THINKING OF STARTING AND GROWING
YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
HISPANIC ENTREPRENEUR LEADERSHIP PROGRAM
A Public Service Initiative of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
The Mur Law Firm to empower aspiring Hispanic entrepreneurs
“WE ARE HERE FOR YOU”.
SUCCESS IS DOING THE SIMPLE THINGS WELL.
WHEN IT COMES TO STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS
"KNOWLEDGE IS POWER".
IMAGINE ALL THE KNOWLEDGE, RESOURCES AND INFORMATION YOU NEED AT YOUR FINGERTIPS.
THAT’S WHAT H.E.L.P.TM DOES FOR YOU.
“EMPOWERING YOU TO SUCCEED.”
Hispanics are the fastest growing and most entrepreneurial sector of our community, but we are the most under served when it comes to access to information.
Our Mission is to empower the Hispanic community.
H.E.L.P. offers guidance in starting and growing your own businesses by offering an online resource toolbox to guide Hispanic entrepreneurs through the maze of information needed to achieve success.
Dreams Become Reality with H.E.L.P.
It takes more than desire and drive to succeed in business. In today’s challenging economic environment, small business owners also need a working knowledge of financial and personnel management, record keeping, tax laws and legal structures; communication skills; and marketing savvy.
What’s the right legal structure for my new business?
Each form of business structure — sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company or corporation — has its own advantages and disadvantages. Your choice depends on your specific circumstances, and you should discuss the options with your accountant or tax adviser. For more information, go to http://dos.myflorida.com/sunbiz/ which is the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporation’s official website.
What licenses and permits do I need?
Launching a business typically involves paperwork. Unless you plan to go it alone -- as a sole proprietor with no employees, for example -- you will need to obtain certificates, licenses and permits in order to legally operate. Here’s what you need to get started.
Check websites or call city and county government offices in your area to determine if you will need a local business tax receipt (formerly called “occupational license”) and/or a zoning permit. Florida Small Business Development Centers also have information on licensing and permitting for cities and counties within their jurisdictions. Check www.floridasbdc.org to find a center near you.
· www.MyFlorida.com is Florida’s official website providing links to state agencies and all types of information for new and existing businesses.
· File a “Fictitious Name” registration with the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations. Owners conducting business under a name other than their own must file, even if the name seems very similar. Corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies and trademarked names do not have to file. For filing fees and to register a name online, visit www.sunbiz.org.
· Obtain a state business or professional license, if necessary. Check with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation or the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to learn about license requirements, apply for or renew licenses, search license records and find exam information.
· Collect state sales tax (and county sales surtax, if applicable) for applicable products and services and obtain a Certificate of Registration. The Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) issues certificates and monthly payment booklets. Register online for free or file Form DR-1. If the DOR tells you your business isn’t taxable, get it in writing.
· File a “New Hire Reporting Form” for every newly hired and rehired employee, full- or part-time.
· File quarterly unemployment tax reports and make payments to the Florida Department of Revenue if you have employees (apart from yourself).
How do I come up with the money to start or grow my business?
The U.S. Small Business Administration can point you to a commercial lending institution, and your local Small Business Development Center can help you put together a loan proposal. Please visit https://www.sba.gov/.
Where do I get information on state and federal taxes?
How do I sell my products to the state?
The Florida Department of Management Services coordinates the purchase of goods and services for state agencies.
How do I sell my products or services outside the U.S.?
Enterprise Florida’s International Trade and Business Development Field Offices provide export counseling services, as well as information about training programs, international markets, trade shows and missions.
The following databases also provide information of interest to entrepreneurs.
Palm Beach County Resource Center provides company toolshed for entrepreneurs as well as access to full-text articles on a wide variety of business-related subjects from business journals throughout the county.
Free one-on-one counseling services are available, by appointment, from the Palm Beach Service Corps of Retired Executives (Palm Beach SCORE (website).
In addition, seminars on many special business topics and issues are presented twice a month by members of the Florida Women’s Business Center (website). Topics include “1, 2, 3s of Starting a Business”, “Skills to Operate a Profitable Business”, “Accelerating Your Sales Performance”, “How to Market Your Business on the Internet”, “Alternative to Corporate Jobs – Recession-resistant Franchises”, and “Business Law”.
Links to Websites on Small Business Start-up and Expansion
Additional information on small business start-up may be found on the following websites:
Business USA - website
This one-stop electronic link to the information and services available from dozens of federal government organizations that assist or regulate business includes information on business development, financial assistance, taxes, laws and regulations, and international trade. This site is maintained and funded the United States Small Business Administration.
Entrepreneur - website
The Small Business Answer Desk, available on this site, has frequently-asked questions about management, marketing and advertising, human resources, e-business, sales, and franchise opportunities.
Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations - website
This site provides information on starting a business in Florida. It includes information on business registrations, selecting locations, industry reports, business, taxes, international trade, and corporate filings.
Florida Women’s Business Center (FWBC) - website
A list of free business seminars provided by this organization and other available resources are in included on the FWBC website.
IRS – Small Business and Self-Employed One Stop Resource - website
Part of the IRS website, this web page provides information on a wide variety of business tax topics, including topics for small business.
NAWBO- National Association of Women Business Owners - website
NAWBO is a professional association representing the interests of women entrepreneurs in all types of businesses. Information about membership, conferences, and publications is included on this website.
SBA: Small Business Administration - website
The SBA provides a wealth of information to entrepreneurs needing help starting, financing, or expanding a business. SBA programs and services are described, and local SBA resources are included. Information on disaster assistance is also provided.
SBA: South Florida District Office - website
This site provides a start-up kit, a training calendar, financing information, laws and regulations, and local resources for entrepreneurs starting businesses in South Florida.
SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) - website
This site provides guidance on small business start-up. It includes information on business opportunities, including home-based businesses. SCORE workshop locations are included.
SUNBIZ: Florida Division of Corporations Online Database - website
Sunbiz provides information on forming a corporation in the State of Florida. Online forms and information on filing fees are included. The site allows online searching for names of corporations, trademarks, and fictitious names. It also provides access to articles of incorporation, annual reports, and other documents on file.
Links to Websites on Business Plans
SBA: Small Business Administration - website
The SBA website includes a section on writing business plans which includes a free online workshop on the subject.
The following agencies handle requests for basic information and referrals, and provide education and information services.
Palm Beach SCORE - website
Florida Women’s Business Center - website
10 Best Social Media Sites for Small Business Owners
By Susan Tucker, December 2011
Are you confused and overwhelmed by social media? Face-what? Twit-who? You-how? In this post, I’m going to lay out a few of the best social media sites for small business owners, and why.
First off, when considering your online marketing strategy, your website MUST come first.
Think of it as sort of a “base camp” that you will connect to/from any number of external points.
Your website is property owned by you, whereas social media pages are the property of someone else.
Look at social media sites as merely a vehicle to get your message out there and drive traffic back to what you have control over.
Still, getting “social” is an important component of any marketing plan.
Did you know… there are more than 100 thriving social media sites online right now and more popping up every single day. It’s enough to make a person’s head spin!
Where do you start when deciding what sites to include in your marketing strategy?
Here is my list. You don’t have to have a presence on every channel. Decide which ones (2 or more) will most benefit your business and go from there.
Ok, here goes:
Launched in February 2004 for college students, Facebook has come a long way in a short seven years. Now with an estimated 800 million active users, it is ranked as the most used social networking service in the world (by the number of active monthly users).
Lucky for you, starting a business page – and tapping into the power of Facebook – is pretty easy. Once your page is created, users ‘like’ it (opt-in to get your posts) and your news will be posted to their ‘wall.’
The Facebook interface makes it easy for your fans to ‘like’ or share your posts and when they do, their friends (the average user has 130 friends) will see this activity, therefore putting your brand in front of an audience you may not normally be able to access.
A micro-blogging social media site that has been around since 2004, Twitter has an estimated 300 million users world-wide. It has been described as SMS of the internet because posts are short, sweet and to-the-point.
Twitter is a tidal wave of information. Posts come in at 140 characters or less and can be organized via hashtags (#). Topics range from totally practical (I often search #Boulder) to the absolutely absurd (#gympetpeeve).
Twitter differs from Facebook in that users ‘follow’ each other. If someone follows you, you can follow them back. Therefore it is easier to gain a following, but the followers are not as targeted as they are on Facebook.
I have found that Twitter is an awesome way to connect with people and/or other businesses participating in the same event. Following a hashtag at a concert, live performance or webinar creates a richer experience. As a business owner, you can utilize this at events your company participates in – try it! – I’ll bet you’d be blown away by the response.
YouTube is a video-sharing social media site that is owned by Google. There are more than 48 hours of new video uploaded to the site every minute. Wow! As a small business owner, using video in your online marketing strategy – and the back-end keywords of your YouTube video -is just as important as your other online strategies.
YouTube recently announced YouTube for schools and I predict more ‘stations’ will be rolling out in the future. Will your specialty be included? Maybe!
4. Google+ (Google Plus).
Google is a powerhouse; this is no surprise. Initially launched as a search engine company in 1996, Google has continually added, updated and created new products that will appeal to it’s 1 billion unique visitors per month.
Google Plus was introduced in June 2011 for personal use and in November 2011 was opened to brands. Some of the features of Google+ include Circles, Hangouts, Messenger, Instant Upload, Hashtags and more.
These products are definitely designed with the user in mind. The downside – there is no way to create a vanity url for your brand page.
Even though this is Google’s fourth go at a social media site, you cannot deny the importance of adding your brand to there, if for search engine rankings alone.
Founded in 2002 and launched in 2003, LinkedIn is THE premier B2B social networking site. LI gets two new members every second, putting it at 135 million active users in more than 200 countries.
Traditionally viewed as the spot to put your resume and search for a job, LinkedIn has grown into a robust networking site. From job listings to interest groups (there are more than 870K groups) there are great benefits to keeping your profile up-to- date. Look at it as a business after hours event…. put on your suit, add a smile to your face and be on your best behavior because you never know what kind of business leads you’re going to get.
I always recommend dedicating an hour or so a week maintaining your LI profile. Also, be sure add your company listing, and update it as well. Use your LI company profile page as a resume for your business.
If your products are visually appealing, then this social media site is for you. Pinterest is a vision board-styled social photo sharing site that was launched in 2009. The mission is to connect everyone in the world through shared taste and the things they find interesting. Users find and create theme-based boards, populating these ‘boards’ with a “Pin It” button. Pins may be divided into pictures, videos, discussions, and gifts.
Users may follow anyone or any brand; users can also ‘re-pin’ your pinned items. Companies with product photos can gain a huge following and quick.
Started in 2001, Ryze is a social networking site for professionals – particularly entrepreneurs. It’s free to join, and there are paid memberships are available. There are currently over 500,000 members worldwide.
More than 1000 organizations host networks on Ryze. According to their website, networks on Ryze let existing organizations and communities plus new ones use Ryze’s technology to connect their members with each other.
As of this posting, Ryze is not accepting new members. How intriguing!
Talkbiznow is a web-based business community that provides business services for small businesses and professionals. In addition to the basic functionality of creating a profile and connecting with others, users can manage a calendar, store files (up to 50MG of free space!), host webinars, manage all other social media sites with Social One and lots more.
The company’s mission is to simplify the essential business services and seamlessly integrate and deliver them through the internet for Free. Making it possible for businesses of all sizes to network, collaborate and essentially expand their services in avenues they might not have explored before.
Talkbiznow could be a great site to help get the social media newbie moving in the right direction. Sign up is easy, and the profile build and management is user-friendly. I especially like the free collaboration and desktop services: file sharing, web conferencing and voice conferencing.
This is a social media site for the (you guessed it) affluent. In fact, you must prove your worth before you can even join, so I can’t tell you much about it, other than it’s intriguing.
Affluence is a private social network where accomplished individuals connect, share information, and engage in meaningful conversations. Members also enjoy exclusive, high-quality content and feature advice from industry experts on subjects such as art, technology, and travel.
So, if you fall in the income range of a “verifiable minimum household net worth of $1 million (US) or annual household income of $200,000,” then this most certainly could be the spot for you!
Now that LinkedIn has disabled their popular Answers feature, Quora is a great place for small business owners to be. For details, visit this recent post.
So, there you have it. My top 10 list of best social media sites for small businesses.
1. Do a self-inventory.
Not everyone has what it takes to start a company. That’s not to say that your idea is not brilliant, but are you ready for all the chores that come with it, like cold calling prospects and invoicing them until you're paid when you start getting clients? It just means that you may not have the personality traits to handle launching a company of your own.
Before investing any time or resources, evaluate yourself and see if you have some the typical traits of an entrepreneur. Are you motivated, able to adapt and confident? Are you resilient?
2. Develop an idea.
Don’t just start a business because something is in vogue and you think commercializing it will make money. Develop a business concept that you're passionate about related to something that you have experience with. From there, come up with a product or service that you believe can enhance the people’s lives.
3. Test the plausibility.
Once you’ve settled on an idea, figure out how you can make it become a reality. Is the product or service something that people want or need? Can you make a profit selling it? Does the product work?
4. Write a business plan.
A solid business plan will guide you going forward, even if your plan is to be just a solopreneur or freelancer. It’s also needed for presenting your idea to potential investors. Your business plan should include a mission statement, a company summary, an executive summary, a service or product offerings, a description of a target market, financial projections and the cost of the operation. Learn about how to write a business plan at SBA.gov
5. Identify your market.
Even though you may have detected some interest in your business, you need to do more homework. Assess the market, targeting the customers most likely to make a purchase. Perform a competitive assessment.
6. Determine the costs.
Do additional research and find out the standard cost factors within this industry. Not only will this help you manage your business more effectively, investors will want to know this.
7. Establish a budget.
Once you determine how much money you’ll have to work with, figure out how much it will take to develop your product or service and create a marketing plan.
8. Find the right investors.
You’re going to need some sort of funding to start off, whether from your savings, credit cards, loans, grants or venture capitalists. Find an investor who shares your passion, someone you believe you can work with.
9. Listen to investors.
Whether you like it, investors do have a say in your company. And you need to listen to their advice or suggestion. But that doesn’t mean you have to do what they tell you.
10. Set up a great support system.
You’re going to be investing a lot of time and resources into your new business venture. Be certain that your family is on board. They must be aware that this process will be challenging financially and emotionally.
11. Determine the legal structure.
Settle on which form of ownership is best for you: a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability company, a corporation, an S corporation, a nonprofit or a cooperative. Find out more at SBA.gov.
12. Select a business name.
Decide on a name that best suits your business. Then check to see if the domain name is available online, as well as if it’s free to use in your county, state and in the country.
If your proposed business name is available, register it with the county clerk, have it trademarked at the state and federal levels and secure a domain name.
14. Take advantage of free resources.
Numerous free resources can offer advice, training and assistance. SBA.gov is a great place to look at to find local resources.
15. Determine tax obligations.
Now it’s time to wrestle with the tax obligations. In the United States, four basic types of business taxes arise: income, self-employment, taxes for employees and excise taxes.
16. Secure permits and licenses.
According to research, you’ll have to pick up a federal employment identification number (unless the company is a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company without employees.) Apply for state licenses. Pick up a local tax registration certificate. File for local permits, if required, such as a conditional use permit or zoning variance.
17. Buy insurance.
Make sure that you arrange for the proper insurance for your business. This will vary according to the type of business. If you’re working from home be sure that your homeowner’s insurance covers theft or damage to business assets, as well as liability for any business-related injuries.
18. Set up the books.
Figure out if you’re using a cash or accrual system, determine the fiscal year for the business and set up a recordkeeping system.
19. Choose a business location.
Select a location that best fits the needs of your business, one that offers an opportunity for growth, the right level of competition and proximity to suppliers. It should also be accessible to customers.
20. Don’t worry about an office.
If you’re not making any revenue, then don't concern yourself with an office or warehouse just yet.
21. A patent can wait.
22. Be flexible.
Chances are that your original idea will have to be modified. Being able to pivot and adapt to create what customers want will determine if your business will fail or succeed.
23. Share your ideas with friends and family.
Your nearest and dearest will most likely be the most honest with you about your business. Don’t hesitate to seek their advice and suggestions.
24. Ignore the naysayers.
At the same time, there’s a difference between constructive criticism and someone's quick jab projecting that your business will fail. Follow the example of French Internet mogul Xavier Niel and ignore them.
25. Don’t become angry.
If your idea is rejected by customers or investors, don't just succumb to anger. Find out what they didn’t like, make adjustments and go back to them when you’ve made the changes. There's the possibility that the timing was wrong as well.
26. Deliver the product or service fast.
Your business is a work in progress and if you launch your product or service quickly, you will be able to build a community of customers who can provide valuable feedback that can help you improve the offerings. In the words of LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, "If you're not embarrassed by your first product release, you've released too late
27. Offer new products or services.
If you already have customers, be sure to hold on to them by providing new products or services.
28. Be patient.
Always keep in mind that success won’t happen overnight. It’s going to take some time before you make a profit.
29. Over deliver at first.
Once you land a new client, be sure to go above and beyond the call of duty for at least the first month. You’ll have this customer hooked from then on.
30. Blog all the time.
Don’t be ashamed to share both your triumphs and struggles. Customers will enjoy your honesty.
31. Avoid fights with partners.
If you have disagreements with partners, then sever ties as soon as possible. In-house bickering will prevent you from focusing on growing the business.
32. Don’t worry about dilution.
So an investor has required a stake in the company. Recognize the fact that eventually at one point or another you'll have to give up some control of the business. Accept it and move on.
33. Hire a copywriter.
Unless you’re an excellent writer, hire a copywriter to compose emails for highly targeted customers. A copywriter will also prove handy for press releases and other pieces to spread brand awareness or provide business updates.
34. Prepare for meetings.
When preparing for a meeting with a client, read up on everything that’s available, steeping yourself in information about the industry, that firm's employees and its competition.
35. Don’t fear the competition.
Don’t bad-mouth the competition when talking to investors or customers. There’s no need to become an object of pity. In fact, talking in this manner might even point customers to a competitor who may offer a product or service that you don’t. Remember, when competition exists, there’s a market for your business. Use that knowledge as inspiration to outperform a rival.
36. Benefit from word-of-mouth.
Nothing beats some good old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing. Let friends, family members and influencers in your field spread the word about your product or service.
Don’t be afraid to get out there and show your face to the public, whether at a conference or just being out and about with friend on a Friday night. But try to stay local because travel can dwindle your budget.
38. Provide outstanding customer service.
Interacting with people is a big part of the job. Your business may gain new customers because you made them feel important. For example, Zappos wasn’t the first online store to sell shoes, but the company perfected its customer-service department and won over shoppers.
39. Be sure your website functions.
Potential customers want to know as much about your business as possible and they should be able to quickly access that kind of information on your website.
40. Don’t be overly concerned by the economy.
Some of the best businesses have launched during a recession. In fact, half of the Fortune 500 companies listed in 2009 were founded during such times, according to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
41. Make sure clients pay their bills.
Always be certain to receive payment for your products or services. Instead of being taken advantage of establish a time frame for payment. It also wouldn’t hurt to accept credit cards and have an online payment system set up.
42. Find the right employees.
Hire the right people for the job. Even though it's your business, you won't be skilled at every task, which is why you need qualified people to complete the work.
43. Assign responsibilities.
Delegate attainable tasks to employees. This is all about effective management.
44. Know that honesty is the best policy.
If any issues with employees emerge, be sure that they are addressed. No one enjoys being talked about behind their back.
45. Remember that opposites attract.
Hire people with skills and personalities that are the opposite to yours. They’ll challenge you and will bring different skills and talents to the business that you don't.
46. Say goodbye to your social life.
You’re going to spend a lot of time devoted to the business. Even if you plan a night out, you may leave early because a lightbulb just went off. Hopefully those closest in your life will understand.
47. Recognize that you'll be the final person to be paid.
As the CEO, you’re the last to collect a check. That’s just how it works until there’s adequate revenue.
48. Arrive at a useful definition of success.
Just because your business hasn’t made you a millionaire (yet) doesn’t mean that your enterprise is a failure. If you’re able to make some sort of profit doing something that you’re passionate about, isn’t that a success story?
49. Realize when it's time to move on.
Failure is inevitable. If things aren’t working out and you’ve done all you can, then put aside your pride and close up shop. Something like this is not easy to accept. But it’s for the best.
50. Don’t just rely on the advice of others.
Despite my offering up all of these tips for you, perhaps the most important piece of advice is something learned the hard way: While many people may offer a startup assistance, recognize that in the end you’re the person running the show and the one responsible for the company's success and failure. If you understand what worked and what didn’t, you’ll burnish the skills and knowledge to run your business.
You have a great public library system here in your own back yard in palm beach county with a wealth information just waiting for you.
Print Sources – Books, Magazines, Newsletters, Newspapers
Print resources include numerous current books on many topics including the following:
IF YOU HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS, PLEASE CONTACT:
ARLEN M. CASTILLO
H.E.L.P.- Program Director
The Mur Law Firm, P.A.
WE ARE HERE TO H.E.L.P. YOU SUCCEED!