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Lesson Nine -
How to Start a Business

Lesson Goals

·        Learn How to Create a Legal Business

·        Learn Strategies Behind Writing a Workable, Saleable Business Plan

·        Identify the Best Sources for Learning How to Start a Business

·        Find Strategies for Getting Money to Start Your Business

Starting Your Own Business

Do you want to start your own business? Do you need money? If you have a good idea, there are many people who would like to put money in your capable hands. There is a process to follow and extensive resources are available to assist you. Patience and perseverance are required, but if you take it one step at a time, you'll be surprised at how quickly your new business concept can become a reality.

To receive funding, you need a business plan. Many investor's and/or banker's templates and guides exist to help you create one. You have to convince them that you have a viable product and/or service, a realistic market to sell to, and a plan to deliver your goods, and make a profit. Reading successful business plans is how you'll learn to structure your own. There are state and federal agencies dedicated to helping people like you get a business started. Plan to become aware of what services are available.

The One-Person Business Option

Even if you're only a one-person business, there are still many tax advantages which become available if you incorporate. If you don't need loans or grants to start your business, you can incorporate a business by visiting a lawyer and paying a few hundred dollars to establish a legal corporation. If you are uncomfortable with your lack of knowledge about maintaining a business, such as keeping up with quarterly reports, paying yourself as an employee, etc., you can hire a certified public accountant to do this for you.

Copyrights, Trademarks, and Borrowing Workable Ideas

Copyright laws prohibit you from directly copying an existing business name or an existing implementation of an idea. But, you are free to implement an existing idea in original ways. Learning more about what does and does not constitute a copyright or trademark violation is important. Since you can't copyright an idea, just the expression or implementation of that idea, you're free to borrow existing great ideas and implement them as an original business model. Begin to watch for examples of copycat businesses that work.

Winning Money to Start Your Business

The Small Business Administration http://www.sba.gov/ has loan and grant programs you should learn about. Grant programs exist to help you start a business and don't require paying back the funding as loans require. Furthermore, most state economic development initiatives offer additional funding opportunities. As a strategy, get to know what funding resources are focused on supporting new businesses in your region. Call your regional Small Business Development Center. Visit them personally and ask lots of questions.

Venture capital is money given to promising business startups for an anticipated share of the profits. Plan to identify regional and national venture capital sources and existing resources for how to win venture capital.

Learn about the world of nonprofit organizations and gain grant-writing skills. If you create a nonprofit organization with a 501c3 designation, you're able to receive grants from foundations. Non-profits often make lots of money and provide many great jobs. Plan to learn about the profit making potential of nonprofits as they represent many important trends related to Ecommerce opportunities.

Social Entrepreneurship and Venture Philanthropy

There's a whole new field of funding opening up between traditional philanthropy (where giving may or may not guarantee a tangible return,) and venture capital (where an economic return is expected).  Since many nonprofits lack the internal organizational expertise to create sustainable enterprises, venture philanthropy has emerged as a source of funding to support social entrepreneurship businesses and nonprofits. In such ventures the social good is served and organizational expertise is provided, along with funding to create an economically sustainable business or nonprofit organization.  Another important trend is many for profit businesses also have a nonprofit organization in order to benefit from the advantages of both.

Initial Public Stock Offerings (IPO's

Would you like to know about putting your business up for an Initial Public Offering on the stock market as a way of generating funding? This is only for existing businesses that have proven their potential, but is another area of exploration you might consider. You can find information at most online brokerage sites.

Hands-on Activities

You've already taken a first look at the following resources, but this time, review them specifically for the best existing resources for starting a business, writing a business plan, and funding a start-up and create your own listing of the most appropriate resources.

Access Ecommerce Guide's bizplan section
Review their business startup resources.

Small Business Administration's online lessons on starting a business
Review and appreciate the extensive free online lessons available.

Small Business Administration
Review their home page.

The National Small Business Development Center National Information Clearinghouse
Find the nearest SBDC to you and plan a visit!

Ecommerce resources from the SBDC National Clearinghouse
A comprehensive resource you’ll need to know exists.

To Complete This Lesson

1.      Send an email to your instructor stating what strategies you're planning to adopt.

2.      Send an email to the listserv (send to isu-ecommerce@mm.isu.edu ) with the web address for at least one interesting business start-up story or resource.

Optional Skill-Builders

1.      Review the following.

The Wall Street Journal Startup Journal and Center for Entrepreneurship
Read about their toolkit for creating a business plan, trademark searches, and more.

The Wall Street Journal
If you're serious about business, you might consider subscribing to this journal.  Free two-week online subscriptions are available, but extensive resources are free to all. Make an effort to learn the vocabulary of Ecommerce and note how quickly things are evolving. It is likely this and similar publications can help you stay current in a world of accelerating change.

2.      Review Patent and Trademark Services

The U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office
See the essential information for submitting patents and trademarks.

Invention Submission Corporation
Services for patenting your inventions.

3.      Revisit the key resources in the Skill-Builders section of Lesson One.