By Joy Bauman
Our CFAES Center for Cooperatives Program Manager Hannah Scott, JD, was recently a guest presenter with Melissa Carter, Business Development Specialist for the Business Development Network at the OSU South Centers for a small business start up workshop at the Chillicothe Ross Chamber of Commerce in Chillicothe, OH. The two-hour session ai med to help prospective entrepreneurs better understand business ownership to help them determine if it is right for them.
Session topics that were touched on ranged from business feasibility, financing, developing a team of trusted advisors, marketing, and legal considerations. Carter discussed loans and other sources of capital for businesses, advising that “you usually can’t find a grant to start your business.” She explained that government grants funded by tax dollars have strict qualifications and require very stringent compliance and reporting measures.
Aspiring entrepreneurs were encouraged to get their business plans out of their heads and put their plans on paper. In addition to providing an organized system for researching your business venture, it provides a road map for you to follow and drastically increases your chances of success. Carter explained the parts of a business plan and how the business development specialists at the OSU South Centers can assist anyone wishing to start a business.
Scott discussed legal business formation and the differences between sole proprietorships, general partnerships, corporations, cooperatives, non-profits, and limited liability companies, along with the pros and cons of each business type. She advised attendees to get a tax identification number directly from the IRS online, because it is fast and free; pointing out there are numerous scams to have would-be business owners needlessly pay to file for a tax identification number or file their business with the Secretary of State. If you need help with filing, our business development specialists can assist you.
Scott pointed out differences between employees and independent contractors, noting, “This is not something the employer chooses, it is based on the circumstances of the working relationship.” She went on to explain the tax consequences of each.
While record-keeping is probably not any business owner’s favorite part of business ownership, it is an important responsibility. Detailed tracking of customers, sales, and inventory are necessary for tax prep and future planning. In addition to keeping records of business expenses, payroll, inventory, sales, income, travel, credit card sales, permits, licenses, insurance, and tax paperwork, it is also vital to keep a record of key agreements such as leases, job descriptions and duties, employment contracts, purchase orders, etc.
Aside from the necessary record-keeping and taxes, Carter and Scott also discussed promotions and advertising, helping participants to think about brand recognition and online presence for their businesses, including websites, online sales, and marketing through social media. Scott emphasized legal considerations with branding and marketing, such as trademarks/service marks, and copyrights, and knowing who owns the materials created by a professional graphic designer or web developer.
“Generally, employees who create materials in the scope of their employment do not own those materials. The employer owns them,” Scott said. “Also, generally, an independent contractor owns the materials they create, unless there is an agreement otherwise.”
After asking if the would-be entrepreneurs thought they were ready after learning about the many things to consider when starting a business, Scott identified several sources of professional help for business owners, and Carter explained next steps prior to opening a business, including determining the feasibility of the business, building an advisory team, developing a business plan, securing capital and start-up funds. Fortunately, the Business Development Team at the OSU South Centers in Piketon is available to help guide those considering starting their own business, along with the Center for Cooperatives for any groups interested in exploring starting a cooperative business.
Also, watch our calendar of upcoming events for more Small Business Start Up sessions in the future!