You Can't Start a Business by Yourself

By JEFF WEISS
Contributing Reporter

Genius has finally struck. You've done significant research into your product and its competitors and the world seem ready for your newest idea. Yet many aspiring entrepreneurs don't know where to go, or whom to borrow money from to get things started. However, there are many resources available in the Valley that can aid you in the realization of your hopes. Between the Small Business Administration, the Valley Economic Development Center, the Small Business Development Center (located at the VEDC), and the various chambers of commerce scattered throughout the area, one can quite easily and affordably get helped on their way to success.

The SBA maintains a host of resource information that any small business or hopeful entrepreneur can draw upon. With a library of 400 binders relating to specific types of business, someone who starts a business can figure out everything that he or she would need to know, including how to advertise, compete, licensing costs, how to select a location, and how to prepare their financial statements. In addition, the SBA is also closely affiliated with the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), consisting of counselors who have had lengthy careers and give back to the community. Any small- business owner or aspiring entrepreneur can sit with a SCORE counselor and get recommendations. For example, if somebody is opening a pet store, they can talk to a retired executive from Petco.

Another place to turn for help is the Valley Economic Development Center and its affiliate the Small Business Development Center.

"The primary thing we help people do is put together a good business plan. Most people who start a business, don't understand the key components of how to do it. One of the most important things is to have a unique concept," SBDC associate director Warren Cooley said. "Also there is the importance of target markets, not everyone has equal potential to buy what you're selling. We help them identify the market and figure out their unique qualities. Our business classes are oriented around specific topics like financial management, human resources, how to select a viable work force, how to train people, marketing, etc."

Dean Haglund, formerly an actor on "The X-Files," turned to the world of business with his invention of Chillpak, an ice pack-like device that cools down laptop computers that have overheated. While he had a unique product idea, Haglund was a business novice who needed to look to the VEDC and SBA for help.

"Both organizations have been really helpful. I went and enrolled in the VEDC's business boot camp, which was a 3 to 5 hour seminar that gave me an overview of different topics. While it didn't always pertain to exactly what I was doing it certainly inspired me," Haglund said.