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Monday, March 16, 2009

Start me up!

While you may be extremely concerned about your current employment and economic situation, now is a great time to start a business! I covered this a few weeks ago and the New York Times agreed with me today. The market is starved for innovation and effective services, now matter what the stock market reads at the end of the day.

Inevitably, the question is about what comes next. So, what do you do after deciding to pursue your own business (assuming you've got the idea, of course)? Here are three crucial tips to ensure you start your business on the right foot:

1. Schedule an appointment with a SCORE consultant

Nothing beats free advice from qualified professionals. As a business consultant it doesn't necessarily behoove me to plug a competitor, but this is an invaluable resource that every person interested in starting a business should utilize. SCORE stands for Service Corp of Retired Executives and they've been serving professionals as a national organization since 1964. Take a few moments to schedule an appointment today, which you can usually do through the SCORE or SBA website.

2.Determine tax status for free

One of the biggest questions a potential start-up business owner has is how to classify their business. C or S Corp? Sole proprietorship or LLC? Could it even be a non-profit? Many people spend lots of money to hire a lawyer to consult with them and prepare the documents, but that's not necessary. You can save yourself a great deal of your start-up capital by doing some research. Spend some time getting in depth with all the free sources about business tax status the internet has to offer. Then contact the appropriate representative from your state (in Texas, it's the Secretary of State's office) to determine what paperwork needs to be filed. You may be able to do it yourself and put the money you save toward your business.

3.Market research

While it may seem mind-numbingly simple, it's often a missing component for small businesses. Not only is solid market research a necessary component for a business plan likely to receive financing, it also is crucial to determine where you'll fit within your chose market. Is your innovation actually innovative, or is someone else already doing it? Does a large competitor actually have an easily exploitable weakness? Understanding the competition will be incredibly valuable as you carve out your own niche.

Jon Pyle is the Director of Business Development and Senior Business Consultant for Barber & Barber Associates. Email him at for more small business insights or help starting your own business.

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