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Eric's Business Tips

Eric's On-Air Business Tips

Beginning Thursday, February 9, 2017, Eric will be walking you through the steps to starting a business using a garage organizing business as an example.  Listen to KNOX Radio each Thursday between 8:30 and 9 am CT to hear Eric's business tips!

Thursday, March 2, 2017 - Developing a Business Plan

A business plan can take many shapes, but should cover four major topics:

1. Business Description. This is essentially a description of the business model and focuses on what skills, procedures, and equipment will be used to create value by solving our customer's problem (a messy and cluttered garage).

2. Marketing Plan. Who will be the target customer and data showing there is a sufficient number of them to buy our garage organizing services and products. Also, there should be a thorough description of the competition to allow for the creation of a unique selling point for getting the attention of potential customers. A marketing strategy will be formulated to use both paid and unpaid advertising tactics to reach the target customer.

3. Owner Biography. A description of the skills, experiences, and knowledge the owner brings to the business and will use to satisfy customer needs.

4. Financial Plan. This section will feature pro-forma income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow projections based on conservative assumptions about market share and pricing of goods and services. The cash flow should demonstrate that the business will be able to do three things: 1) generate enough cash to service the business loan; 2) pay the owner a reasonable salary, and 3) allow for reinvesting in the business. It is important to discuss and defend all assumptions regarding costs and revenue streams expected with the business.

There is no set structure or length for a business plan as each one will be written for the specific attributes of the business it is describing. SCORE Mentors and the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) are available to provide free assistance in writing a business plan.

Thursday, February 23, 2017 - Defining the Business Model

An idea for a business requires the design of a business model. The first step would be to identify three things:

1. Our Market. Market research doesn't have to be complicated or expensive, but you must do it. Conduct research to determine whether there is an adequate number of potential customers to support your product or service.

2. The Revenue Streams. You will need to define your pricing structure, gross margin levels, and any discount that you plan to use. In our example of a garage organizing business, the revenue streams would be the fees for organizing services and the sale of organizing equipment, such as shelving and special closets. Another possibility would be to charge a fee for removal of unwanted "stuff" and the possible resale of some items.

3. Start-Up Costs. Focusing on expenses that directly relate to revenue generation is one of the keys to financially managing a start-up. Start-up costs will vary, but every start-up expense should answer the question: "How does this contribute to the bottom line and get me closer to breakeven?"

Thursday, February 16, 2017 - Online Resources for Starting a Business

Web Roundup:

The Small Business Administration is a wonderful place to start. In addition to information on loans and grants, starting and managing a small business, and how to sell to the government, the Local Assistance page will help you find local contacts who can provide free, personal assistance in evaluating your business opportunity.  Also available on the SBA site is the "SizeUp" tool which will help you discover how your business sizes up with the competition.

For over 50 years, SCORE Mentors have served as America's Premier source of free business mentoring and education. Use the site to connect with a mentor - near you or online. SCORE also provides many useful online services including workshops and financial templates.

The North Dakota Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is part of a nationwide network of business consultants offering free, confidential business assistance to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses. Online resouce include the nation's largest small business e-learning network.

The North Dakota Women's Business Center is located at the Ceter for Technology & Business (CTB). CTB services include free, one-on-one business advising services and North Dakota Women Owned Business Certification.

Visit the North Dakota New Business Registration website for information about licensing, registering your business name, sales tax requirements, and other state requirements.

The IRS Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center also has many helpful links for getting your business started.

Thursday, February 9, 2017 - How to Save Cash to Start a Business

Web Roundup:

Business Know-How offers 10 strategies to start a business with no money.

Eric GiltnerEric Giltner has been a Business Development Specialist and the Grand Forks area manager for the U.S. Small Business Administration since 1998, having formerly been assistant to the dean of the UND College of Business and Public Administration.  He received his B.S. Degree in Geological Engineering and his Master's Degree in Business Administration from the University of North Dakota. Eric can be reached at