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Dear Ms. S:
Attachment: We Can Do That
It is wonderful that you are thinking of starting 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 of 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 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.
Have you ever wished you could call a great lawyer for legal advice and have her do the work for free? Have you ever dreamed about calling a great financial consultant for advice on a money matter and get your answer for free? Have you ever worried about how in the world you would pay for a PR agency to promote your store so everyone would know how great you are? Have you ever wished you didn't have to pay a management consultant to show you the secrets of how to double your sales in one year? You can get the answers to all these questions by knowing about the government's best kept secret called the Small Business Development Centers. There are over 1,000 of these offices around the country that will give you all these services and more for free or for very little cost. You don't even have to know how to spell entrepreneur and they will sit down with you and help with any business problem you have. Don't pay for something when you can get it FOR FREE. Find an office near you by contacting 800-8-ASK-SBA or http://www.sba.gov/sbdc/sbdcnear.html.
Remember that 2 out of every 3 businesses that are started today are started by women. Also women are more successful at starting businesses than men. There are many services as well as funding available to help women entrepreneurs succeed. Most of these services are from state local governments and non-profit organizations. For help in locating these services in Virginia contact: Richmond Mayor's Committee on the Concerns of Women, City Hall, 900 East Marshall St., Room 302, Richmond, VA 23219804-646-5987
I have personally run into many people with disabilities who received money and help to start a home based business from their state rehabilitation office. You probably already contacted them about your problem and were turned away. Maybe that's why you called us. Well if you did not contact them yet, do it now. And if you already did and got a "no," don't ever take just one "no" for an answer from a government office. The government is just too big a place for any one person to know everything there is about a program. Start calling as many elected officials as possible. That means your U.S. Congressman, your U.S. Senators and your state representatives. You can find their contact information at www.congress.org. Every elected official has people on their staff who are there to help you find out "How the Government Can Help You." Here is the contact info for your state: Joseph Ashley, Director, Virginia Department of Rehabilitation Services, 8004 Franklin Farms Drive, P.O. Box K-300, Richmond, VA 23288; 800-552-5019, 804-662-7000, TTY: 800-464-9950, Fax: 804-662-9533, Email: DRS@drs.state.va.us http://www.vadrs.org/
$200,000 From The State Of Virginia
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
$200,000 From Washington To Open Or Expand A Business
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
$10,000 To Put A New Sign On Your Business
Most local governments have money programs to help businesses in their area. Be sure to check your city, your county or your local development agency. The money for these programs can originate from the federal government, state government or local taxes. These programs can be for buildings, equipment, working capital, hiring employees or for local beautification projects like painting the front of your store and putting up a new sign. If you are opening up a business, you can shop around at different cities and counties to see who may have the most money for you. If you don't know who to contact, call the information operator at 411 and ask for the mayor of the city or the head of the county government. The top office is always the best place to start. You can also go to www.govengine.com and click on your state. You will see a list of all the counties and cities in your state along with the relevant web sites.
The Government Buys More From Women Entrepreneurs Than Anyone
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.
$150,000 To Hire Certain Employees Or To Open an Employee Day Care Center
The government will give you:
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
Where To Find The Best Customers For Your Business
Where is the best place to put up your recording studio? Or which surrounding zip codes offer the best potential for increasing sales? Or where can you get a list of all the accountants in your area to tell them about my new product or service? You don't have to hire a high priced marketing consultant to get answers to questions like these. You can tap into the government's rich vain of free marketing data collected by the Bureau of Census and other government agencies. This is where the multibillion dollar companies get their marketing data and it's where the high priced consultants also get it and then resell it to clients at outrageous fees. This is what I used to do when I was a consultant. To get detailed information about data available for your state contact your local Census State Data Center in your state capital by calling your state capital operator at 411 or going to http://www.census.gov/sdc/www/. You can also get lots of free and low-cost marketing help from your local Small Business Development Center. You can find them by contacting 800-8-ASK-SBA or http://www.sba.gov/sbdc/sbdcnear.html. 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
Free Help Writing Business Plans Or Grant Applications
Don't believe it when some professional tries to scare you into thinking how hard it is to write a business plan or fill out a money application. This is the least of your problems, plus there is plenty of free help in filling them out when the time comes. The first thing you must do in getting government money is get a copy of the application that you believe may give you the money you need. No one should ever investigate hiring a professional before they even know where to apply for the money. And once you get an application in hand and you need help contact your local Small Business Development Center at 800-8-ASK-SBA or http://www.sba.gov/sbdc/sbdcnear.html . They will help you for free or for next to nothing. You can get help from the best grant writing experts in the country at a non-profit organization called The Foundation Center. Their materials are available for free in libraries all over the country. You can find out where by contacting them at 212-620-4230 or www.fdncenter.org. By the way, I've seen a lot of applications for government money and many of them were so sloppy and unintelligible that any teacher would have given them a flunking grade, but they still got their money. And some applications are only one page long and you can get up to $150,000 for filling them out. Worrying about filling out an application before you have one in hand, is like buying a prom dress before you are invited to the prom. First things first.
$12 Million To Start A Real Big Business
No matter how much money you need there probably is a program for you. You can also collect large amounts of money by putting together money from a number of programs. The government also offers venture capital through the Small Business Administration's Small Business Investment Companies (SBIC). Over 75,000 entrepreneurs received money from this source to get their dreams off the ground, including the big guys like Compaq, Apple, Federal Express and Staples. See how they can help you at Associate Administrator for Investment, U.S. SBA, 202-205-6510 or www.sba.gov/inv. Many states also have venture capital programs or will help you locate private venture capitalists and state governments can also help you prepare the necessary paperwork. A good place to look for this kind of help is your State Government Office of Economic Development located in your state capital. You can call 411 and ask for the state capital operator in your state capital or go to www.govengine.com and click on your state and find the office that is listed under business and/or economic development
Get A $5,000 Grant With Bad Credit
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
Free Or Discounted Rent, Office Supplies, Management Services, etc.
The concept of "incubators" offers new entrepreneurs a place to start their business with free use of, or discounts on, everything you need to start and run a business. Some of these "incubators" even help with getting money for your project. It's a great support system for new ventures. To find "incubators" near you, contact National Business Incubator Association at 740-593-4331 or www.nbia.org
$50,000 Grant To Train Your Employees
The more employees you have the more money you can get. The government wants your employees to be the best trained in the world so America can compete in a world economy. You can get money to train your employees in almost any skill, including computers, customer service or even stress management. Although it is a federal program, the money is distributed through local training boards in your state capital. Check your State Government Office of Economic Development and tell them what you are trying to do. 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
$14,000 To Learn To Operate A Business
If you are out of work, you may be able to get money to live on as well as money to pay for entrepreneur training in order to run your own business. These programs are run with federal money and state money. Each state has different rules and the main idea is that they have money for you to train to get a better job along with money to live on while you are training. And your new job can be starting your own business. These programs are run through your state One-Stop Career Center located in your state capital, but will have additional offices all over your state. You can find your local office by calling 411 and asking for the state capital operator in your state capital. Ask for your local "One-Stop Career Center." Or go to http://usworkforce.org/onestop/onestopmap.html .
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