On April 29, The University of Houston Office of Technology Transfer and Innovation hosted the Launch your Business Zoom event where attendees learned from the UH Small Business Development Center.
Tori Rayne and Tim Stanley from the SBDC shared how to get set up as a client with the SBDC and how to work with an advisor to help with drafting a business plan, accessing funding, business accounting, valuation of a business and marketing, social media and HR needs as a business grows.
The speakers boiled the complexities of starting a business down to three essential first steps.
According to Rayne, Assistant Regional Director at University of Houston Texas Gulf Coast SBDC Network, the first step is to create a limited liability company (LLC), which can be done online for as little as $300. Once the LLC has been set up, the next step is to acquire a business tax I.D. This can be granted through a free application from the IRS. Once those two things have been acquired, a business checking account can then be opened.
The speakers shared that most new businesses will more than likely need a loan to get started. Banks and other loan providers will look at the applicant’s personal finances to determine if they are eligible for a loan.
“Banks want to see that you have the ability to spend but that you don’t,” Rayne said. You’ll need financial projections, a marketing plan and a personal financial statement before applying for a loan.
The SBDC helps by providing an advisor that helps new entrepreneurs develop a marketing plan that lenders like to see. The SBDC has three different marketing specialists. They have a social media specialist that helps with calendars, scheduling and creating a brand. They also have a strategic marketing specialist that will help develop a marketing strategy and a SEO company that will make sure the business’ website is taking full advantage of search engine optimization.
Rayne also suggests looking into grants. She mentioned Hello Alice, a free online platform with funding opportunities and other tools for small businesses.
Investors can help fund a new business, but Rayne said that “you have to show that your idea is going to work.” This can be done by conducting surveys, doing market research and providing current number of sales.