Entrepreneurs must prepare five main documents before applying for a small business loan. These vary depending on the lender, the business, and the loan specifics; however, all of this information is important to have ready prior to approaching any bank. 1) Business plan
A business plan is a document, organized by sections, that outlines the details, goals, and background information of the business. Keep it short and succinct (5-10 pages, ideally), and discuss only important
Employees and independent contractors are not the same. As a small business owner, it is important to understand the differences between the two and to know which to hire under certain circumstances. What’s The Difference?
• control their own work and how it’s completed.
• supply their own equipment, materials, and tools.
• are hired to perform short-term, temporary work.
• conduct work that is considered non-integral to the business. Employees:
A trade secret is any confidential piece of information that provides your small business a competitive advantage over rivals. As such, it is extremely important to safeguard this information. In this post, we discuss different types of trade secrets, what trade secrets entail, and how to best protect your company’s trade secrets. Trade secrets include any formula, recipe, device, idea, process, or pattern used exclusively by your company. For example, trade secrets include t
Multiple times per week, clients ask me how to go about protecting their business names, company logos, and catchy slogans. They typically believe they need a copyright; however, more often than not, they actually need a trademark instead. In this post, I will demystify the confusion between trademarks, copyrights, and patents. I will also discuss how to register a trademark as well as available resources to help with the application process. Trademark vs. Copyright vs. Paten
Determining how to price your products and services is a tough decision all entrepreneurs face. Small business owners — especially those just starting out — tend to price their products on the lower end of rivals’, thinking it will make them competitive and attract more customers. Contrary to this popular belief, however, this rarely proves true. In this post, we discuss pricing strategy and the three main reasons why cheaper may not always be better for your small business.
As a sole proprietor or single-member limited liability company (LLC), the mere thought of tax season may cause anxiety. Before you get worked up, however, remember the Iowa Western SBDC provides resources to help. In this post, we discuss what you need to complete your Schedule C and how to do so. With proper planning and organization, the filing process should prove relatively smooth and simple. What Is the Schedule C?
The Schedule C is basically a profit-and-loss statement
This week, the Iowa Western Small Business Development Center staff spent time in Iowa City watching its Venture School kick-off. Iowa Western Community College is hosting its own Venture School cohort in March, and as we observe the event, shadow the participants, and learn about their business ideas here in Iowa City, the concept of value proposition is one of utmost importance. The reality is, small business success or failure depends heavily on value proposition. The fact
As a small business, you likely hired the help of independent contractors, lawyers, and other outside services throughout 2014. Despite the “non-employee” status of these individuals, you still must report this paid-out income to the IRS through the issuance of 1099s. Many types of 1099 forms exist, but the most commonly used is the 1099-MISC. We discuss the 1099-MISC requirements below, and walk you through the steps to prepare, issue, and file your corresponding paperwork.
by Julie Mierau We all know that physicians pledge to “first, do no harm.” But do you know Google’s company motto? “Don’t be evil.” Yep, it’s true. That’s the guiding principle at arguably the world’s premiere Internet-based company. Pretty big statement for a pretty big company. But why not something equally as ambitious for a small company? How about this: “Remember, our customers pay our bills.” Or this: “Tell the truth.” Or even: “I’m doing this my way.” Give it some thou
Mirror Gear USA is owned and operated by Marie Wickman. Marie invented and developed the Mirror Gear ™, a dental mirror cover for use in dental offices. Marie is a dental hygienist with years of experience in the dental field. Through hands-on experience with the process of using, handling and cleaning mirrors – and seeing scratches ruin countless mirrors – the Mirror Gear ™ idea was born. The Iowa John Pappajohn Business Plan Competition is designed to stimulate entreprene
While the media, the public and even Congress continue to discover all the details about the recently passed health care reform bill, we can share a few things that we know will affect small business owners. (The information shared here originated from The Harry A. Koch Co.) Companies that employ fewer than 50 workers are not required to offer health insurance, and they will not be penalized if they do not do so. Companies with 25 or fewer employees, with an average wage of u
Everybody’s talking about branding these days. Marketing consultants want to charge companies to create brands — and sometimes rightfully so. Website consultants want to charge to create an online brand — again, sometimes rightfully so. Image consultants want to charge you to create your personal brand. But is that money well spent? At a seminar this morning, Celann LaGreca, principal at the LaGreca Group, offered three basic questions for creating your personal brand. As sma
Remember when your mama told you there was no such thing as a free lunch? Turns out, she was right. Imagine that. Now, repeat after me: There’s no free grant money out there to start or expand my business. That’s right, boys and girls, there is no free grant money out there. No matter what you’ve heard or seen online or been promised by a company that will find you those grants. Here it is, in black and white, straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were: “The federal governme
On my drive in to the office this morning, an NPR reporter was quoting a report, due out today, that says most Americans hate their jobs. The report, based on a survey of 5,000 U.S. households conducted for The Conference Board by TNS, found that 45 percent of those surveyed are satisfied with their jobs, down from 61.1 percent in 1987, the first year in which the survey was conducted. Most unhappy of all were workers younger than 25. Which makes sense, given the restricted j
On NPR’s “Marketplace” this morning, the host asked a simple question: Who has more disposable income — Gen Y’ers or Baby Boomers? The answer surprised me. Studies show that the Gen Y population has more disposable income than their parents, the Baby Boomers. The Millennial Generation, also known as Generation Y, generally refers to those individuals born between the mid-1970s and the late 1990s. If you haven’t considered how to market your products and services to Gen Y, sta
Social Media Toolkit: The Nuts & Bolts of Your Social Media Strategy Posted using ShareThis #SmallBusiness #Socialmarketing #Entrepreneur #SearchEngineOptimization #Marketing #digitalmarketing #SocialMedia
I do a lot of reading, thinking and brainstorming on ideas for small business in small communities like Council Bluffs and across southwest Iowa. Here are three ideas that are definitely not innovative or for that matter, new… but just may work in today’s economy. The main thing to think about in starting a business today is to keep start up costs AND overhead/operating costs low. Keep them low until you can develop a market and generate sales. Then start thinking about buy
Want to trade accounting services for goat cheese? How about bike repairs for graphic design? Advertising for overnight accommodations? Small business owners get lots of offers to swap services or trade products. These types of barter arrangements can be quite appealing, sometimes helping you purchase a product or service that your budget precludes under other circumstances. Some businesses find the concept appealing enough that they subscribe to barter associations, the hope
Tips For Small Businesses Today Last year at this time the majority of our clients here at the Iowa Western Small Business Development Center and Entrepreneurial Center were small business startups. Today, more and more established businesses are coming to us for our free resources to help them with bookkeeping, marketing, research, basic questions and more. In the next few days/weeks I will focus on some tips and observations that I have picked up in the last very busy m
Everywhere you turn for marketing advice, you’ll hear how important word-of-mouth marketing is. Start-up business owners even list this as their only approach to marketing a new product or service. Why? Simple: They think it’s free. In fact, you can manage your word-of-mouth marketing. And it’s effective. But it ain’t free. There are experts, like BzzAgent (www.BzzAgent.com), who can help you, if you have the money. Or you can sign up to be a BzzAgent, test some products for