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Dear Ms. S:
It is wonderful that you are thinking of staring your own home business. It is one of life's activities that can stretch your talents like you never believed possible and make you feel that you are giving the best you have to the world. And most importantly, you seem to be interested in a business that would truly be helping others. To help others has to be one of the main reasons we are here. The older I get the more satisfaction being able to give to others brings to my life. I always thought that giving is really the most selfish thing in the world because it makes the giver feel so good. So choosing a career that helps others means that you are likely to do this for the rest of your life and feel truly fulfilled
Also, as a person with a disability your own business will give you the flexibility you may need because of your disability. I know we all need to be able to show the world how much we can contribute to it, and working for yourself is one of the best ways to do that. Now let's see how we can get you started.
I believe the key ingredient to starting a business is motivation and perseverance and not brains or talent. Look at all the stupid people we have all worked for in our lives who were running things. Because of this I believe that the best business to succeed in is one that you truly want to be in and not one that someone else believes you should be in. Choosing a business is like choosing a mate. You would not have someone else tell you who to mate with. You have to feel it in your heart and in your gut. Only with that feeling will you find the strength to succeed when the going gets tough. If you are in a business or a relationship because of convenience, once you hit a few bad days you will probably be out of there.
Another thing about being in business today is that there are so many businesses that can be started without any money. You can start a service business like dog walking or professional research and distribute 1,000 flyers in neighborhoods at a cost of about a $50 printing bill from Kinkos. My 17 year old son did that for a business he started one summer called "We Can Do That" where he and his friend offered their services to local neighborhoods to do any kind of little job. In 2 hours handing out flyers they got $1,700 worth of business making about $18 per hour. It was a lot better than getting a boring job at the mall for $8 per hour.
There are also other ways of being in business without spending a lot of money. If you want to have a retail store that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, instead you can start a store on the web that will cost less than $500. You don't even need to have a product. You can find suppliers for your products and not even order the products until you have a customer. To sell products on the web, you just need a picture of the product.
These are just some ideas to think about as you go through the process of deciding on a business. Just keep remembering that there is always a cheaper way to start any kind of business. Now here are some places you can turn to for help in deciding what kind of business to be in as well as help on how to get there.
Every state has a number of money programs for people to start or expand a business in their state. Governors compete with other governors to see who can create the most jobs, and that's why they offer money for people who create jobs in their state. You don't even have to be a resident of the state. You can live in one state and put your business in a state that offers you more money. States also offer special money for entrepreneurs to put their business in certain areas of the state or in certain parts of a city. There are also other money programs to build buildings or renovate old buildings. Some of this money comes from federal sources which is given to the states and distributed to entrepreneurs in the state. Other money is generated from local taxes. And some states use the winnings from their lottery money to give to entrepreneurs to create or expand businesses.
Many states offer programs from more than one agency. So it may take some time to find all the programs in a given state. A good place to start is your State Government Office of Economic Development located in your state capital. Contact your state at: Economic Development Partnership, 901 East Byrd Street, P.O. Box 798, Richmond, VA 23218 804-371-8100, Fax: 804-371-8112, www.yesvirginia.org or Virginia Department of Business Assistance, 707 East Main Street, Suite 300, P.O. Box 466, Richmond, VA 23218, 804-371-8200, Fax: 804-371-2142, www.dba.state.va.us
You can actually get up to $1,000,000 in grants and/or loans to open or expand a business from the U.S. Federal Government alone. There are over 100 different money programs available from offices ranging from the U.S. Small Business Administration to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the U.S. Department of Commerce. For the best source identifying all federal only government money programs available, look at a government published book called The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance published by the U.S. Government Printing Office (www.gpo.gov) or look at it for free on the web at www.cfda.gov. Another good starting place to find anything in the federal government is a free service called the Federal Information Center at 1-800-FED-INFO or www.pueblo.gsa.gov/call .
The Virginia Small Business Administration Office delivers a variety of programs and services, such as startup and operational assistance through small business training and counseling, financial assistance for startups, operational and disaster help, business opportunities, such as government contracting, subcontracting, procurement, and much more. For information on how the Small Business Administration programs maybe of help to you contact: Small Business Administration (SBA), Richmond District Office, 400 N. 8th St., Suite 1150, Richmond, VA 23240, 804-771-2400, Fax: 804-771-2764, www.sba.gov/va
Question: Do you know what is better than a $100,000 government grant? Answer: A $100,000 government contract. Because with a grant you are most likely to get it once and with a contract you can keep getting it over and over again. Question: Do you know who buys more of anything than anyone else in the world? Answer: The government, including federal, state, local and county.
The government buys more than anyone else of any product or service you can think of. My sister lives in Virginia and has a small framing business and has done about $1 million in government contracts. You just have to find out who in the government buys your product and figure out the paperwork on how to get paid.
But don't worry too much about the work required and the paperwork involved because there are offices that will help you do all this and they will do it FOR FREE. Here is where you can turn for help:
But remember one thing: selling to the government is like going elephant hunting. When you bag one of these babies you have meat for a long time.
The money is in the form of tax credits on your federal and/or your state income taxes. If you are paying any taxes then this is truly free money because it is taken right off your tax bill. To find out about every tax credit at your state level contact your state Department of Revenue by calling 411 and asking for the state capital operator, or go to www.govengine.com and click on your state and start looking for the Department of Revenue. For information on all federal tax credits contact Internal Revenue Service, 202-622-5000 or 800-829-1040 (Business Tax Questions) or go to www.irs.ustreas.gov/formspubs/ . You can also turn to the Virginia Development office for help: A good place to start is your State Government Office of Economic Development located in your state capital. Contact your state at: Economic Development Partnership, 901 East Byrd Street, P.O. Box 798, Richmond, VA 23218 804-371-8100, Fax: 804-371-8112, www.yesvirginia.org or Virginia Department of Business Assistance, 707 East Main Street, Suite 300, P.O. Box 466, 804-371-8200, Richmond, VA 23218, 804-371-8200, Fax: 804-371-2142, www.dba.state.va.us
Maybe you don't need a bunch of money to get your idea off the ground. Maybe all you need is just a few thousand dollars to get your idea to go. Well, there are hundreds of non-profit organizations that offer small grants and easy loans aimed at people who would never be able to get money from traditional sources. It is difficult to locate all of these groups around the country, but two good starting places are: 1) Association for Enterprise Opportunity at 703-841-7760 or http://www.aeoworks.org/index.php/site/page/category/find/ and 2) The Foundation Center at 212-620-4230 or www.fdncenter.org
I hope you take my sources and start pursuing each and every one of them. If a source does not pan out make sure that you ask that source where they might suggest going to get the help you need. It will be like asking more experts like me for advice, but they will give it to you for free.
Have fun with the process of exploring new worlds of information, building new contacts and eventually winding up where you always dreamed of.
Good luck to you and your passion for helping others.
Matthew LeskoAuthor and EntrepreneurInformation USA, Inc.www.lesko.com