Resources for Starting Your Own Small Business

Posted on March 31, 2015 at 6:00 am

By Aileen Luppert

Resources for Starting Your Own Small Business | Spokane County Library District

Have you ever considered starting your own small business? Most of us have fantasized about being our own boss—maybe more often than we care to admit. We aren’t alone.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy reports:

  • Small businesses make up 99.7% of U.S. employer firms (a small business is defined as having fewer than 500 employees)
  • Small firms (20-499 employees) account for 60% of the net new jobs since the end of the 2009 Recession
  • Small businesses make up 63% of net new private-sector jobs

Jeanette Radmer, who has been a Regional Business Development Manager for Numerica Credit Union since 2006, says the small business sector is important, not just for the national economy, but because “it promotes a healthy and thriving community.” Successful small businesses are locally owned. They build community identity, create jobs, and generate a tax base. A successful small business is good for everyone in the community in which it operates.

Before you quit your office job to start out on your own, keep in mind another SBA statistic: “About half of all new establishments survive five years or more and about only one-third survives 10 years or more.” Not great odds. Through her work for Numerica, Jeanette sees the common mistakes new small business owners make that contribute to the overall low survival rate. “During the first year of business, 37% of small businesses make $0 profit, while 55% experience a loss,” says Jeanette. “It’s important to know that the ‘break-even point’ may take one to two years. For this reason, it’s important to have an appropriate amount of capital.”

Jeanette identifies three main reasons for why small businesses fail:

  • Failure to plan
  • Not doing enough research
  • Undercapitalization

Thankfully there are resources to help you succeed. Among the ones Jeanette recommends is the Washington Small Business Development Center (WSBDC). They are a “network of business advisors, trainers, and support staff who operate from Washington State University, Western Washington University, several of the state’s community and technical colleges, and selected economic development agencies….to help small to medium businesses grow and succeed.” The WSBDC offers training and free one-on-one assistance. If you’re thinking about starting a business, they are a great place to start.

Another great resource to help you get started? Your public library! Check out Resources for Business Owners and the “Recommended Digital Resources” on the District’s Business and Career page. You’ll find links to ReferenceUSA and DemographicsNow so you can research business plans, marketing strategies, and get detailed analysis (including Simmons National Consumer Survey) about the demographics in your area. You can also use Business Source Complete to get company SWOT analysis and follow trends in publications like ForbesHarvard Business Review, and Fast Company. If all of this seems a little overwhelming, one of our friendly Business Librarians would be happy to help. Click here to schedule a “Book a Librarian” session.

Starting a business is no small task, but the rewards can be many for both you and your community. Should you be brave enough to consider it, remember there are people, like Jeanette and your local librarian, who are anxious to help you succeed.

Aileen Luppert

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