Starting a Business - Q & A
Q: Is starting a business right for me?
A: This SBA assessment tool is designed to help you better understand your readiness for starting a small business. It is simple to use and will take less than 5 minutes to complete. The tool will prompt you with questions and assist you in evaluating skills, characteristics and experience – as they relate to starting a business. www.sba.gov/assessmenttool/index.html
Q: What is the best business structure for my business and how do I register my business with the North Dakota Secretary of State?
A: Determine which business structure is best suited for your business and how to register your business entity in North Dakota. www.nd.gov/sos/businessserv/registrations/index.html
Q: How do I get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for my business?
A: Also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, used to identify a business. For most types of businesses in North Dakota you must have a valid EIN from the IRS before registering your business type. www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=98350,00.html
Q: How to I get business licenses in North Dakota?
A: Learn which licenses you need to operate a business in North Dakota. www.nd.gov/category.htm?id=98
Q: How do I get a patent or trademark?
A: The primary services the US Patent and Trademark Office includes processing patent and trademark applications and disseminating patent and trademark information. www.uspto.gov
Q: What are the sales tax requirements of a business in North Dakota?
A: Learn the guidelines of sales and use tax requirements and complete online permit applications. www.nd.gov/businessreg/tax/index.html
Q: How do I get financing for my business?
A: Compare financing programs and technical assistance for small businesses with the Entrepreneur Centers of North Dakota (ECND) comparison chart. www.ecnd.net
Q: Are there grants to help fund a for-profit business?
A: Generally funding organizations do not provide grants to help fund a for-profit business, however several agencies including the Small Business Administration have low interest loan programs. Of the few grants that may provide funding to for-profit businesses they are for a very specific purpose and not for general business operating purposes. There is a federal grant program for small businesses titled the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. It is reserved for companies doing research and development and not intended to fund the operations of a company. Many states have programs that provide assistance in applying for SBIR grants. Also check out the "Notes on Grants" from the Small Business Administration: http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/grants
Q: Where can I get help writing a business plan?
A: Your local SCORE chapter, a non-profit organization made up of retired executives, is a great place to start. This free and confidential resource will help you think through the process of starting a business, walk you through the financials, and discuss what the banks and lending instutions will be looking for from you.
Q: I have a business plan, what do I do next?
A: Arrange a meeting with your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) representative to help fine tune your business plan. SBDCs also have access to research information, some of which is outlined below. View www.ndsbdc.org for their full list. SBDC services are free and confidential.
- New Business Package - specifically for the entrepreneur in the pre-venture/new business phase, this package contains fundamental information critical for further assessment.
- Established Business Package - tailored for existing businesses who are looking to expand or in some way enhance their current business.
- GIS Package - This package has all of our most requested GIS research reports for new and existing businesses.
Q: Where can I get help starting and managing my business?
A: In addition to the counseling and training services that we offer small businesses, the SBA can help with a variety of resources to help start and grow your business. www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business
Q: Where can I get federal tax help for my business?
A: Anyone starting or thinking of starting a new business should be aware of their federal tax responsibilities. www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=99336,00.html You can also get tax help specifically for small businesses at www.irs.gov/businesses/small/index.html
Q: How do I find a business mentor?
A: Once you're ready to start a business, you'll have many important decisions to make. This is especially true in the first months of opening your business. You might worry that you'll have to make every decision on your own. Ultimately, you are responsible for the decisions you make, but you can always consult others to get guidance. A mentor could be an invaluable resource to you.
A mentor is someone who has been been down the same path you're taking. A mentor is experienced, successful and willing to provide advice and guidance–for no real personal gain. SBA.gov has a great list on steps to take for finding and working with a mentor.
Q: Are there additional resources for small businesses in rural North Dakota?
A: USDA Rural Development has many additional resources for rural areas, including loan and grant programs.
- The Business and Industry Guranteed Loan Program guarantees on loans to improve, develop or finance business, industry, and employment, and to improve the economic and environmental climate in rural communities including pollution abatement and control.
- The Intermediary Relending Program helps finance community development projects in rural areas.
- The Rural Business Enterprise Grants (RBEG) finance and facilitate development of small and emerging private business enterprises in rural areas, or cities up to 50,000 population, with priority to applications for projects in rural communities of 25,000 and smaller, and economically distressed communities.