January 10, 2010
SCORE is a non-profit organization sponsored by the Small Business Administration. SCORE's motto is "Counselors to America's Small Business". Its members are volunteers, mostly retired, who were business executives and/or owners, who now give their time to help entrepreneurs and business owners be successful. SCORE offers free and confidential one-on-one counseling in-person, by e-mail or by phone to help businesses do appropriate planning, solve problems, grow, and succeed. For more information go to About SCORE click here.
The SBA (Small Business Administration) is a US Government agency that is charged with helping finance small businesses by guaranteeing bank loans and offering programs to help small businesses overcome obstacles and become successful. Its function is to "aid, counsel, assist and protect, in so far as is possible, the interests of small business concerns".
SCORE is a Resource Partner of the SBA. SCORE assists many of the SBA’s clients in their business development. The SBA is a sponsor of SCORE.
You are already on the local SCORE SE Wisconsin(Chapter 28) web site looking at these FAQ's. To get started with SCORE simply give us a call or send an e-mail. For contact information click here.
A SBA guaranteed loan is a small business loan from a lender that the SBA has partially guaranteed. When you or your business do not have sufficient assets to meet the lender's loan requirements, the SBA provides a guarantee to the lender on your behalf. This guarantee can be for between 50% - 85% of the loan amount.
Commercial and Business Banks. Most banks participate in SBA loan programs and usually have all the necessary forms to originate a loan. Your contact to obtain an SBA guaranteed loan is a bank, not the SBA.
It is very difficult to borrow from a bank with a poor credit record.
Your first step is to fix your credit standing. How to do this?  Pay all current bills on time.  Pay off your debts, one at a time. Start with those debts to companies that charge the highest interest rates or have the highest penalties.  Check your credit report to be sure it is accurate. Get a free copy of your credit report at www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Review it carefully for errors and request corrections from the credit bureaus.
The only other sources of funding is from family and/or friends.
There are no grant programs to finance the start of a business. Generally there are no grants to finance a for-profit business. For more information on grants see Helpful Links click here.
You will be your most important asset so an objective appraisal of your particular strengths and weaknesses is an essential element in starting a business. To determine if you have what it takes to succeed, ask yourself the following questions and be brutally honest with your answers:
- Am I a self-starter?
- How well do I get along with a variety of personalities?
- How good am I at making decisions?
- Do I have the physical and emotional stamina to run a business?
- How well do I plan and organize?
- Are my attitudes and drive strong enough to maintain motivation?
- How will the business affect my family?
When you have answered those questions, ask someone who knows you well and who will provide honest replies to answer those questions about you - and then compare results. If the answers differ, re-consider your decision.
SCORE SE Wisconsin offers a workshop on this topic. For more information click here.
There are five basic needs for success:
- Sound management practices
- Industry experience
- Technical support
- Planning ability
- Financial resources
Few people start a business with all of these bases covered. Honestly assess your own experience and capabilities and then look for partners, key employees or service providers who can provide abilities that you don't have or in which you are not strong.
A business plan is a written summary of what you want to accomplish by being in business and a strategy to organize your resources to meet your goals. Your plan describes in writing what your company will provide its customers (product or service), the market, competitors, resources needed along with where, when and how these will be spent, your marketing and sales activity, cash flow forecasts and a time line. Basically it is planning ahead so no money or time are wasted. For more information on business plans see Helpful Links click here.
Not every business venture requires a written plan. However, it is a good idea to put your thoughts and resources in order before you start to invest money in your project. Writing helps thinking.
If you are seeking financing for your business, it is absolutely essential. Lending institutions or prospective investors will want to see your plan in order to assess your financing proposal and to assess you as a business manager. A plan also provides milestones to gauge your success as you proceed.
A SCORE counselor will take you through the steps outlining the processes to prepare a plan. However, the work of writing a plan is yours alone. It is important that you put your thoughts on paper in detail as to how you plan to organize and operate your business . Only you know what you have in mind as to what the business will be, how it will operate and why it will be successful.
When you have completed your draft, SCORE can review it with you to "fine tune" it if necessary. Normally, it takes several drafts and reviews to prepare a good plan.
SCORE SE WISCONSIN offers low cost Small Business Workshops several times a year that will teach you the basics of getting started. For more infornation click here.
What are good at? The key to this is your interests, your job training and job experience, skill set, industry familiarity, market opportunities you perceive, personal and available investment resources - how these things give you a chance of succeeding.
A good place to start is by sitting down, collecting your thoughts, and making serious, detailed plan: i.e. by writing a business plan. Define what you want to do and outline the steps to get there: products/service, location, costs involved, time-table etc. Writing helps thinking.
The services are free. They are confidential. They are one-on-one and by appointment.
There is no limit on these free sessions. Our counselors are committed to your success and will mentor you through business problems.
All sessions with you and your plans are confidential, in addition to being free. It is part of the code of ethics that we operate under.
An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a nine-digit number that the IRS issues. The IRS uses the number to identify taxpayers who are required to file various business tax returns. EINs are used by all employers, sole proprietors, corporations, partnerships, nonprofit associations. You can obtain an EIN and learn about other requirements IRS requirements for small businesses at www.irs.gov
A Seller's Permit is issued by the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Revenue and is required for every individual, LLC, partnership, corporation, or other organization making retail sales of tangible personal property or taxable services in Wisconsin, unless such sales are exempt from sales or use tax. For all taxable sales you must collect the taxes from your customer and remit them to the Department of Revenue under your Seller's Permit number. You can obtain a permit by contacting the Department of Revenue at www.revenue.wi.gov.