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Tennessee Small Business Development Center at ETSU

College of Business and Technology


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  1. What is the first step I need to take to get started in my business?Answer
  2. Where can I find a grant to start my small business?Answer
  3. How do I know if my business needs a license?Answer
  4. How do I register my business name?Answer
  5. How can the TSBDC help my business?Answer
  6. How do I contact the TSBDC?Answer
  7. What type of insurance should I obtain for my small business?Answer
  8. How much does it cost?Answer
  9. What is a business plan?Answer
  10. How long will it take to write a business plan?Answer
  11. I already own a business; can I still use the TSBDC?Answer
  12. Does the TSBDC loan money for my business start-up?Answer
  13. Does the TSBDC provide legal services?Answer
  14. Does the TSBDC provide accounting services?Answer
  15. How do I get a business loan?Answer
  16. How often will I need to meet with the TSBDC before I can get a business loan?Answer
  17. What are the alternatives in financing a business?Answer

What is the first step I need to take to get started in my business?
We provide a monthly workshop titled "So You Want to Start a Business" this is a great starting place. This workshop is designed for individuals who have never before owned or operated a small business. This training will prepare you to work one on one with our skilled business counselors, for more information and to register for this and other upcoming workshops please visit our Workshops and Events page. You can also visit these online sources: SBA 10 Step Guide for Starting a Business, 10 easy steps can help you plan, prepare and manage your business. The Small Business Readiness Assessment Tool, this tool is designed to help you better understand your readiness for starting a small business.

Where can I find a grant to start my small business?
Government grants are rare and only available for limited, specific and usually technology related enterprises. There is also usually no grants available to grow or start a for-profit business. For more information try these web sites: CFDA and SBA Grants.

How do I know if my business needs a license?
The Tennessee General Assembly authorizes counties and municipalities to levy a privilege tax, that is, a tax for the privilege of operating a business in their jurisdictions. All counties with the exception of Clay, Morgan and Macon levy the tax. Incorporated cities can also impose the tax. This tax is based on a percentage of sales or gross receipts in succeeding years. If your company operates in several different cities or counties, you would be liable to each city or county based on sales or receipts accumulated in each location.

How do I register my business name?
You must select from one of several options for your business. You can set up as a personal identity in which your business does not exist apart from you, the owner. Or, you can set up as a corporate identity in which the business exists in its own right. Or, you can set up as a limited liability which is a combination of the two.

This is an important decision that affects your ownership options, personal liability, tax structure and administrative requirements such as record keeping. This is one area where you and your management team would benefit from qualified legal counsel. Registering your business name varies based on the legal entity status you chose.

How can the TSBDC help my business?
The TSBDC provides no cost one-on-one counseling and low cost educational workshops. Business counseling is offered in the areas of financial management, marketing, human resources, operations, and information technology, please visit our Services page for more details. Workshops topics include "So You Want to Start a Business" a generic workshop for starting a business, market research, writing a business plan, understanding finances, legal issues, marketing, selling, patents & copyrights, new product development, technology planning, web site planning and accessing financing for more info on current workshops being offered please visit our Workshops and Events page.

How do I contact the TSBDC?
You can reach us by using the information on are contact us page. We also have 14 service centers located throughout the state. To find the service center nearest you please visit the TSBDC web site.

What type of insurance should I obtain for my small business?
When you start your own business, there are various types of business insurance that should be considered essential and others that, while not essential, may be desirable and add to the security of a business. Most businesses will require some type of general liability insurance and many businesses obtain an "umbrella policy" that covers a variety of risks including personal property, liability, fire, theft, and medical payments. If you have employees, you will need to obtain workers compensation insurance. Additionally, if your business owns or uses vehicles for business purposes, automobile coverage is necessary. Beyond this, what other forms of insurance obtained depends on what risks are incurred in operating your business, and what kind of supplementary coverage you want to employ to provide additional security for your business. The following is a list of certain types of insurance that you may need to consider: Key Person Insurance, Flood Insurance, Fidelity and Surety Bonds, Boiler and Machinery Insurance, Product Liability, Business Interruption Insurance, Overhead Expense, Disability Insurance, and Life Insurance. The best course of action is to contact an insurance agent, or several agents, for a consultation regarding the appropriate types of insurance for you and your business.

How much does it cost?
This is why we are the Best Kept Secret on the Planet. All your consulting sessions are free and supported by a variety of Funding Partners. Occasionally we charge a small fee to attend some of our cutting edge seminar and workshops on various business topics.

What is a business plan?
A business plan precisely defines your business, identifies your goals and serves as your firm's resume. It describes the products and services you will sell, the customers to whom you will sell them, the production, management, and marketing activities needed to produce your offerings, and the projected profit or loss that will result from your efforts.

How long will it take to write a business plan?
A well thought-out business plan generally takes anywhere from six months to a year to complete, but it can be less depending on how committed you are to the business and how much time you are willing to spend on writing your plan. The TSBDC counselor will not write a business plan for you but will assist in assessment of the plan. They may offer recommendations in order to make it a viable business plan to gain financing thru a lending institution. It can also be used as a guide for your business to make sure you stay on track with your goals and objectives. The writing of the plan is an educational process in which you learn about your business and how you expect it to operate. It should reflect your goals, objectives, priorities, and management style.

I already own a business; can I still use the TSBDC?
Yes, because our TSBDC consultants have extensive professional knowledge and expertise in areas of business development such as marketing, management, operations, expansion, we want you to feel confident that we can help your existing business grow and prosper.

Does the TSBDC loan money for my business start-up?
The TSBDC will assist you in preparing the proper documents and a business plan and direct you to specific lending institutions that can assist you in obtaining a small business loan, click here to go to the SBA Loan site. The TSBDC does not provide loan or grant money.

Does the TSBDC provide legal services?
The TSBDC will provide you with a list of various legal providers in your area for specific legal services. They will be able to assist you in areas such as incorporations, trade names, business partnership agreements or other legal needs. However, you can obtain various legal forms needed for your business by visiting the SBA site.

Does the TSBDC provide accounting services?
The TSBDC will provide you with a list of accounting firms and/or bookkeepers in your area that can fill your needs. However, a TSBDC consultant will be able to assist you in getting started with questions you will need to ask your accountant/bookkeeper, what forms you need and the business regulations you need to know about.

How do I get a business loan?
The kind of financing most entrepreneurs seek through commercial lenders is debt financing, and most banks provide debt financing for existing and start-up businesses. Banks vary substantially in their lending practices. While one bank may decline your loan application, another may be willing to take a higher risk or be interested in lending to small businesses. It is advisable to understand a bank's lending guidelines before applying for a loan. The general guidelines that would enable a lending officer to at least make an informed decision regarding your loan proposal are as follows:
  1. Consideration of the business idea, usually explained in a business plan
  2. Collateral
  3. Down payment (also known as equity in an ongoing business)
  4. Credit history and personal financial net worth
  5. Management ability
  6. Ability to repay the debt
  7. Conditions of the economy and/or market area

How often will I need to meet with the TSBDC before I can get a business loan?
This all depends on your ability to commit time and energy toward the writing of your business plan. Of course, there are never guarantees as to whether or not the lending institution will provide you a loan. You must have a business plan prepared before you can meet with them. This applies to anyone seeking to start a business or existing businesses wanting to expand.

What are the alternatives in financing a business?
Committing your own funds is often the first financing step. It is certainly the best indicator of how serious you are about your business. Risking your own money gives confidence for others to invest in your business. You may want to consider a partner for additional financing. Banks are an obvious source of funds. Other loan sources include commercial finance companies, venture capital firms, local development companies and life insurance companies. Trade credit, selling stock and equipment leasing offer alternatives to borrowing. Leasing, for example, can be an advantage because it does not tie up your cash.


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