Maryland Small Business Development Center

Smart Start Western Region

Serving Allegany, Frederick, Garrett, Washington Counties in Maryland

Step 2

Answer a few questions to help us get to know you and your business ideas better.

* Required

Section 1: General

Freedom from the 9 to 5 daily work routine
Being your own boss
Doing what you want to when you want to do it
Improving your standard of living
Boredom with your present job
Having a product or service for which you feel there is a demand
Obtained a business license
Registered for a tax ID number
Written a business plan
Paid or reported taxes
Opened a location
Closed an actual sale
Registered your business
Begun developing a marketing plan
Researched my competition
Hired workers
I am a natural leader
I like to make my own decisions
People turn to me for help in making decisions
I enjoy competition
I have will power and self-discipline
I always plan ahead
I like people
I work best when I'm alone

5. Answer yes or no to the following questions.

A. Are you prepared to work 12-16 hour days and some weekends to grow your business? *
B. Do you have the physical capacity to handle a workload that may require working 12 hour days? *
C. Have you discussed your business plans with your family and supporters? *
D. Does your family understand that this venture may sometimes require you to spend less time on family activities? *
E. Are you prepared to lower your standard of living until your business is firmly established? *
F. Do you have all the knowledge needed to run the business you have chosen? *
G. Are you prepared to live WITHOUT income or health insurance from the business for the first year or so? *
H. Do you have a plan for what you will do if the business is not successful in the first year? *
I. Are you aware that you may need additional training to further your business endeavor? *
J. Have you ever worked for a business similar to the one you are trying to start? *
K. If you discover that you don't have the basic skills needed for your business, will you be willing to delay your plans until you've acquired the necessary skills? *
L. Have you ever worked in a managerial or supervisory capacity? *
M. Have you done any research to determine if your business idea is a good one (feasibility study)? *

Section 2: Marketing

6. Answer yes or no the following questions

A. Have you done research to identify who will buy your product or use your service? *
B. Have you fully developed the product or service you plan to sell? *
C. Have you conducted a market analysis (a documented process where you look at factors including economic climate, feasibility, potential customers and future business)? *
D. Do you know who your competitors are? *
E. Have you developed a list of your competitor's strengths? *
F. Have you created a list of potential customers? *
G. Have you determined the number of "potential" customers you will be able to turn into "actual" customers? *
H. Do you have a WRITTEN marketing plan (a document that provides detail on your strategy for getting your product/service into the hands of your potential customers)? *
I. Do you know what the term "unique selling proposition" means? *
J. Have you done research to determine if your product or service is needed? *
K. Have you identified the geographic areas from which you can expect to draw customers? *
L.Have you identified sources (vendors) for products you will offer? *

Section 3: Financial & Operational

7. Answer yes or no the following questions

A. Do you have funds set aside that you will use to launch your business? *
B. Do you have access to additional capital (line of credit, etc.) if necessary? *
C. Have you recently prepared a personal financial statement (including assets, liabilities, etc)? *
D. Have you developed a start-up budget? *
E. Will you need to borrow money to start the business? *
F. Have you established a price for your product or service? *
G. Have you determined how much income you will need to pay expenses and show a profit (break-even analysis)? *
H. Have you developed a list of items you will need to run the business (equipment, inventory, software and supplies)? *
I. Have you developed a step-by step process for how the day-to-day operation of the business will flow (operations plan)? *
J. Have you prepared a spread sheet to show income vs. expenses for a 12 month period)? *
K. Do you have an accountant to assist with tax preparation and establishing financial records? *
L. Have you determined how you will handle payroll, tax reports & payments? *
M. Do you know what financial reports should be prepared and how to prepare them? *
N. Do you have good credit? *

Section 4: Legal & Organizational

8. Answer yes or no the following questions

A. Do you know which licenses and permits will be necessary to legally operate your business? *
B. Do you know the business laws you will need to obey? *
C. Are you aware of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requirements that may affect your business? *
D. Are you aware of the state's workman's compensation laws? *
E. Do you know what type of business insurance you may need (fire, theft, liability)? *
F. Do you have a lawyer who can advise you and help you with legal documents? *
G. Do you have the contracts, agreements or other documentation necessary to contract with vendors and/or hire staff and/or establish terms with clients? *
H. Have you developed an employee handbook(or appropriate documents) which detail employee rights, expectations, responsibilities and company policies and procedures? *
I. Are you familiar with the various forms of legal structure (LLC, Sole Proprietorship, etc)? *

The results of this checklist may be used by the Maryland Small Business Development Center for marketing and research purposes. This document is copyrighted Maryland Small Business Development Center - Central Region, and may not be reproduced or altered with out consent from the Maryland Small Business Development Center.

A partnership program of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), University of Maryland Center For Applied Policy Studies (UMCAPS) and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) under Cooperative Agreement Number 01-7620-0021-06. The support given by the U.S. Small Business Administration through such funding does not constitute an express or implied endorsement of any of the cosponsor?s or participants? opinions, products, or services. All of SBA?s programs and services are extended to the public on a non discriminatory basis.

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