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Need advice/info on starting a small business
None | Today | Me

Posted on 04/24/2009 3:21:21 PM PDT by Optimus Prime

I was curious about the process of creating a small business, and I was wondering if anyone could provide any info that I might find useful?

First up, are there any books which're useful for anyone interested in starting a small business? Any titles which provide a lot of help?

Second, where can one find possible sources of funding for a small business? Bank loan, of course, but anywhere else, in addition to fronting whatever you can?

Last but not least, anyone here create and operate their own small business? What sort of things did you plan for ahead of time, and what unexpected turns did you end up taking?

If anyone here has any light to shed on the subject, I'm definitely interested in hearing what you have to say. Thanks. :)

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Hobbies; Miscellaneous; Weird Stuff
KEYWORDS: business; small

1 posted on 04/24/2009 3:21:21 PM PDT by Optimus Prime
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To: Optimus Prime

How To Make A Small Fortune: Take a large fortune and start a small business.

2 posted on 04/24/2009 3:24:35 PM PDT by FastCoyote (I am intolerant of the intolerable.)
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To: Optimus Prime

Senior Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) at the Small Business Administration:

3 posted on 04/24/2009 3:24:54 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet ("The unarmed man is not just defenseless - he is also contemptible." Machiavelli)
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To: Optimus Prime

Read this book: E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber

One of the best books for the small businessman I have ever read.

After that read: How to Sell Anything to Anybody, by Joe Girard. Best book on pure selling ever written IMHO

4 posted on 04/24/2009 3:26:47 PM PDT by Nachum (the complete list at
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To: Optimus Prime

Buy low, sell high.

5 posted on 04/24/2009 3:28:43 PM PDT by Sawdring
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To: FastCoyote

LOL! That’s like the advice for becoming a millionaire. First start as a billionaire, then buy an airline.

6 posted on 04/24/2009 3:29:35 PM PDT by Optimus Prime (Do liberals even qualify as sentient beings?)
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To: Optimus Prime
Starting A Business for Dummies at Half Priced Books. The Small Business Administration can provide loans/grants and mentors to help you with the first series of steps. Your local Chamber of Commerce can help by networking you with other business people in your community.

Research, Research, Research! Market, finacial needs and investors will help as well.

Been there and done that. A Computer and simple bookkeeping software, (Quicken or Quick Books) will help you budget and track your progress. A company checking account will help to keep personal and company funds separate and the Dummies reference will help

7 posted on 04/24/2009 3:32:37 PM PDT by Young Werther (Julius Caesar (Quae Cum Ita Sunt. Since these things are so.))
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To: Optimus Prime

More seriously, before you go getting loans, start the business on some smaller order so you can establish some working experience and markets. People get in up to there eyeballs in warehouse and plant before they even know if they have a viable business.

8 posted on 04/24/2009 3:34:25 PM PDT by FastCoyote (I am intolerant of the intolerable.)
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To: Optimus Prime

SB owner here. 1st off, if you’re s start up, your chances of surviving 5 years are slim. Hire a professional to do your payroll (assuming you have employees) if you can afford it. Employees will be your biggest headache. You’ll sh*t a brick when you see how much taxes you pay. Incorporate. Plan on working much harder than you do now. I haven’t had a vacation in 3 years. Bottom line is that it’s incredibly rewarding at times and incredibly disheartening at times. Follow your dreams. Don’t take no for an answer. Figure out what people want(or need) and the easiest and most cost effective way to get it to them and you’re golden.

9 posted on 04/24/2009 3:40:16 PM PDT by XD45
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To: Optimus Prime

Check the laws and regulations in your state for setting up a business. You can likely find what you need on the website for your State’s government.

10 posted on 04/24/2009 3:41:23 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: Optimus Prime

Napoleon Hill, Zig Ziglar and other of the genre
start with Think and Grow Rich,
stay away from naysayers, join your local Business association.
read everything you can regarding the type of business you are looking to set up.

11 posted on 04/24/2009 3:42:56 PM PDT by pennboricua
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To: Optimus Prime
The key decision to make is whether to start a small business, not how. There are lots of resources as to how to do it. Never pay anyone for the how.

Instead spend ALL of your time determining WHY and ultimately IF you want to start a small business.

Once you have satisfied all of the reasons to/not to do it, then worry about how.

Especially in this environment.

Having done it 3 times, best of luck, schu

12 posted on 04/24/2009 3:43:43 PM PDT by schu
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To: Optimus Prime
Make sure there's a sufficient market for whatever the business is about.

Don't delude yourself into the belief there's a market for something just because you like it.

13 posted on 04/24/2009 3:44:04 PM PDT by KrisKrinkle (Blessed be those who know the depth and breadth of their ignorance. Cursed be those who don't.)
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To: Optimus Prime

Whatever you think it will cost you in the first 5 years; it will be more, probably much more.

14 posted on 04/24/2009 3:44:53 PM PDT by GoDuke
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To: Optimus Prime

Try to NOT borrow any money.

Work out of your home / garage for free rent first. Less risky ?

Work in the field / profession as an employee first. This may help you decide if you want this type of work before investing any personal money.

Get good insurance, set up legal protection so as to not lose your home if things do not go well ( Think LLC or such ).

Talk to local retired business owners at Rotary, Elk, Eagles, your church...for local issues.

Do a detailed, written business plan and budget.

15 posted on 04/24/2009 3:45:03 PM PDT by george76 (Ward Churchill : Fake Indian, Fake Scholarship, and Fake Art)
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To: Optimus Prime
SBA planner page is a good place to start.

Like one of the other posts said - figure out WHY you want to do this. I GUARANTEE you that it's more time consuming than you think it's going to be.

Write out a business plan and have someone reliable look it over.

Retain a GOOD accountant. You might not need bookkeeping from them but a good accountant can keep you out of a LOT of trouble.

Plugging numbers into Quickbooks or some other program is really easy to do. It also doesn't mean a damned thing if you don't know what the numbers mean or if they're showing up the way they're supposed to. Learn what a Balance Sheet, Income Statement and Cash Flow statement are.

After you've done all that, go talk to some other business owners in the field you're looking to get into or similar fields and see what they have to say. Don't do this first because 90% of what they say will be different than what you have just learned.

Go back to the accountant and tell him/her what the other business owners have said and make sure that you can reconcile THEIR answers with the accountants answers (a GOOD accountant will be able to explain what, why and how what you heard from others is BS or good advice).

16 posted on 04/24/2009 4:06:30 PM PDT by Tucsonican
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To: Optimus Prime

bump for later

17 posted on 04/24/2009 4:09:11 PM PDT by randomhero97 ("First you want to kill me, now you want to kiss me. Blow!" - Ash)
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To: Optimus Prime
A guy I know used to be a restaurant consultant.

When I asked him what that was, he said:

"People come to me and ask about running a restaurant. I tell them "Don't do it. That'll be a hundred grand, please.""

18 posted on 04/24/2009 4:37:53 PM PDT by synbad600
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To: Optimus Prime

What kind of business? Where? How old are you?

19 posted on 04/24/2009 4:44:41 PM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 . Crucify ! Crucify ! Crucify him!!)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

In my experience the SCORE folks are big business men and know very little about small business.

An IRS agent that came around to bug me but was a very good guy said that SBS gave you enough money to hang you with. If you are a politically connected type, they might help.

I have operated small businesses for 40 years. Until recently, I always had at least two. My rule is stay one corporation ahead.

20 posted on 04/24/2009 4:49:50 PM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 . Crucify ! Crucify ! Crucify him!!)
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To: Tucsonican

......Plugging numbers into Quickbooks or some other program is really easy to do. It also doesn’t mean a damned thing if you don’t know what the numbers mean or if they’re showing up the way they’re supposed to. Learn what a Balance Sheet, Income Statement and Cash Flow statement are......

This is the best advice on the thread. If you can play with quick books and one of their canned models and understand what you are doing, you are in better shape than reading books.

21 posted on 04/24/2009 4:52:56 PM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 . Crucify ! Crucify ! Crucify him!!)
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To: Optimus Prime


First choice, save up cash for the business and avoid debt.
Second choice: use peer to peer lending as a funding source. Then you avoid family dinners filled with “when will you pay me?”

Business ideas:
Have a business plan. Not to borrow money with, but to know your goal, your customers, your competition, and your strengths.

AND have an exit plan, for when to exit and how, because many businesses fail.

22 posted on 04/24/2009 5:06:44 PM PDT by tbw2 (Freeper sci-fi - "Humanity's Edge" - on
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To: george76
Work in the field / profession as an employee first. This may help you decide if you want this type of work before investing any personal money.

Best advice yet.

I would suggest working in the field for at least two years before starting your own business.

23 posted on 04/24/2009 10:18:00 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (Everyone has a right to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.)
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To: Optimus Prime

Be a one-man consulting firm if at all possible.

24 posted on 04/24/2009 10:23:56 PM PDT by Mr. Jeeves ("If you cannot pick it up and run with it, you don't really own it." -- Robert Heinlein)
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To: Optimus Prime
One bit of advice...

Never become involved in a government contract (federal, state, county or municipal)!!!

While seemingly lucrative (at first)..., you will discover "strings" attached which may very well destroy your business in very short order!

25 posted on 04/24/2009 10:27:24 PM PDT by ExSES (the "bottom-line")
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To: bert
Don't quite know how to explain it, as this is a business idea aimed at catering to nerds, but what I'm thinking is using 3d printers to produce custome miniatures for the customer. Here're some videos of a couple 3d printers in action.

Video 1
Video 2
Video 3

The printer at the second link is the one I'm looking at. I've already determined every cost associated with the 3d printing side of things, so now I need to know if 3d printers can produce miniatures at the scale and level of detail that I want. Here're examples of what I'm looking for from other companies.

I have two reasons to believe so far that 3d printers can produce models of that quality, though. 1) I spoke to a 3d printer rep and showed him the picture of that Spider-Man model, and he said that his 3d printers could produce models of that level of detail. And 2) There's a company out there that already does similar called FigurePrints. Here's a video of their process and the models they produce.

FigurePrints Video

FigurePrints is an interesting case, because they ONLY deal in World of Warcraft figures (they make 3d models of your World of Warcraft character). And because of the size of the figures, they're only good as display pieces, and aren't really useful for any kind of gaming. Yet despite their horrendous price (I think they charge $100 per figure), they seem to be doing well. How do I know this? Because originally they didn't have the means to meet demand, so they had a lottery system to decide who got their character made. However, they have since done away with the lottery due to being able to expand their production capabilities (buying more 3d printers, hiring more employees, etc).

Think about that. Their business grew despite the drawbacks. Namely 1) You can ONLY get a figure made of your World of Warcraft character, 2) The expense, 3) The size of the figure making it useless for anything other than display, and 4) Limited to a specific art style (WoW style) and only fantasy characters.

Now imagine if you could design your own character? One which could be of anything you dream of, from a fantasy warrior, to a US Marine, to a futuristic sci-fi warrior? Originally I toyed with the idea of having 3d artists work on individual pieces, but for made-to-order figures, the price is way to high. Instead, I need to get my hands on a character creator program. Something that'll allow customers to log into the online store, play with the image creator, and animate their own character. Then they send it off to me and I print it out. For those familiar with MMO's, City of Heroes in particular, I'm thinking a character creator along those lines, with that level of options. For those that aren't familiar with that, here're some images of the kind of variety I'd like such a program to produce. The first batch I made using City of Heroes, while the second bunch I collected from another 3d site.

Now, I can imagine what a lot of you are thinking. That this is a stupid idea. Believe me, I'd think so too if I didn't have a lot of familiarity with the miniatures industry. But there're several companies that're very successful with miniature lines. Here're links to some of their websites. And the last site, while an online store, shows many, many more. Just scroll down the bar on the left to see just how much variety there is when it comes to number of companies producing miniatures.

Reaper Miniatures
Games Workshop
War Machine
The War Store

So miniature companies can and have been successful. Here's the advantage that 3d printing has over the normal miniature making process, though. First off, you need to have a sculptor cast a green. Then you need to cast a mold of that green, and from that mold produce thousands of figures (I.E. Buying in bulk in order to keep down costs).

With 3d printing, however, a lot of those steps are eliminated. The biggest one is the need to manufacture thousands of miniatures in order to get them cheap by buying in bulk, because with 3d printing, you can make the models to order. So there's no overstock. There's no risk of creating a model and ending up with thousands of units sitting in a warehouse unsold, because you only make them when somebody orders one.

And of course, if you've got a program that the buyers can use to design their own model, then you eliminate the need for a sculptor/3d artist to produce each model. Sure, you have to pay for the program, but that's a onetime thing. Eventually that'll pay itself off. And it's definitely worth it, because I'd be able to provide something that NO other company can provide theirs: Customizability. The customers will be able to come up with unique combinations and can figures made of their crazy ideas, and produce something far more suiting to their gaming needs. Add to that figures which are made of a sturdy plastic and which already come painted, and there're numerous benefits to using 3d printers in a miniature production company.

And that's just the beginning. I'd like to thank the FReeper who suggested it, because I've already started reading E-Myth's, and I'm loving that book so far. I've definitely got a heavy dose of the entrepreneur, because I'm seeing NUMEROUS ways in which such a company can expand and grow.

As some of you may have noticed, some of those miniature companies produce miniatures in tandem with a miniature game. Basically a strategy game using the miniatures they produce. Miniature gaming is a distinct possibility. And because overstock isn't a concern, a large library of models could be made available for any kind of gaming. Fantasy warriors for a fantasy strategy game, power armored super-soldiers for a science fiction game, or even historical battles. Spartans and Persians to play out your own Battle of Thermopylae. Or British and Colonial American troops to refight the Revolutionary War. Or German Panzers and American tanks, and you can refight the battle between Rommel and Patton.

Then there's licensing possibilities. In keeping with my appreciation for nerd pursuits, I'd love to produce models for Marvel and DC super-heroes, or for sci-fi properties like Star Trek, Babylon 5, and Battlestar Galactica. Most importantly, though, I'd like to build ships to scale. For example, I recently ordered display pieces of the Enterprise and Enterprise-D. They look very nice, but unfortunately, they're not to scale. The original Enterprise should only be about the size of the saucer section of the Enterprise-D, yet they're about the same size.

What I would like to do, if I get the opportunity, is build different ship lines at different scales. So for example, there would be three Enterprise models. One would be six inches long, one three inches long, and one one-and-a-half inch long. That way a customer could own a large and detailed version of the Enterprise, but if they wanted to buy the Enterprise and the much larger Omega-Class Destroyer from Babylon 5, than they could get a smaller version of the Enterprise which is to scale with the Omega-Class Destoyer.

Of course, when it comes to licensed models, hiring 3d artists to produce individual pieces would be a prerequisite. However, while it's prohibitively expensive to pay a 3d artist to produce art for a model that you only expect to sell one of, that's not the case when you can expect to sell hundreds of a model, if not thousands. So in that case, 3d artists WOULD be cost effective. In order to defray initial costs, one could also probably pay them a percentage of the miniatures sold, rather than paying an upfront set fee (just a theory of mine, anyway).

And lest you all think this is all only of interest to nerds, I've had other thoughts which I think might be of interest to the general public. Imagine a miniature baseball or football game. It comes like a board game in Toys 'R' Us, where you buy a game board in the shape of a football or baseball field, with the field covered in a grid for moving pieces across it. Here's an example of what I mean.

The game would come with two generic teams that you could play. You could then go and buy boxed sets dedicated to individual teams. NY Yankees, Florida Marlins, etc, with pieces resembling real, current players. And the ingame statistics of the figures are based off of their actual realworld statistics. So a player who bats .334 in the real world would have a figure representing him which is a better hitter in the miniature game than the figure representing another player who bats .296. Think of it like Baseball Chess, except there'd be dice and other accoutrements.

That, I think, would be pretty neat for people. Pull out your baseball or football field board, pick your team, and start playing, moving around game pieces which look like the real life players. Or hell, even trade players, or create your own players and provide game rules allowing those players to improve in skill and talent the more they play and accomplish (I.E. an experience system).

Beyond gaming uses, there's also creating statues and other display pieces. And not limited to people, of course, as terrain pieces are also an option. A small plastic replica of, say, the Parthenon or the Lincoln Memorial would look nice in many a study, as would a diorama recreating important moments in history like the Boston Tea Party or Battle of Gettysburg. And then there's 3d family portraits. What mother wouldn't want a 3d portrait of her baby in the crib on her nightstand or coffee table?

The core business, custom miniatures for the consumer is, IMO, a strong enough market to warrant basing a business around (and I suspect I'm not the only one who's considered it, as Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro, appears to be considering it as well). It's a market which has pretty much never been tapped, so I'd like to be the first to mine it. The beauty of this, though, is the potential for growth is immense beyond just that. The possibilities range from licensing to gaming, to home decoration. And then there's the sheer variety of models which can be produced (fantasy, sci-fi, super-hero, historical eras, modern era, people, aliens, vehicles, buildings, etc).

Like I said, a ton of possibilities there. Of course, there's also a lot of questions I need to answer first, but I'm taking things one step at a time. Not jumping head first into anything and trying to spend as little money as possible, as right now I'm just in the exploratory phase. So we'll see how it goes. Still, the whole idea makes my inner entrepreneur giddy with excitement. :)
26 posted on 04/25/2009 12:08:45 AM PDT by Optimus Prime (Do liberals even qualify as sentient beings?)
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To: KrisKrinkle; Optimus Prime
Make sure there's a sufficient market for whatever the business is about.

And to add to that, always test market your product/service. Don't fly by the seat of your pants in marketing. TEST.

27 posted on 04/25/2009 2:08:53 PM PDT by Jeff Chandler ("Mr. President, I support you but not your mission. I'm showing my patriotism through dissent.")
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To: Optimus Prime

WE started a business three years ago. It has become extremely successful. I’m knew it would be, but I’m still kind of shocked. We’ve had a 35 % growth each year and made a profit our first year. We started the process in June and by August we had a license and our first client. We have a 50/50 partnership and it works great. We are in the mid to upper six figures on gross income.

The first thing we did was to come up with a name for the business. We then went to a lawyer to draw up an operating agreement for the S Corp./ L.L.C partnership. You’ll probably want to do this type of business setup. The lawyer sent off the paperwork for the incorporation papers to our Sec. of State.

We then filed the necessary paperwork to get our permits for being licensed in the State of Ind. for a personal care business and to be able to be paid by the payors. We rented an office and bought used furniture. Our biggest expense to this point was buying 2 Dell Computers. We rented a copy machine. We bought a used fax. We got a 2 mil. dollar insurance policy. We already had our firts employee and a client. My wife had made some great contacts at the place we get our clients from, so that helped a lot.

I kept a log of day to day activities and progress on what we did and so forth. If you’d like, I would email this to you or snail mail it to you. It may be helpful because I might have left out some stuff above.

28 posted on 04/29/2009 10:54:50 PM PDT by freedom4ever
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