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Ready, Set, Launch Your Business April 22, 2015

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  1. 1. Photo by NASA HQ PHOTO - Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License https://www.flickr.com/photos/35067687@N04 Created with Haiku Deck April 22, 2015 A+ Federal Credit Union | Austin, Texas
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Notes de l'éditeur

    Luis Vallejo
    Business Services Officer, NMLS #609441
    A+ Federal Credit Union
    Tel: (512) 421-2756
    E-Fax: (512) 302-6260

    SCORE Austin
    Jim Binneboese, SCORE Advisor
    5524 Bee Cave Rd., Building M
    Austin, TX 78746
    Mentoring also available by appointment in Round Rock, Georgetown, San Marcos, Marble Falls, Bastrop & Waco

    City of Austin Small Business Program
    Cindy Garcia
    One Texas Center | 505 Barton Springs Road | Austin | TX | 78704
    512-974-7800 Main Number

    BiGAUSTIN’s Women’s Business Center (WBC)
    Claudia Conner, Executive Director
    5407 North IH 35, Suite 200 | Austin | Texas | 78723

    Texas Veterans Commission (TVC)
    Greg Shigemasa, MBA
    Veteran Entrepreneur Program
    1700 North Congress Ave., Suite 800
    P.O. Box 12277
    Austin, TX 78711-2277

    Texas State Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
    Orlando Colmenero
    512-610-0996 Main Number
    7719 Wood Hollow Dr.
    Suite 211
    Austin, TX 78731

  • Please note: the governor’s small business handbook is something you should absolutely download! http://bit.ly/TxSmallBusHandbook


    In business, there are no guarantees. There is simply no way to eliminate all the risks associated with starting a small business – but you can improve your chances of success with good planning, preparation, and insight. In Texas, small businesses continue to thrive due to a variety of factors including our excellent geographic location, our highly-skilled workforce, our low tax burden, our reasonable cost of living, our predictable regulatory environment, and our legacy of being Wide Open for Business. For the most recent statistics on the Texas small business climate please download the SBA State Profile: Texas (http://bit.ly/SBATxStateProfile).

    Starting a business in Texas requires you to complete a number of basic steps and make some key decisions. As part of your overall plan, you'll need to select a location, decide on a business structure, and obtain the necessary licenses and permits. Additionally, determining which financing options will meet your short-term needs and long-term goals is crucial. Within this section, you will find information on some quick steps on how to get started.

    We’ve broken the process of starting a business down into four basic steps, which are discussed in greater detail in the Small Business Handbook: http://bit.ly/TxSmallBusHandbook ). Please note that new business owners should not hesitate to seek the guidance of a professional tax consultant, accountant, and/or attorney to help verify that all legal requirements are met before operating a business.

    Source: https://texaswideopenforbusiness.com/start-business
  • Good choice of time and location
    Adequate capital
    Ability to manage and multi-task
    Education/experience in field
    Strong work ethic
    Effective time management
    Willingness to ask for input from others
  • Myth 1: All I need is a good idea to be a successful entrepreneur
    Reality: A good idea is a great start, but it takes hard work, research, and planning plus successful implementation strategies to turn your idea into a profitable enterprise. SCORE’s Simple Steps for Starting Your Business series is time well spent for aspiring entrepreneurs. Workshops provide an opportunity for you to test the feasibility of your ideas and begin the research and planning necessary to ensure the success of your venture.

    Myth 2: If you go out on your own you won’t have to work so hard or such long hours
    Reality: You’ll probably work harder and longer than you’ve ever worked before, but you’ll enjoy it more. Exhaustion fades at the moment you proudly say, “I did this!”

    An entrepreneur carries a tremendous amount of responsibility and you can expect to work around the clock for the first year—maybe two.

    And remember that you will no longer have paid vacations or sick leave. If you get the flu and don’t have measures in place to keep your business running, it can have a financial impact.

    Yes, it’s difficult work, but the rewards can outweigh the sacrifices you will make.

    Myth 3: You’ll be able to deduct everything so you don’t have to pay taxes
    Reality: Taxes are based on net income, which can be lowered by subtracting expenses related to the business from gross income. Strict regulations apply, so keep good records and learn how to make the tax system work for you.

    There are many benefits to owning your own business, and you will likely have many tax write-offs. But it’s also important to keep excellent records and a separate business bank account. It’s wise to work with an accountant who can help you maximize your tax advantages.

    Myth 4: If you work independently you won’t have to report to a boss
    Reality: You don’t have a single boss – you have many. These are your clients and customers, each of whom have specific needs and demands. Your challenge is to keep all of them happy.

    There is an old saying: “The customers pay our bills.” This is never more true than when you work for yourself. While you may not have one boss handing down orders, you will have to answer to your customers.

    Keep in mind that you will also be accountable to the government—local, state and federal, plus investors, suppliers, vendors, creditors. The reality is that you will have many bosses.

    Myth 5: Business owners get to do the work they want to do and only what they find interesting
    Reality: Think again. You will have to wear many hats and juggle many skills, some of which may bore you or be downright challenging.

    Most entrepreneurs, especially those in the early years, will tell you that there is more work than glamour in their daily lives.

    Because you will have to wear so many hats, you will ultimately carry the bulk of responsibility. And depending on your budget and how much help you can afford, you may have a wide variety of responsibilities: taking out the trash, negotiating with vendors, managing employee issues, dealing with insurance, shipping orders, handling emergencies – and the list goes on.

    Myth 6: If you choose to be self-employed you’ll be limited in what you can achieve since you’ll be working alone
    Reality: The limitations are created mostly by the space between your ears. Be realistic, but don’t trap yourself with self-imposed limitations. You can make a difference.

    Starting your own business actually unlocks all kinds of possibilities for your future. You take control of your own destiny because you decide how hard you want to work, which paths you choose, and how successful you want to be.

    Source: SCORE’s Simple Steps to Starting Your Business, slides for class 1
  • Starting your own business can be an exciting and rewarding experience. It can offer numerous advantages such as being your own boss, setting your own schedule and making a living doing something you enjoy. But, becoming a successful entrepreneur requires thorough planning, creativity and hard work. Consider whether you have the following characteristics and skills commonly associated with successful entrepreneurs:

    Comfortable with taking risks: Being your own boss also means you’re the one making tough decisions. Entrepreneurship involves uncertainty. Do you avoid uncertainty in life at all costs? If yes, then entrepreneurship may not be the best fit for you. Do you enjoy the thrill of taking calculated risks?

    Independent: Entrepreneurs have to make a lot of decisions on their own. If you find you can trust your instincts — and you’re not afraid of rejection every now and then — you could be on your way to being an entrepreneur.

    Persuasive: You may have the greatest idea in the world, but if you cannot persuade customers, employees and potential lenders or partners, you may find entrepreneurship to be challenging. If you enjoy public speaking, engage new people with ease and find you make compelling arguments grounded in facts, it’s likely you’re poised to make your idea succeed.

    Able to negotiate: As a small business owner, you will need to negotiate everything from leases to contract terms to rates. Polished negotiation skills will help you save money and keep your business running smoothly.

    Creative: Are you able to think of new ideas? Can you imagine new ways to solve problems? Entrepreneurs must be able to think creatively. If you have insights on how to take advantage of new opportunities, entrepreneurship may be a good fit. 

    Supported by others: Before you start a business, it’s important to have a strong support system in place. You’ll be forced to make many important decisions, especially in the first months of opening your business. If you do not have a support network of people to help you, consider finding a business mentor. A business mentor is someone who is experienced, successful and willing to provide advice and guidance.

    Source: http://www.sba.gov/content/entrepreneurship-you
  • Banker: a good relationship will assist you in obtaining loans and credit

    Legal resources for central Texas startups:
    Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas – a non-profit public service established by the Austin Bar Assoc. (http://www.austinlrs.com/home)
    There is no charge to receive a referral from the LRS staff. If you consult with a lawyer, you will be charged only $20 for up to thirty minutes (the $20 consultation fee is forwarded to LRS). Lawyers will charge for their services if you decide to hire the lawyer.

    NOLO Legal Encyclopedia (http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia)
    Nolo was born of the frustration of two legal aid lawyers who were working to help low-income families in the San Francisco Bay area in the late 1960s. Charles (Ed) Sherman and Ralph (Jake) Warner were tired of having to turn away working people who didn't qualify for free legal aid but couldn’t afford lawyers. There was no place to send these people, because there were almost no sources of free or low-cost legal information—no do-it-yourself books or software, no court-based, self-help programs, no Internet. We recommend that every business owner utilize an attorney for legal assistance, but this is a good starting place for basic information before contacting an attorney.

    Accountant: will file your quarterly taxes and keep you up to date on any accounting requirements with federal, state, and county government
    Insurance Agent: will shop around for the best coverage and pricing for your policies
    Business Mentor: will guide you through your ideas and act as a voice of reason
  • In the first months of opening your business, you'll need to make many important decisions. But you don't have to make every decision on your own. Ultimately, you are responsible for you business, but you can always consult a mentor for advice.

    Be organized, prepared and consistent. Make sure you are respectful of your mentor's time.
    Do not expect your mentor to run your business for you or make decisions for you. You should have realistic expectations about what a mentor can provide you.
    Plan your mentoring sessions in advance. These could be as simple as having a one-on-one meeting once a month to discuss business goals, obstacles and regulatory requirements that you don't understand.
    Take notes, create action items and be prepared to review progress during your next session.
    Thank your mentor for his or her time and assistance with your business decision-making skills.
    Source : http://www.sba.gov/content/find-business-mentor

  • These are the typical departments and functions involved in most businesses:
    Customer Service

    Important considerations:
    Will you take on all of these roles? Do you have weaknesses in any of these areas? For example, are you uncomfortable working with numbers? Perhaps you should plan to hire a bookkeeper or take a class to improve your skills.
    How do you envision your organizational chart, now and in the future? Which roles will you hire out and in what order of priority?
  • Business name, logo, website
    Email marketing
    Social media
    Sales calls
    Making presentations
    Preparing bids
    Processing orders

    Marketing is essential to bringing in customers. It can include a variety of functions: internet campaigns, e-mail marketing, direct mail, word-of-mouth, business networking, paid advertising, trade show booths, and much more.

    What’s most important is that you identify multiple strategies that you will use to bring customers into your business.

    Selling focuses on the needs of the seller to convert product to cash, while marketing focuses on the needs of the buyer and the need to satisfy the customer through the products produced.

    Many entrepreneurs are resistant to selling, especially if you have never done this before. But when you own a business, you have no choice but to put on a salesperson hat.
  • Getting your business noticed can be challenging. To show your business stands head and shoulders above not only your smaller competitors but also the dominant players in your market, you need to differentiate yourself from the pack.

    A company's value proposition is what distinguishes itself from its competitors. The value proposition provides value through various elements such as newness, performance, customization, "getting the job done", design, brand/status, price, cost reduction, risk reduction, accessibility, and convenience/usability.
  • Your price is the strongest signal to the customer as the product’s perceived value, position in the market.

    Customer sets price (shows what market can bear)
    A higher price = higher expectations and vice versa.
    A low price might lead to loss of perceived value.

    Avoid price wars.
    Figure out how sensitive your customers are to the prices.
    Bundle prices together to create more value.
    Credit terms can make your product more attractive.
    Don’t churn/lose money.
    Look at the value chain – create a sales force through reward system.
  • “Competition is not only the basis of protection to the consumer, but is the incentive to progress.” -Herbert Hoover, American President

    Understanding your competitors helps you position your business. Study at least three competing businesses. Figure out where your prices fit, what guarantees they offer, and what advantages and disadvantages they have.
  • Presented by Cindy Garcia, City of Austin

    Starting a new business can be overwhelming, but there are many, many resources available to walk you through the process.

    Sole Proprietorship - Assumed Name, Doing Business As (DBA)

    In Austin, you would file your paperwork for your Assumed Name, Doing Business As (DBA) at the Travis County Clerk's Office. A DBA ensures the business name you plan to use is not being used by someone else in Travis County.  The Assumed Name is good for 10 years unless changes are made. Travis County charges a fee of $13.00 plus $0.50 for each name on the form, including the business name and each owner's name. Fees are payable by cash, cashier’s check, or money order. No checks are accepted. If processing via mail, send the forms by certified mail with a return receipt requested to verify receipt by the county clerk. Please consult the Travis County Clerk's Office as prices and procedures are subject to change without notice.

    Complete the Assumed Name Records Certificate of Ownership for Unincorporated Business or Profession Form.
    Once the completed paperwork has been notarized, you will file it at the Travis County Clerk’s Office. The office is located at 5501 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751 (Phone: 512- 854-9188).

    The City’s Small Business Program ( http://www.austintexas.gov/department/small-business-development-program ) provides no-cost notary services. Please visit our Business Solutions Center for more information on this and other no cost services that are available. The Texas State SBDC also provides no-cost notary service. Contact Francisca Arana at fa12@txstate.edu to schedule a time to stop by our Austin office.

    Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies and Corporation
    In the State of Texas, all partnerships, limited liability companies and corporations are all filed thru the Office of the Texas Secretary of State Online filing available through the Secretary of State’s Office SOSDirect portal:
    http://www.sos.state.tx.us/Corp/sosda/index.shtml. Please review their website for information regarding these types of business filings. For general information and specific filing questions, you may also contact them directly at 512-463-5586.

    Source: City of Austin Small Business Program website https://austintexas.gov/page/steps-starting-business

    Additional notes from SCORE mentors:

    Sole Proprietor: Most businesses start this way. Owner is sole manager, decision-maker and income tax is based on owner’s individual return.
    SP Downside: Owner liability is unlimited, start-up capital may be difficult to raise, business may dissolve when owner dies.

    Partnership: Used to share management responsibilities between co-owners, may be used when one partner is an investor, income is taxed at the partner level.
    Partnership Downside: Profits shared between partners, unlimited liability—each partner is individually liable, need an extensive partnership agreement with options for exiting the business.

    LLC: Offers liability protection for owner(s), not difficult to form, fewer rules/restrictions than corporations.
    LLC Downside: If partners involved, need a partner agreement, subject to state franchise fee and income tax, some restrictions on ownership and transfer.

    C Corp: Easier to raise capital or transfer ownership through sale of shares, limits liability for shareholders/owners, continues to exist until intentionally dissolved.
    C Corp Downside: Expensive to form and maintain, more extensive legal requirements, profits may be taxed twice—corporate and owner levels, subject to state franchise fee/income tax.

    S Corp: Profits only taxed once at shareholder level, limited liability for shareholders, withholding tax advantage.
    S Corp Downside: Limited to 100 shareholders, shareholders must be individuals, certain trust, or estates and may not include partnerships, corporations or non-resident alien shareholders

    An LLC is recommended over a partnership. Attorney fees for set-up are similar, taxation is the same and there is limited liability for an LLC that does not exist in a partnership.

    You should discuss your options with an attorney and/or accountant. SCORE mentors are also available to help you understand your options.

  • Choosing a business name is an important step in the business planning process. Not only should you pick a name that reflects your brand identity, but you also need to ensure it is properly registered and protected for the long term. You should also give a thought to whether it's web-ready. Is the domain name even available? Here are some tips to help you pick, register, and protect your business name.

    Factors to Consider When Naming Your Business
    Many businesses start out as freelancers, solo operations, or partnerships. In these cases, it's easy to fall back on your own name as your business name. While there's nothing wrong with this, it does make it tougher to present a professional image and build brand awareness.

    Here are some points to consider as you choose a name:
    How will your name look?  On the web, as part of a logo, on social media.
    What connotations does it evoke?  Is your name too corporate or not corporate enough? Does it reflect your business philosophy and culture? Does it appeal to your market?
    Is it unique?  Pick a name that hasn't been claimed by others, online or offline. A quick web search and domain name search (more on this below) will alert you to any existing use.

    Check for Trademarks
    Trademark infringement can carry a high cost for your business. Before you pick a name, use the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s trademark search tool (http://www.uspto.gov/) to see if a similar name, or variations of it, is trademarked. Here’s a great YouTube video that explains the process: How to Do a Trademark Search on USPTO (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HI1qGwxYZ5s)

    If You Intend to Incorporate
    If you intend to incorporate your business, you'll need to contact your state filing office to check whether your intended business name has already been claimed and is in use. If you find a business operating under your proposed name, you may still be able to use it, provided your business and the existing business offer different goods/services or are located in different regions.

    Pick a Name That is Web-Ready
    In order to claim a website address or URL, your business name needs to be unique and available. It should also be rich in key words that reflect what your business does. To find out if your business name has been claimed online, do a simple web search to see if anyone is already using that name.
    Next, check whether a domain name (or web address) is available. You can do this using the WHOIS database( http://whois.icann.org/ ) of domain names.  If it is available, be sure to claim it right away.

    Register a Domain Name
    A domain name is the web address of your online business. Choosing and registering a domain name is the first step to starting an online business. After you've chosen the name you'd like to register, the process is simple and cost-friendly. Where to register your name is up to the discretion of individual businesses.
    Certified Registering Authorities
    Internet Domain Name Registration Services
    Abusive Domain Name Registration
    Be careful to avoid possible security risks by becoming aware of potential scams. The Federal Trade Commission issued a consumer alert about Domain Name Registration Scams.
    The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is the non-profit corporation that has technical oversight of Internet protocol address space allocation, protocol parameter assignment, domain name system management, and root server system management functions. It provides current news on issues surrounding domain names.
    3. Select a Web Host
    A web host provides you with the space and support to create your website. Choosing the host that best suits a business is up to the discretion of that business. Costs and abilities, such as site maintenance, search registration, and site development, vary from host to host but it is important for it to be both reliable and secure.
    4. Design Your Website
    The website of your online business is extremely important to its success. Because you don't have a physical location, this is considered your "store front". Websites can be designed personally, by hiring someone to work as your site designer, or by using an independent design firm. Make sure your website it mobile-responsive. Google will lower your ranking if your site is not mobile-friendly.

    Be sure to comply with U.S. trademark and intellectual property laws. The same laws and regulations apply to online businesses as regular businesses. Search for trademarks currently in use to avoid infringing on another company's rights on your website.

    Claim Your Social Media Identity
    It's a good idea to claim your social media name early in the naming process even if you are not sure which sites you intend to use. A name for your Facebook page can be set up and changed, but you can only claim a vanity URL or custom URL once you've got 25 fans or "likes". This custom URL name must be unique, or un-claimed.

    Register Your New Business Name
    Registering a business name is a confusing area for new business owners. What does it mean and what are you required to do?

    Registering your business name involves a process known as registering a "Doing Business As (DBA)" name or trade name. This process shouldn't be confused with incorporation and it doesn't provide trademark protection. Registering your Doing Business As name is simply the process of letting your state government know that you are doing business as a name other than your personal name or the legal name of your partnership or corporation. If you are operating under your own name, then you can skip the process.

    Apply for Trademark Protection
    A trademark protects words, names, symbols, and logos that distinguish goods and services. Your name is one of your most valuable business assets, so it's worth protecting. You can file for a trademark for less than $300. Learn how to trademark your business name.

    Source for all information above: http://www.sba.gov/content/how-name-business

    Texas Wide Open for Business section on employer requirements is a one stop shop for small business owners. The information provided will help entrepreneurs understand and comply with federal and state employer requirements. There are a number of labor, safety, and reporting laws relating to employment of personnel, thus it is vitally important for small business owners to increase their knowledge and ensure they are in compliance.

    Additionally, the Texas Workforce Commission publishes a great resource for employers. The Especially for Texas Employers is a step by step guide that walks employers and employees thru every aspect of Texas employment law. Download the pdf here:

    Source: City of Austin Small Business Program website - https://austintexas.gov/page/steps-starting-business
    An equally important step in the development of your business is your determine and comply with the various overlapping tax responsibilities of your new business. The following information will guide you to the appropriate Federal, State and Austin agencies who administer business taxes.
    Federal Tax
    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) governs all things related to tax collection at the federal level. In addition, the IRS provides a wealth of business tax related information for small business owners. Simply go to www.irs.gov and you will soon be on your way to understand your federal tax responsibilities.
    The local IRS Tax Payer Assistance Center provides walk in face-to-face assistance. The center is located at 825 East Rundberg Lane, Austin, TX 78753.  The center can be reached directly at 512-499-5127.
    State Tax
    The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts is responsible for the administration and collection of state and local sales tax for businesses operating in the State of Texas. The following link provides an informative guide that will educate you on the what, when, where, why and how of sales and franchise taxes.
    Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts( http://bit.ly/TWCEmployers)
    111 East 17th Street Austin, Texas 78711 512-463-4600 or 800-252-5555
    Austin Tax
    Locally, business taxes apply to entrepreneurs who own tangible property and use their property to produce income. The Travis County Appraisal District (TCAD) handles the administration of the property tax for the City of Austin. For specific information, the link below will help clarify any questions and for additional information, contact TCAD directly at the number listed below.
    8314 Cross Park Drive Austin, Texas 78754 512-834-9317
    Employment Tax
    Internal Revenue Service (IRS.gov) - Provides specific information regarding your federal employment tax responsibilities.
    Texas Workforce Commission - Provides specific information regarding your state and local employment tax responsibilities.
    Source: City of Austin Small Business Program website - https://austintexas.gov/page/steps-starting-business

    Tax ID Numbers:
    Apply for an EIN Number Online:

    Sales Tax Permit:

    Texas Sales & Use Tax Resale Certificate (pdf)
    According to Texas Wide Open for Business (https://www.texaswideopenforbusiness.com), the State of Texas does not require a general "business" license; however, there are a number of regulatory agencies that have licensing and permitting requirements based on the type of service, or products associated with your business. To ensure that all permitting requirements are met, you should contact the local county and/or city government in which you plan to conduct business to determine if there are any additional requirements. To determine state occupational licensing and permitting requirements, please visit the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (http://www.tdlr.texas.gov/) (TDLR), specifically the TDLR Licensed Programs tab, for more information.

    SOURCE: https://austintexas.gov/page/steps-starting-business

    Zoning is the division of land within a jurisdiction into separate districts within which uses are permitted, prohibited or permitted with conditions. Brief definitions of the different types of uses and structures as relates to zoning are explained here. Zoning establishes site regulations, such as building heights, bulk (density/floor-to-area ratio), setbacks, building coverage, impervious cover, etc. Zoning is a power granted to municipalities by the State in order to promote public health, safety, morals, or general welfare, and to protect and preserve places and areas of historical, cultural, or architectural importance and significance.

    Zoning Districts are established to promote compatible patterns of land use within the city limits. Zoning districts also establish site development regulations and performance standards appropriate to the purposes and the uses allowed in each district. Distinct zoning districts exist for residential, office, retail and industrial uses. Furthermore, specific use restrictions, site development regulations or performance standards may apply to zoning districts combined with special overlay or combining districts.

    As part of the zoning process, appropriate land uses for an area are identified based on such factors as the intensity, density, height of a proposed project, surrounding land uses, traffic impacts and access to a site, environmental concerns and overall compatibility.

    SOURCE: https://austintexas.gov/department/zoning
    A Certificate of Occupancy, or “CO” can be obtained at no cost from the City of Austin, Building Inspections Division located at: One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road, 3rd Floor. If you do not have a Certificate of Occupancy, call 512-978-4000 press 2; then press 3 to request a copy.
    If the City of Austin does not have a copy of the property’s Certificate of Occupancy, you have two options:
    Apply for an Amnesty Certificate of Occupancy OR
    Pay for a Third Party STR Inspection
    If you are unable to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy, you may hire a certified third-party inspector. The inspector must use this Third Party STR Inspection Checklist. 
    A professional inspector certified by the Texas Real Estate Commission or a Residential Combination Inspector certified by the  International Code Council (ICC) must inspect the dwelling. The City of Austin cannot recommend an inspector for you. To locate an ICC-certified inspector, complete a Web search for “home inspectors” and then verify the inspector holds a current ICC certification. A copy of the receipt for the service must be attached to the inspection and the inspector must state the structure is safe to occupy. If there is an unsafe deficiency, a license cannot be approved until the deficiency is corrected and re-inspected by the inspector. If deficiencies are noted that do not create an unsafe condition, your license can be issued, but the items will need to be corrected. A follow-up inspection may be conducted by Code Officers and failure to correct all deficiencies can be cause for suspension or revocation of your operating license.

    SOURCE: https://austintexas.gov/faq/don%E2%80%99t-have-certificate-occupancy-and-need-inspection
  • Presented by Claudia Conner

    Are you financially ready to start a business?

    First you must determine your monthly budget. This includes mortgage/rent, groceries, entertainment, utilities, child care, medical care, clothing, gifts, allowances—every dollar that you spend.

    Consider whether you should scale back your monthly expenses by eliminating extras like premium cable and daily lattes.

    Outstanding debt will impact your future credit and be an added burden when you’re on your own.

    If you are making a decision to quit your job and pursue your business, make sure you have at least six months in living expenses saved. Also, consider whether you can start your business on the side while you maintain your current job and income. Sometimes a slow start is a safer way to go.
  • Understanding your starting cash needs is essential to the planning process. Until you know how much you need, you can’t properly plan to launch your business. Equally important is your projected revenue, cost of goods and fixed cost. These numbers are needed to develop a Profit & Loss Statement which lenders request in the business plan. It shows that the business can actually make money.

    The type of business will largely determine the funding required. Businesses generally range from high capitalization to low capitalization in the following order:

    Things to Consider:

    Total monthly cost of living
    Areas where you can cut back
    Outstanding debt
    Amount in savings
    Total amount needed to cover 6 to 12 months of expenses

    Note that Session 4 of the Simple Steps for Starting Your Business course will cover these items and that students will receive guidance in completing their financial projections.
  • These are your fixed expenses and they affect how much money you need to have on hand to run your business.

    Insurance: Property, Liability, Motor Vehicles, Worker’s Compensation (required by law if you have employees).
  • Three Fundamentals of Sound Cash Management:
    1. Have adequate cash and a reserve fund at the start of the business.
    2. Manage cash on a daily basis (or on certain days of each week).
    3. Prepare and maintain a cash forecast for at least six months into the future.

    Cash Management:
    If monitored on a regular basis, shortfalls can be detected before critical mass hits.
    Also, note that an owner keeps control of all cash, at all times.

    This will be covered in depth in the Simple Steps for Starting Your Business series workshop Session 4, which focuses on financials.

  • Venture capital (VC) is financial capital provided to early-stage, high-potential, growth startup companies. The venture capital fund earns money by owning equity in the companies it invests in, which usually have a novel technology or business model in high technology industries, such as biotechnology and IT. The typical venture capital investment occurs after the seed funding round as the first round of institutional capital to fund growth (also referred to as Series A round) in the interest of generating a return through an eventual realization event, such as an IPO or trade sale of the company. Venture capital is a type of private equity.[1]
    An angel investor or angel (also known as a business angel or informal investor or angel funder) is an affluent individual who provides capital for a business start-up, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. A small but increasing number of angel investors organize themselves into angel groups or angel networks to share research and pool their investment capital, as well as to provide advice to their portfolio companies.[1]

    Source: Wikipedia
  • Microloan Program
    The Microloan program provides loans up to $50,000 to help small businesses and certain not-for-profit childcare centers start up and expand. The average microloan is about $13,000.
    The U.S. Small Business Administration provides funds to specially designated intermediary lenders, which are nonprofit community-based organizations with experience in lending as well as management and technical assistance. These intermediaries administer the Microloan program for eligible borrowers.
    Eligibility Requirements
    Each intermediary lender has its own lending and credit requirements. Generally, intermediaries require some type of collateral as well as the personal guarantee of the business owner.
    Use of Microloan Proceeds
    Microloans can be used for:
    Working capital
    Inventory or supplies
    Furniture or fixtures
    Machinery or equipment
    Proceeds from an SBA microloan cannot be used to pay existing debts or to purchase real estate.
    Repayment Terms, Interest Rates, and Fees
    Loan repayment terms vary according to several factors:
    Loan amount
    Planned use of funds
    Requirements determined by the intermediary lender
    Needs of the small business borrower
    The maximum repayment term allowed for an SBA microloan is six years.
    Interest rates vary, depending on the intermediary lender and costs to the intermediary from the U.S. Treasury. Generally, these rates will be between 8 and 13 percent.

    Source: https://www.sba.gov/content/microloan-program

    Contact Claudia Conner at BiGAUSTIN (claudia@bigaustin.org) for more information about the 4 local microlenders in central Texas. Even though her WBC program is hosted by BiGAUSTIN, she is able to give an unbiased background to all prospective applicants:

    2921 E. 17th Street Building D, Suite 1, Austin TX 78702
    toll-free 888-222-0017

    BCL of Texas
    2212 S. Congress Avenue Austin, TX 78704 Phone: 512.912.9884 Fax: 512.610.2568

    Business Investment Growth 5407 North IH 35, Suite 200 | Austin | Texas | 78723 Office 512-928-8010 | Fax 512-926-2997
    From the BiGAUSTIN website: Each person who owns 20% or more of the business must complete this application in order to be considered. All financial information can be filled in with estimates. Know, however, that if you are pre-qualified, we will be asking for a complete and accurate personal financial statement and personal balance sheet from all applicants and guarantors. Eligibility Criteria can be found here: http://bigaustin.org/eligibility-criteria/

    Eligible Loan Amount:
    Start-up Business(at least 3 months of operation): up to $15,000
    Existing Business(at least 1 year of operation): up to $50,000

    Lift Fund (formerly Accion)
    2014 S. Hackberry St. San Antonio, TX 78210 F 210.533.2940
    From LiftFund website:
    We’re a non-profit organization that helps small business owners with limited access to capital have a chance to live their dreams. We provide small business loans and minority business loans for women, startups, and entrepreneurs. We partner with SBA lenders and other lending institutions to provide small business loans and microloans in Texas and throughout the South Eastern USA.

  • Be leery of sites offering free credit reports!

    The only source of free credit reports authorized by Federal law: AnnualCreditReport.com

  • Promoting Veteran Entrepreneurship is Good for Texas

    Texas is home to nearly 1.7 Million Veterans
    Texas receives more than 35,000 Veterans each year
    Veterans own 9.2% (199,203) of all private companies in Texas
    Employ nearly 500,000.
    Estimated annual receipts totaling more than $99 Billion.
  • The Texas Veteran Entrepreneur Program:
    Promotes Veteran Business Ownership
    Connects Veterans with the Resources Required for the Successful Launch, Ongoing Operation and Business Growth
    Provides Guidance and Training in the Areas of :
    Business Plan Concept Assessment and Development
    Financial Guidance
    Management Assistance
    Marketing Assistance
    Mentorship Opportunities
    Information Regarding Franchise Opportunities

    Launched as a Pilot Program in 2012
    Signed into Law on Memorial Day 2013
    Assisted 4,000+ Veterans toward Entrepreneurship to date
    Directly involved in Launch of 40+ Veteran Owned Businesses (VOB)
    Assisted 80+ VOB’s w/Capital Acquisition
    Provided 70+ Veterans with Business Plan Assistance

  • SBDC advisors work with business owners, managers and principals on any issue that is affecting performance.  Together, the advisor and client explore business goals, identify barriers to growth, examine potential new markets, develop strategy, manage and accelerate growth and prepare for succession or a successful exit.  Some of the work performed may include:
    Strategy development for all areas of the business (e.g., go-to-market, funding, growth, team, etc.) and strategic plan review. 
    Profit Mastery® financial review that examines performance compared to like companies of like size, followed by recommendations for improvements.
    Customer-specific market research supporting due diligence of new markets and opportunities (e.g., industry trends, location demographics, best audience profile, competitive intelligence, etc.)
    Managed engagement with specialist advisors in human resources, government contracting, international trade, manufacturing and other disciplines.
    Identification of management skills gap, followed by in-session instruction or recommended course of outside education / development.
    Investor or stakeholder pitch development, critique and practice, otherwise preparing businesses for access to new capital and use of funds.
    Many of our clients have told us that what they value most about their advisor relationship is the continued presence of an outside, objective voice as they examine and improve all aspects of their operations.
  • The Business Model Canvas is a one page overview that lays out both what you do (or want to do), and how you go about doing it; enabling structured conversations around management and strategy by laying out the crucial activities and challenges involved with your initiative and how they relate to each other. This visual format, first introduced by Alex Osterwalder, is useful for both existing and new businesses. Existing businesses can develop new initiatives and identify opportunities while becoming more efficient by illustrating potential trade-offs and aligning activities. Startups can use it to plan and work out how to make their offering real.
    The individual elements prompt thoughts within the separate activities or resources, while the capability to have the complete overview encourages fresh perspectives and ideas about how those pieces fit together. This structure also helps to keep group discussions more focused and bring everyone onto the same page.

    Customer Segments – An organization serves one or several customer segments.
    Value Propositions – It seeks to solve customer problems and satisfy customer needs with value propositions.
    Channels – Value propositions are delivered to customers through communication, distribution, and sales Channels.
    Customer Relationships – Customer relationships are established and maintained with each customer segment.
    Revenue Streams – Revenue streams result from value propositions successfully offered to customers.
    Key Resources – Key resources are the assets required to offer and deliver the previously described elements…
    Key Activities – …by performing a number of key activities.
    Key Partnerships – Some activities are outsourced and some resources are acquired outside the enterprise.
    Cost Structure – The business model elements result in the cost structure.

    But the gold in the Business Model Canvas comes from the collaborative discussions and explorations in trying to envision new business models. Typically as mentioned above, participants will work with a wall-sized version of the post, and use post-it notes to flesh out either an existing business model, or possibilities for a new business model. 

    The Business Model Canvas is also available in web-based software format.

    Business Model Canvas poster is free to anyone under Creative Commons: http://bit.ly/BMCPoster
    Business Model Canvas Explained YouTube Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoAOzMTLP5s
    When you’re ready to expand your business by adding new locations call your SBDC! We can help you negotiate leased office space, prepare your loan package, review your financial projections---we can be that objective, unbiased, trusted advisor to help you through the entire process. There is never a charge for our consulting assistance. Your tax dollars at work!

    The International Trade Center is the only source of comprehensive trade consulting and market research services in the State of Texas. ITC clients receive comprehensive, world-class consulting and technical trade assistance provided by experienced and Certified Global Business Professionals (CGBP) credentialed International Business Consultants. Services are always 100% confidential, customized and are offered at no cost. Whether your company is just starting its international operations or is an experienced firm looking to expand into new global markets, the ITC team of consultants can provide you with the trade consulting and technical assistance that will help you make better decisions and increase profits. Visit www.texastrade.org.

    SBDCGlobal.com is a powerful and free online trade platform that will link the 750,000+ clients of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) networks in the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, Belize, and Tunisia with international trade opportunities.  Direct access and connections to the clients of the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (SEBRAE) Network is also made possible for SBDC Clients through SBDCGlobal.com. 

    Early stage and growing technology companies have special needs around the development of intellectual property and assets, executable business models and the recruitment of talent.  Our technology commercialization advisors are specially trained to help assist and mentor entrepreneurs during all phases of the business life cycle.  We also offer Innovation Readiness™ curriculum to educate and mentor new entrepreneurs though the product and service commercialization process.  And, our Knowledge Transfer Series brings together technology entrepreneurs at all levels to share information and lessons learned and to promote local networking and collaboration.    

    Our Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) out of San Antonio (UTSA) provides assistance to small business owners to expand their business into federal, state, regional, county, local markets with government agencies, and military installations. PTAC staff provides business consulting, training, and networking opportunities through specialized classes, monthly networking meetings, matchmaking events, and one-on-one assistance. In addition to the following services:
    Determine Suitability for Contracting
    The government marketplace poses unique challenges that can overwhelm or even ruin a company that does not have the maturity or resources to meet them. Our advisors can help determine if your company is ready for government opportunities and how to best position it for success.
    Securing Necessary Registrations
    Advisors are available to help ensure registration with the various databases necessary to participate in the government marketplace, including the Department of Defense’s System Award Management (SAM), the SBA’s Dynamic Small Business Search and the other government vendor databases.
    SDB, 8(a), HUBZone, WOSB and other Certifications
    Certain small businesses are eligible for preferred status in some government solicitations. A PTAC specialist can help determine if your company is eligible for certain certifications and guide you through the steps necessary to secure them.
    Researching Procurement Histories
    “What agencies have bought products like yours in the past? Which companies have been awarded these contracts? How much have they been paid?” Answers to questions like these are necessary to guide a marketing strategy and gain a competitive edge. PTAC staff can help ask the right questions and get the information needed to succeed.
    Bid Match Service
    Bid Match Is an automated system that searches new federal, state, and local government contracting opportunities on a daily basis and delivers matching opportunities to your email inbox. The PTAC Bid Match service searches over 350 government websites nationally. This service can help expand your customer base by providing a daily internet listing of contract opportunities customized to your business, providing names of potential customers who buy your products and services, and providing subcontracting opportunities with primary contractors on major contracts. The Bid Match Service provides an affordable, customized contracting opportunity search tool for clients of the PTAC.
    Proposal Preparation
    A procurement specialist can help navigate even the most difficult solicitation package, including securing necessary specifications and drawings and determining pricing.
    Contracting Performance Issues
    After contract award, PTAC staff can assist with performance issues such as developing a cost-accounting system, bonding and interim financing, developing environmental, quality control, and accident prevention plans.
  • Presented by Jim Binneboese, SCORE
  • SCORE Austin
    Jim Binneboese, SCORE Advisor
    5524 Bee Cave Rd., Building M
    Austin, TX 78746
    Mentoring also available by appointment in Round Rock, Georgetown, San Marcos, Marble Falls, Bastrop & Waco

    Upcoming SCORE training (register at score.austin.org):
    Email Tips, Tricks and Best Strategies--April 24, 2015
    This presentation will provide a deeper look into the importance and effectiveness of why email marketing with social media engagement can drive action. At the heart of small business marketing are the campaigns that drive action--helping a small business achieve its goals and objectives. Newsletters and announcements have become a core component of marketing activities that help a business achieve its goals and objectives. Email is more important than ever to the communication efforts of businesses and nonprofits everywhere and to their customers, donors, clients, or supporters. This workshop will reveal some best practices and considerations for the small business or nonprofit seeking to make their email newsletters and announcements more effective.
    Marketing Your Product Services and Company--May 1, 2015
    In the third workshop in the Simple Steps to Starting Your Business series you will learn about creating a brand. We will help you identify your competition, target markets, key demographics and consumer behavior. We will also address business to business and business to consumer marketing strategies.
    Financial Forecasts and Reporting--May 8, 2015
    In this fourth workshop of the Simple steps to Starting a Business series, you will learn the basics needed to manage your small business financials. You will see how to forecast sales and expenses; see true start-up costs; discuss profit and loss and pricing; and how to set and use financial benchmarks.
    Funding Your Business--May 15, 2015
    The final workshop in the Simple Steps to Starting Your Business series covers funding sources, financial statements, accounting and bookkeeping systems, the six C’s of credit, and banking relationships and making the go or no-go business to start your business.
    Fearless Business Ownership--May 22, 2015
    A fast paced presentation that gives startups and serial entrepreneurs what they really need to avoid costly legal mistakes when starting and operating a business in Texas. Among the invaluable topics discussed are choosing the right business entity, non-compete and non-disclosure agreements, defining your relationships with consultants and contractors and vendors and employees, dealing with regulators and taxing authorities and other legal issues facing small business. Presented by Laura Fowler and David Oliver of the Fowler Law firm.
  • City of Austin Small Business Program
    Cindy Garcia
    One Texas Center | 505 Barton Springs Road | Austin | TX | 78704
    512-974-7800 Main Number

    BizAid℠ Business Education
    Classroom education on a wide range of relevant small business topics is available at a low cost. Taught by The University of Texas Professional Development Program, these classes can really help the small business owner become better prepared for the day-to-day management of a business. Participants who complete any six classes will receive a Business Success Skills Certificate. A complete list of upcoming classes and events is provided at Calendar & Class Registration (http://www.austintexas.gov/smallbiz).
    Organizations Helpful to Small Businesses
    The Small Business Program serves as a clearinghouse of information to directly help business owners or refer them to the other resources. Find over 100 local organizations on LocallyAustin.org that offer a wide range of services and resources geared towards small business assistance. Access these resources under the Small Business Resources tab.
    Business Solutions Center (BSC)
    In a one-stop-shop setting similar to that of a library, the BSC offers use of computer equipment, high-speed internet access, as well as several online databases, which are: infoUSA - conduct market research with a database of over 14 million commercial and residential contacts Plan Write - business plan writing software BizMiner - industry financial profiles and reports Business-in-a-Box - over 1400 templates essential for day-to-day business including non-compete agreements, vendor agreements, financial statements, and many other commonly used business documents B2G Market - connects you to government bid opportunities for your product or service DemographicsNow - U.S.. Census Bureau information and data used for researching specific areas for business location and customer identification LoopNet - an online database which assists in locating commercial real estate property for sale or for lease The BSC also provides access to copiers, CD burners, fax machines, printers and a scanner. We also have a vast collection of written entrepreneurial materials that may help with determining the best avenue to establish and grow a business. The BSC also offers free notary services. City of Austin staff is on site to help Monday – Friday, 8:30 AM-4:30 PM at One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road. Bring a USB drive to take data with you. For more information call 512-974-7786 Location Assistance LoopNet – Database of current real estate for sale or for lease in the Austin area.  LoopNet can be accessed in the City of Austin’s Business Solutions Center at 505 Barton Springs Road. Open 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM, Monday – Friday No appointment necessary On site assistance Bring a USB drive to take data with you 512-974-7786
    Access to Capital
    Beginning in 2001, City of Austin has hosted Meet the Lender℠, a business loan fair, to assist you in finding a small business friendly lender. Click here to access a roster of attending lenders you can contact at any time for lending assistance.
    Small Businesses Health Insurance
    TexHealth is a community-based nonprofit created by and for Central Texas businesses offering a low-cost health benefits program in Travis, Burnet, Hays, and Williamson counties. For more information, go to texhealthct.org.
    Workers Compensation
    Workers’ compensation is a state-regulated insurance system that provides covered employees with income and medical benefits if they are injured on the job or have a work-related injury or illness.  Except in cases of gross negligence, workers’ compensation insurance limits an employer’s liability if an employee brings suit against the employer for damages.  In Texas private employers can choose whether or not to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Visit Texas Department of Insurance for more info.
    Small Business Certifications (MBE/WBE/HUB)
    The City’s Minority-Owned Business Enterprises (MBE) and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) program is intended to promote and encourage MBEs and WBEs to participate in business opportunities with the City of Austin; to afford MBEs and WBEs an equal opportunity to compete for work on City contracts; and to encourage contractors to provide subcontracting opportunities to certified MBEs and WBEs by soliciting such firms for subcontracting opportunities.
    City of Austin Small and Minority Business Resources
    4201 Ed Bluestein Blvd. Austin, Texas 78721
    Office hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Phone: 512-974-7600
    State of Texas Historically Underutilized Business (HUB)
    Contingent on MBE and/or WBE certification approval, you may also be eligible for State of Texas Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) certification if proof of citizenship or naturalization and a Federal Tax Identification number are provided. Please note: HUB certificate is issued directly by the State of Texas HUB-Link.

    SOURCE: City of Austin Small Business Program Website - https://austintexas.gov/page/steps-starting-business
  • BiGAUSTIN’s Women’s Business Center (WBC)
    Claudia Conner, Executive Director
    5407 North IH 35, Suite 200 | Austin | Texas | 78723
  • Texas Veterans Commission (TVC)
    Greg Shigemasa, MBA
    Veteran Entrepreneur Program
    1700 North Congress Ave., Suite 800
    P.O. Box 12277
    Austin, TX 78711-2277
  • Texas State Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
    Orlando Colmenero
    512-610-0996 Main Number
    7719 Wood Hollow Dr.
    Suite 211
    Austin, TX 78731

    Our team of certified business advisors has established relationships with lenders and investors. They are able to review loan packages, make recommendations and provide referrals.

    Business Expansions can be viewed as investments that warrant critical quantitative financial analysis for both the entrepreneurs and backers.  Business Advisors and associated education opportunities can support the entrepreneurial journey in developing comprehensive capital strategies that can result in progressive fundraising with healthy partnering investors whether they be friends & family, banks, strategic partnership, or Angels & Venture Capitalists. 

    Early stage and growing technology companies have special needs around the development of intellectual property and assets, executable business models and the recruitment of talent.  Our technology commercialization advisors are specially trained to help assist and mentor entrepreneurs during all phases of the business life cycle.  We also offer Innovation Readiness™ curriculum to educate and mentor new entrepreneurs though the product and service commercialization process.  And, our Knowledge Transfer Series brings together technology entrepreneurs at all levels to share information and lessons learned and to promote local networking and collaboration.    

    The Texas State SBDC Video Studio and equipment in our Round Rock office is available free of charge to SBDC clients once they have completed a 3-hour Video Orientation class! The video studio is  complete with camera equipment, audio, lighting, and backdrops.  The D.I.Y. Videography Orientation Classes are very informal, limited to 5 clients per session, offered about every two weeks and cost $95. There are no fees to use the studio or equipment.  The only charge for you to be able to use the studio is the one-time fee of $95 to attend the class. The class includes:         •    What makes a great video         •    What not to do         •    Examples of videos that work         •    Using videos on your website & in social media         •    SBDC studio & equipment Policies & Procedures         •    How to schedule studio time & check out equipment         •    Hands-on Studio Time!

    SBDCGlobal.com is a powerful and free online trade platform that will link the 750,000+ clients of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) networks in the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, Belize, and Tunisia with international trade opportunities.  Direct access and connections to the clients of the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (SEBRAE) Network is also made possible for SBDC Clients through SBDCGlobal.com.  Whether you are a start-up company or an experienced global trader, SBDCGlobal.com can help you:
    Increase Sales: SBDCGlobal.com allows small businesses to promote their products to international customers and open new markets;
    Lower Costs: prequalified trade leads will help small businesses efficiently locate new buyers and suppliers, reduce travel costs and save time;
    Reduce Risk: one-on-one and free assistance from experienced SBDC counselors will give small businesses the information and guidance that will help them lower international trade risks and make better decisions;
    Build Trade Expertise: SBDCGlobal.com will provide small businesses with the knowledge, tools and contacts that will increase their confidence in entering new markets and in negotiating with new suppliers and buyers;
    If you are interested in becoming a part of SBDCGlobal.com, please click here.
  • Governor’s Small Business Handbook: http://bit.ly/TxSmallBusHandbook

    SCORE Templates https://austin.score.org/resources/tab-a

    Find a Mentor at SCORE, BiGAUSTIN, City of Austin, TVC
  • Register for Training
    SCORE Training Calendar: http://conta.cc/1K4MVeG
    City of Austin’s Small Business Program Training Calendar: http://bit.ly/SBPCalendar
    BiGAUSTIN’s Training Calendar: http://bit.ly/BiGAUSTINCalendar
    Texas Veteran’s Commission Training Calendar: http://bit.ly/VEPCalendar
    Texas State SBDC’s Training Calendar: http://bit.ly/TxStateSBDCCalendar

    Email Mentoring
    SCORE has over 13,000 experienced, knowledgeable mentors all over the country who are ready and willing to help you and it doesn’t cost anything! Sign up here:


    Prepare for Meetings
    Do your homework, take notes, create action items and be prepared to review progress during your next session.