You may need to invest in equipment, tools, supplies, advertising and office space. Some jobs might require a truck to haul things around. Make a list of all the items you think will be necessary for operating the business and find out how much each of them would cost by searching Craigslist or other online sources or visiting stores.
But starting a business requires more than just stuff. You need to create the foundation on which it will operate, and one of the best ways to do this is to put together a business plan. This written plan will explain who you are; what you are going to do; and how, why and where you will do it.
Although you can turn to a nonprofit organization like those listed in last week’s blog post to help you with this, a great place to start is on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website. There you can complete an online business plan template, which takes you step by step through the process. Check it out at http://web.sba.gov/busplantemplate/BizPlanStart.cfm
Completing a business plan will show that you are serious about your business and having one will be necessary if you intend to seek startup funding. If you don’t have enough money to start your business, you might want to look into getting funding from a micro-lender.
These organizations traditionally have given small oans to people in developing nations – Peruvian farmers, African craftswomen or street vendors in India, for example. These days, however, they’re also busy funding entrepreneurs in the U.S. who want to start or expand a business but can’t afford to do so and give loans of $500 to $100,000.
Accion USA, with headquarters in New York and offices around the country, is one of these micro-lenders, as is kiva.org. Both of these give loans to people nationwide. Micro-lenders who work on a more localized basis include Justine Peterson in St. Louis, Project Enterprise in New York City, Opportunity Fund in San Jose, Calif., the Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund and ACE Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs in Cleveland, Ga.
With a little bit of confidence, a lot of preparation and thought and some help from a micro-lender, you should have what you need to get a business together.
For more information on the micro-lenders mentioned in this article, visit their websites:
Accion USA www.accionusa.org
Justine Petersen www.justinepetersen.org
Project Enterprise www.projectenterprise.org
Opportunity Fund www.opportunityfund.org
Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund www.umllf.com
ACE Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs http://www.aceloans.org