2018-01-07 / Insight

Expert: Entrepreneurs should tap all available resources

BY ANDREW DIETDERICH
810-452-2609 • adietderich@mihomepaper.com

LAPEER COUNTY — When it comes to starting a business, perhaps the nonprofit America’s Small Business Development Centers puts it best: Starting a business can be a complex and difficult process.

That’s according to the organization’s “Guide to Starting and Operating a Small Business” found online at tinyurl.com/guide4biz.

The 66-page document is a testament to how much is involved in starting — and having success — with a small business.

It’s also one of plentiful resources available for those looking to start a business in Lapeer County.

“People should arm themselves with all of the resources that are available and then take advantage of what is best to help them,” said Patricia Lucas, executive director, Lapeer Development Corp.

Lucas suggests using resources provided via the Michigan SBDC, for example.

According to its website, “The Michigan SBDC provides counseling, training and research to assist small business to launch, grow, transition and innovate.”

Further, the site states “The Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC) enhances Michigan’s economic wellbeing by provid- ing counseling, training and research for new ventures, existing small businesses and advanced technology companies.”

“SBDC is a very important component of starting a business,” Lucas said.

Michigan SBDC offers classes (and webinars) around the state that are related to starting a new business.

“Writing a Business Plan,” for example, is scheduled for Jan. 10 in Shiawassee County at the Baker College Owosso Conference Center. On Jan. 11, “Starting a Business” will be held at the Oakland County One Stop Business Center in Waterford. The same class is set for Jan. 17 at the Flint Oak Business Center. Webinars that allow participants to take part online are frequent, too. (To find an event, check out the website at tinyurl.com/sbdcevents.

As of press time, there aren’t any events scheduled in Lapeer for the first few months of 2018.

Lucas suggests that potential participants try to take part in events closest to home because content of workshops are more likely to include information specific to the area.

As such, she also suggests using resources provided by the Lapeer Development Corp. (LDC) — an organization that saw the number of inquiries about starting a new business jump about 20 percent in 2017.

In fact, anyone who visits the LDC website at lapeerdevelopment.com can not only find the organization’s link for “Starting a Business,” but also find demographics about Lapeer County such as “population by occupation” and projected rates of job growth.

An in-person visit to Lucas at the LDC might be a next course of action, she said.

“If someone comes and talks to me, I tell them about all of the resources that are available to them…staring a business, hiring, financing programs…if they’re industrial there might be tax incentives,” Lucas said. “What I try to do is tailor programs to whatever their needs are.”

Lucas said that “a lot of times, they’re trying to get ready to go to the bank because they might need a commercial loan or a conventional loan.”

Lucas suggests owners of potential new startups have up to 30 percent of the funding they need when seeking loans or available grant money “because the small business person has to have something at risk.”

“So we try to figure out what might work best for them, based on the project they’re proposing,” she said.

The one thing LDC won’t do, however, is guarantee success, according to Lucas.

“We are not allowed to tell whether your business will be successful,” she said. “But what we are allowed to do is let them know what resources are available to help them.”

Ready to start!

Obtain financing

Startup checklist

Form management team

Write business plan

Start cost analysis

Research your idea

Select a business idea you know about

EIGHT EASY STEPS TO STARTING A BUSINESS

Source: tinyurl.com/guide4biz

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