Sunday, January 4, 2015

So you want to start a business

Latest statistics are showing that the American economy is improving, thanks in large part to small businesses. The figures are impressive. Of the 10.9 million jobs added to the workforce, 7 million were from small companies. Construction jobs are on the rise, and again that's due to small businesses. There were $19.2 billion in loans granted to small businesses alone. As large corporations started failing way back in 2008, it has been the entrepreneurs who have kept the economy chugging along. Now that we are almost back on track to pre-recession period, the call for more start-ups will likely continue to keep the economy moving upwards while also cushioning it for another potential windfall.

Technology has plenty to do with this rise in business ownership. We are no longer needing a permanent location to hold services or products. That can be easily accomplished through online sales as well. Add to that the number of women who are venturing out on their own, selling their talents and wares as new businesses. So long as women continue to find ways to balance their lives between the professional and domestic, expect this rise to prevail. What can be better than having your own business and working it around the kids and home? But an added benefit is the easy access many aspiring entrepreneurs now have to launching their businesses. So, if you're thinking whether you should start a business, here's what you should consider:

1. A business plan - There are many templates available online to choose from. The goal is to specifically determine what the company's mission is, evaluate its competitors, and its growth prospective. This step allows business owners to see just how viable their prospects are in the industry and market it plans to operate. It is also a powerful selling tool when you present it to the right people.

2. Support. Anyone who has looked at a business plan will tell you that the process can be intimidating, especially when trying to figure out the market for your product and who your customers are. There are mentors available now to help business owners navigate these items. Best place to start is with the Small Business Administration. As a government agency, it has access to all types of mentors and networks that can guide an entrepreneur from idea to practice. The SBA has a working relationship with several groups and consultants that can offer their specialized opinions and help you create a working plan.

3. Funding. As I mentioned before, business owners now have access to several types of funds. There's microfinancing, crowdfunding, angel funding, and small business loans. Each come with different terms and commitments, but the underlying goal is not to burden borrowers with huge piles of debts.

4. Tax breaks. As a small business owner, you are entitled to some tax write-offs for loan interest, marketing and bad debt or theft. And with a majority conservative government now in place, expect additional breaks to come.

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