It’s one thing to tell people, “Yeah, I am planning on starting my own business.”
It’s another thing, you know, to start.
Almost two weeks ago, I made an appointment with SCORE, which is a resource partner of the Small Business Administration. SCORE stands for Service Corps of Retired Executives, and it is made up of volunteers who help existing and emerging small businesses. A few people had suggested I talk to the SBA to get free information about starting and running my own business. It was slightly frustrating since their websites don’t make it easy to find the information you want. Some of it is outdated, as SCORE lists Triton College as a location. When I called, I was told that office closed two years ago. Whoops. I made the appointment for the office located in downtown Chicago. It turns out that it is also in the same building that the train station is in, which is convenient.
Usually a meeting is for an hour, and the mentor will provide feedback on what it is you want to do. In my case, I wanted advice on what I needed to do to form my own company. I had read articles on the subject of legal entities, such as subchapter S Corporations and Limited Liability Companies, but they were always generalized for the United States and not Illinois. It’s good general informationt to know, but I needed specifics. I wanted to know what I would have to do to incorporate GBGames. I can fill out forms and even pay another business to do it for me, but what then? Does GBGames have any obligations as a business? Do I have to prove that I am trying to make money? Do I have to actually show revenue within so many years? Profit? Can my business be revoked if I don’t meet some simple requirement? Taxes? Startup costs? What can I write-off as an expense?
The mentor said that he was surprised that I had as much knowledge about the subject as I did. Apparently most people come in with an idea for a business. The mentor usually provides guidance in the form of “Well, did you think about this aspect?” and otherwise points out potential pitfalls. Still, he did give me a bit to think about. He handed me a number of pamphlets, articles, and government tax form instructions.
For some reason I haven’t written out a business plan yet. Part of it is probably because I only recently decided to actually start my company, and so I am finding a lot of thought processes that need to be changed. I find I am still in the mindset of “someday” on some issues.
A budget should be written out. I have some money in the bank, and I have some idea of what my expenses will be, but I really should try to get the details. I only have so much money in total, and some of it will have to go to non-business expenses. I’ll need to worry about food and rent among other expenses, and so knowing how much I can dedicate to my business will be very important.
In any case, it is good to know that I can get free information on the subject. SCORE allows walk-ins as well as appointments for after-hours. My mentor said that I seemed very enthusiastic and that I appeared knowledgeable at least in the types of issues I might have to deal with as a business owner. That’s much better than finding that I am seriously lacking. B-)
I have a few more things to read, but it seems that forming a business won’t be very difficult. If I ask for professional assistance it might just be to verify that the forms are filled out correctly. I’ll likely make another appointment for next month. Nearly unlimited, free, and professional advice is a great deal.