site? How does establishing my start-up in a“Historically Underutilized Business Zone
Reply:
Hi Ollie, I would recommend that you contact Florida's Department of Commerce to find out what benefits are available for you City. Another good resource would be sba.gov. Seed money is going to be more of a challenge and often comes with many strings attached. I would check out your state and local economic development priorities and try to develop a project in alignment with those and that may increase you probability of finding funds.
 
From:
TERRY
Location:
WASHINGTON, MO
 
Question:
I KNOW WHAT I WANT TO DO. HOW CAN I GET FINANCING OR GRANTS?
Reply:
Hi Terry, Finding financing or grants is often difficult if not impossible. You may want to check out community.sba.gov for additional information. Depending on your business idea, you may want to pursue other options for getting your business capitalized. The answer will vary depending on the amount of money you need, the length of time you have been in business, your geographic location, your personal credit rating, your ability to provide collateral, the viability of your business idea, whether you are looking for debt or equity financing, etc. Explore the following sources of capital: banks (developing a relationship with a bank and a banker is key); small business development centers (while they may not have access to funds, they will almost certainly have resources and contacts); the "Friends and Family" bank (this is probably the most common and most successful source of funds for start ups); community development centers (many of them have money to lend); venture capital (for those who don't mind giving up "control" of their business); angel investors; the use of supplier/vendor financing (have a supplier extend 120-day terms instead of the usual 30 while you extend only 30-day terms to your customers); seller financing; end-user funding (having the ultimate customer finance the research and development of the product). The SBA also offers the Microloan Program, which provides short-term start-up or expansion loans of up to $25,000. Loans are made through non-profits with experience in lending and technical assistance.
 
From:
Kyrie Moon
Location:
Fort worth, Texas
 
Question:
What do I do first
Reply:
Hi Kyrie, Here are some key steps to follow when starting a business Starting a business involves planning, making key financial decisions and completing a series of legal activities. These 10 easy steps can help you plan, prepare and manage your business. Click on the links to learn more. Step 1: Templates for Writing a Business Plan Use these tools and resources to create a business plan. This written guide will help you map out how you will start and run your business successfully. Step 2: Get Business Assistance and Training Take advantage of free training and counseling services, from preparing a business plan and securing financing, to expanding or relocating a business. You can read more on the additional steps at http://www.sba.gov/content/follow-these-steps-starting-business. Good luck!
 
From:
sejal
Location:
Downingtown, PA
 
Question:
I had quit working in 2005. Now I want to invest in a learning center in a couple of months. Besides the franchise fee, there is additional cost of about $30,000. We have an outstanding loan of $282,000 which is app. 79% of the value. There are no other debts or loans. What are my options for loan towards the business.
Reply:
Hi Sejal, I really don't have enough information to adequately answer your question. Perhaps someone from your local SBDC can look at your complete package and work with you to help you understand viable options. You can find out where one is located at asbdc-us.org.
 
From:
giraida gato
Location:
orlando, fl
 
Question:
how to start an Assistance Living Facility ALF. thank you in advance for your assistance.
Reply:
Hi Giraida, An Assisted Living Facility (ALF) can be a very lucrative and rewarding business if you do your homework first. I would recommend that you contact your state and county offices to find out what the requirements are for owning and operating an ALF. They will also be able to let you know what revenue options exist from the government. You may need this to offset private pay revenue. The best way to proceed is to put together a well thought out business plan. That's where you'll answer questions related to competition, pricing, location, building and equipment costs, etc. Experienced and qualified medical staff will be crucial for success as well. All of this will be worked out as part of the business plan process. Someone from your local SBDC can help.
 
From:
Anika
Location:
,
 
Question:
My son is interested in starting his own clothing line. This will be a mother and son team. What is the first thing I need to do to get started?
Reply:
Hi Anika, I would recommend a business plan for you, too. There are business planning tools, resources, and templates that can be found on the sba.gov and also the website for you local SBDC. If you would like one on one assistance, you should meet with an SBDC counselor. Many SBDCs also have classes which will help you with writing an effective business plan.
 
From:
OLLIE TILLMAN
Location:
MIAMI, FLORIDA
 
Question:
How does initiating my start-up business in a
Reply:
Hi Ollie, If your company meets the HUBZone critieria * It must be a small business by SBA standards * It must be owned and controlled at least 51% by U.S. citizens, or a Community Development Corporation, an agricultural cooperative, or an Indian tribe * Its principal office must be located within a “Historically Underutilized Business Zone,” which includes lands considered “Indian Country” and military facilities closed by the Base Realignment and Closure Act I am not aware of any HUBZone funding for business start-ups. Currently the only funding available for small businesses are loans – small business loans or micro loans.
 
From:
Kellie Granger
Location:
Palmer, Alaska
 
Question:
Is my car tax deductible on my home based business
Reply:
Hi Kellie, You car tax deductions will be based on your business use of the vehicle and must be supported by proper documentation as required by the IRS, e.g., number of business miles, total miles, commuting and personal miles. Check with your tax advisor to see how this applies to your situation.
 
From:
Tim
Location:
Monrovia, California
 
Question:
Is paying someone to write your business plan a good idea?
Reply:
Hi Tim, It can be if you are not comfortable writing it yourself. SBDC and other SBA partners may also be able to assist you. They will not write it, but will help you write it. Paying someone may give you needed objectivity, so it might be a good investment in your business.
 
From:
Deana McClung
Location:
Virginia Beach, VA
 
Question:
Is there a basic formula that can be used as a guideline for determinig the % that should be spent on operating expenses such as rent, payroll etc. Is the 39er Bargain and Discount Store a profitable business to start at this time?
Reply:
Hi Deana, There is no one formula that will work with every business, but you should be able to find industry resources with will give you guidelines that generally work for those particular industries. The 39er Bargain and Discount Store are one of the more profitable ones out there now.
 
From:
Debra Shea
Location:
29 Palms, CA
 
Question:
What advice do you have for nailing down your target market?
Reply:
Hi Debra, Identifying who your customers are is an important step. It may seem simple, but do you really know what you are selling and to whom? Is the market you serve the best one for your product or service? A recent SBA blog, ‘5 Ways to Find the Right Niche and Target Market for Your Small Business’ covers key steps to take that will be helpful to you. You can read more at http://community.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-matters/5-ways-find-right-niche-and-target-market-your-small-business.
 
From:
D Terry
Location:
Hopewell Junction, NY
 
Question:
Are business plans still an essential part of the business startup process and are there any new areas to cover, taking into consideration the impact of social media?
Reply:
Yes and social media should be incorporated as an integral part of any business plan where the product or service will be marketed to social media users.
 
From:
Evelyn
Location:
Dallas,, TX
 
Question:
Where do I get information about Taxes?
Reply:
Hi Evelyn, I would contact irs.gov and you may be able to find additional information on sba.gov.
 
From:
Victor Arrunategui
Location:
Bartlett, Illinois
 
Question:
When Buying an existing Business, what are some of the key factors I should be looking for in there finacials? If there's a business for sale and you don't want to miss out on the opportunity, what is the quickest way to obtain a loan for the purchase of the business? Thanks Victor (859)227-7129
Reply:
Hi Victor, For some entrepreneurs, buying an existing business represents less of a gamble than starting a new business from scratch. While the opportunity may be less risky in some aspects, you must perform due diligence to ensure that you’re fully aware of the terms of the purchase. You can read more on things to look for at http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business/establishing-business/buying-existing-business
 
From:
David Nettleton
Location:
west rutland, vt
 
Question:
I am a carpenter with 34 years experience. I see great deals in rental housing that are in need of repair. Can I get a special loan to purchase and rebuild these older and neglected properties?
Reply:
Hi David, Getting into the real estate business can be rewarding, but daunting. This SBA page can help you understand and comply with laws and regulations that apply to the housing and real estate industry -- http://www.sba.gov/content/housing-real-estate
 
From:
Omethera Huff
Location:
Detroit, MI
 
Question:
I Live in downtown Detroit, where can I go to get a business mentor?
Reply:
Hi Omethera, I would contact either the local SBDC office or SCORE chapter in Detroit for assistance. You can find out about SBDCs at asbdc-us.org and SCORE and sba.gov.
 
From:
Susie Stewart
Location:
Belle Chasse, LA
 
Question:
Hi I am looking to open up a daycare center. Is it wise to lease a building opposed to buying initially? Thank-you
Reply:
Hi Susie, The answer to that will vary based on many factors. Leasing is easier to get involved with and gives you more flexibility to cut of costs if you need to. However, with the real estate market being depressed in many areas right now, it may make sense to buy something, especially if this is something you're committed to for the long haul. The answer will really depend on your specific situation. This is probably something your local SBDC can assist with.
 
From:
Karen Lambert
Location:
New Orleans, Louisiana
 
Question:
I will soon be the majority owner of a Plumbing and Heating company as a minority (woman). How do I go about bidding on government contracts in my area?
Reply:
· Know your North American Industry Classification System code (NAICS) (update or add to it if needed) · Get to know your Federal Supply Classification Code (FSC) or Product Service Code (PSC) · Obtain your Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) · Register in Central Contractor Registration/Online Representations and Certifications Application (CCR/ORCA) Seek out opportunities: · Installation / Organization Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization Specialist and Non-appropriated Funds (NAF) officer.– Government is required to perform market research – let them know you exist! http://www.FedBizOpps.gov - 32,800 opportunities– Interested vendors – for subcontract opportunities · Major Prime Contractor SB Liaison Officers– Go to: http://www.acq.osd.mil/osbp - GREAT Site! * Find out who is buying your product/services * Look into partnering or teaming with companies that have been awarded government contract that include your product/service * Look for subcontracting opportunities with Primes of government contracts. Also, when your business delivers products or services under a government contract, you must adhere to a variety of regulations that range from qualifying for the work in the first place, to reporting your activities on a regular basis after a contract is signed. However, you also can take advantage of several programs designed especially to promote small businesses. SBA’s Women’s Contracting Program can be of assistance to you. More information is available at http://www.sba.gov/content/women-owned-small-business-program. There is a New Online Training Resource on Government Contracting. To access the GC Classroom, go to http://www.sba.gov/gcclassroom.
 
From:
Dawn
Location:
Chicago, IL
 
Question:
Actually, I am celebrating my 5 years anniversary this month for my event planning company. We are growing an I am looking to try some new things like renting materials and selling products. Do i need a different business license to sell/rent? Also, I am based out of Chicago but just received my certificate of authority to do business in DC. I would love to work with the government in DC. Can you recommend the best way to build that relationship? THANK YOU!!
Reply:
Hi Dawn, · Know your North American Industry Classification System code (NAICS) (update or add to it if needed) · Get to know your Federal Supply Classification Code (FSC) or Product Service Code (PSC) · Obtain your Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) · Register in Central Contractor Registration/Online Representations and Certifications Application (CCR/ORCA) Seek out opportunities: · Installation / Organization Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization Specialist and Non-appropriated Funds (NAF) officer.– Government is required to perform market research – let them know you exist! http://www.FedBizOpps.gov - 32,800 opportunities– Interested vendors – for subcontract opportunities · Major Prime Contractor SB Liaison Officers– Go to: http://www.acq.osd.mil/osbp - GREAT Site! * Find out who is buying your product/services * Look into partnering or teaming with companies that have been awarded government contract that include your product/service * Look for subcontracting opportunities with Primes of government contracts. When your business delivers products or services under a government contract, you must adhere to a variety of regulations that range from qualifying for the work in the first place, to reporting your activities on a regular basis after a contract is signed. However, you also can take advantage of several programs designed especially to promote small businesses. SBA’s Women’s Contracting Program can be of assistance to you. More information is available at http://www.sba.gov/content/women-owned-small-business-program. Also, there is a New Online Training Resource on Government Contracting. To access the GC Classroom, go to http://www.sba.gov/gcclassroom.
 
From:
Kim Collins
Location:
Flagstaff, Arizona
 
Question:
How do I find out if my town is large enough to support my business?
Reply:
Hi Kim, The answer will really depend on the type of business you have or want to start. I would check out the resources on the Arizona Commerce Authority website. They have numerous resources available for small businesses.
 
From:
OLLIE TILLMAN
Location:
MIAMI, FLORIDA
 
Question:
How to initiate hiring of economically disadvantage and disabled employees? What tax benefits/advantages will this provide to the success of the business?
Reply:
Hi Ollie, I would contact the Workforce Development Board for Miama and they should be able to assist you with that. You City small business services department may be able to help you as well.
 
From:
JOSEPH NADER
Location:
FREMONT, CALIFORNIA
 
Question:
I AM JUST STARTING MY OWN COMPANY AND I AM INTRESTED TO DO GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS WHATS THE REQUIREMENTS PLEASE ADVISE THANKS JANICE
Reply:
Hi Joseph, Here is some information to help in that process. · Know your North American Industry Classification System code (NAICS) (update or add to it if needed) · Get to know your Federal Supply Classification Code (FSC) or Product Service Code (PSC) · Obtain your Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) · Register in Central Contractor Registration/Online Representations and Certifications Application (CCR/ORCA) Seek out opportunities: · Installation / Organization Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization Specialist and Non-appropriated Funds (NAF) officer.– Government is required to perform market research – let them know you exist! http://www.FedBizOpps.gov - 32,800 opportunities– Interested vendors – for subcontract opportunities · Major Prime Contractor SB Liaison Officers– Go to: http://www.acq.osd.mil/osbp - GREAT Site! * Find out who is buying your product/services * Look into partnering or teaming with companies that have been awarded government contract that include your product/service * Look for subcontracting opportunities with Primes of government contracts. For additional information, please contact azptac-us.org for the PTAC office nearest you.
 
From:
Danelle Pegues
Location:
Belleville, Michigan
 
Question:
Hello Janice Washington, Is there a program to help low income citizens with a desire to become a small business owner? Will they connect me with mentoring?
Reply:
Hi Danelle, I would recommend the SBA resource partner SCORE who can help you get started. In addition, there are many other resource tools and resources available at sba.gov.
 
From:
Dawn
Location:
Chicago, IL
 
Question:
BTW, I can't see the discussion...
Reply:
Hi Dawn, Try refreshing your screen for replies and see if that helps.
 
From:
Joni
Location:
Houston, TX
 
Question:
Hi Janice I think this is an interesting topic to cover...I don't see any activity is it still taking place or was it cancelled?
Reply:
Hi Joni, Yes it is. Due to the demand, we're going a little longer. Try hitting Refresh for replies and see if that helps.
 
From:
Jay Butler
Location:
Baltimore, Maryland
 
Question:
I need to find a mentor that has industry specific knowlege in electrical contracting
Reply:
Hi Jay, See below; You can find mentor via SCORE http://www.score.org/mentors There, you will be able to browse email mentors' profiles and choose one that's right for you. Top of Form Enter keyword or area of expertise Bottom of Form Browse email mentors' profiles by: Mentoring Skills · Business Finance & Accounting · Business Operations · Business Strategy & Planning · Sales, Marketing & Public Relations · Technology & IT Services Industry Experience · Consulting, Research and Business Services · Government Contracting · International Trade, Imports / Exports · Restaurants and Hospitality · Retail and Wholesale Trade
 
From:
Kim Collins
Location:
Flagstaff, AZ
 
Question:
What is the best way to find a mentor in the same field? I'm finding a lot of people don't want to help the comptition.
Reply:
Hi Kim, If you'll keep looking, you may find someone who can remember that they were helped along the way, too. In the meantime,you can find mentor via SCORE http://www.score.org/mentors There, you will be able to browse email mentors' profiles and choose one that's right for you. Top of Form Enter keyword or area of expertise Bottom of Form Browse email mentors' profiles by: Mentoring Skills · Business Finance & Accounting · Business Operations · Business Strategy & Planning · Sales, Marketing & Public Relations · Technology & IT Services Industry Experience · Consulting, Research and Business Services · Government Contracting · International Trade, Imports / Exports · Restaurants and Hospitality · Retail and Wholesale Trade
 
From:
Jill
Location:
Denver, CO
 
Question:
Just when I think I have a great idea for a business, I research and see someone is already doing it or it has been invented. How do I make my business idea/product unique or do it better than the other guy?
Reply:
Hi Jill, I would recommend looking at the economic development priorities for your state or local areas. Often they will show research with indicate future and growing industries. If you can find a gap or need that you fulfill through your business, that would be a good place to start.
 
From:
Judy
Location:
Phoenix, AZ
 
Question:
It's now a few minutes past the hour of starting and I have no clue as to how to join the
Reply:
Hi Judy, I'm really sorry you had difficulty getting into the chat. This information will be archived for your review later. Also, I note that you are in Phoenix. Please feel free to contact our Maricopa SBDC at 480.784.0590 or at www.maricopa-sbdc.com for assistance with your small business needs.
 
From:
Evelyn
Location:
Dallas, Texas
 
Question:
I sent a question, but I don't see anything on my screen???
Reply:
Hi Evelyn, Please try Refresh for Replies to see if that helps.
 
From:
Lashanda Wall
Location:
Jacksonville, FL
 

Hi All,

 

Unfortunately, we have run out of time for today but I want to leave you with some helpful links for additional assistance:

 

For the SBDC office closest to you, contact asbdc-us.org. In Ariaona, that would be azsbdc.net.

 

For the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) nearest you, please contact aptac-us.org. In Arizona, that would be azptac.com. The PTAC is a great resource for helping you find out how to do business with the government and obtain government contracts.

 

The SBA has phenomenal resources so be sure to check them out at sba.gov.

 

Thanks everyone!