Monday, August 12, 2013

So You Want to Start a Business...

 You Have an Idea - Now What? 

Starting a business is a challenge. 
Where do I start? 
Is my idea viable?
What's a business plan?

Luckily, there is a wealth of information available to Michigan entrepreneurs looking for advice and guidance. You don't have to do it alone! See full post for more information. 

There are a number of organizations willing to assist you as you explore the viability of your business idea. Factors such as location, available funding, potential return on investment, and the available time you have to invest are several important considerations. Writing a business plan, probably the most important exercise for a potential business owner, will address these issues, and many more. Where do you begin? 
The Michigan SBTDC, locally located at Kettering University and headquartered at GVSU, should be the first appointment you make. Not only do they offer a free "Starting a Business" class, they will guide you as you write your business plan. Equipped with the knowledge gained at SBTDC, you can then begin to gather the information required for your plan; this is where the GDL Business Center can help. Librarians are in the business of information. We know how it's organized and who is collecting it. So what information related to your business plan can we locate?
Competition - Is someone already operating a similar business in your area? Using DemographicsNow, a database made available to all Michigan residents via the Michigan e-Library, we can quickly export a current list of similar businesses located across the country, or in your county. 

Industry / Market Research - Using information from both online databases and government data, the Business Librarian can locate a significant amount of hard data concerning your industry and market. Business codes assigned to each business type unlock a wealth of information. Contact the Business Librarian for more information about these resources.

Sizing Your Market - Your Business Plan should include your intended market and the corresponding demographics. Are you focused on a specific group of people? How many potential customers exist? What is the average expenditure on your product or service each year? Using DemographicsNow can also yield this information. 

Choosing a Location - This is a critical aspect of your business. A bad location could potential ruin an otherwise excellent idea. By locating similar businesses in a given area and pairing that demographic information such a average consumer expenditure or population growth/decline, you can make a more informed decision.

Locating Business Partners & Sales Leads - It is also possible to locate those businesses that you wish to market to or engage a business relationship. Maybe you need a supplier or distributor? Need to find all the businesses which could benefit from your services? The Business Center has several reference books that contain such information; it is also possible to use our electronic resources to find similar information.

Yet another local resource is SCORE, a national organization devoted to counseling entrepreneurs. Available by appointment once a month in the Business Center, take advantage of the opportunity to speak with a current local business owner regarding your idea, your business plan, or any other business concerns or questions. Sessions are free of charge and must be made in advance, please contact the Business Center for more information. 

As you can see, there are a number of organizations ready and willing to assist you.
 Better information will equip you to make more informed business decisions.
Let us know how we can help!

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